Poor diner organization on CZ

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by ScottC4746, Jun 11, 2013.

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  1. Jun 11, 2013 #1

    ScottC4746

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    ScottC4746

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    Not sure who to write to about this but...

    We took CZ5 on 6 June from CHI - EMY and was just about 100% full. Every sleeper and just about every coach seat was taken. We had a 7:30 dinner reservation and did not get seated until 8:30 the first night, the first breakfast and lunch was first come first serve, two hours on a wait list for each of those, the second dinner I selected a 5 PM, the first seating to avoid the same thing. Second breakfast we were wait listed for an hour. Second lunch as soon as they announced lunch service began, we bolted and were seated right away. Service took us almost 2 hours to complete every meal. The Lead Dining Attendant confessed that he is really a SCA that go pressed into service to cover and was not too sure what to do. He only had two servers with him, one of which was so green if he laid down in the grass he would disappear. By the way, we were in a sleeper.

    My issue is if you saw first dinner was such a disaster, why wouldn't you do reservations on all meals?

    Has anyone else experianced this?
     
  2. Jun 11, 2013 #2

    the_traveler

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    Not to make excuses for them, but 2 possible reasons for that first dinner lateness may be 1) diners at earlier seatings wanted to "take their time and not leave" (I've seen that happen many times), or 2) there was a problem and they started late. (I once had a 5 pm reservation, but due to a problem with the Diner, service did not begin until 6:30!)

    As far as breakfast and lunch, if you wait until later (like at breakfast waiting until 7:30 or 8 when everyone wants to eat) expect a wait list. That's why I try for breakfast when the Dining Car opens. I never have waited.

    Contact Customer Relations to tell of the experience.
     
  3. Jun 11, 2013 #3

    Bob Dylan

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    As was said, The Early Bird gets the Worm! You do point out a Problem that Amtrak has thanks to Congress Micro-Managing Amtrak by cutting Staff in the Diners and trying to run a Diner instead of the Country the Way our Founding fathers intended! I dont know if youve ever been downstair in a Diner Galley but it's Darn Small and One or two Cooks have their Hands Full! When Hundreds of People are trying to Eat in a Train Diner it takes awhile! Also Im sure the Substittute LSA was doing the Best he could, I'm also not sure if youve ever been a Waiter overwhelmed by Customers when the plac eis Shorthanded but this is typical on most LD Routes in the Summer and during Peak Travel Times! Letting your Representatives know Increased funding is needed for Amtrak would help!

    Not trying to be Snarky, but as Dave said, contact Customer Relations with your Concerns AND Solutions, not just Complaints! Walk a Mile in their Shoes!

    And seriously, what is an Hour or Two on a Train Trip tht lasts 2 Days and Nights, the Idea is to have a Relaxed Meal in a Nice Setting as the train Rolls down the Line and the Whistle Blows away the cares of the World!

    Wolfing down Choiw is for Teenager, prisoners and the Military! Take Time and Smell the Roses Along the Way! ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2013
  4. Jun 11, 2013 #4
    What if I don't want to walk a mile in anyone's shoes, and I don't want to offer solutions, I just want to eat? This sounds awful. Is this kind of hassle normal on Amtrak?

    And if I have to wait for two hours, do I have to stand near the entryway for the entire period, or can I go back to my sleeper and come back at the new time?
     
  5. Jun 12, 2013 #5

    roomette

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    If service sucks at a diner on land I can leave and go somewhere else. I don't think that's an option on a train.
     
  6. Jun 12, 2013 #6

    the_traveler

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    If there's a waiting list, they take your name and size of your group and write it down. Then as space opens up, they call you by name over the PA. ("John party of 2, Sally party of 1, David party of 5 - your tables are ready!") Remember each table seats 4 so they may not call in order. In the above example, with a group of 5, they have to have 2 tables ready, and then also fill in 3 more passengers.

    As I stated above, it all depends. If you go for breakfast at 6:45 you generally get seated right away. If you wait until 8:30 (when everyone wants to eat) expect a waiting list!
     
  7. Jun 12, 2013 #7

    EMDF9A

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    Despite the AMTRAK apologists views to the contrary, there is NO REASON that a sleeper passenger is on a 2 hour wait list for any meal. Its included in the cost of the ticket and should have been given priority seating.
     
  8. Jun 12, 2013 #8

    ALC Rail Writer

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    As long as they all get to eat, that's all Amtrak has to do. What are you going to do, kick coach pax out midway through their meal?
     
