Amtrak dining

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On the Silver Meteor last fall, I was served. On the Silver Star in June, I served myself (including dinner).

Either they've flip-flopped twice, or, more likely IMO, it depends on the LSA.
Could be - also on the Star lately they’ve been serving five sleepers. Will be interested to see how it is when they split the train back up in two weeks.
 

joelkfla

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Could be - also on the Star lately they’ve been serving five sleepers. Will be interested to see how it is when they split the train back up in two weeks.
They were at the time, but it's been down to 4 for the past month or so, and they've also deleted the 3rd sleeper on the Meteor when it resumes. I know because I was booked in the 3rd sleeper, and I got deleted, too.
 
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zephyr17

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On the Silver Meteor last fall, I was served. On the Silver Star in June, I served myself (including dinner).

Either they've flip-flopped twice, or, more likely IMO, it depends on the LSA.
It's Amtrak. They didn't flip flop policy, they just don't observe it. The policies are set out in the Service Standards Manual and are roundly ignored.
 
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They were at the time, but it's been down to 4 for the past month or so, and they've also deleted the 3rd sleeper on the Meteor when it resumes. I know because I was booked in the 3rd sleeper, and I got deleted, too.:rolleyes:

I am booked in the third meteor sleeper in April and have not been bumped so I’m assuming the intention is to return it sometime between now and then (likely staffing dependent.)
 

zephyr17

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I am booked in the third meteor sleeper in April and have not been bumped so I’m assuming the intention is to return it sometime between now and then (likely staffing dependent.)
Don't count your chickens, the sleeper cuts on the Builder, CZ and SW Chief took place with a month or less notice. And I know for a fact that the second Builder sleeper had been "restored" after having previously been cut.
 
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Don't count your chickens, the sleeper cuts on the Builder, CZ and SW Chief took place with a month or less notice. And I know for a fact that the second Builder sleeper had been "restored" after having previously been cut.
I would point to (likely staffing dependent) in my comment. I am well aware things aren’t always going to plan or intent at the moment.
 

jis

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I am booked in the third meteor sleeper in April and have not been bumped so I’m assuming the intention is to return it sometime between now and then (likely staffing dependent.)
The third Sleeper on the Meteor comes back one week before Thanksgiving.

I have been booked on it the day after it returns, and my booking remains unchanged.
 
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fdaley

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They’ve made some tweaks to flex dining in the last three years that in my opinion makes it a little more tolerable than your experience. (Some will disagree which is fine, I’m merely sharing my opinion not arguing that others or even yourself should agree with me. Food is a highly subjective thing as we all have different tastes, dietary requirements, likes, dislikes, etc. So you’re never going to get across the board agreement.) They dispensed with the self service concept at breakfast (at least on the Lake Shore) and the attendant serves you at the table now. They have also added some breakfast entrees besides the continental option. Tough thing with the reheated breakfast is they all depend on heating them precisely to get the proper result. If you overheat pre made French toast it will be hard as a rock, and if you overheat a pre made omelette it will dry out. But when prepped correctly it isn’t horrible. I will add I have had the same experience on Acela at breakfast as well - if not heated precisely the egg based breakfasts tend to dry out.

Having said all that there’s certainly room for improvement particularly on the presentation side. I’d love to see traditional dining or something closer to that return as much as anyone. I find flexible workable on a one night trip and it doesn’t drive me away but would also welcome an effort to improve things for those that aren’t on the same page as I on this issue and those that have dietary restrictions. Certainly for the money we pay it could be better - but I personally don’t find it as bad as some make it out to be and for me food isn’t really a make of break deal on the train. But again this is all my personal opinion. I personally take no offense to disagreement on this it’s food - for many the food is a big deal and for their sake I hope they make some changes in the near future.
I guess my point in comparing the two experiences (Acela First and Lake Shore) is that on the Acela, where Amtrak sees itself competing directly with airlines for a substantial number of riders, meal service clearly is held to a higher standard in service and presentation, even for relatively short trips. In contrast, the current leadership at Amtrak seems to view the ridership on the eastern long-distance trains as more of a captive audience -- and a comparatively limited pool of potential riders on a high-cost service. They seem much less concerned, if they are concerned at all, about offending this group with lousy food or poor service.

