Coast Starlight discussion

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chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
As of spring 2022, is WiFi in operation on the Coast Starlight?

When I first rode the Coast Starlight around 2016 - 2017 there was WiFi and the connectivity was pretty good (provided we weren't going through a tunnel). Around 2018 they shut off WiFi completely.

In addition, when traveling business-class on northbound Train 14 I'm allowed to eat llunch and dinner in the dining car.

On southbound Train 11 it's a different story. I used to be able to eat lunch and dinner in the dining car but this ended around 2018 and I have been thrown out of the dining car as a business-class passenger. I looked into a roomette where meals are prepaid but the fare was about 4X higher.

I typically travel between Los Angeles and San Jose. The last time I made the trip I took Amtrak Train 14 north from L.A. to SJC and flew back to L.A. on Alaska Air due to the lack of amenities on the Coast Starlight with its microwave hamburgers, diet Pepsi and lack of WiFi.

I once made the mistake of buying a pizza from the Coast Starlight snack bar. The attendant heated it in the microwave and handed me this mess of molten cheese, tomato sauce and a gooey, half-baked crust in a plastic wrapper. Never again.
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
4,045
Location
Socal
As of spring 2022, is WiFi in operation on the Coast Starlight?
Not that I know of. I believe it ended when the PPC (Pacific Parlor Car) was pulled.

In addition, when traveling business-class on northbound Train 14 I'm allowed to eat llunch and dinner in the dining car.

On southbound Train 11 it's a different story. I used to be able to eat lunch and dinner in the dining car but this ended around 2018 and I have been thrown out of the dining car as a business-class passenger. I looked into a roomette where meals are prepaid but the fare was about 4X higher.
Basic service will never change just because you're going a different direction. Probably just different crews. However, prior to COVID, all passengers were allowed to eat in the diner so I'm genuinely surprised to hear this.
due to the lack of amenities on the Coast Starlight with its microwave hamburgers, diet Pepsi and lack of WiFi.
Welcome to Amtrak. However I'm not sure how diet Pepsi and microwave burgers (when there are better burgers available in the diner) show a lack of amenities.
 

chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
I should have mentioned that my last trip to SJC was in late October 2019, a few months before the pandemic.

It sounds like WiFi is gone for good on the Coast Starlight. I can't imagine it was that costly to operate and that Amtrak is saving a pile of money by discontinuing it.

Despite my efforts I was denied access to the dining car on train 11 so the only food available to me was from the snack bar. The angus burgers aren't bad and seem to be the most substantial things available but with their investment in fancy chefs it's far from the best Amtrak has to offer. It makes the 10-hour trip more grueling than the 1 1/2 hours spent in the air.
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
4,045
Location
Socal
Despite my efforts I was denied access to the dining car on train 11 so the only food available to me was from the snack bar.
Could you elaborate more on this? I have never heard of a passenger being denied access to the diner.
 

chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
As you know, sleeper passengers have priority at meals because they have already paid for their food.

The last time it happened was in 2018 I think, I was traveling business class. They never took my dinner "reservation". They started seating the sleepers in the dining car. I entered the dining car despite not having a reservation and was told in no uncertain terms that as a business-class passenger I was not allowed to dine in the dining car and was told to return to my seat.

As I said, on previous trips on Train 11 I was allowed to eat both lunch and dinner in the dining car. Meals go a long way toward passing the time on a 10-hour trip.

I had a previous incident similar to this one. IIRC I placed a dinner reservation but was never called to the dining car. I waited patiently to be called but the call never came. I finally went to the dining car and they were folding up. I was told that dinner hour had ended and that I was SOL. The attendant was Enrique, that I remember.

That's two strikes.

A fellow passenger told me that the train probably runs out of food between Seattle and San Jose. I don't know if this is true but that's the rumor.

I am in the process of deciding how to make this journey going forward. I might take Train 14 again despite the lack of WiFi, but if Amtrak is going to treat its passengers like sh*t then it's not worth the 10 hours spent on the rails and I'll fly.
 

JP1822

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 8, 2019
Messages
124
I used to take the Coast Starlight pretty regularly in 2004 to 2005 (from LA to the Bay Area or vice versa). Instead of booking coach, I found it was cheaper (or at least more economical) to book sleeper - when adding in the meals, rail fare, Pacific Parlor Car access, workspace in roomette, etc. Whether it was luck or what, but the roomette was often just slightly above the coach fare. I never paid more than $200, and sometimes it was as little as $97. Cheaper fare was usually southbound. Forget that now!
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
880
The WiFi on the national network, at least the LA based trains was discontinued during the Anderson regime. Lack of decent affordable technology was cited. It worked for us on the CS and SWC decent enough, so IDK. I would have thought it would have been returned nationwide by now. I second the $94-104 roomettes from LAX-SJC we never paid more than that through 2017 in conjunction with the Parlour car it was the best Amtrak offered, fare wise, service wise. A far cry from now.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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The WiFi on the national network, at least the LA based trains was discontinued during the Anderson regime. Lack of decent affordable technology was cited
Seems strange that WiFi technology was decent and affordable until 2018 then suddenly became unaffordable, the opposite of what usually happens with technology.
 

chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
Here are the fares for Train 11 SJC -> LAX:

Coach: $122

Business: $152

Room: $541

Southwest Air will fly you there for $49 but you have to book many weeks in advance. Still, it's hard to fathom that an Amtrak room costs 11 times more than an airline flight and takes 10 hours vs. about 2 hours to fly. In addition, on southbound train 11 the sun eventually sets and all of that scenic beauty is gone, leaving you staring into gloomy darkness.

"Seems strange that WiFi technology was decent and affordable until 2018 then suddenly became unaffordable, the opposite of what usually happens with technology. "

That's what I was thinking and I was wondering if things had changed with Dick Anderson gone, but I guess not. Remember, Amtrak employees were actually campaigning to get rid of Anderson which Amtrak finally did. When I asked, an Amtrak conductor explained that the train got its WiFi connectivity from cell-phone sites along highway 101, at least as far as San Jose.

I have relatives in Scotts Valley and there is a wonderful bus service that runs on hwy 17 from the SJC station to Santa Cruz with a stop at Scotts Valley so that part of the trip is easy.

The last time I flew from SJC to LAX the poor TSA agent opened my carry-on suitcase and, for reasons known only to him, dumped the entire contents on the floor. There were all my belongings on the floor of SJC. He was apologetic and polite and put everything back in the suitcase. TSA then informed me that any electronics larger than a cell phone, such as a camcorder, had to go into checked baggage. I don't know if that is still the case.
 

Chris I

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
172
Location
Portland, OR
Just rode this past weekend. No Wifi, but we had good LTE service for most of the trip (T-mobile). It did seems the our very full train was turning away Business Class passengers from the dining car. I'm sure staffing is a factor, but it could also be food availability.
 

Barb Stout

Conductor
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
1,122
Location
Albuquerque, NM
As of spring 2022, is WiFi in operation on the Coast Starlight?

I once made the mistake of buying a pizza from the Coast Starlight snack bar. The attendant heated it in the microwave and handed me this mess of molten cheese, tomato sauce and a gooey, half-baked crust in a plastic wrapper. Never again.
Mmm, that's exactly how I like my pizza and I'm not being sarcastic!
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
935
Here are the fares for Train 11 SJC -> LAX:

Coach: $122

Business: $152

Room: $541

Southwest Air will fly you there for $49 but you have to book many weeks in advance. Still, it's hard to fathom that an Amtrak room costs 11 times more than an airline flight and takes 10 hours vs. about 2 hours to fly. In addition, on southbound train 11 the sun eventually sets and all of that scenic beauty is gone, leaving you staring into gloomy darkness.

"Seems strange that WiFi technology was decent and affordable until 2018 then suddenly became unaffordable, the opposite of what usually happens with technology. "

That's what I was thinking and I was wondering if things had changed with Dick Anderson gone, but I guess not. Remember, Amtrak employees were actually campaigning to get rid of Anderson which Amtrak finally did. When I asked, an Amtrak conductor explained that the train got its WiFi connectivity from cell-phone sites along highway 101, at least as far as San Jose.

I have relatives in Scotts Valley and there is a wonderful bus service that runs on hwy 17 from the SJC station to Santa Cruz with a stop at Scotts Valley so that part of the trip is easy.

The last time I flew from SJC to LAX the poor TSA agent opened my carry-on suitcase and, for reasons known only to him, dumped the entire contents on the floor. There were all my belongings on the floor of SJC. He was apologetic and polite and put everything back in the suitcase. TSA then informed me that any electronics larger than a cell phone, such as a camcorder, had to go into checked baggage. I don't know if that is still the case.
$541 for a day trip? Is that for a roomette or a bedroom? Two months ago I bidded up for a roomette from SJC to LAX for the minimum $75 and it was accepted
 

chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
"Just rode this past weekend. No Wifi, but we had good LTE service for most of the trip (T-mobile). It did seems the our very full train was turning away Business Class passengers from the dining car. I'm sure staffing is a factor, but it could also be food availability."

Was this on the northbound train or the southbound?
 

chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
"$541 for a day trip? Is that for a roomette or a bedroom? "

If I extend the lead time to May 28 I see a roomette available for $339, which is still high — more than double the business fare.
 

trimetbusfan

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
258
Location
Portland
Please remember that right now, Coach passengers are NOT allowed in the diner. You should be able to get into the diner with a business class seat tho. Something to keep in mind.
 

