Accessible Bedroom Usage and Invisible Disabilities?

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amydeg

Train Attendant
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Apr 27, 2022
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I'm travelling San Diego to Boston at the end of July and I'm medically disabled. Basically I have a weakened immune system and a couple of chronic illnesses, plus I have several comorbidities that make me high risk for COVID, despite being vaccinated and boosted twice. I'll be riding business class SD to LA, and then in roomettes LA to Chicago and then Chicago to Boston. I know masks are no longer required on Amtrak, but I'm obviously going to be wearing one whenever I'm around other people, though most of the trip will be spent in my roomette with the door shut, because my doctor literally said if I get COVID, "it won't be pretty."

Anyhow, I didn't attempt to book an accessible room because I don't have mobility issues other than being a bit stiff and slow moving. I don't use a chair or a cane or anything like that, so I figured it wasn't fair for me to use the room. But I'll admit that the thought of going up and down the stairs on the Superliner is daunting, and the idea of having a toilet in my room is extremely appealing, because one of my chronic illnesses is digestive system related. Another is a lung problem, so I will be travelling with a small oxygen concentrator, but that's my only medical device and I don't always need to use it.

So ultimately my question is do I have a right to book the accessible cabin even though my disabilities are not really visible? Do I have to provide medical evidence to anyone if I do want to book it? And does anyone have experience (good or bad) travelling Amtrak as a person with invisible disabilities that they're willing to share? I know I can't make a bunch of dietary requests, so I'll be bringing extra food of my own, but beyond that, is there anything I should be aware of? It's been a long time since I've taken Amtrak and I wasn't sick back then, so this is new to me.

Thanks!
 
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On the Superliner, another option is the family bedroom—it doesn’t have a bathroom, but it’s on the lower level with the bathrooms close by. It’s also roomy. It can sometimes be cheaper than a bedroom, as well.

It saves going up and down those steps, and if you are bringing your own food and possibly can supplement that with food your SCA brings to you, your shouldn’t have to do stairs at all.

The handicapped rooms on the Superliners don’t look very nice.

On the Viewliner (I’m assuming you’re taking the Lake Shore Limited to Boston?), the handicapped room is a toss-up—the old ones were lovely, the new ones look awful. Since it’s a single-level train, I would try for a bedroom—it has its own bathroom, and the SCA can bring whatever food you need.

Also let them know if you need help boarding or detraining—other people on here will know better who specifically to ask on each train—SCA, conductor, etc. Sometimes you need to go up or down steps to get on or off the train.
 
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joelkfla

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On the Viewliner (I’m assuming you’re taking the Lake Shore Limited to Boston?), the handicapped room is a toss-up—the old ones were lively, the new ones look awful.
Party in the H-room!

But seriously, there's nothing majorly wrong with the VL II H-room if you don't mind having the toilet out in the open & the sink overhanging your bed. It's fine for one night. The Superliner ones have a few issues.

OP: If stairs are your main concern, don't forget that there are also Roomettes on the lower level of the Superliners. You won't have a toilet in the room, but there are 3 just a short ways down the hall, and you're almost guaranteed to find one open, because most upstairs passengers will try the 1 upstairs toilet before venturing downstairs.
 
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Party in the H-room!

But seriously, there's nothing majorly wrong with the VL II H-room if you don't mind having the toilet out in the open & the sink overhanging your bed. It's fine for one night. The Superliner ones have a few issues.

All typos corrected now, I hope.😁 I had my annual eye exam yesterday and couldn’t see well after the drops, but I don’t think I can get away with using that as an excuse a day later!😁

It’s actually the toilet in the open that would bother me, but I know people have different views about that.
 
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jebr

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So ultimately my question is do I have a right to book the accessible cabin even though my disabilities are not really visible? Do I have to provide medical evidence to anyone if I do want to book it? And does anyone have experience (good or bad) travelling Amtrak as a person with invisible disabilities that they're willing to share? I know I can't make a bunch of dietary requests, so I'll be bringing extra food of my own, but beyond that, is there anything I should be aware of? It's been a long time since I've taken Amtrak and I wasn't sick back then, so this is new to me.

Thanks!

I've never booked it myself, but according to the Amtrak website it's only for passengers with a disability "who travel with a wheeled mobility device." However, there's also a later part that says that you'd just have to self-certify that you need "one of the features of the accessible room accommodation" (but you don't have to specify which one) on-board, though they may require a letter from your physician stating that you need it as well if you don't have other means of proving disability (such as a transit ID indicating disability, or a disabled/accessible parking placard.)

Hopefully someone with real-world experience can attest to the process for booking it. However, based on your post here and Amtrak's somewhat contradictory information (there's people who may not need a wheeled mobility device but do need at least one of the accessible room features) I'd lean towards it being justified to get the accessible cabin (the digestive system issues paired with high COVID risk I would perceive as justifying a need for an ensuite bathroom, and if the stairs are daunting to you that makes using a standard bedroom difficult.) Of course, I'm not Amtrak, nor am I disabled, so take my opinions with whatever amount of caution you feel is appropriate.

One side note - are you intending to eat any meals in the dining car or visit the observation car at all? If so, it might be better to do the standard bedroom if you can afford it, since the standard access to those areas is on the upper level (so you'd need to navigate stairs to get to them regardless.) If you're planning on having meals brought to your room and don't intend to visit the observation car, then I'd recommend staying downstairs; there's more bathroom availability in the public areas, and it's much less of a hassle to step off and get fresh air at the fresh air breaks if desired.
 

amydeg

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
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Location
San Diego
Well, I tried to get my room moved to the lower level, but there's nothing available, and my lack of need of a mobility aid keeps me from booking the accessible room right now. I'm debating upgrading to a bedroom since I have to be on the upper level anyway, but the cost difference is giving me pause.

Despite my inability to move my room, the phone rep made sure my assistance needs throughout the trip were recorded on my reservation and she was proactive in answering all my questions. She was also able to confirm that there is no checked baggage service to Boston anymore, which stinks. But still, I was very pleased with the service she provided.

Edit - I just checked online and no bedrooms are available. :(
 
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joelkfla

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Oct 16, 2018
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
Well, I tried to get my room moved to the lower level, but there's nothing available, and my lack of need of a mobility aid keeps me from booking the accessible room right now. I'm debating upgrading to a bedroom since I have to be on the upper level anyway, but the cost difference is giving me pause.

Despite my inability to move my room, the phone rep made sure my assistance needs throughout the trip were recorded on my reservation and she was proactive in answering all my questions. She was also able to confirm that there is no checked baggage service to Boston anymore, which stinks. But still, I was very pleased with the service she provided.

Edit - I just checked online and no bedrooms are available. :(
Did you ask the agent whether you qualify for the H-room despite not needing a mobility aid?

If you don't mind spending the time, you might want to call again every few days or so to see if a lower level Roomette or a bedroom has opened up by a cancellation.

Was the Family Bedroom also unavailable? No toilet in the room, but it's on the lower level with the 3 bathrooms nearby. Sometimes it's one of the last rooms to sell and occasionally it costs less than a Roomette.
 
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