I am considering travelling on the Maple Leaf service between New York and Toronto later this year, as well as the Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and San Jose.
These will be my first trips on 'long distance' Amtrak services and as such I would like to find out about the seating allocation process for both of these services.
For both trips I would like to have a window-seat, on the left side of the car as both trains run North and have the Hudson River and Pacific Coastline (respectively) on the 'left' side of the train during their journeys.
1) For these long distance services, are the specific seats allocated at the time of booking, or can you pick your specific seat at the time of boarding the train given it will be at the origin-station for both trips?
2) Am I correct in thinking all seats face in the direction of travel on these long distance trains?
3) At this stage I am to travel in coach class, however may consider purchasing a business class ticket if that may increase my chances of securing my desired seat?
4) For the Coast Starlight service, are the roomette/sleeper compartments located on both sides of the train or are they all positioned on the same side throughout the train?
If so, is it known which side they are on for the northbound trip?
5) What is the etiquette for the lounge car on the Coast Starlight? Can one sit there for 7+ continuous hours, or is it expected that passengers alternate between their allocated seat and the lounge car in shorter intervals?