Can I book 2 seats to have extra room? (Southwest Chief LAX>CHI)

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
3
The Southwest Chief trip starts in Los Angeles and ends in Chicago. Will Amtrak let me book 2 adjacent seats for myself if I'm boarding in LA all the way to Chicago?

Thanks!
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,802
Location
Orlando, FL
I believe if you have a medical condition that requires 2 seats, they will permit it (or at least they did at one time). Otherwise probably not. I would call and speak to an agent. It is possible that if you book 2 seats, they may not be next to each other.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
3
After googling all morning, that was the one possible issue I found. But if I'm boarding from the original departure station, wouldn't it be much easier for me to acquire 2 seats next to each other?
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,261
Location
Texas
Amtrak would rather throw your money away than sell a single able-bodied passenger two coach seats. Supposedly this is because Amtrak staff, who normally have no problem barking orders and snapping at customers who question them somehow cannot handle explaining that you bought two tickets to someone who asks to sit next to you. This honestly makes zero sense to me, but in the absence of any other explanation this absurd excuse lives on.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,414
I'd try to get a low bucket sleeper... if you're willing to pay double for an extra chair.. might as well pay 3-4x for a room with a real bed and all your meals.

On my last trip on the Acela a few weeks ago, the Conductor made announcements that he would charge passengers for an extra seat if he saw personal items left in the seat next to them... so apparently you are allowed to buy a ticket for your personal items when you are lucky enough to have him as your conductor. :)
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
3
I'd try to get a low bucket sleeper... if you're willing to pay double for an extra chair.. might as well pay 3-4x for a room with a real bed and all your meals.

On my last trip on the Acela a few weeks ago, the Conductor made announcements that he would charge passengers for an extra seat if he saw personal items left in the seat next to them... so apparently you are allowed to buy a ticket for your personal items when you are lucky enough to have him as your conductor. :)
If only all Conductors could be so obliging! lol. And I wouldn't mind getting a sleeper, but they're about 10x as much as a regular coach ticket from what I'm seeing right now. I really wish Amtrak had a more user-friendly interface where we could see all the prices for different dates at the same time without having to go back and change the departure date.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,844
Location
Baltimore. MD
On my last trip on the Acela a few weeks ago, the Conductor made announcements that he would charge passengers for an extra seat if he saw personal items left in the seat next to them... so apparently you are allowed to buy a ticket for your personal items when you are lucky enough to have him as your conductor. :)
Conductors on the NEC always say that, but I've never seen any actually do it. If, once the train leaves the station, there's no one sitting next to me, I'll use the empty seat (always being prepared to yield it if someone needs it at the next station), and I've never been bothered by conductors.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,414
Conductors on the NEC always say that, but I've never seen any actually do it. If, once the train leaves the station, there's no one sitting next to me, I'll use the empty seat (always being prepared to yield it if someone needs it at the next station), and I've never been bothered by conductors.
This conductor continued to walk the train enforcing the rule. he Literally scolded a lady for continuing to place her handbag on the seat, he said “if you’re so scared someone is going to sit next to you why don’t you sit back there in the handicap seat and say it’s a dissabilty” - he was a real charmer.

The other conductor was super friendly though and pointed out the US coast guard sailing ship as we passed.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,844
Location
Baltimore. MD
This conductor continued to walk the train enforcing the rule. he Literally scolded a lady for continuing to place her handbag on the seat, he said “if you’re so scared someone is going to sit next to you why don’t you sit back there in the handicap seat and say it’s a dissabilty” - he was a real charmer.

The other conductor was super friendly though and pointed out the US coast guard sailing ship as we passed.
I'll have to keep an eye out for that guy.
I was riding the Acela last March, and it was pretty empty between Boston and New York, but filled up at New York. I had a really lousy assigned backward facing aisle seat, but the car attendant told us to feel free to take any seat we wanted until New York.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,414
I'll have to keep an eye out for that guy.
I was riding the Acela last March, and it was pretty empty between Boston and New York, but filled up at New York. I had a really lousy assigned backward facing aisle seat, but the car attendant told us to feel free to take any seat we wanted until New York.
Yeah... I booked pretty last minute and I kinda wanted to pay the difference for 1st class cause it wasn't crazy high, but I was worried I'd get a really bad assigned seat. As it was I could only find a window on a "half window" seat but still a window seat.
 

Gary Behling

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
49
The Southwest Chief trip starts in Los Angeles and ends in Chicago. Will Amtrak let me book 2 adjacent seats for myself if I'm boarding in LA all the way to Chicago?

Thanks!
I've done JUST THAT, in fact, I bought 2 rail passes, bought all my tickets in advance and got on the train. Upon boarding I explained to the conductor what I had when he came to my seat and all was fine. If there aren't two seats together you may have to wait until you get to a station where several people get off to switch seats to one were there are two available, but make sure you tell the conductor you plan to do it. Since I live in Tucson, it's easy to do because at this stop, a lot of people get off here. Remember this---- as you board the train, make sure you tell the conductor you have 2 people getting on so they assign you a double seat. Later when the conductor comes by to actually check your ticket, you can explain further.

I ALWAYS ALWAYS go to the local Amtrak terminal and get real genuine Amtrak tickets printed. They always question me because my printed ticket I made at home is good. I always tell them that I like actual Amtrak printed tickets for my scrapbook---- but the REAL REASON I want them is to stick in the clip holder above my seat on the train so nobody questions me about is someone sitting next to me. I point to the two ticket stubs above my head. This explanation should help you coming from someone who does it. I don't like sitting next to someone for 2,300 miles. That's why I buy 2 seats
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
26,008
Location
Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
You can always buy 2 seats, and you are guaranteed to have 2 seats on the train, but they may or may not be next to each other!

