Business Class on Coast Starlight Elgible to eat in the Diner

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Bob Dylan

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According to a post on Trainorders, Business Class Passengers are now allowed to eat in the Diner on the Coast Starlight but must pay $20 for Breakfast,$25 for Lunch and $45 for Dinner!!

This is $90 a day for 3 Meals, and one must Pay CASH if you eat in the Diner. Coach Passengers are still SOL.

There is no difference between the Meals so one would pay $45 for Dinner whether you had the Steak, the Salmon,the Chicken or the Veggie Option. One Alcoholic Drink is included with the Dinner.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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My take is if you can afford those prices you can afford a roomette especially if there’s two people in the room. The average coach passenger won’t partake. I could see $15, $20, $25 no alcohol included and a simple kids menu at half of those prices. That’s still possibly $120 with tip for a family of 4 for dinner.

With the Mica rule gone and Amtrak long distance coach geared toward families, seniors, fixed income I find this version of bringing coach passengers back in the diner tone deaf and infuriating. It’s like they don’t know their customers.

Now if they would truly update the cafe menu and/or bring back the to go Blue Plate special that you could eat at your seat or at a table in the lounge my opinion on everything above would change. The question at least for me isn’t necessarily entrance to the diner it’s the ability to obtain edible, somewhat healthy, memorable food to enhance the coach passengers journey.
 
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Sidney

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When I first read BC passengers on the CL were allowed to eat in the dining car,there was no mention if it would cost extra. I had a Coach seat for a day trip and I upgraded. Now that I have seen the prices,I reverted back to Coach.

Prices seem a bit steep. Dinner I could almost justify,but Ill be in the Sightseer Lounge most of the day and the only advantage of BC on the CS is a bottle of water and the chance you can get two seats to yourself.
 
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The prices do seem a bit high. Locally, at a top end steakhouse, their most expensive steak (a bone-in Ribeye) with salad and two sides is $50. $45 for chicken, salmon, or the veggie option seems out of line.
When I was looking at restaurants to eat at in Chicago at the Gathering, the "top flight steakhouses" charged a minimum of $40 for an a la carte steak. By the time you add sides and a salad, dessert, and a drink, the bill approaches or exceeds $100. Or more if you order alcohol.

Of course, the dining car prices are high; it's "stadium pricing." What's the alternative? It's go hungry, bring your own food or eat from the cafe car. But then you miss the experience of "eating in a dining car while traveling on a train," which is what they're really selling, not the food.

By the way, back in the days before they moved to flex and let the coach riffraff eat in the dining car, meal prices for coach passengers ranged from $25 to $35 for dinner, and there has been some inflation over that past few years.

That said, they probably need to keep an eye on how the diner prices affect the fare differential between business class and a roomette, or they may cannibalize their business class business.
 
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When I was looking at restaurants to eat at in Chicago at the Gathering, the "top flight steakhouses" charged a minimum of $40 for an a la carte steak. By the time you add sides and a salad, dessert, and a drink, the bill approaches or exceeds $100. Or more if you order alcohol.
We have one ala carte steakhouse (Fleming's) where such pricing is "normal". I rarely patronize them. Although, I do like their food, particularly Fleming's Potatoes.
 

Sidney

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The $45 dinner includes an alcholic drink and dessert. A real dessert..not a brownie. If you order the steak it is worth it. On the other hand $20 for breakfast,even if it includes coffee and juice is about $5 more than I would pay. The lunch at $25 is way overpriced
 
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We have one ala carte steakhouse (Fleming's) where such pricing is "normal". I rarely patronize them. Although, I do like their food, particularly Fleming's Potatoes.
I had dinner at a Flemings in Akron Ohio once. Yeah, it was expensive, but the steak was good.

Just last week, I had a really great steak diner at the Terrace Room at the Williamsburg Inn. That was about $50 with veggies, but no salad. A really yummy New York strip, cooked just right. We couldn't get a reservation, but the concierge told us they sometimes hold tables for hotel guests. They sat us in the bar, and we were served by the bartender. Excellent service, he even let me sample a couple of wines so I could make a better selection. I also had an excellent squash bisque, my wife had the salmon, and we shared a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. I think I gained 5 pounds over the three-day trip.
 

caravanman

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Up untill recently, the menu in the diner had prices. I seem to recall a lunch time burger was around $10, and a steak at dinner was around $24?
 

Sidney

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Up untill recently, the menu in the diner had prices. I seem to recall a lunch time burger was around $10, and a steak at dinner was around $24?
Sounds right I think the steak was $25. Alcoholic beverage and dessert were extra. The surf and turf was $39,so the $45 price,which includes the appetizer,alcoholic drink and dessert is not a bad deal.
 
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tgstubbs1

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Of course, the dining car prices are high; it's "stadium pricing." What's the alternative? It's go hungry, bring your own food or eat from the cafe car. But then you miss the experience of "eating in a dining car while traveling on a train," which is what they're really selling, not the food.

