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Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL


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#801 FrensicPic

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 03:55 PM

 

This new contemporary boxed meal dining option sounds more like being served on an airline than in a restaurant. If airline staff aren't tipped for delivering a meal is there a reason why train staff should be?


Do passengers generally tip the attendant when getting their boxed meals on the Portland section of the Empire Builder?  I have traveled both ways only once and I do not remember.  This meal service may be similar if the passenger chooses to eat in the sleeper lounge as opposed to having the meal brought to her or his room.

 

My last trip on #28, our meals (quite good BTW) were delivered to our roomette. As we only traveled to Spokane from Portland, we probably only tipped about "normal" for a less than one night trip. I don't recall adding extra to what I tipped because of the meal delivery.


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#802 Lonestar648

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 03:56 PM

These are prepared boxes, all the SCA has to do is load several of these up and carry them to the Sleeper, hand them out.  Not sure what to do here.  There is no boxing up, making sure the order is correct, etc.  If Amtrak expects the meals to be delivered, unless you say you will eat in the lounge, then is the SCA doing his job delivering.  Now if The SCA does this with special considered, yes they deserve  a tip.



#803 cpotisch

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 04:01 PM

These are prepared boxes, all the SCA has to do is load several of these up and carry them to the Sleeper, hand them out.  Not sure what to do here.  There is no boxing up, making sure the order is correct, etc.  If Amtrak expects the meals to be delivered, unless you say you will eat in the lounge, then is the SCA doing his job delivering.  Now if The SCA does this with special considered, yes they deserve  a tip.

There are five entrees, so they do have to get everyone's choices right, even if there aren't quite as many variations available as in a dining car. But it definitely is more than just walking through the sleeper and handing everyone an identical box.


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#804 Lonestar648

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 04:10 PM

That is true.  Of course no telling how things will really be on June 1st, so decisions on tipping can not be made until we really know how things end of working, which could be a few days or more to work out the bugs.


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#805 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 04:13 PM

On the eastbound empire builder I had an excellent attendant and he announced there was no need to tip him for dinner service. He went out of his way to make the available drinks as attractive as possible, serving cups of ice, etc.

On the westbound empire builder, you picked your breakfast up in the lounge from the SCA.

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#806 Bob Dylan

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:14 PM

Every time Ive ridden the Portland Section of the Empire Builder the Boxed Meals ( Dinner on #28/Breakfast on #27)were passed out by the SCA in the Sightseer Lounge, so no tip for this service..

I guess if a Sleeping Car pax asked for Delivery to their room a tip would be in order, but keep in mind the consist is Very short, so there's not much walking involved to reach the Lounge unlike on the combined #27/#28/#7/#8 between CHI and SPK.

Edited by Bob Dylan, 16 May 2018 - 08:16 PM.

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#807 Anderson

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 04:44 AM

My thinking is that, should I have the misfortune to deal with this service, I'll be tipping the SCA per normal and leave it at that if in my room.  If in the lounge...well, this gets tricky since there's likely to not be a CC transaction to slip the tip on, so either I'll have a single or a dollar coin or...well, sorry, but I'm not inclined to bother much beyond that.  No offense to the staff, but where I tip for the diner staff I do so in consideration of the fact that it's several people giving me at-seat service.


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...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#808 cpotisch

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:45 AM

My thinking is that, should I have the misfortune to deal with this service, I'll be tipping the SCA per normal and leave it at that if in my room.  If in the lounge...well, this gets tricky since there's likely to not be a CC transaction to slip the tip on, so either I'll have a single or a dollar coin or...well, sorry, but I'm not inclined to bother much beyond that.  No offense to the staff, but where I tip for the diner staff I do so in consideration of the fact that it's several people giving me at-seat service.

But again, without prices listed, how will you calculate tipping for room service? There aren't any menu prices to base your tip on.


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#809 Steve4031

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 11:14 AM

I would handle the tipping on a case by case basis. First I know I'm going to be supplementing this gruel with food from the snack car. I'll have appropriate amounts of money for sca tip. When I'm in the diner I'll tip based on what is provided. Individual employees will handle this different ways. Some will make an effort to enhance the experience. They will get the a few dollars tip on each visit. The indifferent ones may get 1 dollar. The rude and ignorant ones 0. The sca will get the standard 20 for great service and lesser service will get less. Ignorance and rudeness will get 0.

#810 Anderson

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 11:39 AM

 

My thinking is that, should I have the misfortune to deal with this service, I'll be tipping the SCA per normal and leave it at that if in my room.  If in the lounge...well, this gets tricky since there's likely to not be a CC transaction to slip the tip on, so either I'll have a single or a dollar coin or...well, sorry, but I'm not inclined to bother much beyond that.  No offense to the staff, but where I tip for the diner staff I do so in consideration of the fact that it's several people giving me at-seat service.