Say your going from LAX to CHI. There is an empty seat next to you. A passenger gets on in TUS going to ELP. They may assign him or her the seat next to you. The second seat that you reserved is an empty seat in another car - but you do have that 2nd seat you paid for.

I second the idea of considering obtaining a room, if you want extra room. It may be about the same fare as having 2 seats, you will have a flat bed - and your meals in the dining car will be included! Plus, you can use the Metropolitan Lounge in both LAX and CHI!
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,429
Location
Houston, Texas
Ryan is correct, but as far as sleeping car passengers "slumming" in Coach is concerned, I've never had anyone call me on it as long as seats were available. Took a Big Family Trip to California and my nephew (booked in sleeper) spent much of the trip playing with a friend he made in Coach.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
729
Here's what the actual rules say on the topic:

View attachment 15738
With regard to point e, it is unlikely that the SWC coach would be full, but it did happen to me going from ABQ to LA. I was assigned a seat that turned out to be taken (overbooking or a mistake, I don't know), but I did find another empty seat. There was a lady that was in the same "boat" (haha) as me and we ended up sitting next to each other. I have met very interesting (and in a good way) people on trains, but if you're concerned that you won't be feeling social, then a low bucket sleeper would be the way to go, especially if you're traveling all the way from Chi to LA (or was it the other way around?). Plus you could use the shower on the train if you're in a sleeper.

Sixty people (yes, I counted them) got on at ABQ which amazed me, but I don't take Amtrak that often, so maybe that's not unusual.
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,429
Location
Houston, Texas
With regard to point e, it is unlikely that the SWC coach would be full, but it did happen to me going from ABQ to LA. I was assigned a seat that turned out to be taken (overbooking or a mistake, I don't know), but I did find another empty seat. There was a lady that was in the same "boat" (haha) as me and we ended up sitting next to each other. I have met very interesting (and in a good way) people on trains, but if you're concerned that you won't be feeling social, then a low bucket sleeper would be the way to go, especially if you're traveling all the way from Chi to LA (or was it the other way around?). Plus you could use the shower on the train if you're in a sleeper.

Sixty people (yes, I counted them) got on at ABQ which amazed me, but I don't take Amtrak that often, so maybe that's not unusual.
Well, when you consider that:
  • Albuquerque is the largest city (by far) along the Southwest Chief's route between Kansas City and the Greater Los Angeles area, and
  • The city has good service, both ways, at convenient hours, and
  • I would say that there is, for lack of a better term, a "civic memory" of high-quality rail service stretching back to the Santa Fe Railway days
then, no, it doesn't seem all that unusual to me.

I do agree that if privacy and comfort is that important to you that your money is better spent towards a Roomette than on a second coach seat.
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
5,361
Location
NYC/Queens
. Coach a) Each Coach seat reservation entitles customers to occupy only one seat per person. b) An additional seat may be reserved for a Service Assistance Animal accompanying a blind, deaf or mobility-impaired person at no charge. c) A customer who requires two seats due to a disability, including obesity, a leg in a cast, a hip operation, may book two seats and pay only one fare. d) A customer who requires two seats due to size alone, not caused by a disability, may book two seats but must pay the lowest applicable fare for both seats. e) A customer cannot book two seats simply because they do not want anyone sitting next to them. If the train is full, it is very hard to explain to standing customers why that empty seat cannot be used. f) A customer cannot book a Coach seat and a Sleeping Car accommodation, just so they can move back and forth between the two spaces.

It has been and continues to be a rule that employees have in their policies and procedures.... Whether or not it should be made clear on the customer booking website, or whether or not it should be a rule is entirely separate from the fact that it is a rule....
 
R

RayFlyer1

Guest
Is there a web site to see all train fares by day for a month, including Amtrak Guest Rewards availability? Would be easier than searching Amtrak day-by-day, having to change the travel date and go back and forth.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,856
Is there a web site to see all train fares by day for a month, including Amtrak Guest Rewards availability? Would be easier than searching Amtrak day-by-day, having to change the travel date and go back and forth.
No. One of the members created a site to do just that but Amtrak made changes to keep it from working any more.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,171
Location
Palm Beach County
. Coach a) Each Coach seat reservation entitles customers to occupy only one seat per person. b) An additional seat may be reserved for a Service Assistance Animal accompanying a blind, deaf or mobility-impaired person at no charge. c) A customer who requires two seats due to a disability, including obesity, a leg in a cast, a hip operation, may book two seats and pay only one fare. d) A customer who requires two seats due to size alone, not caused by a disability, may book two seats but must pay the lowest applicable fare for both seats. e) A customer cannot book two seats simply because they do not want anyone sitting next to them. If the train is full, it is very hard to explain to standing customers why that empty seat cannot be used. f) A customer cannot book a Coach seat and a Sleeping Car accommodation, just so they can move back and forth between the two spaces.

It has been and continues to be a rule that employees have in their policies and procedures.... Whether or not it should be made clear on the customer booking website, or whether or not it should be a rule is entirely separate from the fact that it is a rule....
It just doesn't make sense...I could understand that policy for unreserved trains, but on reserved trains, there should never be any 'standees', unless a car is bad-ordered enroute.
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
5,361
Location
NYC/Queens
1. It's Amtrak, it doesn't have to make sense.
2. Occasionally, pass holders or cross honored tickets will cause overflow, comps are supposed to give up seats, don't hold your breath on 100% compliance..
 
Top