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Guest Track-a-lack

BOGO Roomette sale, and Business Class?

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Guest Track-a-lack

Hi folks,  I just discovered this forum today and have already learned a wealth of things about Amtrak rail travel.  I will be taking my first-ever Amtrak trip in about two weeks, from Houston to New Orleans on the Sunset Limited, and then on the Crescent to Charlotte, NC.  I will be working in Charlotte from the 18th-20th, then we're on to Williamsburg, VA, to vist family for a couple of weeks. Haven't decided if we're going to rent a car from CLT to WBG or try to take another train.  I am leaning towards the train.

My wife and I will be traveling  together in Coach.  We really wanted to take a roomette both ways but for the two of us a round-trip roomette booking was something  like $1700-$2000, which was  really hard to justify when we could both fly for about $700.  Now I have always wanted to travel by train, and she and I are both absolutely nuts for scenery and novelty.  We usually drive from Houston to Williamsburg and back, because we hate flying, and especially airports,  security theater, and cramped quarters.  My wife suffers from chronic pain and has circulation problems and airplane seats and endless security lines and giant hard-paved concourses are just devastating to her.   From all my research the train seems ideal as the seats even in coach are very large and by most reports comfortable and supportive, and there are ample opportunities to move around, step off the train briefly, visit the Lounge, Dining Car, etc.


As of yesterday it seems as though there is a 2-for-1 sale on Roomettes, although to be honest the prices don't seem to me to reflect that in the online booking.  That or I am  just not remembering what I was seeing before.  So here is my situation:

Departing: My work paid for my Coach ticket from HOS to CLT, it is already booked.  It was $158.  We booked my wife's Coach ticket for the same ride, it was $197, only one day later, yikes!  Departing HOS at noon-ish on Dec 16th on the Sunset Limited to NOL,   then an overnight layover in New Orleans, where we booked a room at a nearby hotel, and then departing at 7:00AM-ish on the Crescent to CLT.

WBG to HOS, departing January 8th, 2019:  52 hours total travel time.  First the 94 Northeast  Regional to Washington, DC.  A layover of 2-3 hours there, and then the Capitol Limited to Chicago, another  5 hour layover, and then the Texas Eagle to Fort Worth, where they put us on a Thruway bus back to Houston.   Two travelers in  a roomette , price is $770 if we take coach on the Northeast Regional,  or $824 if we do Business Class for that first segment.  We haven't booked yet, but I want to book ASAP because of the sale, and because prices always seem to go up when I wait.

 

On to my questions!

 

1. My wife and I booked separately.  However, we are riding together.  Do we count as traveling together, even though we are on separate reservations? So we can for sure sit together?

2. I am not terribly worried about not having a sleeper on the way to Charlotte, because we'll have a good night's sleep in New Orleans, and even though 17h is a long trip, we are accustomed to driving these long distances in my full-size crew-cab pickup, up to 12-14 hours a day anyway, and even though I love my truck and think it's nice, riding has got to be more restful and less stressful than  driving.  Would you guys generally agree that if I am comparing it to the stress of driving, the comfort level of even a Coach seat will be equivalent or better  than even a nicely-appointed pickup truck?

3. Is $824 from WBG back to HOS a good price for two people, in a sleeper?  It seems OK, but not really any cheaper than what I remember the return leg being before when I was  looking, so I am not sure if the 2-for-1 is reflected in that price.

4. Are the thruway buses ok?  I remember Greyhound and similar charter buses from my youth, and I don't remember really enjoying it, especially the small and smelly lavatory compartment.  I hate to enjoy two nights in a sleeper and then have a buzzkill on a  Greyhound at the very end of my trip!  (follow-up question: wonder why ALL my return legs, every time I have looked, always route me back through Chicago and then the Texas Eagle...  Not once has Amtrak reservations computer ever offered to bring us home via Crescent/City of New Orleans and then Sunset Limited!)

5. Is the use of the lounges in the big stations a good perk?  I am reading mixed reviews of them, but it seems a nice thing, especially if my wife needs to sit down and rest.  My comparison would be an airport waiting room or highway rest area.

