Amtrak Dining

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cocojacoby

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
432
Just wondering . . .

Where have all the chefs gone? Are they sitting home collecting unemployment just waiting to be called back so that traditional dining can restart and hit the ground running? Or have they quit Amtrak for other jobs, retired, or given up on returning. Will Amtrak need to hire and train a whole new group of chefs?

The other part of this equation is of course the servers. I hate to say it but I feel it just might be better for Amtrak to start fresh here. We have experienced such sour attitudes and unpleasantness on the diner/food service end that starting a completely different bunch of people on a truly customer-service-friendly paradigm can greatly improve things. Amtrak needs to take advantage of this house cleaning to implement a much better dining and food service atmosphere. They probably should bring in an outside company that trains and manages food personnel. Amtrak hasn't been able to solve this issue in-house.

Other companies (cruise ships, airlines, even Chick-fil-a, etc.) have the ability to make your experience with them extra special. Why can't Amtrak?
 

jis

Conductor
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Gathering Team Member
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Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Western train's OBS were furloughed and they are just to be brought back from furlough. That is why service can be restored almost immediately on them. The OBS on Eastern LDs is a different matter, since they have been gone a couple of years. They will have to be hired and trained as far as I understand it, and that is why restoration of Diner service will take place three to six months later.
 

TEREB

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Messages
50
It is a change and would make the bedroom less desirable for those able-bodied passengers that Amtrak could sell the room to if not being used by an ADA passenger. Seems like a dumb move. I would think most ADA passengers would like privacy when in the bathroom too. Don't understand the logic here.
No door to close? Out in the open? No privacy? Think of the smell. OMG
We were once put in a HC bedroom since a family wanted 2 bedrooms together. Amtrak did ask us if we were willing to change. We saw no harm. I would not be happy if we were put into one of those rooms.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,414
No door to close? Out in the open? No privacy? Think of the smell. OMG
We were once put in a HC bedroom since a family wanted 2 bedrooms together. Amtrak did ask us if we were willing to change. We saw no harm. I would not be happy if we were put into one of those rooms.
The bedroom should be designed with ADA needs first. That is why it exists.
 

TEREB

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Messages
50
The bedroom should be designed with ADA needs first. That is why it exists.
I agree 100%. This was assigned to us a few days before travel. So, no ADA was inconvenienced. We are always happy in our little bedroom. A family with children wanted 2 adjoining rooms. No harm.
I have seen passengers in roomettes that look like they should be in the HC room.
 

RovinMoses

Train Attendant
Joined
May 19, 2019
Messages
25
Time to confess my delusional thought that "Flex Dining" couldn't be that bad. I was wrong!! We just took EB from SEA to CHI this week and couldn't believe that they had the same frozen meal menu for both lunch and dinner. We both thought the chicken fettuccini was ok, as well as the turkey meatballs, and appreciated the free wine. However, the chicken marsala was pretty bad. What I couldn't understand is using the same menu for two dinners and two lunches. Ended up getting and paying for some lunch from Cafe Car. Asked our attendant about cafe car vouchers and learned he had heard about that option on other trains, but they did not have that option on the EB. That is absolutely crazy. How hard can it be to offer sandwich options at lunch? Will look forward to return to traditional dining, but am somewhat skeptical of whatever new menu will be rolled out. Wondering if the Amtrak steak will be an option. We'll see.
 

bms

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
371
Location
Cleveland
Wondering if the Amtrak steak will be an option. We'll see.
Not just the steak, the full Land and Sea combo. When you see that listed at $38.00 on the diner menu, it actually makes the sleeper car seem kind of worth it!

I was also fond of the mussels for lunch on the way back east, as they're a good light option after a large dining car breakfast a couple hours earlier. Someone once asked if they were any good and I said they're pretty darn impressive considering I ordered seafood in a train in Iowa.
 

lordsigma

Conductor
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Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,086
The last land and sea I had was with the crab cakes. Have they had other offerings for the “sea” portion?
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,856
The last land and sea I had was with the crab cakes. Have they had other offerings for the “sea” portion?
The flex menu has seaweed. :)

If the western trains don't have traditional dining on May 24, I'm going to call them and demand a full refund of my Jun 2-16 trip without penalty on the grounds that they mis-sold me the tickets and are not providing what they promised. I'll rebook for later in the year when the prices are likely to be lower anyway.

When they first went to flex dining, I don't know if anyone ever demanded refund of a paid ticket based on buying before it was announced. Anyone know of it happening?
 
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Cal

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
996
Location
Socal
The flex menu has seaweed. :)

If the western trains don't have traditional dining on May 24, I'm going to call them and demand a full refund of my Jun 2-16 trip without penalty on the grounds that they mis-sold me the tickets and are not providing what they promised. I'll rebook for later in the year when the prices are likely to be lower anyway.
As you should!
 

tim49424

Conductor
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
4,743
Location
Holland, MI
If the western trains don't have traditional dining on May 24, I'm going to call them and demand a full refund of my Jun 2-16 trip without penalty on the grounds that they mis-sold me the tickets and are not providing what they promised. I'll rebook for later in the year when the prices are likely to be lower anyway.
No need to demand anything. According to the home page, "Amtrak is waiving all change fees for reservations made by September 6, 2021."
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Messages
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No need to demand anything. According to the home page, "Amtrak is waiving all change fees for reservations made by September 6, 2021."
Not the same thing. You don't get your money back for the cancellization if I understand it correctly. You can just change (and pay the difference in cost) if you wish to change. Don't even know if you get a voucher for the difference but vouchers are not as good as refunds as the the cash never expires.
 

