Assigned seats on the train?

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Train3414

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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?
Are they just allocated certain seats and the crew just has to make sure they're empty at Albuquerque? The SWC in both directions has a long stop in Albuquerque so they could just assign them after the train is close enough and they have a better idea. Has anyone seen them assign people to an already filled seat?
 

caravanman

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Has anyone seen them assign people to an already filled seat?

Most times seats are assigned by the train crew at the coach door, they already know which seats are vacant.
I once heard an announcement that the train was "over booked" and that folk in the viewing car needed to return to their seats immediately, unoccupied seats would be reassigned to standing passengers.
Some sort of one-off glitch I expect...
 

Train3414

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Most times seats are assigned by the train crew at the coach door, they already know which seats are vacant.
I once heard an announcement that the train was "over booked" and that folk in the viewing car needed to return to their seats immediately, unoccupied seats would be reassigned to standing passengers.
Some sort of one-off glitch I expect...
I think occasionally people have been told to just find space in the lounge / Cafe / floor and they'll try to find space at the next stop, etc. Depends on the situation I think.
 

crescent-zephyr

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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.

Albuquerque is a crew change so that was most likely a conductor.

With Albuquerque being a major stop, it’s likely that there is an entire coach dedicated for Albuquerque bound passengers so the conductor knows that coach will be empty.

A system that could work...
The Albuquerque bound coach becomes the LAX bound coach and the conductor in the Albuquerque station assigns car and seat number to LAX bound passengers and car numbers only to passengers headed to other destinations, allowing the coach attendants to seat those passengers.
 

Michigan Mom

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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.
That would be the easiest part to solve, probably.. they would need to install small seat numbers on the overhead racks "17AB" etc. Then just like the airlines if someone is sitting in your seat when you board you can just point that out :)
 

AmtrakBlue

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That would be the easiest part to solve, probably.. they would need to install small seat numbers on the overhead racks "17AB" etc. Then just like the airlines if someone is sitting in your seat when you board you can just point that out :)
The coaches already have seat numbers on the rack. And the letters are A & C and D & F.
And good luck pointing it out if someone is sitting in your seat. That has happened to me twice. The first time, on an Acela, the conductor didn’t seem like he wanted to move the guy. Since I’m flexible I just asked for another seat. This was during the 50% capacity time.
The 2nd time I just took the seat in back of my assigned seat. I would have told the conductor when he came by, but the person got off at the next stop before the conductor came through. I just moved to my assigned seat at that time.
 

Train3414

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That would be the easiest part to solve, probably.. they would need to install small seat numbers on the overhead racks "17AB" etc. Then just like the airlines if someone is sitting in your seat when you board you can just point that out :)
On trains in Europe with some seats reserved, there will often be a digital indicator showing whether and when each seat is reserved. This could work to let people know whether they should sit in a particular seat (or plan to move) or not. Would require a pretty significant IT upgrade on Amtrak's part though.
 

AmtrakBlue

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On trains in Europe with some seats reserved, there will often be a digital indicator showing whether and when each seat is reserved. This could work to let people know whether they should sit in a particular seat (or plan to move) or not. Would require a pretty significant IT upgrade on Amtrak's part though.
And require passengers to know/remember to look. I have a bad habit of not looking for seat checks when I board the NERs.
 
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The coaches already have seat numbers on the rack. And the letters are A & C and D & F.
And good luck pointing it out if someone is sitting in your seat. That has happened to me twice. The first time, on an Acela, the conductor didn’t seem like he wanted to move the guy. Since I’m flexible I just asked for another seat. This was during the 50% capacity time.
The 2nd time I just took the seat in back of my assigned seat. I would have told the conductor when he came by, but the person got off at the next stop before the conductor came through. I just moved to my assigned seat at that time.
I once had half of a couple sitting in my assigned seat. They gave me a hard time about it, so I found another seat. When the conductor came by, I told him about it, and a little later, I saw the couple moving down they car, they told me they were going to move to coach so they could sit together. I presume the conductor had some words with them. The result was that I was able to reclaim my assigned seat, plus I didn't have anybody sitting next to me.
 

jis

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My friends in UK will possibly help with the detail, but AFAR in UK there the reserved seats are tagged with a paper slip with the details of the reservation that sticks out of the seat back and is clearly visible. So there is absolutely no confusion about which seats are reserved.

In the more recent electronic indicator equipped trains the same information is displayed on a little electronic display above the seat sometimes with an indicator LED which is lighted if the seat is reserved and not if it is not.

All this seems to work just fine.
 
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districtRich

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I'm sure someone else remembers better than I do, but when the current Acela was rolled out 20 years ago you could actually view a seatmap on the Amtrak website and choose your seat... for first class at least. And I even think the trains did/do have those LCD digital displays (although now they're blank) above the seats that were supposed to show which seats were available/reserved when you boarded. I don't think this lasted long at all of course. Here in Finland you can book your preferred seat ahead of time online so it's not like this is rocket science.
 