It's true, as you've pointed out in other posts, that many people are continuing to ride the one-night trains. They think the food is OK, or they're willing to tolerate it because it's more important to them to travel by train no matter what food service is offered. And because the capacity of the LD trains is limited by equipment decisions made 30 years ago, the sleepers remain relatively full on many departures. Even so, I don't think I am the only veteran rider who's staying away or choosing the train less often because of the loss of dining service. And I suspect there are infrequent and first-time riders who've been turned off by flex dining as it has gone through its various permutations over the past four years.

I hope the committee with 10 stomachs and no brain (as zephyr17 put it) comes up with a bold new plan for fixing things. My fear is that they'll take the current meal-service formula on the eastern trains, make some modifications, and in a year or two be unveiling nouveau flex lite dining.
 
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I guess my point in comparing the two experiences (Acela First and Lake Shore) is that on the Acela, where Amtrak sees itself competing directly with airlines for a substantial number of riders, meal service clearly is held to a higher standard in service and presentation, even for relatively short trips. In contrast, the current leadership at Amtrak seems to view the ridership on the eastern long-distance trains as more of a captive audience -- and a comparatively limited pool of potential riders on a high-cost service. They seem much less concerned, if they are concerned at all, about offending this group with lousy food or poor service.
I think you're right. As I said - while I don't think it's killing the train as enough seem to have my take on it to have enough people in the sleepers there certainly are people that are staying away over the issue as this thread demonstrates. For the sake of those who would like to ride in the east but are staying away over the food I certainly hope they change something. I actually have liked a couple of the flex meals taste wise - I think the beef short ribs meal is decent for example but the presentation is bad they often don't look good they have that TV Dinner look. Usually I find they taste better than they look but for many I'm sure that initial cringy presentation is going to turn their stomachs. I think with some of the alterations that they've made since they first introduced "contemporary fresh dining" with the cold meals has brought it to a point where it's "good enough" for a portion of riders but certainly they can and should do better even if its not fully taking the approach from out west. I think changes will come eventually but we'll just have to see where they go when they finally do.
 
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zephyr17

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I don't avoid the eastern trains because of the food, but I do avoid trains because of a combination of food and service level.

Last year I rode the Lake Shore both ways. I was able to use the "sleeper lounge" Viewliner II dining car as both a lounge and a diner. The food was edible, although westbound I brought good salad along from the Metropolitan Lounge had that instead of the sad one provided with flex. I skipped breakfast in favor of Lou Mitchell's. The worst thing about the trip was the windows, which were filthy to the point you could not see out of them if there was any sun on them at all.

Based on reports here, I will actively avoid the Eagle, Cardinal, and Crescent because they are so short staffed that they cannot provide service and in some cases pretty much restrict you to your room. I won't tolerate that.

I will ride the Lake Shore again in November. This time I plan on bringing along a small bottle of Windex and some paper towels and intend on cleaning the window at Penn Station if it is on the platform side.
 

Bob Dylan

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I don't avoid the eastern trains because of the food, but I do avoid trains because of a combination of food and service level.

Last year I rode the Lake Shore both ways. I was able to use the "sleeper lounge" Viewliner II dining car as both a lounge and a diner. The food was edible, although westbound I brought good salad along from the Metropolitan Lounge had that instead of the sad one provided with flex. I skipped breakfast in favor of Lou Mitchell's. The worst thing about the trip was the windows, which were filthy to the point you could not see out of them if there was any sun on them at all.

Based on reports here, I will actively avoid the Eagle, Cardinal, and Crescent because they are so short staffed that they cannot provide service and in some cases pretty much restrict you to your room. I won't tolerate that.

