Amtrak Room Prices, Coach Seat Questions

Old Nov 29th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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Amtrak Room Prices, Coach Seat Questions

I’m considering going from Chicago, IL to Albany, NY on Amtrak. This would be on the Lake Shore Limited, leaving Wednesday Dec 30 and returning on the following Saturday or Sunday. The ride is about 17 hours, leaving in the evening on both ends.

I’d like to get a roomette, but I can’t come to grips with parting with $331 per night, in addition to the regular fare.

With that in mind, and my limited knowledge of Amtrak, I pose the following questions to my knowledgeable travelers!

1) How comfortable are the coach seats for sleeping? Is there adequate space between passengers? I have a strong aversion to being forced to touch a stranger.

2) I’ve heard the Amtrak roomettes are sold in “price buckets” and that it is possible, though certainly not guaranteed, to buy on the train at the lowest bucket. Assuming that a room is available, any thoughts if $331 is already the lowest bucket?

3) How comfortable is the ride? I love to read and can be entertained with books, but I don’t want my eyes to be jumbled and read the same line thirteen times.

Finally, if I may pre-answer a question, yes I’ve considering flying, so I’m not looking for the “why don’t you fly” answers. With all respect and gratitude appreciated, that isn’t my question.

Many thanks!
CubFanAlways is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2009, 09:43 AM
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I took Amtrak from Hartford to DC and found it comfortable. Moreso than a plane but the seats are tight. Its easy to read and move around, unless the train is full. As soon as you stand up, someone tries to take your seat...I would definitely take it again.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 10:12 AM
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I assume you realize that meals are included in your roomette price?

We (family of 4) did the Chicago--Glacier NP trip several years ago in a "family roomette" one way and when we added up the meals in the dining car we got with our room, it was a little less painful, economically. And it was fun...a memorable trip I was glad we took.

In coach, it was easy to read, the seats seemed quite roomy (compared to plane seats anyway), and I liked being able to get up and walk around...sleeping wasn't the best, but it was only one night.

Do you belong to AAA? I think members get discounts.

Hopefully someone will chime in who has actually taken the exact trip you are inquiring about.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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Sacramento to Seattle last year--about 24 hrs.
felt roomette was way too expensive for time involved as would only include 2 meals.
Was assigned coach seat as a boarded therefore no one else could use it.
Did recline a bit and great pull-out for feet to rest on-
Overall was fairly comfortable--
Would travel this method again--even though THIS route almost always "late".
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 02:41 PM
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I did a NYC to Cleveland a few years ago in a roomette and thought it was fairly comfortble, and it does give you privacy. There is a porter assigned to the roomettes so if you have any problems or questions, you can get immediate assistance.

The only thing I found a problem was with the 'facilities', as the bed coming down covers the toilet and if you want to use it the bed has to go back up.

I would do it again, and probably will be doing it soon to Florida.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 04:56 PM
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Have taken Amtrak several times - from NYC to either Boston or Dc or Philly. fine for that length trip. the seats are comfy for sitting - way better than airline seats - but I can;t imagine how you would sleep in one - with people getting on and off the train, moving their luggage around etc. Also - although I haven;t heard of thieves on the train - if you're asleep the wol night not sure how you would secure your valuables.

I've done longer train in Europe - up to 8 hours - but that was through mountains and had pretty scenery. Wouldn't try to sleep on any train at all - unless I were sure the movement wouldn;t bother me.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 05:28 PM
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I have taken Amtrak several times this year from Boston to NYC and back. The seats are very comfortable. I actually loved travelling on the train.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 07:32 PM
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CubFanAlways--

Keep in mind when evaluating advice based on the Boston-NYC-Washington corridor that Acela Express trains, as well as "regular" (Northeast Regional) trains, run on that route. Acela Express offers a much nicer ride and is not available elsewhere.

So you might be comparing apples to oranges unless comments note that they are based on Northeast Regional trains.
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 12:47 PM
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How comfortable are the coach seats for sleeping? - just a bit better then airline seats

Is there adequate space between passengers? - no, you feel like you are in bed with a stranger (if you don't travel with somebody you know, and all seats are sold)

In roommette you have your own bed and bedding, converted to seats during the day. In couch you have the seat only.

Roommettes are not shared if you buy it for yourself only. The coach has communal seats.

Roommettes have showers, and food/drinks included.
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 01:31 PM
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My comments were based on the non-Acela trains.
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 08:00 PM
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I have traveled from Baltimore to Florida on Amtrak several times, on trains of varying lengths (15-24 hours). Over the years I have sometimes used the coach seat and sometimes rented a roomette for overnight trips.

Amtrak will sell the same roomette at various prices above the seat price depending on the date and how many seats are available--similar to airlines. To get a sense of whether $331 is at the high or low end, just put a variety of dates in the search engine and see what the variation is--often there is a $200 range or so for the smallest roomettes. I have sometimes saved hundreds of dollars just by adjusting my travel dates by one day.

The real bargains for the rooms are when you are traveling with children, as Amtrak offers 50% reduction for children under 16 and children under 5 (or therabouts) travel for free. The sleeping room is the same price no matter how many you put in there (up to the maximum) so I often see families with 3-5 children in a family room, and then you are really saving big.

Generally all seats are filled in coach, so as others have said, you are sleeping in coach right up against a stranger, and generally don't have a choice who that is unless you have bought your ticket with a travel companion. I have very rarely lucked out and not had a row-mate in coach but this can't be counted on, unless you buy two tickets.

I generally decide which to buy--coach or roomette--depending on how rested I want to be or need to be when I arrive. There's no doubt that I arrive better rested (and generally in a better mood) when I splurge for the roomette (which also comes with better food and a shower). There is no shower available for the coach cars.

Good luck with your decision and your trip!
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 08:02 PM
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ps. The bathrooms can get pretty yucky in coach on a long trip, so if that is an issue for you, go with the roomette.
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 08:24 PM
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Hello

I sleep well in the roomettes, sporadically at best in coach. It's up to you, but for the distance you're considering, if I wanted to go by train, there is no question that I would get the roomette (I did for Chicago-Buffalo). I find with a roomette, I'm a pretty happy camper and can even enjoy multi-day train rides this way(been Chicago-SF and Chicago-Seattle also); with a roomette, I don't even get upset at multi-hour delays... I tend to go coach only if it's a 12-hour affair or less.

That extra $331 will get you as mentioned your meals in the dining car, as well as juice, coffee and other refreshments (and more comfortable seats) in the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago as you wait for your train. There will be a steady supply of water, coffee and juice in your sleeping car wagon... and as mentioned, access to a shower. Also, one is more prone to make conversation with dining car companions for supper if in a roomette.

Have fun whatever you decide!

Best wishes, Daniel
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 07:11 AM
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In my opinion, traveling by train is more of an "experience." If you just wanted to get from Point A to Point B, then there are likely other faster and cheaper ways to do it than a train. But when you factor in the experience of train travel, it takes on a new dimension, one worth paying a bit more for. Just my 2 cents.
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 03:51 PM
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Musicfan, I agree with you. On one DC-to-Florida trip on the Amtrak autotrain a few years ago, teenage DD remarked at the end of a 2 week trip that "the train" was her favorite part. And this was in coach!! We all find it very relaxing, get caught up on reading, etc.
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