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Guest KleShreen

Need Cross-Country Advice!

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Since you have a room, you can use the Metropolitan Lounge and store your luggage there free of charge.

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I totally agree with Bob Dylan: The California Zephyr has stunning views and when I rode this train back in May 2012 I was in Bedroom E which was excellent.

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Has anyone used the Amtrak Vacations thing to put together their trips? I called them today and they quoted me the rail portions of the trip as well as some hotel stays and it seemed way more expensive than what you can get just doing it on your own. Maybe the "packages" just aren't as big of discounts as it seems like they should be. Haha.

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Has anyone used the Amtrak Vacations thing to put together their trips? I called them today and they quoted me the rail portions of the trip as well as some hotel stays and it seemed way more expensive than what you can get just doing it on your own. Maybe the "packages" just aren't as big of discounts as it seems like they should be. Haha.

Over the years, I've looked into them &,like yourself, I think I'll do it myself!!!

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Has anyone used the Amtrak Vacations thing to put together their trips? I called them today and they quoted me the rail portions of the trip as well as some hotel stays and it seemed way more expensive than what you can get just doing it on your own. Maybe the "packages" just aren't as big of discounts as it seems like they should be. Haha.

 

So far as I can tell there's no "discount" at all. You're paying a premium to cover the cost of having a travel agent book it for you.

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That is how I look at it also.

 

If you (and your spouse say) both work 12 hours a day, and then you have to go home and take care of the kids, it may be worth it to pay someone else to do the grunt work. But if you know how to find the lowest fares, the lowest hotels (or want to stay with a specific brand), etc... and you want to do it yourself and have the time, you probably will find it less.

 

I myself would rather do it myself.

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What is security like compared to airports? Like our first train on our trip leaves at 6 A.M. from a small station near us. I know the website says to arrive at least a half hour prior to departure time, but that seems like it is cutting it pretty close. Is there going to be like a security line or scanners or anything?

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If you see any kind of a security screening at all, don't bother buying a lottery ticket for the next full year. You're that unlucky!

 

If you're not checking baggage (when you have to have the baggage IN THE AGENT'S HAND 45 minutes prior to departure), you just have to be on the platform before the train is...particularly at the small stations. And while a train may arrive early, it will never leave before posted departure time (exception: stations coded "D" [discharge only] or "L" [limited stop] in the timetable). Even at a flag stop, which the train may bypass if no passengers are scheduled to board or detrain, the engineer is supposed to slow down enough to check the platform and stop if a last-minute passenger is waiting...and to not leave the station until posted boarding time. (Key word: supposed!)

 

Thirty minutes is generous. If there's a coffee shop or similar within sight of the station, I'd willingly cut it to fifteen.

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If you see any kind of a security screening at all, don't bother buying a lottery ticket for the next full year. You're that unlucky!

 

If you're not checking baggage (when you have to have the baggage IN THE AGENT'S HAND 45 minutes prior to departure), you just have to be on the platform before the train is...particularly at the small stations. And while a train may arrive early, it will never leave before posted departure time (exception: stations coded "D" [discharge only] or "L" [limited stop] in the timetable). Even at a flag stop, which the train may bypass if no passengers are scheduled to board or detrain, the engineer is supposed to slow down enough to check the platform and stop if a last-minute passenger is waiting...and to not leave the station until posted boarding time. (Key word: supposed!)

 

Thirty minutes is generous. If there's a coffee shop or similar within sight of the station, I'd willingly cut it to fifteen.

 

Thanks! We'll just stick to the half hour then. So it is pretty much carte blanche for what you can bring on the train? That's a little unsettling. Haha. Well, at least I don't have to explain a box of diabetic needles to anyone. We're just going to be utilizing one carry-on and one personal size bag each since we don't want to pay for anything extra on the airplane on the way back. Amtrak allowing TWO carry-ons (which are the size of most airplane checked bags) and TWO personal bags PER PERSON is ridiculous!

Edited by KleShreen

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Amtrak allowing TWO carry-ons (which are the size of most airplane checked bags) and TWO personal bags PER PERSON is ridiculous!

Ridiculous? I think it's great!

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If you see any kind of a security screening at all, don't bother buying a lottery ticket for the next full year. You're that unlucky!