I will ride the Lake Shore again in November. This time I plan on bringing along a small bottle of Windex and some paper towels and intend on cleaning the window at Penn Station if it is on the platform side.
Based on recent reports it looks like the "Suits" are starting to spread the Eaglette/Cap "Treatment" to other LD Trains, especially the 2 Nighters in the West!😡

Be interesting to see if Traditional Dining returns to the Silver Meteor when/if it resumes Service and if more Sightseer Lounges disappear into the Black Hole along with the Bag Cars, Diners,Missing Sleepers and Transdorms.
 

fdaley

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I don't avoid the eastern trains because of the food, but I do avoid trains because of a combination of food and service level.

Last year I rode the Lake Shore both ways. I was able to use the "sleeper lounge" Viewliner II dining car as both a lounge and a diner. The food was edible, although westbound I brought good salad along from the Metropolitan Lounge had that instead of the sad one provided with flex. I skipped breakfast in favor of Lou Mitchell's. The worst thing about the trip was the windows, which were filthy to the point you could not see out of them if there was any sun on them at all.

Based on reports here, I will actively avoid the Eagle, Cardinal, and Crescent because they are so short staffed that they cannot provide service and in some cases pretty much restrict you to your room. I won't tolerate that.

I will ride the Lake Shore again in November. This time I plan on bringing along a small bottle of Windex and some paper towels and intend on cleaning the window at Penn Station if it is on the platform side.
What they've done to the Crescent and the Eagle is just a travesty. The Lake Shore is less bad by virtue of having two food/lounge cars for the bulk of its run, but it's still not providing a level of service I'd want to recommend to anyone -- or that I have any desire to ride myself for any trip of more than a few hours.

I did see reference on another thread here to the Chief running without its Sightseer Lounge. Was that a one-time problem, or has it become a regular occurrence?
 
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Manny T

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I don't think I am the only veteran rider who's staying away or choosing the train less often because of the loss of dining service.
Correct, you can add me. There is an antiques fair in Syracuse one weekend in November and from CHI that would be an overnight on the LSL, arriving in SYR around noon the next day. Great, I could spend the weekend and return Monday. Roomette RT, about $1,000; Bedroom RT about $2000. Including two unsatisfactory breakfasts. I think I'll pass. This is a totally discretionary trip that might be fun with decent dining car experiences, not to mention reasonable sleeping accommodation pricing. But this is not on offer at present, unfortunately, imho.
 
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joelkfla

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What they've done to the Crescent and the Eagle is just a travesty. The Lake Shore is less bad by virtue of having two food/lounge cars for the bulk of its run, but it's still not providing a level of service I'd want to recommend to anyone -- or that I have any desire to ride myself for any trip of more than a few hours.

I did see reference on another thread here to the Chief running without its Sightseer Lounge. Was that a one-time problem, or has it become a regular occurrence?
SWC's & CZ's that I could find on the tracks at this time all have SSL's.
 

fdaley

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Correct, you can add me. There is an antiques fair in Syracuse one weekend in November and from CHI that would be an overnight on the LSL, arriving in SYR around noon the next day. Great, I could spend the weekend and return Monday. Roomette RT, about $1,000; Bedroom RT about $2000. Including two unsatisfactory breakfasts. I think I'll pass. This is a totally discretionary trip that might be fun with decent dining car experiences, not to mention reasonable sleeping accommodation pricing. But this is not on offer at present, unfortunately, imho.
This is the problem as I see it: A lot of long-distance train travel ultimately is discretionary. If people see the on-board experience as lacking, particularly when weighed against the price, then a chunk of that travel just goes away.

I used to look for excuses to take one-night trips in the east. But now, even for trips where I really want or need to get to Point B, I find I am considering other options -- or just staying home -- rather than choosing the train, which would have seemed the obvious choice in years past.

So even if lots of people are still riding, I suspect flex dining is costing Amtrak revenue -- perhaps even enough to offset the "savings" achieved from downgrading the food service in the first place.
 
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I too was on the CONO this past week from Chicago to New Orleans and back in a bedroom (in the sleeper car).

