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Hi people,

 

This time next year, I'll be making my way to the airport to hop across the pond to cross the good ole USA.

 

I plan to travel on the Texas Eagle from Chicago to

Los Angeles, leaving Chicago Friday afternoon.

 

I've been looking at tickets as far in advance as possible and a question has arisen.

 

The roomette price for the whole journey is a mere $538, however, another option was available for $438 On the same train.

 

The only difference being is you travel in a seat from Chicago to St Louis and then a roomette onwards from St Louis.

 

My question is about how the check-in would work?

 

Do I check in as a passenger with roomette reservation or seat reservation?

 

What happens at St Louis? Do I just walk down to my designated coach on the train?

 

Any help/advice would be appreciated - it'll save me looking daft when I get there, lol.

 

Dave.

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First off, the train you're looking at is the Texas Eagle, which runs Chicago-San Antonio and then has thru-cars to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited. This is generally a much more time consuming and (in my opinion) less scenic route. The better route would be taking the Southwest chief (trains 3&4) right from Chicago to LA or taking the beautiful California Zephyr from Chicago-San Francisco and the Coast Starlight from SF-Los Angeles.

 

Now what Amtrak is suggestion to you is you book a coach ticket from Chicago - St. Louis. At St. Louis they drop off a car (since the ridership is lower south of St. Louis) and at this point amtrak wants you to transfer to the "main" train. I would advise against this unless the cost is prohibitive for you. By booking this option you'll lose out on the lounge at Chicago and you'll probably miss out on Dinner in the Dining car (especially if the train is late). Additionally, you'll have to get your luggage from one end of the train to the other. Not worth it in my opinion.

 

What are your dates? I would strongly recommend the Chicago-San Fransisco-Los Angeles option if you have the time.

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If you do take the Texas Eagle (or any other train when you start in coach and move to a sleeper), when you're on the platform boarding in Chicago I'd suggest walking down from coach to your sleeping car. Introduce yourself to the sleeping car attendant, explain that you're ticketed in his/her car from St. Louis on, and ask if it's OK for you to stow your suitcase on the rack on the lower level of the sleeping car. Usually both the SCA and the conductor will be fine with this--it avoids the baggage transfer in St. Louis. Then, carrying only what you'll need from Chicago to St. Louis, walk on back to board a coach car.

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First off, the train you're looking at is the Texas Eagle, which runs Chicago-San Antonio and then has thru-cars to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited. This is generally a much more time consuming and (in my opinion) less scenic route. The better route would be taking the Southwest chief (trains 3&4) right from Chicago to LA or taking the beautiful California Zephyr from Chicago-San Francisco and the Coast Starlight from SF-Los Angeles.

 

Now what Amtrak is suggestion to you is you book a coach ticket from Chicago - St. Louis. At St. Louis they drop off a car (since the ridership is lower south of St. Louis) and at this point amtrak wants you to transfer to the "main" train. I would advise against this unless the cost is prohibitive for you. By booking this option you'll lose out on the lounge at Chicago and you'll probably miss out on Dinner in the Dining car (especially if the train is late). Additionally, you'll have to get your luggage from one end of the train to the other. Not worth it in my opinion.

 

What are your dates? I would strongly recommend the Chicago-San Fransisco-Los Angeles option if you have the time.

He has a same day ticket for a sleeper so he should be allowed into the lounge even though the sleeper isn't till St Louis.

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It is also possible that if that room is not occupied in Chicago that they might let you have the room there. Not expected but that has happened to us on boarding in CLE a couple of times. But the advice about stowing the luggage in the sleeping car bin is a good one. And I believe Betty is correct that you should have access to the lounge if you show your SC ticket to the Chicago lounge staff. Depends on what mood they are in that day..smile

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Unfortunately, sleepers seem to cost more on the Southwest Chief than they do on the Texas Eagle.

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The others have given you good info.