 

If you're not checking baggage (when you have to have the baggage IN THE AGENT'S HAND 45 minutes prior to departure), you just have to be on the platform before the train is...particularly at the small stations. And while a train may arrive early, it will never leave before posted departure time (exception: stations coded "D" [discharge only] or "L" [limited stop] in the timetable). Even at a flag stop, which the train may bypass if no passengers are scheduled to board or detrain, the engineer is supposed to slow down enough to check the platform and stop if a last-minute passenger is waiting...and to not leave the station until posted boarding time. (Key word: supposed!)

 

Thirty minutes is generous. If there's a coffee shop or similar within sight of the station, I'd willingly cut it to fifteen.

 

Thanks! We'll just stick to the half hour then. So it is pretty much carte blanche for what you can bring on the train? That's a little unsettling. Haha. Well, at least I don't have to explain a box of diabetic needles to anyone. We're just going to be utilizing one carry-on and one personal size bag each since we don't want to pay for anything extra on the airplane on the way back. Amtrak allowing TWO carry-ons (which are the size of most airplane checked bags) and TWO personal bags PER PERSON is ridiculous!

 

No problem with diabetic needles. I've been doing a nightly injection for two years now and absolutely no problem bringing my insulin pens and needles aboard. One word of caution if you are traveling LD overnight -- Don't do the injection while the train is in motion. I did it once and needle bounce in and out. After that I plan my injection when I know the train is stopping for a station stop or better yet a fresh air break stop.

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So it is pretty much carte blanche for what you can bring on the train?

No.

https://assistive.amtrak.com/h5/assistive/r/www.amtrak.com/onboard/baggage-policy/baggage-prohibited-items.html

 

Very true. While there is seldom formal screening (although spot checks are occasionally conducted; hence my comment about being 'unlucky'), if it comes to the attention of the train crew that you have one or more of these prohibited items with you then you could be in Big Trouble.

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Was told bedroom cars are oriented to face the scenic views, such as the ride from la to sf. The roomettes are numbered with even numbers the same side as bedrooms. So, the the best views from roomettes are the even numbers.

 

Bedroom A is a foot smaller then b,c,d,e between chair and bathroom wall. No space at all. I got stuck with A room last trip only to find that we were in the last car. What a spectacular view...we had the rear window all to our selves and could see miles down the track.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Amtrak Forum

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They could face the scenic side in only one direction. Not both directions So the question becomes in which direction of travel do they face the scenic side.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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I feel fortunate that most don't like Bedroom A. I always book Bedroom A, although it's for solo travel, so the slight space reduction is not an issue.

Also, I don't use the "torture" chair for anything except storage.

 

I was led to Bedroom A by the very concerns that the OP expressed. I always found the sliding doors between the other bedrooms flimsy, they rattled as we rolled, and conversations and telephone calls were clearly audible to me.

I once had to politely knock on the door of the adjoining bedroom and tell the person I could hear all of her phone calls; could she please keep it down.

Then there was the group of frat boys who rented a Bedroom to drink and play cards on the LSL from NYC to Buffalo. Noisy.

 

Still, of the four other bedrooms, E is the best because as others said you are adjoining only one other room and not two, and it's over the center of the car.

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Was told bedroom cars are oriented to face the scenic views,

Plus their is usually scenic stuff on both sides on a long distance train ride.

Which is why I bounce around on the California Zephyr so much when i ride it.

 

On the Coast Starlight route the part of the route next to the ocean is probably the most scenic but as mentioned, the ocean is on the opposite side of the train when it's going in the opposite direction.

I've only ridden the CS from SAC overnight to EUG but about 1/2 of the really scenic stuff was on the right and about 1/2 was on the left.

 

On the California Zephyr westbound I've seen the consist put together with bedrooms on both sides - Car 0531 having the bedrooms & even numbered roomettes on the right side and car 0532 having the bedrooms/even numbered roomettes on the left side.

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In other words, aligning the bedrooms on the scenic side is not a "practice" of Amtrak. Particularly, I have noticed that on the Zephyr the two or three sleepers are aligned differently most of the time but on some occasions they are all aligned the same. When the Superliner sleepers were introduced in late 1970's and 1980's, I would always reserved Bedroom D since it was the bedroom that the sofa faced forward toward the engines but some where along the way they stopped aligning all sleepers cars the same way and now do it randomly. Actually, now the Zephyr sleeping cars and aligned differently from day to day since there are at least seven sets of equipment serving this route. I now almost always have Roomette 3 on all different routes and the side of trains changes from trip to trip.

