COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic: Amtrak Food Service Discussion

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Chatter163

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As I said, it truly is a beautiful property, just not my cup of tea.
The emphasis on the young jet set is entirely a product of the post-Hilton era. Hip-hoppers and Victoria’s Secret have functions there now. The Hilton era focused more on large conventions and tourists, the latter both domestic and foreign. It’s working well for them, but that’s not what the hotel historically was, before or during the Hilton era, which was 1978-2005.

Other than a few knowledgeable bellmen, I was one of the only employees at night who could give directions from the hotel to the Amtrak station.
 

Anderson

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Sorry if I missed it somewhere. Has anyone taken sleeper service on the CL or SM during Covid? Hoping you can still have meals delivered to your room. Any information would be most appreciated. Planning trip in Nov/Dec. Thanks in advance.
It was back in March on the Meteor, and service was basically as it had been. I was also one of about 20 pax on the train.
 

Michigan Mom

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I worked at the Fontainebleau for many years while it was a Hilton. I was the unofficial staff historian, so I was conversant about the hotel and Miami Beach, during the glory days of the fifties and sixties, the decline in the seventies, and rebirth in the eighties and nineties. I left Miami in 2003, was back several times over the decade that followed, and was given a complete tour of the completelay refurbished hotel in 2013. I hope to be back at the end of next month.
Walked through the Fontainbleau to explore, last summer with my kids. In no way could afford to stay there, however we did splurge for a lovely meal. Stunning architecture indoors and out, lovely grounds. It was a crowded weekend and the patrons seemed for the most part to be dripping money, meaning in an ostentatious way, which, if you've got it, flaunt it, I suppose.
Money spent is often about expectations. I've probably got less expectations nowadays of Amtrak food service than some others; as a result I'm not likely to be as disappointed by it. OTOH if that meal at the Fontainbleau wasn't superb then yes I'd have had an issue with it :)
 

MARC Rider

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Amtrak sleeping car prices include meals. They can’t stop providing meals and charge the same price. They can, and are, lowering the quality of said meals. There is no guarantee of a particular menu, but they do have to provide the basics of what they advertised.
I should think that most of us realize that all sorts of companies advertise all sorts of things, and then don't deliver on their promises. If that were illegal, then most business owners would be sitting in jail right now.

While the fares "include meals," I wouldn't be surprised if the was fine print somewhere that gives the company the right to omit them under certain circumstances.
Also, I suspect that Amtrak has the right to unilaterally change the conditions of carriage without adjusting the fares. They could also announce that they're no longer including meals and keep the fares the same with no legal impediment. It's up to the customer to decide whether or not this is a suitable value proposition. If the customer thinks not, they can either not travel or use another method of travel.

Welcome to the Free Enterprise-Free Market System.
 

RichieRich

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Other than a few knowledgeable bellmen, I was one of the only employees at night who could give directions from the hotel to the Amtrak station.
Ahhh....the Fontainbleau. Remember Surfside 6, the Boom Boom Room, Kitty ????
 

MARC Rider

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Well.... I just spent some time over at FlyerTalk and people are getting pretty much nothing on the major airlines. Bag of cheezits and a bottle of water in delta first class!

If the airlines, hotels, and Amtrak don’t want our business, then the travel industry will never recover.
Actually, it depends whether people travel because they want or need to get somewhere or whether they travel to enjoy service amenities.

From a public policy point of view a long-term significant drop in overall travel could be considered a Good Thing. In addition to slowing the spread of diseases, it would greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, it might be a good policy to devise ways to make traveling as unpleasant as possible -- lousy food, uncomfortable seats, staff who bark at passengers like drill sergeants, inflexible refund policies, etc. This would keep more people at home. Maybe people would start walking instead. Much more healthy than lounging around in a comfortable reclining seat or sleeper cabin and eating tasty gourmet food. Of course, it might not work, because it might turn out that most travelers don't really care about the amenities, they just want to get to their destination.
 

jis

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Actually, it depends whether people travel because they want or need to get somewhere or whether they travel to enjoy service amenities.

Of course, it might not work, because it might turn out that most travelers don't really care about the amenities, they just want to get to their destination.
The experience of the airlines would suggest this to be a fact of life. Southwest set the ball rolling and the rest as they say is history. Luxury air travel segment domestically is a niche, not a necessity in terms of sustaining the economy of the travel industry. All the statistics on the subject pretty much align with that conclusion.
 