 

I agree that riding in Coach from CHI-STL and then transferring to your Sleeping Car in St Louis is definitely worth the $100 savings.

 

As the others said, you can use the Metro Lounge in Chicago since you have a same day Sleeping Car ticket and asking the Sleeping Car,attendant about putting your Luggage in the Sleeper in Chicago is spot on.Eat Lunch in Chicago( there tons of spots around Union Station) and as was said,theres a possibility gou can occupy the room ( youll need tp pay for Dinner in the Diner if so, or use the Cafe Car)if no-one is using it between CHI and STL.

 

Id suggest using a Redcap to get to your Train from the Lounge, makes it a lot easier to board. Asl ast the desk in the lounge before boarding starts.

 

There is a First time Rider Forum here on AU with lots of good info and also lots of old trip reports about the,Eagle/Sunset Ltd Route. ( youll be on the Thru Cars/Train #421 between CHI and LA,NOT Train #21/#1)

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Unfortunately, sleepers seem to cost more on the Southwest Chief than they do on the Texas Eagle.

Maybe, but maybe not. Because the sleeper buckets for TE 421/422 and SWC 3/4 are precisely the same, which one costs more (or if they cost the same) depends on the date of travel. In addition, it also depends on which of the three sleepers is being compared. In addition, it also depends on the date of the fare inquiry.

 

From now through 14 Feb 2019 the only SWC sleeper that routinely costs more than a TE sleeper is the Family Bedroom. But for the other sleepers when there is a difference, a Roomette on the TE is higher 61% of the time and a Bedroom on the TE is higher 67% of the time.

 

You can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to cost the most. :blink: And the only way to really tell is to take the time to compare fares using AmSnag.

Edited by niemi24s

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Unlike airlines, there is no “check in” on Amtrak.

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Unlike airlines, there is no “check in” on Amtrak.

 

Cascades in PDX definitely has a check-in process. CHI has also had a coach travel check-in process. Many stations (including my own SAS) have a "check-in" style process where you line up to be validated by the conductor before boarding. It's not quite the same as airport style check-in but it's still more involved than many other passenger railways where you simply board of your own accord.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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There is a coach check in at CUS. Time of check in partially determines boarding group. Not an issue if using a Red Cap from the lounge, but makes a difference if not.

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It really depends on your budget, and how much you want a room. I would take a sleeper the whole way, but that's just me. If $100 isn't a big deal for you, get a sleeper. Otherwise, you'll be fine in coach for the 5 or so hours. You will have access to the Metropolitan Lounge no matter what, since you'll be in a sleeper the same day. They'll very likely be fine with you dropping your bags in the sleeper upon departure in Chicago, and there is also a chance that they let you skip coach and just go straight to your room (again, if it's open). Also if you have dinner after 7:00, it will definitely be included in your fare.

Edited by cpotisch

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Also if you have dinner after 7:00, it will definitely be included in your fare.

 

I would have thought that eligibility for an included meal would depend on the train location, not the train schedule. In other words, if the train has not yet reached Saint Louis, I would expect that supper would not be included.

 

Are you suggesting that the train location at the conclusion of the meal determines eligibility?

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Willem is correct. Only if the train has departed STL would dinner be included.

 

If the TE departed late and/or got stuck behind a disabled freight and was only in BLN by that time, a person boarding the sleeper in STL could not have already boarded. Or the opposite is also true if you were aboard in a sleeper and youre 5 hours late, but your scheduled arrival at your destination was 3 pm, you are entitled to an included dinner.

Edited by the_traveler

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Also if you have dinner after 7:00, it will definitely be included in your fare.

 

I would have thought that eligibility for an included meal would depend on the train location, not the train schedule. In other words, if the train has not yet reached Saint Louis, I would expect that supper would not be included.

 

Are you suggesting that the train location at the conclusion of the meal determines eligibility?

 

What I meant was that he will officially be ticketed in a sleeper, at 7:00 PM, which is still well-within dining hours. Not that it's directly attributed to the actual time. If the TE is delayed, the OP is screwed.

