Amtrak Dining

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Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,948
Location
Socal
I haven't ridden on Amtrak for a couple years. Do we still have to be in our bedroom to make our dinner time reservation? I know it used to be you could not be in the obsersvation car when they came around to take our time. Thanks for any help. We will be on the Southwest Chief.
I was going to say that it depends on the crew, but it seems like the do take reservations if you weren't in your room.
 

nendee

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
Messages
34
Location
New Hartford, CT
Concerning WiFi - the LSL certainly had zero WiFi the entire trip. Of course, cell reception was awful through the obsolete parts of the trip - so no hot spot potential either. I just wanted to watch my Bears on Sunday night football before bed!
Do you know if their WiFi is satellite based? It’s possible they just need to restart their “receiver” more frequently. And it’s important. While the ideal answer is “just put down the phone and enjoy your ride” - it justifies my overnight more when I can stay connected to work and family via connection when needed.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,311
Location
Washington State
Concerning WiFi - the LSL certainly had zero WiFi the entire trip. Of course, cell reception was awful through the obsolete parts of the trip - so no hot spot potential either. I just wanted to watch my Bears on Sunday night football before bed!
Do you know if their WiFi is satellite based? It’s possible they just need to restart their “receiver” more frequently. And it’s important. While the ideal answer is “just put down the phone and enjoy your ride” - it justifies my overnight more when I can stay connected to work and family via connection when needed.
No, Amtrak's wifi is terrestrial. It depends on cell towers.
 

Dustyroad

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
163
I was going to say that it depends on the crew, but it seems like the do take reservations if you weren't in your room.
Thanks Cal. We were always afraid to leave our room because we might miss getting the time we wanted to eat. We will ask our room steward when we board. We are just 2 weeks away from the trip and getting excited. 😁
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,311
Location
Washington State
Going through the train to get reservations and taking the lounge car last is the way they've done it ever since I can remember on every train I've ever been on. The main variation is whether they require reservations for lunch or not. And they always make the methodology clear when they make the "we're taking reservations for (lunch/dinner)" announcement.

I stay in my room with the door open after they make the announcement that they are taking reservations.

If you run into the person taking the reservations, often the LSA but sometimes they delegate it, when moving through the train they'll usually take a reservation if you ask them to.

Your SCA can't give a you reservation directly himself, since he isn't maintaining the running count of available seats for each sitting. He can ask the person taking the reservation on your behalf, though.
 
Last edited:

OBS

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Nov 9, 2011
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1,922
Location
Long Island, NY
Going through the train to get reservations and taking the lounge car last is the way they've done it ever since I can remember on every train I've ever been on. The main variation is whether they require reservations for lunch or not. And they always make the methodology clear when they make the "we're taking reservations for (lunch/dinner)" announcement.

I stay in my room with the door open after they make the announcement that they are taking reservations.

If you run into the person taking the reservations, often the LSA but sometimes they delegate it, when moving through the train they'll usually take a reservation if you ask them to.

Your SCA can't give a you reservation directly himself, since he isn't maintaining the running count of available seats for each sitting. He can ask the person taking the reservation on your behalf, though.
This sums it up nicely....
 

Irelandvegas65

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
34
Location
Rockford
Thanks Cal. We were always afraid to leave our room because we might miss getting the time we wanted to eat. We will ask our room steward when we board. We are just 2 weeks away from the trip and getting excited. 😁
Same here. Two weeks until the Empire Builder , segment one of three!!!
 

Devil's Advocate

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Joined
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12,724
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EOTL
This sums it up nicely....
His post certainly matches my experiences. One thing new passengers may not realize is that just because an LSA only gives you options A, B, or C does not always mean no other times are available. I think they narrow it down to avoid delays while hesitant people overthink it but when none of the times worked I was always able to get a fourth or fifth option. My experiences are from pre-pandemic traditional dining so I'm not sure how things have changed since then.
 

AmtrakMaineiac

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
67
Location
Lubec, ME
On our recent trip on the Southwest Chief the LSA decided to schedule lunch and dinner just as we stopped at La Junta and everybody had piled out of the train to get some fresh air. So she went through the sleepers and hardly anyone was there. When we got back we all had to troop down to the diner to make our reservations. Also didn't help that the PA announcements from the diner were almost inaudible. Probably not her fault but some common sense in not trying to do reservations during a fresh air / smoke break stop would help.

In general though I have to say that our experience with the new traditional dining was good and like night and day compared with the flex dining on the Lake Shore Limited. Not that the LSL staff weren't trying but it is hard given what they have to work with.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
622
On our recent trip on the Southwest Chief the LSA decided to schedule lunch and dinner just as we stopped at La Junta and everybody had piled out of the train to get some fresh air. So she went through the sleepers and hardly anyone was there. When we got back we all had to troop down to the diner to make our reservations. Also didn't help that the PA announcements from the diner were almost inaudible. Probably not her fault but some common sense in not trying to do reservations during a fresh air / smoke break stop would help.