Bob Dylan

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I'm sure someone else remembers better than I do, but when the current Acela was rolled out 20 years ago you could actually view a seatmap on the Amtrak website and choose your seat... for first class at least. And I even think the trains did/do have those LCD digital displays (although now they're blank) above the seats that were supposed to show which seats were available/reserved when you boarded. I don't think this lasted long at all of course. Here in Finland you can book your preferred seat ahead of time online so it's not like this is rocket science.
Amtrak assigns Seats in FC Acela when you book , and you can look @ a diagram of the seats and change your seat yourself on your computer or phone!
 
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Another thing you can do if seats are NOT assigned is avoid the "sun side" if you plan on looking out of the window. Our last Acela trip had us sun-side both ways.
That was always a problem taking a morning train from Boston to New York as you wanted to sit on the ocean (East) side but then you got the full sun especially in winter.
 
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That was always a problem taking a morning train from Boston to New York as you wanted to sit on the ocean (East) side but then you got the full sun especially in winter.
Unfortunately, because the coastline (and the rail line) runs east-west through Connecticut, even if you take an afternoon train from Boston, you get the sun in your face if you sit on the scenic side. It seems it might be good to pray for cloudy weather. :)
 

Amtrak709

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Help me again understand the reasoning for not assigning seats in advance--especially on the 14 Amtrak LD trains. I am sure the technology exists (much like Acela first class and all sleepers) and I realize there is always a cost associated with maintaining such a database. Back in the 1960's when I on occasion helped out the C&O agent in Williamsburg--and long before existing computer technology--we assigned reserve seats on many of the SAL and ACL Florida trains as well as north on the RF&P by calling Richmond where the manual "diagrams" were maintained. Seems to have worked then. Just a curiosity for further discussion.
 

districtRich

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Amtrak assigns Seats in FC Acela when you book , and you can look @ a diagram of the seats and change your seat yourself on your computer or phone!

Yes, but back then you could actually look at the seat map online before buying the ticket and choose a seat. And they still don't use the digital displays that are above each seat. For some reason they took away assigned seating after having it 20 years ago before finally rolling it out again recently.
 

zephyr17

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Yes, but back then you could actually look at the seat map online before buying the ticket and choose a seat. And they still don't use the digital displays that are above each seat. For some reason they took away assigned seating after having it 20 years ago before finally rolling it out again recently.
Forget it, Jake. It's Amtrak.
 

PerRock

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In all my years of riding Amtrak, I've only been assigned a seat twice (not counting the Acela). And it was my understanding that getting an assigned seat is not the norm. I've seen many a reference here & on r/Amtrak of people helping new folks by telling them it's first come first serve seating. However I recently corrected someone to that matter on r/Amtrak who stated that all Amtrak "reserved coach" seating is assigned, it's just done by the conductor when you board. To my surprise I've been down-voted and had a number of people tell me that I am wrong and that you cannot pick your own seat on Amtrak. Which got me wondering, now admittedly I've not traveled much on the train since the pandemic, has the seating situation changed & is all seating now assigned?

peter
 

AmtrakBlue

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On the regionals here on the east coast it’s every man & woman for them selves, except for Business Class.
I have not ridden in coach on an LD train since 2019. I think it depends on where you’re boarding. For originating station I think they just tell you which car to get in, based on your destination. For stations down the line it probably depends on how full the train is. With trains selling out I suspect many are being assigned seats.
 

zephyr17

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I just want to point out that the railroad reservation bureaus has no trouble assigning seats in advance, including the ability to group people in the car where they got off if was at a small station with a short platform where not all doors opened (which was usually accomplished using a "shorts" coach).

This systems were typically manual and depended on clerks maintaining a series of car seating charts, but it worked. Reserved seating was generally a feature only of premier trains and the railroads did charge a surcharge for reserved seats.

Those systems ceased being used prior to Arrow when Amtrak moved from continuing to use host railroad reservation bureaus and established their own centralized reservations, which was pretty early on. I do recall a period after Amtrak established their own central reservations but before Arrow when on the Coast Starlight, at least, I was assigned to a car in advance but not a seat.

There is really nothing precluding re-establishing a computerized version of such a system, other than possibly the limitations of Arrow itself. The single variable that might be missing is the stations at which a particular car line is opened. You have that, and the reservation system which can assign people to the correct cars.
 
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Kbyrdleroydogg

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I'm considering a Lake Shore Limited from Chicago Union Station to New York Union Station around 9:30 pm at night departure. My question is should I get there early because I want a window seat or do they seat you by destination? All the NYC people in one car while people getting off sooner are in others or people getting on at later stations but going to NYC will eventually wind up in your car? What is the process?
 

VentureForth

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The seats aren't assigned to your ticket. However, it depends on whether the conductor will assign you a seat when you board. Sometimes they'll just have you pick a seat in a car based on your destination, sometimes they'll tell you specifically which seat to sit in.

I don't like it.

It never hurts to be at the front of the line and to make a request if you are assigned a seat you don't prefer. Otherwise, while on board, you can shuffle seats. If you do this, make sure you pick a seat without a seat check slip in the railing above, and take yours with you (after conductor makes yours). You don't want to relocate to an occupied seat. :)

IDK how strict they are on the LSL, but I haven't had any problem on the Silvers, Capitol, or the Eagle.
 
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