Gary Behling

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
106
"$541 for a day trip? Is that for a roomette or a bedroom? "

If I extend the lead time to May 28 I see a roomette available for $339, which is still high — more than double the business fare.

No--
$50 coach
$80 business
$303 Roomette
$337 Bedroom

I just checked for mid April
 

Rambling Robert

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2021
Messages
291
Location
Boston
Please remember that right now, Coach passengers are NOT allowed in the diner. You should be able to get into the diner with a business class seat tho. Something to keep in mind.

According to covid 19 protocols over the last two years Amtrak has updated it’s policy regarding the dining car usage in general. The fact that business class can use it now hopefully Coach passengers (making reservations) are not too far away. Especially if the mask mandate goes away and “community dining” is allowed again.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
2,105
Here are the fares for Train 11 SJC -> LAX:

Coach: $122

Business: $152

Room: $541

Southwest Air will fly you there for $49 but you have to book many weeks in advance. Still, it's hard to fathom that an Amtrak room costs 11 times more than an airline flight and takes 10 hours vs. about 2 hours to fly. In addition, on southbound train 11 the sun eventually sets and all of that scenic beauty is gone, leaving you staring into gloomy darkness.

I don't really think comparing sleeper prices to Southwest is really an apples to apples comparison - you're comparing an airline that still considers itself a low cost carrier to a premium first class service. If you want to compare the coach price to Southwest or compare sleepers to first class on other airlines that's one thing. But for me comparing Southwest coach to Amtrak sleeper is apples and oranges. I get it that trains take longer and for many including myself a sleeper is a requirement and if you're just looking to get there in a no frills manner Southwest is a compelling choice...but Amtrak sleepers are still a premium first class service.
 
Last edited:

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
4,045
Location
Socal
Just rode this past weekend. No Wifi, but we had good LTE service for most of the trip (T-mobile). It did seems the our very full train was turning away Business Class passengers from the dining car. I'm sure staffing is a factor, but it could also be food availability.
In December when the train was full they didn’t allow business to eat in the diner but we were still able to get take out delivered to us.
As you know, sleeper passengers have priority at meals because they have already paid for their food.

The last time it happened was in 2018 I think, I was traveling business class. They never took my dinner "reservation". They started seating the sleepers in the dining car. I entered the dining car despite not having a reservation and was told in no uncertain terms that as a business-class passenger I was not allowed to dine in the dining car and was told to return to my seat.

As I said, on previous trips on Train 11 I was allowed to eat both lunch and dinner in the dining car. Meals go a long way toward passing the time on a 10-hour trip.

I had a previous incident similar to this one. IIRC I placed a dinner reservation but was never called to the dining car. I waited patiently to be called but the call never came. I finally went to the dining car and they were folding up. I was told that dinner hour had ended and that I was SOL. The attendant was Enrique, that I remember.

That's two strikes.

A fellow passenger told me that the train probably runs out of food between Seattle and San Jose. I don't know if this is true but that's the rumor.

I am in the process of deciding how to make this journey going forward. I might take Train 14 again despite the lack of WiFi, but if Amtrak is going to treat its passengers like sh*t then it's not worth the 10 hours spent on the rails and I'll fly.
I think you could’ve been able to get it delivered to your seat. And if not then the crew needs to bd reported.

and if the announcement never came that means it didn’t come for the sleeper passengers either because AFAIK the announcements are announced throughout the whole train.
 

chris319

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Messages
23
"No--
$50 coach
$80 business
$303 Roomette
$337 Bedroom

I just checked for mid April"

The fares I posted were correct for a travel date of April 2.

"we were still able to get take out delivered to us."

How did that work? What take-out franchise delivers to a train en route?

"if the announcement never came that means it didn’t come for the sleeper passengers either "

On that particular evening the sleepers were able to eat their prepaid food and I was restricted to the snack bar fare of angus burgers, chips and candy bars..
 

Rambling Robert

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2021
Messages
291
Location
Boston
After five years and 3 LD Coach trips (and a slew of northeast trips) i ponied up and paid A LOT $$$ for a roomette CS Portland to LA. It will be worth it ! (Cognitive dissonance - haha).

For five years I’ve promo-ed Amtrak after each trip on a local message board. In 2017 and 2019 I was Coach in the Dining Car so promoting Amtrak’s surprising good food was a huge seller..... to date I’ve “sold” 2 one way bedrooms on the AT; 3 roundtrip bedrooms Boston to DC and three roundtrip Boston to SFO on the CZ... to among other trips.

I’m sure most everyone who post on the AU do exactly the same at promoting Amtrak - good, bad and ugly.
 
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