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Acela Express - assigned seating?

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May 12th, 2013, 01:01 AM
  #1
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Acela Express - assigned seating?

Is it still the case that seats on the Acela Express are not assigned with, instead, seat selection being on a "first to board get the best choice" basis?
We will be travelling from New York to Boston in early September this year.
Rob.
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May 12th, 2013, 05:50 AM
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Yes, it is true that there is no assigned seating. I believe there you can choose to be in the quiet car when you board.
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May 12th, 2013, 06:05 AM
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There is assigned seating only in first class.

If you want a better chance of sitting together (since the train will come in with many passengers already on it) use a red cap to take your luggage down to the train. Free service but you must give a decent tip. They get the platform number in advance and have a key to give you early access to the platform escalator. You will be able to get on the train while other passengers are still upstairs waiting for the track number.
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May 12th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Thanks.

I understand that Seniors may be given priority in boarding. Is this, in fact, the case, and how does that work?

Using a red cap may be worthwhile for us, because we will have two full-sized bags (within the allowable size limits), plus our hand-carries. We are quite capable of handling these ourselves, given time and space, but we would be at a big disadvantage in any rush to grab seats.

I not that a "decent tip" would be expected by the red cap. Understanding when a tip should be given, to whom, and how much is still a bit of a mystery so far as most New Zealanders are concerned. In the circumstances here, what would be considered "decent"?

Rob.
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May 12th, 2013, 05:46 PM
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Have never heard that. And the only way is to get someone to put you on the elevator or escalator ahead of other passengers. I have only seen this done by red caps. I would contact Amtrak and ask about this before assuming it is so. (And at most stations access s open to all - so is there no way to do this.
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May 13th, 2013, 04:11 AM
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If you can, get seats on the right hand side of the train so you will have nice views where you go near the ocean through CT and RI.
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May 13th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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For that much luggage I would give the Red Cap $10. You go to the special Amtrak seating section and tell the red cap at the desk what train you want and sit down. He will come and get you as soon as he gets the track number, get your luggage and lead you to the escalator, unlock it and take you downstairs and to whichever car you want - and bring your luggage in and arrange it for you. Tell him in advance if you want the quiet car - but do realize it really is quiet - no conversations.

I get off at Back Bay Boston, which does not have red caps and you have to maneuver your luggage off the train and up the escalator yourself. Don't know if there are Red Caps at Boston South Street station. (Most stations do NOT have Red Caps. I only know NYC Penn Station and Union Station in DC for sure.)

And don't see how seniors can board in advance - since at most stations the platform is open to all in advance and when the train pulls in all rush for the doors. (Tickets are taken only ON the train - not to get to the platform.)
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May 13th, 2013, 07:58 AM
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Seniors are not given priority boarding on Amtrak. But people using Red Caps are. So do that. Follow nytraveler's advice for the tip, and you'll be bfine.
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May 13th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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South Station has red caps. Back Bay does not.

Back Bay is great if you are getting off there and walking to a hotel nearby (or taking the Orange Line somewhere). Otherwise, South Station would probably be an "easier" process, given the red caps and, since that is the final stop, you will feel less rushed to get off the train. Also, there are many more taxis at South Station.
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May 13th, 2013, 12:17 PM
  #10
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Thanks very much. That covers exactly what I need to know.

We are staying close to Back Bay and will probably walk to our hotel. We managed our luggage on the Paris Metro last year, without escalators, so Back Bay should be a breeze!

Rob.
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May 13th, 2013, 04:01 PM
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At union Station in DC, they board seniors and people with children at the front of the line. They call them up before general boarding starts. I ride in the quiet car all the time. Quiet conversations are permitted. No cell phones or loud talking is permitted.
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May 13th, 2013, 05:24 PM
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Well, I've been on the quiet car - when I wanted to work - and people who almost whispered a couple of words were told by the conductor to stop talking. So I'm not sure I would take the chance.
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May 13th, 2013, 06:53 PM
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Here's the Amtrak policy-sounds like an over zealous conductor
http://www.amtrak.com/onboard-the-train-quiet-car
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Jul 25th, 2013, 03:12 AM
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Quiet car is a toss up. In some places on some trains, it is enforced. On others, not or poorly.

We suffered for two hours when the woman behind us spent the entire time on her cell phone complaining to a long list of relatives about a long list of other relatives.

She was a master of dodging the conductor and sufficiently hostile that no one dared to do more than glare. But that was exceptional.

What is interesting is that people abroad have learned that they don't have to shout into their mobile phones, while we largely have not.
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