Sidney

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
280
No need to demand anything. According to the home page, "Amtrak is waiving all change fees for reservations made by September 6, 2021."
I booked a trip on the CS for May 25. I am hoping traditional dining is in place,but according to some posts in this thread,it might be postponed.
 

tim49424

Conductor
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
4,743
Location
Holland, MI
Not the same thing. You don't get your money back for the cancellization if I understand it correctly. You can just change (and pay the difference in cost) if you wish to change. Don't even know if you get a voucher for the difference but vouchers are not as good as refunds as the the cash never expires.
Actually I had to cancel a reservation a year ago and got a full refund to my check card because I’d made my reservation by the date (I believe it was July at the time) specified on the site. To the best of my knowledge the rules have not changed.
 
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neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,086
Location
Ithaca, NY
Western train's OBS were furloughed and they are just to be brought back from furlough. That is why service can be restored almost immediately on them. The OBS on Eastern LDs is a different matter, since they have been gone a couple of years. They will have to be hired and trained as far as I understand it, and that is why restoration of Diner service will take place three to six months later.
Well, here's hoping it happens. I just want my steak, my eggs, my oatmeal...
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Yes. Some people in fact got refunds.
Isn't the rule in effect today different than what was in effect when they first allowed cost-free cancellations? I think you could cancel before but can't cancel now and you got a refund before but now you are allowed to "change" your trip. Can anyone verify that?
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,075
Location
South Carolina
The other part of this equation is of course the servers. I hate to say it but I feel it just might be better for Amtrak to start fresh here. We have experienced such sour attitudes and unpleasantness on the diner/food service end that starting a completely different bunch of people on a truly customer-service-friendly paradigm can greatly improve things. Amtrak needs to take advantage of this house cleaning to implement a much better dining and food service atmosphere. They probably should bring in an outside company that trains and manages food personnel. Amtrak hasn't been able to solve this issue in-house.

Other companies (cruise ships, airlines, even Chick-fil-a, etc.) have the ability to make your experience with them extra special. Why can't Amtrak?
I'm available should they want someone. I have 12 years of experience working in all OBS crafts and I'm happy to please. If asked I could also find several suitable servers from the PV industry that would all likely come over.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
729
Okay. I personally know one person who uses a wheelchair and he wouldn't want this but I guess there are other situations that would make this setup more desirable. I assume there is still an enclosed shower in the former toilet enclosure.

My thoughts were because for example on the Silver Meteor there are often three sleepers. Only one of course has access to the diner. I would guess that there are not three ADA passengers occupying all three rooms every night. Being equivalent to the higher-priced bedroom accommodations, these rooms increase the bedroom availability substantially if they could be sold to the general public. There is a rule that if an H room is not sold to an ADA passenger within 14 days of travel, it could be sold to a non-ADA passenger. So you go from 6 bedrooms to 9 available bedrooms on every typical Silver Meteor consist. You could potentially increase bedroom revenue 50% which is substantial.

The older design with the enclosed toilet allowed this but this new design with the toilet in the middle of the room makes these rooms more exclusive to wheeled mobility device passengers which is fine but doesn't allow the flexibility Amtrak previously had to sell these rooms. Realize that passengers with disabilities requesting an accessible room are not solely restricted to those with mobility devices and this new room arrangement may not appeal to many.

Now if there are three wheeled mobility device ADA passengers on every Silver Meteor train then that would be great and it all makes sense but I got a feeling that is not the case.

BTW - We once traveled on the SM and the woman in the H room brought her little dog into the diner and he sat next to her at the table while she ate.
I don't think the H rooms on the Superliners have a shower in the room itself, but there is a shower in the same car that is accessible. For some reason, even though we signed up and paid for a roomette, at some point prior to our trip, we got a message from Amtrak indicating that they were moving us to the H room, but our charge remained the same. Lots of room in there; one could possibly do ballroom dancing in there. But yes, the toilet provided some negative olfactory ambiance. No shower in the room though. Yes, I realize you're not talking about the superliners, but I just wanted to point out that it's not really about amenities like showers and privacy, but rather accessibility.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,075
Location
South Carolina
If you want to try actual traditional dining may I recommend these dinner trains. That are being prepared to the authentic original recipes of the Seaboard Airline, Atlantic Coastline, and Southern Railway "Florida Train" cookbooks. Unlike most dinner trains that are basically banquet foods. And as an added bonus I'm the LSA on all three of those trains. And I'll be in a period uniform as well. And if you are Amtrak Human Resources looking for a new LSA or server for the diner come on down and let me audition.

 
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