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I missed my CL connection due to late CZ into CHI


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#1 spinnaker

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 01:21 PM

I was on the CZ the other day from Sacramento to Chicago.  

 

It was a  big mess from beginning to end.  That train seemed doomed to be late.   First we were delayed in the Rockies due to a freight train.  I didn't have much of a complaint there as the area was simply beautiful. 

 

Then a woman needed to be taken off of the train due to a "seizure".    Our SCA seemed to think it was drugs.

 

The final nail in the coffin was when we  had "signaling problems"   just outside of Chicago.   We were moving along at 20 MPH for well over an hour.  

 

I missed my connection for the CL.   I was thinking that this was a good thing as Amtrak would put me up at a nice hotel and I would get to spend a day in Chicago. 

 

Turns out it was a bad thing.   Chicago was super crowded down on the lakefront.  It was super stressful.   The good news, I had my bicycle and I was quickly able to get away from the crowds out on the lake front.   It was beautiful and relaxing out there but sadly I still needed to deal with the overwhelming crowds and traffic to grab a bite to eat and get to an from the lake.

 

The really bad news is the CL train the next day was packed. I was supposed to have a sleeper on my train.     There were no sleepers at all.  I got suck in coach were I got zero sleep.

 

My question is, did I make a mistake waiting till I got into Union Station to make other arrangements?   Could I have called customer service while sitting in that corn field outside of Chicago?   Or did I really need to wait till I got to the station?   Or  does Amtrak (hopefully) automatically book you on the next train with best available match.  FYI if the answer is yes on the last one I will be greatly surprised. ;)

 


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#2 cpotisch

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 01:26 PM

My question is, did I make a mistake waiting till I got into Union Station to make other arrangements? 

Honestly, I think you did. When you think you're going to miss a connection, you should call Amtrak as soon as possible. By the time you get to the station and to a physical agent, it's often too late. I'm not trying to pin your situation on you, since Amtrak put you in it, but in the future, I highly recommend that you (or anyone else) try and make arrangements as soon as you think you'll need them.


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#3 spinnaker

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 01:43 PM

Well the CL sleepers very well could have been booked up anyway.   Is there anyway to know what date past trains have been booked?   Maybe it is something I do not want to know? :)   Actually if I do know it was booked it might  make me feel a little better that it would not have mattered if I called or not.

 

But I think I was told by at least on Amtrak employee that it needed to be done at the station.   But even so, had I called I would have at least know of the urgency to get to customer service in Chicago.



#4 Palmland

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 01:51 PM

It’s not clear to me, did Amtrak put you in a decent hotel and provide meals? Was that why you were at the lake?

#5 spinnaker

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 01:56 PM

It’s not clear to me, did Amtrak put you in a decent hotel and provide meals? Was that why you were at the lake?

 

 

No I was late because the CZ got in late as it was sitting in a corn field for well over an hour and because of other delays as I described.

 

The provided everything because of the missed connection.



#6 Palmland

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 02:39 PM

Thanks, I wasn't sure if you were saying that the missed connection could have been a good thing, but was not, was due to Amtrak no longer providing a hotel and food.  Hopefully you got a healthy refund for the sleeper portion on the CL!



#7 nybatt

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 02:40 PM

On one of my first cross-country trips returning back east (on the EB) my wife and I missed our connection to the CL.  Amtrak offered the free hotel for the night and then a spot on the next day's CL, but NOT in a roomette.  Considering the options I spoke to a CSR in Union Station who got us on the LSL later that evening. Unfortunately, there was no roomette option on the LSL either, but to us it made sense to get east that night if our only choice was going to be coach.

 

It was horrible.  Similar to your experience Spinnaker, the wife and I got zero sleep, the LSL was late into NYP, and we arrived in WIL at 3am.

 

Lesson learned... every summer since (including our trip out west next week) I work an 'extra' night in CHI and catch the next evening's CL east.  No more stress about a late/missed connection, and a chance to do some things in Chi-town for a day.

 

I realize not everyone can financially/logistically follow this plan... but it makes a huge difference.  

 

For the record, in the 6 summers since, we would have MADE our connection 5 or the 6 times!! Oh, well.



#8 cpotisch

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 07:11 PM

Well the CL sleepers very well could have been booked up anyway.   Is there anyway to know what date past trains have been booked?   Maybe it is something I do not want to know? :)   Actually if I do know it was booked it might  make me feel a little better that it would not have mattered if I called or not.

 

But I think I was told by at least on Amtrak employee that it needed to be done at the station.   But even so, had I called I would have at least know of the urgency to get to customer service in Chicago.

I'm just saying that if you're likely to miss a connection, it's generally a good idea to call as soon as possible and see what can be done about it. You did ask if you made a mistake by dealing with it at the station, and I told you my take on it.