6.  No checked baggage on the Northeast Regional!?  That seems so weird to me... what do I do with my extra bags?  I think between the two of us we get 200lbs of luggage as carryon, plus i guess like her tote-purse thing and maybe my laptop bag...  but we always seem to have more suitcases than normal people  (accustomed to having the whole back of a full size pickup to ourselves) .. so how do you  handle transitioning form a train with no Checked Baggage to one with Checked Baggage, or vice versa?

7. Is the extra $55 or so for Business Class on the Northeast Regional worth it?  It's the shortest segment of the trip overall, but since we still need to get from Charlotte to Williamsburg, I am considering saving the money. I admit I want to TRY Business Class, but not if you guys convince me it's not worth $55.

 

This is way  longer than I anticipated, thank  you all for your consideration.

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Before I finish reading, I wanted to answer question #3 and suggest that you book the sleeper right away.

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Now to try to answer the rest of your questions...

1.  Will you be able to sit with your wife?  There is no absolute guarantee of this even if you were booked on the same ticket, but generally a couple will be seated together.

2. I think coach on a train is more comfortable than a truck, and you certainly have freedom to move around and use the bathroom.

3.  Well, I hope you already bought your tickets.

4.  There's essentially no difference between a Thruway Bus and a Greyhound Bus.

5.  Amtrak's first-class lounges are a good perk, and even the coach waiting areas are generally as nice as airport waiting areas (at least in the bigger cities; not sure about WBG).

6.  Checked baggage from WBG is available on the overnight Regional trains, so you would have to check your bags a day or so in advance or have them arrive after you.

7.  I always travel in the highest class I can afford, so for me the $55 would certainly be worth it. 

Edited by Maglev

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Actually, there CAN be a difference. Some Thruway connections can be a van or even a taxi!

The roomette sale is actually not the savings you think. The price of a roomette is the same for either 1 or 2 passengers, then each person also pays a separate rail fare. Thus since the first passenger pays the rail fare and the accommodation charge, the “sale” savings is only the rail fare portion that the second passenger would pay. (As a example if the accommodation charge is $200 and each person’s rail fare is $75, the first person would pay $275 [$200 +$75], the cost for both would be $350 [$200 + $75 + $75]. The savings would be just the $75 the second passenger would pay.)

Even if you don’t - or can’t - use checked baggage service, the unofficial rule is if you can carry it yourself, you can take it. And there are lots of baggage storage space above your seat - unlike on a plane.

Edited by the_traveler
Poor choice of words

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59 minutes ago, Guest Track-a-lack said:

3. Is $824 from WBG back to HOS a good price for two people, in a sleeper?  It seems OK, but not really any cheaper than what I remember the return leg being before when I was  looking, so I am not sure if the 2-for-1 is reflected in that price.

Make sure you're using the booking engine at the bottom of this page (not merely the "book now" button found on the banner for this deal on the Amtrak homepage), and that it says "Promo Applied" underneath the price. If it doesn't say "Promo Applied", it's just showing the normal price and it didn't apply the discount.

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1) There are no guarantees, but you should be able to sit together. Ask the coach attendant or conductor to assist in this if needed.

4) The Amtrak computer booking system does not seem to offer routing where there is a longish "stopover", so an overnight in NOL for example, although it may suit you, is not seen by the computer as an option.

7) I always travel on the cheap, so for a short ride I don't see business class as being "good value".  Maybe if you think you might ride a lot of trains in the future, and given your wife's issues, it may be nice to try it out for reference?

Ed.

 

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1 hour ago, caravanman said:

4) The Amtrak computer booking system does not seem to offer routing where there is a longish "stopover", so an overnight in NOL for example, although it may suit you, is not seen by the computer as an option.

The connection overnight in New Orleans is the only overnight connection shown. And it is indicated that the overnight is the passenger’s responsibility.

I am confused on the question about a CONO/SL connection. The CONO arrives AFTER the SL departs NOL

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5 hours ago, the_traveler said:

I am confused on the question about a CONO/SL connection. The CONO arrives AFTER the SL departs NOL

If one arrives into NOL on the CONO the day before the SL departs, that might be a nice arrangement for some folk, indeed I have done that myself, but it won't show as a general travel option "through route"...

 

Ed.

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As I said, the only overnight connection shown anywhere on Amtrak is between the Crescent and SL in NOL.

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