Business or Coach

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Keith1951

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
77
Location
Ohio
Im trying to understand the difference between business class and coach class. Either way you are still sitting in seats and not a room. I do know that business class has more legroom, but is that the only difference? Are all business class seats in a separate car from coach class seats?
 

rs9

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
89
Location
Chicago
It depends on what train you are on. Some trains, like the Lake Shore Limited and state-supported routes, have a combined cafe car and business class car, in which half the car has 2 x 1 seating that is separate from coach.

Other trains have a business class car that is essentially a coach car but it's designated as business class. The main perk would be being separated from coach and possibly fewer total passengers in the car.

The Northeast Regional has its own business class product, 2x2 seating but with leather seats instead of cloth and more leg room.

I think purchasing business class depends on your particular needs on a particular route. Surely, though, Amtrak could do a 110% better job of communicating what business class actually is.
 

Keith1951

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
77
Location
Ohio
It depends on what train you are on. Some trains, like the Lake Shore Limited and state-supported routes, have a combined cafe car and business class car, in which half the car has 2 x 1 seating that is separate from coach.

Other trains have a business class car that is essentially a coach car but it's designated as business class. The main perk would be being separated from coach and possibly fewer total passengers in the car.

The Northeast Regional has its own business class product, 2x2 seating but with leather seats instead of cloth and more leg room.

I think purchasing business class depends on your particular needs on a particular route. Surely, though, Amtrak could do a 110% better job of communicating what business class actually is.
Thanks for the reply. I will be on the LSL from CLE to CHI. We usually get a room but for the first leg of our trip we have bought coach tickets. We are seniors and are considering changing to business class because last time we rode coach on this train, we couldn't even walk down the aisle, because people were sleeping with their feet sticking out blocking it. We thought that business class would have fewer people because of the higher than coach price. You mentioned that the LSL has a cafe car combined with business class. Since this train comes thru CLE early in the morning, do you know if the cafe is closed?
 

rs9

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
89
Location
Chicago
I'm an Amtrak newbie here but have done some research on LSL business class, as that's what I've booked for an upcoming Chicago to Boston trip later this spring. So anyone with more expertise might be able to chime in here.

The business class section has 18 total seats, so you definitely will be with fewer people. It is possible, though, that you and your spouse or travel partner may not be able to sit together, as the 2 x 1 seating may not have two open seats when you board at CLE.

I believe the cafe itself does close overnight. I read on a travel review it closes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., but this was just one source and may not be completely accurate.

Here's a somewhat shaky video walk-through of a cafe/business class car on the LSL:

And this is a review of business class seating in a 2 x 1 car on a state-supported route from Chicago to Michigan. I believe this should be a similar car to the LSL, but again I can't be totally sure.

Anyone with more experience, please chime in since I've yet to be in a business car myself!
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
1,311
If you are traveling as a couple, the only real advantage of business class on the Lake Shore Limited is the more secluded space and free beverages. The seat pitch isn't much different (perhaps even worse?).
 

rs9

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
89
Location
Chicago
If you are traveling as a couple, the only real advantage of business class on the Lake Shore Limited is the more secluded space and free beverages. The seat pitch isn't much different (perhaps even worse?).

This site claims a 40" pitch for 2 x 1 business class seats but also notes the pitch is no different than coach.


Would be interesting to see if anyone can confirm this.

I would add another advantage is that the business class/cafe car on the LSL is at the front end of all the coach cars, with the cafe at the coach end, so there should be limited foot traffic through the business section.
 
Joined
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I would add another advantage is that the business class/cafe car on the LSL is at the front end of all the coach cars, with the cafe at the coach end, so there should be limited foot traffic through the business section.
The foot traffic is pretty much just the Boston sleeper car passengers going to the dining car. On the other hand, you are closer to the horn than the New York coaches are.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
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4,623
Location
Baltimore. MD
Business class gives one more legroom than coach seats on the same train, with the exception of the Palmetto, the Pennsylvanian, and (I think) the Coast Starlight.

On Northeast Regional and Carolinian, business class is 2x2 seating with more legroom than coach and window curtains.
On the Vermonter, Ethan Allen, Empire Service, Northeast Regional 65-66-67, the Lake Shore Limited, and I think the midwest corridor service, business class is 2x1 seating in one half of the cafe car. They also have window curtains.

I'm not sure what the seat configuration is like for the California services and the Cascades.

Business class gives you pre-assigned seating, which you can change to your preferences after buying the ticket. It also includes free non-alcoholic beverages.

You also get a better chance (but, of course, no guarantee) that the business class car will be less crowded than coach. This is one of the reasons why I selected it when I rode the Palmetto, even though the seating configuration isn't much different from the Amfleet 2 coaches. It may also be worthwhile on the Pennsylvanian, because not all of the coaches on the train are Amfleet 2 coaches, so one could be stuck in an Amfleet 1 coach with less legroom. That's also the main reason why I ride it on the Northeast Regional, plus on the Northeast Regional, the business class car is at the end of the train, so you also get the railfan window.

Coach class on the Acela is also marketed as "business class" for some reason. The legroom is comparable to business class on the Northeast Regional, the windows are larger, and there are curtains on the windows. If you're in Amtrak Guest Rewards, you get the same 25% point bonus that you get for business class on the other trains. However, free drinks are not included.
 
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George

GAT
Joined
Jul 11, 2008
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453
Location
San Francisco
I don't see an option for business class on the Crescent between ATL and NOL. Is this correct? If so, too bad. It's a 12 hour daytime trip.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
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NYC/Queens
I don't see an option for business class on the Crescent between ATL and NOL. Is this correct? If so, too bad. It's a 12 hour daytime trip.
A few years back Amtrak tried a separate car for BC on the Crescent, it was an AM-2 just like the other coaches, and was next to the sleeper I was in. It offered nothing significant other than no walk through traffic since it was separate from the other coaches, and a bit more peace and quiet since it was pretty empty. Don't think it last
 

akbrian

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 18, 2017
Messages
32
On The Cascades business class you get access to the first class lounge at the station, if there is one. I recently waited in, and then departed directly to train from the Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station in Portland, Oregon {PDX).
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Mar 30, 2019
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1,799
Location
Denver
On The Cascades business class, you get access to the first-class lounge at the station, if there is one. I recently waited in, and then departed directly to train from the Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station in Portland, Oregon {PDX).
And, when they were operating from BC, priority border clearance in Vancouver.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
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687
Location
Lubec, ME
BC on the Downeaster is a split cafe usually on the Boston (South) end of the train with 2+1 seating. The BC section is on the South end of the car so no foot traffic and there is usually a curtain closed at the cafe counter end. No seat reservation but conductors usually keep the double seats for couples and the individual seats for singles. Often the cafe attendant will come around and take orders for drinks. I often use it as the fare isn't much more than coach fare.
 

Deni

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
399
Using business class out of Chicago is great for being able to use and board from the Metropolitan Lounge. So much better boarding experience than the line-up walk. Most of my trips out of there are for taking the IL Zephyr/Carl Sandburg and on that business class you get 2x1 seating in half the cafe car. I like it for the quiet (usually) and the low number of people, I think it has 18 seats.
 
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