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Business class on the Illini/Saluki is a ripoff

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Crowbar_k

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I booked a business class ticket on the Saluki, and instead of the normal single level coaches, the Superliners were used instead. Business class was just a normal section of the coach with a curtain separating it. You might just be better off booking a coach seat on the lower level instead.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I booked a business class ticket on the Saluki, and instead of the normal single level coaches, the Superliners were used instead. Business class was just a normal section of the coach with a curtain separating it. You might just be better off booking a coach seat on the lower level instead.
Was it on the end of the train? It would still be a bit more quiet / less crowded correct?

I remember riding the Surfliner down to San Diego and buying BC and sad that it was just a horizon coach but I still felt like I got the advertised product. Just not the exact equipment I was hoping for.
 

Crowbar_k

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Was it on the end of the train? It would still be a bit more quiet / less crowded correct?
It was at the very front of the train, above the café. It was more quiet, but you can get the same experience by just booking a lower level ticket at less than half the cost.
 

crescent-zephyr

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It was at the very front of the train, above the café. It was more quiet, but you can get the same experience by just booking a lower level ticket at less than half the cost.
I didn’t know Amtrak still had superliner coach with cafe underneath. I remember riding when those were on the Texas Eagle when I was a kid. Trip down memory lane!
 

Crowbar_k

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Did you get any of the typical Business Class perks? Like complimentary soft drinks, a newspaper, and priority boarding?
Yeah, I still got that stuff, but I was still really disappointed because everytime I rode an Amtrak train to St. Louis or Michigan, I would see the business class section of the cafe car and think "Man, some day I want to ride in there. It looks really nice." And this time I decided to go for it. Next time I will have to make sure that single level cars are being used.
 

sttom

OBS Chief
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Business Class across the Amtrak system isn't consistent. Some trains have the 2+1 seating others are basically long distance coach with some extras thrown in. I would like it if Amtrak would make it the 2+1 S with the same amenities nationwide, but here's to hoping that who ever controls product development at Amtrak cares to make it the same.....someday.

As for inconsistent, I know the Talgos on the Cascades has 2+1 and gives you drinks and a cafe car voucher. The Surfliner does the 2+2 with a snack pack. And then there are the trains with the Business Class section in the Cafe Cars and then there is the NER and Acela Business Classes.
 

PVD

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A large part of the inconsistency stems from states deciding what they will or will not pay Amtrak to provide on state supported routes/trains.
 

PVD

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Of course. One of the major frustrations people have with Amtrak is their failure to lay out why things differ in a simple and concise manner, that regular customers might understand. Matter of fact, they usually don't even try to explain things at all.
 

sttom

OBS Chief
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Amtrak could do more to convince the states to have a consistent Business Class product. Cause its not 100% on the states for this. Nationally owned equipment doesn't even have the same level of service. Business class on some trains is 2+2 and some is 2+1. And its not like Amtrak fares are priced differently if the equipment is different or if the amenities are slightly different for similar length trips. Amtrak can push the states to have a similar product offering over time. For example, a 2+1 seat arrangement and a snack pack along with the standard things like news papers, non alcoholic beverages and priority boarding. The snack packs aren't going to cost more than the $6 Cafe Car credit you get on routes where you don't get food and its not like the prices are radically different.
 

Crowbar_k

Train Attendant
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Normally, I believe the Illini/Saluki, has the "normal" business class you find on other trains from Chicago. The 2+1 arrangement, and the big cushy leather seats with armrests in the middle, in the second half of the café car. Its just that they sometimes use the superliner equipment on that route for some reason (I believe they do it during the winter months). I'm still going to give business class a shot next time I ride the Lincoln Service.
 

Steve4031

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Ironically I prefer superliner cars because the windows are bigger than those in horizon and amfleet cars. Legroom and seat comfort is similar.
 

crescent-zephyr

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On the low end Business class = coach on the Acela (2x2 seating, no food & beverage).

Most trains offer a decent hard product (2x1 seating at the end of the train) and a laughable soft product. (1 soft drink).