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#9 Skyline

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 10:47 PM

Sad but true. After 40 years of riding LD Amtrak trains, I seldom book tight connections, opting instead to stay in the connecting city that night. Yes, I have to pay for the hotel and meals, but yes, I always get my preferred accommodation on the connecting train. In most cities, the extra time spent is what good memories are made of. Of course, there is an out-of-pocket expense involved but you only live once.



#10 SarahZ

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 12:12 AM

Well the CL sleepers very well could have been booked up anyway.   Is there anyway to know what date past trains have been booked?   Maybe it is something I do not want to know? :)   Actually if I do know it was booked it might  make me feel a little better that it would not have mattered if I called or not.

 

When you realized your connection was hosed, you could have hopped on Amtrak's website (or the app) and checked for available sleepers. That would have at least let you know if you had a chance of getting a room or if you'd be stuck in coach.

 

I realize it's moot now, but that's something to keep in mind for the future. I often switched from the Blue Water to the Wolverine when I knew the Southwest Chief would be late. More often than not, the train was sold out by the time we got to Chicago, so I was glad I'd switched my ticket while sitting in Cornfield, IL.


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#11 spinnaker

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 12:28 AM

 

Well the CL sleepers very well could have been booked up anyway.   Is there anyway to know what date past trains have been booked?   Maybe it is something I do not want to know? :)   Actually if I do know it was booked it might  make me feel a little better that it would not have mattered if I called or not.

 

When you realized your connection was hosed, you could have hopped on Amtrak's website (or the app) and checked for available sleepers. That would have at least let you know if you had a chance of getting a room or if you'd be stuck in coach.

 

I realize it's moot now, but that's something to keep in mind for the future. I often switched from the Blue Water to the Wolverine when I knew the Southwest Chief would be late. More often than not, the train was sold out by the time we got to Chicago, so I was glad I'd switched my ticket while sitting in Cornfield, IL.

 

 

 

I have an old flip phone.    No wifi on the CZ for my tablet.   I really need to get a smart phone, if not just for travel. 



#12 cpotisch

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 06:30 AM

I have an old flip phone.    No wifi on the CZ for my tablet.   I really need to get a smart phone, if not just for travel. 

Then call Amtrak. You had ample time to do it. I don't mean to disparage someone who went through a sucky experience due to a missed connection, but don't claim that you were unable to check any of this.


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#13 willem

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 08:30 AM

[...]does Amtrak (hopefully) automatically book you on the next train with best available match.  FYI if the answer is yes on the last one I will be greatly surprised.

 

On one of my trips from the midwest to Florida many years ago, the eastbound Empire Builder (which should be denoted EB EB in accordance with the penchant for abbreviation) was late into Chicago. Amtrak put me up in a nice hotel (with taxi and food money) and put me in the sleeping car an the Capitol Limited the next day. So far, so good.

 

This was years ago and my memory of the exact sequence of events has faded. However, I understood that I had a roomette on the Silver Service train. (I forget which one, but I think it was the Meteor.) When I got on the train, however, the sleeping cars were full to Georgia. The kicker is that the car attendant, when I finally got into the sleeping car, said that the conductor had sold the last room as an on-board upgrade between Baltimore and Washington.

 

Did Amtrak book me on the next train with the best available match? I thought so, but I was greatly surprised.



#14 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 08:40 AM

 

[...]does Amtrak (hopefully) automatically book you on the next train with best available match.  FYI if the answer is yes on the last one I will be greatly surprised.

 

On one of my trips from the midwest to Florida many years ago, the eastbound Empire Builder (which should be denoted EB EB in accordance with the penchant for abbreviation) was late into Chicago. Amtrak put me up in a nice hotel (with taxi and food money) and put me in the sleeping car an the Capitol Limited the next day. So far, so good.

 

This was years ago and my memory of the exact sequence of events has faded. However, I understood that I had a roomette on the Silver Service train. (I forget which one, but I think it was the Meteor.) When I got on the train, however, the sleeping cars were full to Georgia. The kicker is that the car attendant, when I finally got into the sleeping car, said that the conductor had sold the last room as an on-board upgrade between Baltimore and Washington.

 

Did Amtrak book me on the next train with the best available match? I thought so, but I was greatly surprised.

 

Just a guess.  Maybe between the time Amtrak rescheduled you and the conductor did the on board upgrade someone had cancelled their room making it available for the upgrade.  I doubt they had anything on the manifest saying "if a room becomes available before <station where you switched to the room> give it to <your name>.



#15 willem

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 08:47 AM

Maybe between the time Amtrak rescheduled you and the conductor did the on board upgrade someone had cancelled their room making it available for the upgrade.  I doubt they had anything on the manifest saying "if a room becomes available before <station where you switched to the room> give it to <your name>.