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To me the advantage of having the sleeper out of Chicago is that you get to be settled in your room, you have dinner no matter what the TE is doing, in STL you do not have the issue of changing cars. Now if you do purchase CHI/STL Coach and the SCA says to stay in your room, they will cover everything, just make sure you are scanned on board and not a Coach no show which could cause your whole CHI-LAX ticket to be canceled.

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What I meant was that he will officially be ticketed in a sleeper, at 7:00 PM, which is still well-within dining hours. Not that it's directly attributed to the actual time. If the TE is delayed, the OP is screwed.

 

It's always possible that I'm reading the timetable incorrectly, but it looks to me like the Texas Eagle is scheduled to arrive in Saint Louis at 7:21 PM. I'm having trouble reconciling that with your statements.

 

Lonestar648, that's a great point about being sure the coach ticket gets scanned, if the OP chooses that alternative.

 

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According to this... https://www.amtrak.com/dining-car ...the latest boarding time for the evening meal is 8:30 pm, so if the train arrives in STL as scheduled at 7:21 pm, Cyberbob1uk will have an hour to spare - unless the staff decides to operate on Eastern Standard Time - or unless the Texas Eagle Cross Country Cafe has its own set of meal hours.

Edited by niemi24s

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TE is scheduled to arrive at 7:21 PM and depart 7:55 PM (34 min dwell), generally, those boarding in STL are in the last seating. With just one revenue sleeper plus the Transdorm, there usually isn't a big crowd for the DC like the other Western trains have, but then the CCC seats half as many as those trains as well.

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TE is scheduled to arrive at 7:21 PM and depart 7:55 PM (34 min dwell), generally, those boarding in STL are in the last seating. With just one revenue sleeper plus the Transdorm, there usually isn't a big crowd for the DC like the other Western trains have, but then the CCC seats half as many as those trains as well.

When I was in the CCC (a month ago), one end had four tables (two normal ones, two weird 3-seaters) and the other end had something like 10 or 12 tables (all normal ones). And in the Sunset's standard Superliner diner, they were only using half the car, so the CCC effectively had higher capacity. Not sure if there's some variation in the CCC layout, but the one I took seemed to have a lot more than half the car in use.

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The CCC is setup so 1/2 is the Dining portion (the side with the weird tables) and the other side is the Lounge/cafe. Many times, that side is not used by the cafe LSA as the cafe. If not, that side normally remains unused.

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The CCC is setup so 1/2 is the Dining portion (the side with the weird tables) and the other side is the Lounge/cafe. Many times, that side is not used by the cafe LSA as the cafe. If not, that side normally remains unused.

Well in this one, the dining portion was 10 or 12 regular tables, and the lounge-cafe area was two regular tables and two weird booths. It definitely was not half-and-half.

 

EDIT: Here’s a picture I took of the ‘diner’ end:post-14075-15216736496439.jpg

Looks like it’s 10 tables.

Edited by cpotisch

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Shows 8 tables or 32 passengers. The standard Dining Car if all tables were used has 10 tables on one side and 8 tables on the other for capacity of 72 passengers, which never happens these days.

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Shows 8 tables or 32 passengers. The standard Dining Car if all tables were used has 10 tables on one side and 8 tables on the other for capacity of 72 passengers, which never happens these days.

That picture definitely shows 10, you can see the last tables just barely peaking out. So I guess it is exactly half the capacity. That said, I've never seen them use both halfs in the standard diner. I guess the lower capacity of the CCC just stems from the 1000-foot-long 'bar' area.

Edited by cpotisch

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Sorry, I missed those two in the far rear of the photo, guess i need those new glasses my daughter tells me I need. They used both half's of the diner on the CZ this summer, though a few booths were for storage and crew. The run had 3 sleepers completely sold out the entire trip, actually so were the coaches, because the conductors were announcing each stop that an equal number getting off were getting on.

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