The best business class offering is probably either Surfliner or Talgo since you can get free alcohol, free snacks, and it’s a decent hard product.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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... , I would see the business class section of the cafe car and think "Man, some day I want to ride in there. It looks really nice."
You mean those old cars, where 1/2 of the car is Business Class sitting in those leather "La-Z-Boy" recliners in the 2-1 configuration?

Those cars are pretty comfy, but I thought were also pretty rare (haven't been made in years).
 

PVD

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Not particularly rare, between Amfleet 1 and Horizon there are around 50. But Amfleets and Horizon haven't been made in years, that's not any different for the split cars. I use Empire Service a few times a year, they are on every train. (Not counting LSL and Adk, although each of them runs part or most of the Empire route)
 

crescent-zephyr

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Those cars are pretty comfy, but I thought were also pretty rare (haven't been made in years).
If by rare you mean they are on almost all of the Illinois and Michigan trains and the Empire Service trains. Sure they are rare.

Viewliner sleepers are rare too. Lol
 

me_little_me

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Business Class across the Amtrak system isn't consistent. Some trains have the 2+1 seating others are basically long distance coach with some extras thrown in. I would like it if Amtrak would make it the 2+1 S with the same amenities nationwide, but here's to hoping that who ever controls product development at Amtrak cares to make it the same.....someday.
They plan to have that - and it might be sooner than you think. When all the trains but one are gone, the last train will have the same cars so the same amenities. :)
 

MARC Rider

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What consistency business class needs is to be consistently better than coach on the same train. For example, although business class on the Northeast Regional is 2X2 seating (except for 65,66,67 [most of the time]) not much different in terms of legroom than an Amfleet 2 coach, they don't run Amfleet 2 coaches on Northeast Regional trains. Thus, this business class is superior to the Amfleet 1 coaches on the same train with more legroom and window curtains, plus the free drink, for what that's worth. This is also true for the Carolinian, but not for the Palmetto and Pennsylvanian which have Amfleet 2 coaches in the coach section. In other trains (Vermonter, Ethan Allen, Empire service, Lakeshore Limited, Cardinal, midwest corridors [most of the time]), they use the 2 x 1 club cars, which are a superior hard product to coach. (Well maybe or maybe not, as they have fixed armrests, so you can't spread out on a seat pair in these days of getting 2 seats for the price of one due to reduced capacity on the trains.)

I agree that a "business class" section of a Superliner train with the exact same hard product as the coach section isn't really much of a value proposition. I have taken Business Class on the Palmetto, despite the fact that the hard product isn't too different from coach, because If fund that the business class section doesn't fill up the way the coaches do, and I have been able have both seats to myself all the way from Savannah to Baltimore. That might not be as relevant in these days under COVID operation, where they only book half the train anyway.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Part of what you’re realistically paying for is to be seated with passengers who don’t buy the cheapest ticket possible.

I didn’t like riding with a group of just released prisoners on a Saluki train. So now I always pay for business class.
 

Crowbar_k

Train Attendant
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Jun 23, 2020
Messages
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I will be giving business class another shot because I will be taking the Lincoln Service soon and those seats look really comfy and it's a long way to St. Louis, so hopefully it will be worth the extra $25. 1602987277342.png
 

Crowbar_k

Train Attendant
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Jun 23, 2020
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I agree that a "business class" section of a Superliner train with the exact same hard product as the coach section isn't really much of a value proposition.
I honestly think just riding on the lower level is better, and its half the cost. Hopefully, they will stop the occasional use of the superliners on the Illini/Saluki ounce the new Venture cars are put in service.
 

Devil's Advocate

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A large part of the inconsistency stems from states deciding what they will or will not pay Amtrak to provide on state supported routes/trains.
Doesn’t make the inconsistency any less annoying for the paying customer.
Of course. One of the major frustrations people have with Amtrak is their failure to lay out why things differ in a simple and concise manner, that regular customers might understand. Matter of fact, they usually don't even try to explain things at all.
Amtrak does not need a list of explanations for why they can't make one train like another. What they need is a standard regional contract that gives customers predictable benefits at a price states can afford. I don't expect perfection but I do expect something similar to how regional contract service is handled by national airlines.
 
