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Amtrak Southwest Chief - Los Angeles to Flagstaff

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Nov 15th, 2010, 01:33 PM
  #1
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Amtrak Southwest Chief - Los Angeles to Flagstaff

We are a family of 5 considering taking the overnight AMTRAK train from LA to Flagstaff, renting a car to explore the Grand Canyon, Sedona etc...for a few days and taking the train back. We would either get reserved coach seats or a family sleeper room (not sure if that is worth the extra $450 though). I'm a little wary about the whole train experience on AMTRAK though. The train ride is about 10 hours, so I am concerned about the comfort, cleanliness, food, ability to get some sleep etc, and also the ability to easily rent a car once we arrive in Flagstaff... Thanks for any input you may have!
Lbrown444 is offline  
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Nov 16th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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I have taken Amtrak on a few occasions but have always had either an economy or deluxe bed room. The coach cars seemed uncomfortable and difficult to sleep in. One major consideration is that Amtrak is almost never on time and could be several hours late getting into Flagstaff. Also, if you are taking the overnight train you will most likely not see much scenery and you can drive from L.A. to Flagstaff in the same amount of time ( or less ). As far as the food goes, the dining car serves decent food but it is not cheap and as coach passengers it may be difficult to get a table for five unless you go to the early seating. Don't misunderstand me. I love the train for the scenery but it can be a test of patience.
120aks is offline  
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Dec 6th, 2010, 10:07 PM
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Checking the schedules, the SWC leaves LAX at 6:15PM and arrives at 5:36AM (possibly late). If you get on the train well fed from a CA restaurant you won't need to eat on the train. Have a good breakfast in Flagstaff before picking up your rental car.
I would not spring for the extra $450 for the sleeper since you would be getting off the train before breakfast is served.
The return trip is scheduled for 9:57PM but could be later since the train is coming from Chicago.
I usually pack string cheese for a snack while riding on Amtrak long distance trains.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 07:22 AM
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Sounds a lot closer to 12 hours than 10 hours to me.

Plus an hour getting to/boarding Amtrak and a half hour at the other end getting a rental car. So we're up to 13.5 hours, and what do you do if you're really tired on arrival...wait until 3pm check-in time at a motel?

Rent a nice comfortable van or car from Los Angeles and you can even stop halfway and spend the night somewhere if you like. And you'll save money in the end since Amtrak is one of the worst values in travel. Do an accounting of what this will cost you in the end, both in money and time, and weigh it out, you'll see. Overnighters are no fun with 3 kids and arriving at your destination, starting your "adventure" at 6 in the morning is not a plan.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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We did the family (2 parents, two kids) sleeper car on the way home for a trip to/from Glacier NP several years ago. We didn't do it because it was a good value, we did it for the "experience" of an overnight train trip, and am glad we did it. However, that would have been a much longer drive than yours and the timing of the trip (most scenic parts were during daylight) was better.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 02:32 PM
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I was on the Chief last month from Chicago to LA. We were on time or early the entire trip. I agree with tomfuller above to skip the sleeper car. I had a sleeper room, but I was on for 2 fulls nights, 2 dinners, two breakfasts and a lunch included I could justify the difference, but I wouldn't go it for your trip. Coach is OK and the lounge/view car has lots of room. If you travel in the summer it will be light until late and you won't have as many hours of darkness. Found the train to be clean, food is just OK and a bit overpriced.
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