But again, without prices listed, how will you calculate tipping for room service? There aren't any menu prices to base your tip on.

 

I already tip the SCA $5-10.  I'd be inclined to just leave it there.

Alternatively, I can make some mental ballparks as to what the meal is "worth" (breakfast is pretty worthless, but I'd probably assign $10-15 to the other meals).


Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#811 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 11:56 AM

This new contemporary boxed meal dining option sounds more like being served on an airline than in a restaurant. If airline staff aren't tipped for delivering a meal is there a reason why train staff should be?


Do passengers generally tip the attendant when getting their boxed meals on the Portland section of the Empire Builder?  I have traveled both ways only once and I do not remember.  This meal service may be similar if the passenger chooses to eat in the sleeper lounge as opposed to having the meal brought to her or his room.


I have yet to ride the Empire Builder (seems like something unfortunate always delays/prevents it) so I honestly don't know. The closest experience I've had were the "premium" cold sandwiches in the (now defunct) PPC. That experience was disappointing enough that I did not feel like tipping afterward.
 

These are prepared boxes, all the SCA has to do is load several of these up and carry them to the Sleeper, hand them out. Not sure what to do here. There is no boxing up, making sure the order is correct, etc. If Amtrak expects the meals to be delivered, unless you say you will eat in the lounge, then is the SCA doing his job delivering. Now if The SCA does this with special considered, yes they deserve a tip.


There are five entrees, so they do have to get everyone's choices right, even if there aren't quite as many variations available as in a dining car. But it definitely is more than just walking through the sleeper and handing everyone an identical box.


Ordering, collecting, packing, and delivering Western route diner meals (along with desserts and condiments) requires some extra effort for which I am willing to tip. A small collection of cold boxed meals on one of the Eastern routes with further simplified dining really only requires a colored/lettered meal sticker and a selection/delivery lookup sheet. By my estimation it's about one tenth the effort as a typical SCA delivered meal on the Western trains.

.


#812 tommylicious

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:13 PM

are SCA's being reduced / scope of duties reduced / allocated elsewhere?



#813 Rail Freak

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:19 PM

I'm guessing meal time options will be eliminated


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#814 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:26 PM

I'm guessing meal time options will be eliminated

 

According to previous press releases Amtrak will continue to provide a range of times for sleeper customers to choose from.  If anything the available meal times may actually increase since there is no need for the diner to be prepped and open.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 18 May 2018 - 01:30 PM.

.


#815 Larry H.

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 05:00 PM

If it is any peek at future service the City of New Orleans yesterday had no time given but rather first come first serve. The one woman show did as good a job as she could an was under the circumstances. But it couldn't save the food from being quite irritating so far as selection and taste went. Many of the crew felt as I do that the food service is in real trouble and is going to effect the decisions of travelers as to wether they wish to pay for service with such poor overall food. 

 

If I had to face the same selections for a couple days I would stay home instead. 


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#816 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:11 PM

The city of New Orleans has had that style of food and service for a while now. Way before Anderson... Maybe before Moorman as well?

Amtrak: - Coast Starlight*, Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin*, Cascades*, Empire Builder*, California Zephyr*, Southwest Chief*, City of New Orleans*, River Cities, Illinois Zephyr*, Wolverine, Cardinal, Capitol Limited*, Lake Shore Limited, Downeaster, Acela Express*, Crescent*, Carolinian*, Silver Star*, Silver Meteor*, Maple Leaf* Texas Eagle.

 

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#817 jis

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 12:40 PM

This is a time that I thought would never come ... where one wishes that Amtrak would start emulating airlines... and start backtracking on a few of the latest decisions, hearing loud protests from passengers. But probably not. Sigh ...

 

https://www.usatoday...gain/622583002/



#818 Lonestar648

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 01:37 PM

Only time will tell, but for Amtrak its the F&B labor costs they have to cut to make Congress happy.   And now Congress wants overtime significantly reduced on the LD trains.



#819 Palmetto

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 02:49 PM

This is a time that I thought would never come ... where one wishes that Amtrak would start emulating airlines... and start backtracking on a few of the latest decisions, hearing loud protests from passengers. But probably not. Sigh ...

 

https://www.usatoday...gain/622583002/

I think they HAVE started emulating the airlines concerning downgrading food offerings.  One wonders, though, if they will follow suit in retracting food downgrades.  I doubt it highly, given the mandate to break even.



#820 jis

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 03:09 PM

My point was about wishing Amtrak to emulate something good that the airlines did. Clearly, the downgrade was not something that many people wished that Amtrak emulate. But withdrawing downgrades is such a thing where emulation would be nice.


Edited by jis, 18 May 2018 - 03:36 PM.

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