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Was told bedroom cars are oriented to face the scenic views, such as the ride from la to sf. The roomettes are numbered with even numbers the same side as bedrooms. So, the the best views from roomettes are the even numbers.

 

Bedroom A is a foot smaller then b,c,d,e between chair and bathroom wall. No space at all. I got stuck with A room last trip only to find that we were in the last car. What a spectacular view...we had the rear window all to our selves and could see miles down the track.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Amtrak Forum

No. Sleeping cars can be and are oriented to face either direction, so it is completely luck of the draw whether or not the bedrooms (or even numbered roomettes) are on the ocean side or not. Even within the same consist on the Starlight the various sleeping cars are often oriented differently.

 

You lucked out. LA's 8th Street Coach Yard, where the Starlight consist is made up, does not take the extra, time consuming step of wying or putting sleeping cars on a turntable to change their orientation when making up the Starlight.

 

This does not just apply to the Starlight, btw. Regular sleeping car orientation is random on all Superliner trains. The transdorm is another matter, those do have an orientation since the end with the door at the lower level must be forward to connect with the baggage car.

Edited by zephyr17

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It's my understanding there are only 6 CZ train sets.

 

Chicago day 1 - Train set A departs.

Chicago day 2 - Train set B departs.

Chicago day 3 - Train set C departs. Train set A reaches Emeryville. Gets serviced/maintained/restocked to start return to CHI morning of Day 4 - arrive CHI day 6

Chicago day 4 - Train set D departs. Train set B reaches Emeryville. Gets serviced/maintained/restocked to start return to CHI morning of Day 5 - arrive CHI day 7

Chicago day 5 - Train set E departs. Train set C reaches Emeryville. Gets serviced/maintained/restocked to start return to CHI morning of Day 6 - arrive CHI day 8

Chicago day 6 - Train set F departs. Train set D reaches Emeryville. Gets serviced/maintained/restocked to start return to CHI morning of Day 6 - arrive CHI day 9.

 

Rinse and repeat.

Day 7 serviced/maintained/restocked overnight train set A again departs CHI for EMY. Start return to CHI morning of Day 10 - arrive CHI day 12.

If set A was significantly late returning to CHI it may be late departing for EMY the next day.

Day 8 train set B again departs CHI.

Day 9 train set C again departs CHI.

Yada, yada, yada.

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I feel fortunate that most don't like Bedroom A. I always book Bedroom A, although it's for solo travel, so the slight space reduction is not an issue.

Also, I don't use the "torture" chair for anything except storage.

 

I was led to Bedroom A by the very concerns that the OP expressed. I always found the sliding doors between the other bedrooms flimsy, they rattled as we rolled, and conversations and telephone calls were clearly audible to me.

I once had to politely knock on the door of the adjoining bedroom and tell the person I could hear all of her phone calls; could she please keep it down.

Then there was the group of frat boys who rented a Bedroom to drink and play cards on the LSL from NYC to Buffalo. Noisy.

 

Still, of the four other bedrooms, E is the best because as others said you are adjoining only one other room and not two, and it's over the center of the car.

I'm so torn on what to do. I'm thinking of seeing if I can switch from Bedroom E to Bedroom A. I think I would prefer the quietness and privacy over the extra 2 feet of space. I would regret it so much if I stay in Bedroom E and we end up with noisy neighbors.

 

Pros for Bedroom E: Near center of car, so smoother ride. Not by between-cars door. Bigger than Bedroom A.

 

Cons for Bedroom E: Shared wall with Bedroom D where it appears many noises can be heard, including conversation from neighbors and rattling of partition door. Allegedly louder in the mornings as people congregate near the coffee.

 

Pros for Bedroom A: Privacy, privacy, privacy. Privacy. Quieter. Privacy.

 

Cons for Bedroom A: Tight bathroom opening, no floor space next to chair, potentially some noise from between-cars door in the hall.

 

I think I might go with Bedroom A. Haha.

Edited by KleShreen

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You can not always say that the bedrooms are always on the scenic side.

 

Using the CS as an example, in southern CA departing LAX, the scenic side is on the left, but in northern CA, it is on the right. So if you board in LAX, you maybe correct for 1/2 of the trip. But how about if you board in SAC and the bedrooms are facing left? Then you get the so called bad side.

 

I have been on many trains where 1 sleeper had the bedrooms on the left and the other sleeper had them on the right.

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