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F900ElCapitan

Business Class in the west?

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Basically, my question is is it worth it? I’ll be riding the Coast Starlight, Pacific Surfliner, and Lincoln Service next year, and I’ve seen a couple of reviews but not many. So is it worth the money to upgrade on any of these trains? 

Edited by F900ElCapitan

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It's not worth it on the Starlight, since all you get is a free bottle of water, a $6 voucher in the cafe or dining car, and identical seating that may or may not be leather. I would say that it definitely is worth it on the Pacific Surfliner because you get reserved seating (coach is unreserved and you don't want to risk having to stand), access to the LAX Metropolitan Lounge, plenty of complimentary snacks onboard, and extra legroom. And it's probably also worth it on the Lincoln Service since you get spacious 2x1 seating and access to the Chicago ML.

Edited by cpotisch

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I agree with cpotisch.  I have reservations for a sleeper on the Coast Starlight and Business Class on the Surfliner in January.

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This is great information, thanks. Our legs on the CS are EMY-SLO and SLO-SBA so probably a little short for a roomette, but I have to admit, it’s not much extra. 

Edited by F900ElCapitan

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2 minutes ago, benale said:

One of the only benefits to riding CS business class overnight is that you will probably have two seats to yourself

True, but that's definitely not guaranteed. And I don't really like the idea of a product or accommodation where one of the main benefits relies on said product not selling well.

Edited by cpotisch

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It's worth it on the Lincoln service if you're traveling any distance. It's definitely quieter, and just more relaxed overall. Where are you traveling between.

I haven't done Lincoln service coach between STL-CHI in many years.

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We will be traveling between CHI and SPI on the Lincoln Service, hopefully on 305 and using 307 as a backup. We’ll be arriving on #4 and decided we didn’t want to overnight in CHI so we decided to ride to SPI and take in some of the Lincoln museums and hopefully a good bowl of chili at The Chili Parlor:P:D. Then at the end of the day we’ll catch #21 to head home to the DFW area. 

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I'd disagree with the claim that it is worthwhile on the Surfliner. 

There is usually a Superliner coach in the consist which is a LOT nicer than a Business class Surfliner, and is likely to be used as a coach. I have also been stuck in a regular Horizon coach which was operating as Business class. At least on the Starlight you are reliably not getting a downgrade from coach. 

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There are pros and cons with Business Class on the Lincoln Service trains. Yes you get 2-1 seating, but it is almost always sold out so you will be guaranteed to be sitting next to somebody. You get a better chance of a seat by yourself in regular coach.

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5 hours ago, DevalDragon said:

There are pros and cons with Business Class on the Lincoln Service trains. Yes you get 2-1 seating, but it is almost always sold out so you will be guaranteed to be sitting next to somebody. You get a better chance of a seat by yourself in regular coach.

Thanks DevalDragon, the thing is I’ll be traveling with my wife, so sitting next to somebody should be preferable. :D

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9 hours ago, iplaybass said:

. It's definitely quieter, and just more relaxed overall. Where are you traveling between.

Business Class might or might not be quieter than Coach on the 30X, Lincoln,  or the 35X Wolverine services. It all depends on whether the Club (2-1 seating) is placed on the head or rear, which is strictly "flip a coin".  If on the head, hope you enjoy "listening to the music". Guarantee you I never did.

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Business Class might or might not be quieter than Coach on the 30X, Lincoln,  or the 35X Wolverine services. It all depends on whether the Club (2-1 seating) is placed on the head or rear, which is strictly "flip a coin".  If on the head, hope you enjoy "listening to the music". Guarantee you I never did.
The horn doesn't bother me. I usually sleep until Joliet northbound, and am entertaining myself with headphones on southbound. Screaming babies, loose children, and a half dozen loud cell phone conversations are much more intrusive to me than the train's horn.

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12 hours ago, daybeers said:

How is the Metropolitan Lounge in LAX?

As the photos above show, it is really nice. Great place to wait for a train.