In general though I have to say that our experience with the new traditional dining was good and like night and day compared with the flex dining on the Lake Shore Limited. Not that the LSL staff weren't trying but it is hard given what they have to work with.
i've had that happen too. Generally,the LSA will take reservations after a fresh air stop. Maybe she(he)didn't know any better. I always take advantage of those stops and I'm sure most people do.
 

MainerTrainer

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
31
We just got home from our “Triangle Train Trip” which was Chicago-Denver-San Francisco-Seattle-Glacier NP-Chicago. We found the food to be good to excellent on all the trains. The steak at dinner in particular was excellent.
The service was good to very good, although sometimes just shy of slow; I’ll call it leisurely.

Breakfast and lunch were always first come/first served with a wait list. Dinner was reserved and they announced when they’d be coming through the sleepersto take reservations. Dinner was with white linen tablecloth, all meals with fresh flowers. Minor requests for changes, like no whipped cream on the French toast, were no problem.

We were very satisfied with the dining experience. In fact, the whole trip was great except for spending the night in Emeryville waiting for the Coast Starlight that was eight hours late, then ended up 13 hours late into Seattle. Ah well, we lived and now it’s a good story. The scenery on much of the ride was spectacular!

Pictured is French toast (with the whipped cream) and the steaks. 837F3F6C-F6B8-43DB-942E-193EFB8BADAE.jpeg5ED2EDFE-C01C-44FD-870B-76335C1AF826.jpeg
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
622
We just got home from our “Triangle Train Trip” which was Chicago-Denver-San Francisco-Seattle-Glacier NP-Chicago. We found the food to be good to excellent on all the trains. The steak at dinner in particular was excellent.
The service was good to very good, although sometimes just shy of slow; I’ll call it leisurely.

Breakfast and lunch were always first come/first served with a wait list. Dinner was reserved and they announced when they’d be coming through the sleepersto take reservations. Dinner was with white linen tablecloth, all meals with fresh flowers. Minor requests for changes, like no whipped cream on the French toast, were no problem.

We were very satisfied with the dining experience. In fact, the whole trip was great except for spending the night in Emeryville waiting for the Coast Starlight that was eight hours late, then ended up 13 hours late into Seattle. Ah well, we lived and now it’s a good story. The scenery on much of the ride was spectacular!

Pictured is French toast (with the whipped cream) and the steaks. View attachment 24463View attachment 24464
After riding the EB last week and enjoying traditional dining,it's going to be quite a letdown to return to flex. I am booked on the CONO and Crescent in November. Traditional dining,or at least some variation,can't return soon enough to every long distance train. It was so nice to be pleasantly full again. That doesn't happen with the woefully substandard flex food. Another way of putting it. Traditional dining you look forward to. Flex "dining" is a necessity. You have to eat.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,917
Location
Oregon Coast
After riding the EB last week and enjoying traditional dining,it's going to be quite a letdown to return to flex. I am booked on the CONO and Crescent in November. Traditional dining,or at least some variation,can't return soon enough to every long distance train. It was so nice to be pleasantly full again. That doesn't happen with the woefully substandard flex food. Another way of putting it. Traditional dining you look forward to. Flex "dining" is a necessity. You have to eat.
I agree along with almost everyone else. My upcoming trips will take me cross country and I will experience the big let down when in the East... particularly the TE which goes from delicious dining to 'malicious flex' after SAS... overnight!
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,948
Location
Socal
We just got home from our “Triangle Train Trip” which was Chicago-Denver-San Francisco-Seattle-Glacier NP-Chicago. We found the food to be good to excellent on all the trains. The steak at dinner in particular was excellent.
The service was good to very good, although sometimes just shy of slow; I’ll call it leisurely.

Breakfast and lunch were always first come/first served with a wait list. Dinner was reserved and they announced when they’d be coming through the sleepersto take reservations. Dinner was with white linen tablecloth, all meals with fresh flowers. Minor requests for changes, like no whipped cream on the French toast, were no problem.

We were very satisfied with the dining experience. In fact, the whole trip was great except for spending the night in Emeryville waiting for the Coast Starlight that was eight hours late, then ended up 13 hours late into Seattle. Ah well, we lived and now it’s a good story. The scenery on much of the ride was spectacular!

Pictured is French toast (with the whipped cream) and the steaks. View attachment 24463View attachment 24464
Yes, I loved every meal I had. Wish I could go back...
 

Dustyroad

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
163
If we get on the Southwest Chief at 5:30 p.m. how do we our make dinner reservation
time for that night? I am hoping we won't have to eat really late. Any help appreciated.
 
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