Assigned seats on the train?

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All of those could be supported with a modern reservations system, including car assignment by destination. As I said, it really is not a tough problem technically.

Back in the day, the manual reservation systems included size of party and members of the same party were seated together.

While I can see objections to a poor implementation by Amtrak's crack IT department, none of the issues I have seen in this thread could not be addressed by a competently designed system. As I said, the problem isn't very hard.
Actually, to be fair to Amtrak, I have been using their assigned seating for Acelas and NER business class, and I have had almost no problems. Well, once, I couldn't get the app to send me to the change seat page, but the seat it assigned me wasn't so bad, so I didn't really try too hard to figure it out.

The only suggestion I have for them is to provide the ability to change the seat before one buys the ticket.

Basically, pre-assigned seating means that if you book at the last minute and the train is very full, you have to accept the risk of getting a less than optimal seat. But this happens with non-assigned seating, too, as I know from long experience riding the Northeast regional and getting on at Baltimore. At least you're guaranteed some sort of seat. Back when the northeast trains had unreserved seating, you could end up standing for the whole trip.

Basically, if one wants their preferred seat, it's best to either book early and/or make sure to ride the train when it's not going to be busy. In any event, Amtrak is pretty clear in stating that passengers don't have any sort of entitlement to have 2 seats to themselves. You're always going to have the chance that you'll have a seatmate if you're traveling by yourself. It's best to just accept that as part of the charm of the train riding experience. And, to be honest, despite all the horror stories I've read about unpleasant seatmates, I've never been stuck with such a person. I guess it might happen in the future, but I'll deal with it when it happens. Some of the worst "unpleasant passenger" experiences I've had have been when I've had 2 seats to myself and the optimal window view, but some idiot a few rows away ruins the ride for some reason or another. Anyway, it rarely happens, most Amtrak riders are well-behaved, and the rides are uneventful from that perspective.
 

TheCrescent

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By not having assigned seats, Amtrak is losing out on the ability to charge additional fees for great seats. The first row of Amfleet I coaches has amazing legroom and Amtrak could charge more for that. But fortunately it doesn’t.
 

WWW

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By not having assigned seats, Amtrak is losing out on the ability to charge additional fees for great seats. The first row of Amfleet I coaches has amazing legroom and Amtrak could charge more for that. But fortunately it doesn’t.
The airlines s-e-a-t---s-p-a-c-i-n-g is a revenue issue - - - - - Amtrak is missing out here.
Would not require an additional service attendant unless some other service is offered i.e. snacks drinks etc.
 

WWW

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A complexity of issue with seats being reserved between intermediate points i.e. Cardinal New York to Chicago - Huntington WV to Cincinnati OH
The NYC to HUN is available as well as the CIN CHI portion but not the entire trip - airlines don't have this problem so much as flights are point to
point between hubs and destination. Airlines don't operate flights with 25 stops from coast to coast as they did back in the 30s and 40s and even
then seats were not specifically assigned. In the mid 60s airlines offered seat selection at the time of check in - first come first served - later as the
reservation systems were enhanced seat selection was part of the booking process. Now in the business and first class cabins when you book a
reservation you also select a specific seat and even the type of meal (chicken steak shrimp vegan) you want inflight. An airline flight from Chicago
to Los Angeles takes 3-4 hours the CZ takes almost 3 days - not exactly apples oranges mangos pineapples potatoes for comparison.
Booking a specific seat in any event is desirable instead of hanging from a SRO strap in a moving object - comfort zone priority one !
 

Gemuser

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From WWW Reply55:
A complexity of issue with seats being reserved between intermediate points i.e. Cardinal New York to Chicago - Huntington WV to Cincinnati OH
The NYC to HUN is available as well as the CIN CHI portion but not the entire trip - airlines don't have this problem.
...
An airline flight from Chicago to Los Angeles takes 3-4 hours the CZ takes almost 3 days - not exactly apples oranges mangos pineapples potatoes for comparison

NONE of this is a real problem! ALL of these problems have been solved both before & with computers. As I suggested in reply 45 just license a system from a railroad [or more likely an IT firm] that has SOLVED these problems. None of these problems are unique to Amtrak, yes it will require tweeking/adjustment to exactly meet Amtrak's needs but that should not be a major project.
 

zephyr17

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A complexity of issue with seats being reserved between intermediate points i.e. Cardinal New York to Chicago - Huntington WV to Cincinnati OH
The NYC to HUN is available as well as the CIN CHI portion but not the entire trip - airlines don't have this problem so much as flights are point to
point between hubs and destination. Airlines don't operate flights with 25 stops from coast to coast as they did back in the 30s and 40s and even
then seats were not specifically assigned. In the mid 60s airlines offered seat selection at the time of check in - first come first served - later as the
reservation systems were enhanced seat selection was part of the booking process. Now in the business and first class cabins when you book a
reservation you also select a specific seat and even the type of meal (chicken steak shrimp vegan) you want inflight. An airline flight from Chicago
to Los Angeles takes 3-4 hours the CZ takes almost 3 days - not exactly apples oranges mangos pineapples potatoes for comparison.
Booking a specific seat in any event is desirable instead of hanging from a SRO strap in a moving object - comfort zone priority one !
As I said before, that really is not a difficult IT problem. I can sketch out a relational database structure that supports multiple on/offs as an entity-relationship diagram almost off the top of my head.