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I just rode the Surfliner in business class last week. It was definitely worth it to me for guaranteed seats; although I doubt there wouldn't have been any available in regular coach, it's quite possible that hubby and I wouldn't have found seats together. We each got a nice box of "Train Treats" in BC, which contained cookies, pretzels, turkey jerky, nuts, and cheese with crackers. Also a soda or water. I don't know if the seats are larger in BC, but they did look somewhat nicer than seats in regular coach. Also, because BC car wasn't full, it was easy to move from side to side to catch the best views when necessary. And with less people using the bathroom, it's likelier to remain clean.

For me, the price difference was only around $20, so it was definitely worth it.

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I've done BC twice on the Cascades. I'd be hesitant to do it again unless I was headed north into Canada...the priority processing through Canada Customs is worth it for that alone, IMHO, especially if you're coming in on the late night train.

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15 hours ago, cpotisch said:

True, but that's definitely not guaranteed. And I don't really like the idea of a product or accommodation where one of the main benefits relies on said product not selling well.

For some reason Amtrak refuses to book two adjoining seats for one passenger (other than perhaps Acela) so other than sleepers (which are often sold out or priced well above two coach seats) there isn't much of an option.

 

3 hours ago, WindyCityTexan said:

Very small and cramped, but clean restrooms, great snacks (better than CHI), and preboarding.

The size would be fine if they had kept it limited to sleeper passengers like when it first opened.  I wish they would build another lounge for business class commuters.

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I'd disagree with the claim that it is worthwhile on the Surfliner. 

There is usually a Superliner coach in the consist which is a LOT nicer than a Business class Surfliner, and is likely to be used as a coach. I have also been stuck in a regular Horizon coach which was operating as Business class. At least on the Starlight you are reliably not getting a downgrade from coach. 
I think you're talking about the one Superliner car in between the other Surfliner cars. That car is now *sometimes* in business class now. In recent times, I've only had it be in business, though a few times it's in coach.

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I usually go business class on both the Starlight and the Surfliner. Access to the LA Metro lounge is a great benefit – I've never had a problem finding a seat, and it's well run.

Business class on the Starlight is a nicer experience than coach, and is well worth the money IMHO. WiFi is a big reason to do it, if you want to get any work done. Motivated business class attendants have been increasingly rare over the past year, but when you get a good one, it really adds to the experience. Your fellow passengers are likely to be quieter and better behaved (there are exceptions) and there are few or no children (again, with exceptions). The bottled water, pillow and voucher are nice perks, although you sometimes have to hunt down the attendant to get them. About 75% of the time, I have two seats to myself, which is really nice.

I like it better than roomette for a day trip. The seats are more comfortable, and you can see out of both sides of the train.

As other posters have noted, there are even more benefits on the Surfliner – a guaranteed seat can be important on some trains, and the snack box and beverages are nice, too (when available – the commissary forgot to load them on my last trip).

Well worth the few extra bucks it costs, on both the Starlight and Surfliner.

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13 minutes ago, TiBike said:

...the snack box and beverages are nice, too (when available – the commissary forgot to load them on my last trip).

Sigh. Tell me this isn't a government operation. And, please, tell me that they gave you some kind of reasonable compensation to make up for the lack of the promised amenities. Please.

 

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14 minutes ago, ehbowen said:

Sigh. Tell me this isn't a government operation. And, please, tell me that they gave you some kind of reasonable compensation to make up for the lack of the promised amenities. Please.

No, they didn't. Apparently, if I had complained strenuously enough to the conductor, they'd have given me something out of the cafe, but it wasn't worth the hassle. I brought my own lunch with me anyway. The attendant was zero help, he just sat in his seat looking at his mobile phone, and shrugged when I asked him about it. At least the conductor walked around answering questions – he was very nice about it. Didn't volunteer anything from the cafe, though.

I'm not particularly bent about it. It's the first time I've experienced that kind of poor service on the Surfliner. Usually, it's excellent. Stuff happens.

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