We were supposed to have FLEX dining. Not only did we NOT have a dining car either way--there was NO Amtrak food loaded onto the trains before departure for the sleeper cars either southbound or northbound.

On Southbound trip : We were offered a breakfast sandwich or a muffin for breakfast from the cafe car. For lunch we received a boxed sub, chips, and cookie from a deli in Mississippi they brought in on a stop.

Northbound several days later we departed mid afternoon and flex dining menus were personally handed out to each room by an attendant going through the sleeper as we were departing NOLA.
Well that was an OOPS! Another attendant shortly thereafter came around and said SORRY-- NO supper was loaded onto the train so we will stop and get subs from the same Mississippi deli place as before. I asked for a glass of wine for dinner with my sub. Was told it wasn't available.
For breakfast it was the same muffin or breakfast sandwich offering--which we didn't even bother with.

That's not what I wanted or planned to eat.

I paid for flex dining with a menu --which was not provided. I will plan to contact customer service about this and request a refund for food and services not provided.

Has anyone had experience with this kind of situation?
OMG this scares me - as we are departing on the CONO a week from today - our train leaves at 8:05pm. I hope your experience was the exception, not the rule!
 
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Hi all! So I am traveling on CONO a week from today and I have a bedroom. Am allowed to bring a bottle of wine (and a 6 pack of beer maybe?) in my carry on to be consumed in my room (only)? That is what it appears I'm hearing on message boards I checked. Is it limited to bottles or can I bring cans of wine?

Thanks in advance!
Stephanie
 

Bob Dylan

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Hi all! So I am traveling on CONO a week from today and I have a bedroom. Am allowed to bring a bottle of wine (and a 6 pack of beer maybe?) in my carry on to be consumed in my room (only)? That is what it appears I'm hearing on message boards I checked. Is it limited to bottles or can I bring cans of wine?

Thanks in advance!
Stephanie
You're allowed to bring Adult Beverages of your choice aboard, but they must be consumed in the privacy of your Room.
 
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Hi all! So I am traveling on CONO a week from today and I have a bedroom. Am allowed to bring a bottle of wine (and a 6 pack of beer maybe?) in my carry on to be consumed in my room (only)? That is what it appears I'm hearing on message boards I checked. Is it limited to bottles or can I bring cans of wine?

Thanks in advance!
Stephanie
You may consume your choice of any beverage when you're in your bedroom or roomette, but only there. Elsewhere on the train, the only alcoholic beverages allowed are those sold in the train's cafe or dining car.
 

TheCrescent

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Why can’t Amtrak have menus onboard and/or online that match what you’re served?

For example, the Flexible Dining menu on the Crescent (both onboard and online) is not accurate.

When you order a meal on the Crescent, you may not be served what you ordered; you may get a completely different dish.

It’s not that big of a deal- it’s all TV dinners- but how hard is it to have a current menu onboard?
 
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On my third Acela FC trip in 3 weeks last July/,August, we were given a menu with some new dishes. I thought that was great, as I had eaten everything on the menu. Alas, the had accidentally given us an old Menu from the previous quarter. They quickly have us the current menu, and we just had to repeat a few entrees.
 

TheCrescent

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On my third Acela FC trip in 3 weeks last July/,August, we were given a menu with some new dishes. I thought that was great, as I had eaten everything on the menu. Alas, the had accidentally given us an old Menu from the previous quarter. They quickly have us the current menu, and we just had to repeat a few entrees.
It sounds like you weren’t upset and I wouldn’t be upset either.

On the Crescent, the menu has been wrong for at least a month (I’ve taken several trips) and when I ordered an entree and was given something else, I didn’t make an issue; I just asked if I had been given the right meal and said it was fine in any event.

The staff came back to my room and wanted to argue about it, telling me that I was wrong and that the meat entree was what I ordered and the meat entree was what I received, so I was wrong, even though what was listed on the menu was not what I received.

I refused to have that conversation.
 
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