The price of the "real estate" the establishment sits on affects the price. The dining car is pretty expensive, and it has to get power from the locomotive, which is expensive.

People could bring their own steaks for $10-20 if they had a place to cook it.
 
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I'll throw out there that I'd land in the group that would happily take advantage of this.

I take the Surfliner pretty regularly, and the Coast Starlight now and then as schedule dictates.

My trips aren't long enough to warrant a room/roomette, and now that "real" food is back, I'd happily pay $25-$45 for lunch or dinner with a view. Just enough time in the diner to break up my work, and while it's more expensive than food *brought* on board, it's fairly close to what you'd pay in most restaurant along that route.

I'm almost looking for an excuse to take the Coast Starlight over the Surfliner on my next trip just to do this.
 
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Triley

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I’m surprised it hasn’t been said in here yet, so here’s a reminder: dinner is appetizer, entree, 1 alcoholic drink, and dessert. Sounds like a deal to me. I guarantee you there are many passengers who would love to take advantage of this. (CHI-MSP passengers come to mind.)
 
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Is that 3 courses, or 4? 🙃
The HUGE salad is also provided with flex food (sometimes) , so combined with the alcohol which makes one think the salad is as huge as it isn't, the flex menu is also three courses.

Of 7 lunches and dinners (2 flex, 5 traditional) on my last 4-train trip ending a week ago, I got ONE roll but it was nicely warmed and served in aluminum foil. If they'd provide it consistently, it would be considered another course!
 

Explore

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That said, they probably need to keep an eye on how the diner prices affect the fare differential between business class and a roomette, or they may cannibalize their business class business.
In mid-December, roomettes on #14 from LA to Emeryville are going for $194, and business class is $94. So if you're going to pay $70 for lunch and dinner, you might as well cough up the extra $30 to travel in the sleeper.
 
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I think the prices are appropriate. They aren’t far off from pre flexible dining prices and they probably just feel this makes life easier for the crew not having to price out every item. While at first glance the breakfast and lunch seems high, if you factor in that you also get coffee and soft drinks and dessert at lunch it’s actually a pretty good deal. Don’t forget that if you get a can of coke in the cafe car you’re paying for it and it’s priced more than it would be in a vending machine.
 

Bob Dylan

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I think the prices are appropriate. They aren’t far off from pre flexible dining prices and they probably just feel this makes life easier for the crew not having to price out every item. While at first glance the breakfast and lunch seems high, if you factor in that you also get coffee and soft drinks and dessert at lunch it’s actually a pretty good deal. Don’t forget that if you get a can of coke in the cafe car you’re paying for it and it’s priced more than it would be in a vending machine.
I disagree. The Breakfast and Lunch Prices are much Higher than before the COVID Pandemic,and Dinner prices are high as some really good Cafes.

As others have said, you might as well spend a little more and book a Roomette with Meals and a Free Adult Beverage @ Dinner included in the Fare.
 
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I disagree. The Breakfast and Lunch Prices are much Higher than before the COVID Pandemic,and Dinner prices are high as some really good Cafes.

As others have said, you might as well spend a little more and book a Roomette with Meals and a Free Adult Beverage @ Dinner included in the Fare.
The free adult beverage is included with the $45 for business also.
 
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I disagree. The Breakfast and Lunch Prices are much Higher than before the COVID Pandemic,and Dinner prices are high as some really good Cafes.

As others have said, you might as well spend a little more and book a Roomette with Meals and a Free Adult Beverage @ Dinner included in the Fare.
I’d rather see them do what they’re doing and have a smaller packaged menu with some really good items rather than a larger menu of more mediocre stuff to try to cater to everyone who may visit the diner. Given that it’s a moving restaurant and many places are charging $15 for a Hamburg these days - these prices just aren’t offending me that much. If one doesn’t want to pay these prices the cafe car (or bring your own food) are options. While I support coach access to the dining car - coach passengers are not entitled to a cheap affordable meal in the diner which is meant to be a premium amenity and the charge should be appropriately cost based and keeping in mind that this amenity is meant for passengers many of which are paying in excess of $1000 for their accommodation and fare.
 
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What you're really paying for is the "dining car experience," and think these prices, though high, are reasonable. A business class passenger (or a coach passenger, if it ever becomes available to them) could pay for one or two meals in the dining car for the whole trip rather than for every meal. In that way, they get the dining car experience without having to pay over $100. It's also true that according to the RPA ridership statistics, the average trip length on the Coast Starlight for business class passengers is ~400 miles, as opposed to the average sleeper trip length which is over 800 miles. Thus, a smaller proportion of business class passengers, compared to sleeper passengers, are going to need to eat all of the meals offered on the entire route from Seattle to Los Angeles.

As I said before, though, they will need to keep an eye on the spread between business class and roomette fares, as they have the chance of cannibalizing business class patronage if the business class+meals prices are too close to a roomette price. This is especially true for people traveling in pairs, where the per-person price for a roomette is often pretty reasonable.
 
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