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Seaboard92

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Amtrak's business class product is all over the place on a soft and hard product spread. And honestly it is a bit of a joke. You don't see Airlines with ten different versions of it.

Acela: Business class is 2-2 Seats. No amenities. It is just a nice name to make the "Elite" passengers feel like they are part of the elite despite being equivalent to a European 2nd Class Car.

Carolinian: 2-2 Seats in an Amfleet I car the rest of the train is also Amfleet I so this is a slight hard product upgrade, a pillow, complimentary drinks (Up to the discretion of the LSA, I've wanted something and been told to pay for the item 50 percent of the time), and a dedicated business class attendant (Is this really a perk).

Cascades: 2-1 Seats on the Talgo. A coupon for food or beverage from the Cafe worth $3, priority boarding at PDX, SEA, and VAC. As well as priority at customs at VAC.

Coast Starlight: 2-2 Seats on a Superliner. Literally the same layout as coach, but the chairs have leather instead of cloth. Priority boarding in SEA, PDX, small coupon for food/beverage on board the train.

Downeaster: 2-1 Seats on an Amfleet I/Cafe. Free drinks.

New York State Trains (Ethan Allan Express, Empire Corridor, Maple Leaf): 2-1 Seats on an Amfleet I/Cafe. Free drinks on trains that offer meal service (Anything west of Albany), nothing on the NYP-ALB turns.

Illinois/Michigan/Missouri Trains: Generally it is a 2-1 Amfleet or Horizon car split with the cafe. Sometimes substitutions occur however. Complimentary coffee and tea, lounge access, dedicated attendant (not an amenity).

Lake Shore Limited: 2-1 Seating in an Amfleet I Cafe Split Car. Free drinks, Lounge access at Chicago.

Northeast Regional: 2-2 Seats on Amfleet I. Maybe free drinks but the website isn't clear, and I refuse to spend the extra money for it normally.

Pacific Surfliner: 2-2 Seats on a California Car. Free Glass of wine, free drinks, snack pack, lounge access (LAX), priority boarding (SAN), and a dedicated attendant. Most importantly a reserved seat.

Palmetto: 2-2 Seats in an Amfleet I which has more seats than the Amfleet II coaches in the same consist. Complimentary drinks (again see comment about varying on the items).

Pennsylvanian: 2-2 Seats in an Amfleet I which has more seats than the Amfleet II coaches in the same consist. Complimentary drinks (again see comment about varying on the items).

Vermonter: 2-1 Seating in an Amfleet I Cafe Split Car. Free Drinks.

When you look at this its very unprofessional how there are 5 different hard products. Then look at the various soft products of which there are 6 ranging from nothing to something great like the Pacific Surfliner. We all try to make excuses for Amtrak's lack of consistency but that doesn't matter to someone who uses Amtrak for transportation from point A to point B, they aren't fans. They don't care if there is a valid reason for a service. If they buy a ticket to go from SAN-LAX for a flight to New York, then connect to an Acela for NHV or PRV they are experiencing two vastly different soft products. One is amazing, and one is in name only.

Look at United Airlines they offer two business class products. Polaris which is the best of the best, and United Business. No two types are on the same aircraft, and for the most part Polaris isn't in the domestic market so it doesn't effect the business class here. Soft product: Food/Drinks are free (including alcohol), free checked bags, priority security, outlets, and other nicities. But the thing is if you board one UA flight from CLT-ORD, and then connect ORD-DEN, DEN-PDX the product is 100 percent consistent between the three flights.

There is no good reason for Amtrak to have the many different varieties of business class. They need to pick one single hard product and stick with it. My recommendation is 2-1 Seating. Yes there are fewer seats on an all 2-1 Car on the NEC but you will get a better yield, as you can sell more tickets at a higher bucket as people always will upgrade if they can. Next they need to pick one single soft product that befits the extra charge I would argue the Cascades or the Pacific Surfliner offer the best soft product.

If Amtrak could do that they would have a very good business class product that would get higher yields, and have consistency.
 
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