 
That's a reasonable guess and it doesn't contradict my hazy memories.


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#16 spinnaker

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 10:40 AM

 

I have an old flip phone.    No wifi on the CZ for my tablet.   I really need to get a smart phone, if not just for travel. 

Then call Amtrak. You had ample time to do it. I don't mean to disparage someone who went through a sucky experience due to a missed connection, but don't claim that you were unable to check any of this.

 

 

Well I realize that now.   ;)   I am just trying to figure if that would have made a difference. In other words would they be able to help?   Or just tell me I needed to wait till I got to the station?



#17 cpotisch

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 12:07 PM

 

 

I have an old flip phone.    No wifi on the CZ for my tablet.   I really need to get a smart phone, if not just for travel. 

Then call Amtrak. You had ample time to do it. I don't mean to disparage someone who went through a sucky experience due to a missed connection, but don't claim that you were unable to check any of this.

 

Well I realize that now.   ;)   I am just trying to figure if that would have made a difference. In other words would they be able to help?   Or just tell me I needed to wait till I got to the station?

If past experiences of other members are any indication, you would have been able to do it by phone. They wouldn't have told you that you had to wait until you're at the station.


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#18 spinnaker

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 12:33 PM

 

 

 

I have an old flip phone.    No wifi on the CZ for my tablet.   I really need to get a smart phone, if not just for travel. 

Then call Amtrak. You had ample time to do it. I don't mean to disparage someone who went through a sucky experience due to a missed connection, but don't claim that you were unable to check any of this.

 

Well I realize that now.   ;)   I am just trying to figure if that would have made a difference. In other words would they be able to help?   Or just tell me I needed to wait till I got to the station?

If past experiences of other members are any indication, you would have been able to do it by phone. They wouldn't have told you that you had to wait until you're at the station.

 

 

 

Thanks.   That is what I was looking for.   But had I called (or better been able to check the website), I would have at least known there were rooms at that time or not..  

 

Not that it would have made a difference as I was already at a disadvantage by having to get my bike.   There was no rushing to get to customer service at the station.   I had to wait a considerable time to get the bike.   I pounded on the baggage car door, the guy that opened the baggage car , mumbled something, then walked away in the opposite direction of my bike! 

 

In my defense, we were told we would be helped at the station.   We were never told calling customer service was an option. 



#19 anumberone

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 02:56 AM

It's a crapshoot booking the CL directly from the Zepher. I was lucky missing the CL by 7 hrs, Amtrak already had us booked on the LS in a roomette. I missed an important meeting the next afternoon in DC,but hey, it's all part of mystic of train travel.

Edited by anumberone, 10 July 2018 - 02:56 AM.

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#20 bratkinson

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 08:06 AM

If past experiences of other members are any indication, you would have been able to do it by phone. They wouldn't have told you that you had to wait until you're at the station.


I KNOW from experience that typing on my laptop whether on the train or not, my hand hand touches the built in mouse pad and the next key stroke becomes some bizarre, unexpected response, most often moving the cursor some where or like just now, posts what I had typed thus far. TWICE while doing this response. So now I'm writing it with the free Open Office version of Microsoft Word...



3 or 4 years ago, 2 days before I was to leave on my annual AGR points redemption vacation, CSX derailed a coal train just outside of WAS at Rockville, as I recall. Checking online while bouncing around on train #141 on Metro North owned tracks, I found it still had not been cleared and #30 had been turned to become todays #29 at PGH. I called the AGR folks and told the agent the situation and told her I'd bail out at NYP and take the Pennsylvanian to PGH and get on #29 there, which a number of people do every day.

The bad news was that the Amtrak computer refused to let me board at PGH into my originally assigned roomette. The rooms hadn't been freed up by the computer. The good news was there was still a roomette available from PGH, but only as far as Toledo! But, there was a roomette available on the Lakeshore Ltd from Toledo an hour after the Capitol Ltd left Toledo and she booked me into that one. Even though we lost an hour in the night, the Lakeshore was a bit more than an hour late, so I made the connection at TOL as planned as well as my connection to #21/421 to LAX.

But the Amtrak computer treated the itinerary change as a 'regular' change and charged a penalty of 20% of the two tickets of AGR points that was changed. I was not made aware of it as I recall and discovered the fact the next time I logged on to AGR web site. BUT, the good news was that someone at AGR discovered the situation and gave me the penalty points back.

Lessons learned:

First and foremost, I got perhaps the only available rooms to Chicago by calling as far ahead as possible. Anyone else calling later and/or riding the corridor to WAS as well as those from trains south of WAS got bused to PGH and probably lost their rooms as well!

Secondly, when changing reservations talking with an agent, be sure to ask about any penalties, points or dollars. Apparently the person I spoke with likely forgot to advise me due to all the typing necessary to book two rooms, etc.
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