  9. Jun 12, 2013 #9

    roomette

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    Actually, it takes far more than a minor "rules" infraction to get tossed from the train.
     
  10. Jun 12, 2013 #10

    ALC Rail Writer

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    Are you trying to be funny? I clearly meant thrown out of the diner...
     
  11. Jun 12, 2013 #11

    roomette

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    It was a failed attempt to combine a couple of threads hijacked by Amtrak apologists. Sorry. :(
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2013
  12. Jun 12, 2013 #12

    ALC Rail Writer

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    I see, in any event on every train I have ever been on if it is full the diner is swamped. On some runs indeed coach pax get largely shut out of the diner, rarely has a sleeper ever been turned away for a meal, and when Amtrak screws up I have always known them to make sure sleepers get fed through the lounge if need be.

    The issue is a matter of capacity and efficiency, on an average train an Amtrak crew does pretty well... sometimes they are practically dead. Because of this the budgets are justified low, meaning when the trains are packed they become short staffed from the get go.

    If you added a sleeper and a coach to every train you'd need some to run with more food service than they currently have.
     
  13. Jun 12, 2013 #13

    chakk

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    If nearly every sleeper room and every coach seat is occupied, then clearly the single diner in the CZ will have difficulties in serving everyone on time. There simply are not dining seats and dining crew members typically assigned to the CZ to handle that large of a crowd. So, should management have been prepared to call in extra staff to handle the crowd? That would partly help. But I doubt that Amtrak keeps extra diners available to add to the CZ. It's not like the old days of the CZ-DW-P when there were two diners on the train between Chicago and SLC, with an extra diner based at SLC to serve the P to Portland.
     
  14. Jun 12, 2013 #14

    ALC Rail Writer

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    In an ideal world yes, certainly there would be two diners. Also, I think it is fair to point out, especially to Amtrak first timers when the LSA says "you want dinner at 7?" then they will expect dinner at seven...
     
  15. Jun 12, 2013 #15

    OBS

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    There are two unfortunate causes of the problem the OP experienced, and he identified both. First off, one of the two waiters was relatively new. Second, they basically had no dining car LSA. They had a train attendant thrown in as an LSA (A warm body is better than nobody...Amtrak's internal motto). This means he doesn't know prices, probably barely knows how a dining car operates, and is definitely in no position to assist the green waiter who is going to be, obviously, slower in serving.

    This whole situation is probably partially created, by the decision to cut staffing this spring in Chi crew base and lay people off (to save money?).
     
  16. Jun 12, 2013 #16

    Steve4031

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    Please leave it alone. This ongoing debate across threads designed to annoy a poster is not consistent with how this forum operates. I think this needs to stop. Please feel free to disagree with specific topics as you wish. These views can help us keep an open mind.

    I agree that Amtrak can do better with the dining car service. The inexperienced LSA, the inexperienced server, and cutbacks in dining car service created this mess. It is not acceptable for passengers to be subjected to this. An experienced rider knows to get to the dining car for all first seatings to avoid being hungary later, and dealing with long waits. An unexperienced rider gets caught up in the mess because they don't understand the idiosyncrasies of Amtrak.
     
  17. Jun 12, 2013 #17

    PaulM

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    Yes, last Summer. But the problem wasn't the wait staff, rather disfunction (AKA under staffing) in the kitchen.
     
  18. Jun 13, 2013 #18

    Dovecote

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    I have been in similar situations as experienced by the OP on a few occasions on LD routes. Whenever I experience a lengthy delay in the Dining Car with no improvement expected for future meal servings I get my meals served in my room for the rest of the trip. I do enjoy the camaraderie in the Dining Car but I will certainly seize the opportunity to get meals served in my room as an alternative.
     
  19. Jun 18, 2013 #19

    ScottC4746

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    With two of us in one roomette it was a bit cramped, plus as I am not disabled I did not think I could do that.
     
  20. Jun 18, 2013 #20

    AmtrakBlue

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    You don't need to be disabled to request "room service" from the diner. But you're right about no room for two people to eat in a roomette.
     
  21. Aug 18, 2013 #21

    ScottC4746

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    Just a follow up, I sent a letter to Washington and received an apology letter yesterday in the post. Inside was a $75 voucher. Compared to sleeper prices, it is a token gesture, but at least something to say they cared and to try them again.
     

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