Also, as I pointed out in an earlier post, the railroads managed it on reserved seat trains in their manual reservations systems. The unassigned "reserved" seat is an Amtrak creation. Prior to Amtrak, reserved seats were, by definition, assigned.
 

Michigan Mom

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My question is, WHY doesn't Amtrak do this on the Michigan services. Is it because of all the stops? Does this make the programming more difficult?
 

Train3414

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My question is, WHY doesn't Amtrak do this on the Michigan services. Is it because of all the stops? Does this make the programming more difficult?
I think seat assigning is more common on Long Distance. Corridor trains generally don't have Coach Attendants and there aren't usually people getting off in the middle of the night.
 

Burns651

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I've experienced this and not experienced this, sometimes on the same train. You can certainly request with the attendant, but they primarily do this for loading based on destination. Usually, I get "You're going where? Ok - go to your right..." or something like that.
I don't want to sound pedantic, but unless you're actually being directed where to go by a sleeping car or long distance coach attendant, it's best to refer to those persons by their title-- conductor or assistant conductor. They're in charge of the train, responsible for the safety of everyone and have much more responsibility than any attendants.
 

TheCrescent

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I don't want to sound pedantic, but unless you're actually being directed where to go by a sleeping car or long distance coach attendant, it's best to refer to those persons by their title-- conductor or assistant conductor. They're in charge of the train, responsible for the safety of everyone and have much more responsibility than any attendants.

A lot of people--even Amtrak regulars--don't know the specifics of who does what; they just know that there are Amtrak employees onboard the train. Similarly, people who fly a lot may not know the specifics of specific airline employee titles among the crew in the cabin. For example, I've flown over 600,000 miles in the past years and I still don't know exactly what a "purser" is, and a lady in the room across from mine on Amtrak asked the person scanning tickets if she would also make the bed for nighttime travel, which was a faux pas, but it's not up to the customer to automatically know such things.
 

joelkfla

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I don't want to sound pedantic, but unless you're actually being directed where to go by a sleeping car or long distance coach attendant, it's best to refer to those persons by their title-- conductor or assistant conductor. They're in charge of the train, responsible for the safety of everyone and have much more responsibility than any attendants.
My only coach trip was on the Silver Star, and it was the coach TA who was directing passengers and helping them find seats. Is that not normally their job?
 

Anderson

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So, I'd note that in my experience in the UK, in a lot of cases not all seats are reserved. You can reserve a specific seat or just take pot luck when you board. An all-reserved model runs the risk of "seat wastage" where people don't pick their seats "optimally"...

Take a train with two seats going A-B-C. You have one passenger who wants to travel A-B, one B-C, and one A-C. Ideally, the A-B and B-C pax pick the same seat. In reality, for various reasons you might have them pick different seats, and so the A-C passenger sees a sold-out train.

This isn't strictly an academic exercise...there are at least a few dozen threads over the years of folks unable to book a through roomette but able to book a "split" one, changing rooms at Toledo or Wolf Point or Denver, and that's with the computer doing the assignments (which makes some sense since roomettes are arguably interchangable unless you need to be on one level or the other).
 

Train3414

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So, I'd note that in my experience in the UK, in a lot of cases not all seats are reserved. You can reserve a specific seat or just take pot luck when you board. An all-reserved model runs the risk of "seat wastage" where people don't pick their seats "optimally"...

Take a train with two seats going A-B-C. You have one passenger who wants to travel A-B, one B-C, and one A-C. Ideally, the A-B and B-C pax pick the same seat. In reality, for various reasons you might have them pick different seats, and so the A-C passenger sees a sold-out train.

This isn't strictly an academic exercise...there are at least a few dozen threads over the years of folks unable to book a through roomette but able to book a "split" one, changing rooms at Toledo or Wolf Point or Denver, and that's with the computer doing the assignments (which makes some sense since roomettes are arguably interchangable unless you need to be on one level or the other).
Yeah, I think there is a need to reconcile both allowing people to have seats they prefer and not making booking trips harder.
 

crescent-zephyr

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My only coach trip was on the Silver Star, and it was the coach TA who was directing passengers and helping them find seats. Is that not normally their job?

Yes. It’s rare for Conductors to assign seats, it’s usually the attendants but on occasion Conductors will. I recall a conductor giving me a seat assignment in Vancouver for exemple. I got lucky with a window seat! Beautiful sunrise over the mountains.
 
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My only coach trip was on the Silver Star, and it was the coach TA who was directing passengers and helping them find seats. Is that not normally their job?
I would think it is. On all my coach trips on long-distance trains when I was assigned a seat (at the platform as we were boarding), it was the coach attendant who did that. Last spring, I boarded the Capitol Limited at Pittsburgh, and it was the conductor who told me to just go to such and such a car, but he didn't assign me a seat. (I don't think there was a coach attendant.
 

Train3414

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A lot of people--even Amtrak regulars--don't know the specifics of who does what; they just know that there are Amtrak employees onboard the train. Similarly, people who fly a lot may not know the specifics of specific airline employee titles among the crew in the cabin. For example, I've flown over 600,000 miles in the past years and I still don't know exactly what a "purser" is, and a lady in the room across from mine on Amtrak asked the person scanning tickets if she would also make the bed for nighttime travel, which was a faux pas, but it's not up to the customer to automatically know such things.
There are some cases where the person directing you might not even be a conductor. Sometimes you may just happen to ask another crew member or Amtrak employee on the platform for direction, or sometimes you'll even be greeted by someone other than the conductor on the platform
 

VentureForth

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I don't want to sound pedantic, but unless you're actually being directed where to go by a sleeping car or long distance coach attendant, it's best to refer to those persons by their title-- conductor or assistant conductor. They're in charge of the train, responsible for the safety of everyone and have much more responsibility than any attendants.
I've also had times where the conductor tells me which car to board then the coach attendant tells me which seat. So my original post isn't wrong, as also evidenced by other subsequent posts.

One thing about Amtrak is that there seems to be absolutely no consistency in operating procedures, much less customer service.
 
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So, I'd note that in my experience in the UK, in a lot of cases not all seats are reserved. You can reserve a specific seat or just take pot luck when you board. An all-reserved model runs the risk of "seat wastage" where people don't pick their seats "optimally"...

Take a train with two seats going A-B-C. You have one passenger who wants to travel A-B, one B-C, and one A-C. Ideally, the A-B and B-C pax pick the same seat. In reality, for various reasons you might have them pick different seats, and so the A-C passenger sees a sold-out train.

This isn't strictly an academic exercise...there are at least a few dozen threads over the years of folks unable to book a through roomette but able to book a "split" one, changing rooms at Toledo or Wolf Point or Denver, and that's with the computer doing the assignments (which makes some sense since roomettes are arguably interchangable unless you need to be on one level or the other).
The problem with having only some seats reserved is then you need a way to indicate a seat is reserved so that passengers who didn't reserve a specific seat know where they can sit. For example if I reserve a seat from PHL to WAS how does someone travelling from NYP to BAL know not to sit in it? Or is it up to me to kick them out when I board in PHL? That could be unpleasant.
 

joelkfla

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The problem with having only some seats reserved is then you need a way to indicate a seat is reserved so that passengers who didn't reserve a specific seat know where they can sit. For example if I reserve a seat from PHL to WAS how does someone travelling from NYP to BAL know not to sit in it? Or is it up to me to kick them out when I board in PHL? That could be unpleasant.
I've seen some videos where there is a light-up "reserved" indicator next to the seat number over the seat. IIRC in one case it even showed the passenger's name.
 
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I've seen some videos where there is a light-up "reserved" indicator next to the seat number over the seat. IIRC in one case it even showed the passenger's name.
And if you don't have the fancy computerized light-up indicator, the conductor or coach attendant can just put a seat check over the seat. I saw that in Britain in the 1980s.
 

Barb Stout

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Is it possible that sometimes an Amtrak agent at the station assigns seats? Several times traveling from Albuquerque, coach passengers were asked to line up in the station itself and get seat assignments from an Amtrak staffer sitting next to the door to the platform. I think this even happened while the train was still pulling into the station. Those times there seemed to be a lot of people getting on the train (for ABQ). On one of them, I counted 60 coach passengers which I think is a lot for ABQ (but not having traveled all that often by train, I could be wrong). And at least one time when I was traveling coach, I just got on the train and found a seat myself. On that journey, that car was probably about half full. So maybe it depends on how full the train is as to whether seats are assigned or not? I think this would be a good argument against always allowing people to pick their own seats during the reservation process.
 

caravanman

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I had seats assigned inside LAX station itself for the Coast Starlight, but it starts from there.

Not sure how seats could be assigned from the station for a train mid-route, as some seats would already be occupied?
 
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