Rasputin

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I can put up with a lot of guff and inconvenience on airlines because, with flying in the US, the plane generally gets you where you (want) (need) to go in a relatively short amount of time so the pain is finite. I don't care whether I get anything to eat or not but a can of tomato juice and a snack is nice.

With Amtrak, I am going for the comfort and a more pleasant (generally) experience. If the Amtrak experience is downgraded it will tend to push me onto the plane more often. I don't think I am alone in this view.
 

Green Maned Lion

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I should think that most of us realize that all sorts of companies advertise all sorts of things, and then don't deliver on their promises. If that were illegal, then most business owners would be sitting in jail right now.
it’s not really criminal, it’s tortious. That is to say, the crime is a breach of contract tort. They happen all the time; they are not investigated by the police; it is up to you, the injured party, to seek remedy through a law suit. That is one of the reasons this is such a litigious society. There is a lot of things to litigate legitimately.
 

tricia

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About the Fontainebleau ... I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Allan Sherman song "Streets of Miami." 😊
 

crescent-zephyr

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Southwest set the ball rolling and the rest as they say is history.
Service wise southwest has been consistently very good in my experiences. The free checked bags and no cancellation fees are wonderful.

The only problem is the cramped 3 across seats. Usually I can find a delta or American first class seat for just a little more $$$ if my travel times are flexible.
 

jis

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Well, Amtrak passengers complain about food service as far as I can tell as their one primary theme. Southwest is not much into that and that has never harmed them. ;)
 

crescent-zephyr

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Well, Amtrak passengers complain about food service as far as I can tell as their one primary theme. Southwest is not much into that and that has never harmed them. ;)
Huh? Southwest offers free drinks and snacks to all passengers. And is always sending me coupons for free alcohol.

By contrast Amtrak business class passengers get less than southwest passengers.
 

Rasputin

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Well, Amtrak passengers complain about food service as far as I can tell as their one primary theme. Southwest is not much into that and that has never harmed them. ;)
When you are on a two or three day train trip (four days on the Canadian, isn't it?) the quality and quantity of food takes on a significant relevance. On a three or four hour flight on a plane, I consider food to be quite irrelevant.
 

jis

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When you are on a two or three day train trip (four days on the Canadian, isn't it?) the quality and quantity of food takes on a significant relevance. On a three or four hour flight on a plane, I consider food to be quite irrelevant.
That is true, but to address that one does not require gourmet Diner service, which some appear to wish to have on Amtrak as precondition to their deigning to set foot on Amtrak, because you know? How can anyone descend to traveling by train without that?. :D

A good Cafe service is perfectly adequate to address that.

Huh? Southwest offers free drinks and snacks to all passengers. And is always sending me coupons for free alcohol.

By contrast Amtrak business class passengers get less than southwest passengers.
So you are already agreeing with me that not having complementary food on Amtrak in BC and Coach has little impact on ridership? Afterall it has been growing by leaps and bounds before this calamity hit?
 

crescent-zephyr

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So you are already agreeing with me that not having complementary food on Amtrak in BC and Coach has little impact on ridership? Afterall it has been growing by leaps and bounds before this calamity hit?
I was disagreeing with your comment on southwest. I think the quality of the experience should be something all businesses take into account. I think offering free bottled water and a snack pack in coach on long distance trains should be standard. Just my opinion. Would it affect ridership? Not as much as good time keeping, clean trains, and good and consistent customer service.
 

MARC Rider

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Service wise southwest has been consistently very good in my experiences. The free checked bags and no cancellation fees are wonderful.

The only problem is the cramped 3 across seats. Usually I can find a delta or American first class seat for just a little more $$$ if my travel times are flexible.
Where can you find first class seats for just a few $$$ more than seats on Southwest? I've stopped looking up first class fares because they are so many more multiples of the coach fares that it's not even worth considering for a domestic flight that hardly ever exceeds 5-6 hours and is usually a lot less.

Even on the long intercontinental flights; out of idle curiosity when I went to Beijing, I considered upgrading my government-issued coach seat. Business class (the top class on the flight, with lie-flat seats) was a good $2,000 over the coach fares (about $500). I did upgrade to Economy Plus for an extra $200, not for the food (which was the same as coach and even worse than Amtrak contemporary flex) but for the legroom, and the fact that I had a whole 3-seat row to myself.
 

MARC Rider

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Huh? Southwest offers free drinks and snacks to all passengers. And is always sending me coupons for free alcohol.

By contrast Amtrak business class passengers get less than southwest passengers.
The drinks and snacks are nothing to write home about. The wine is plonk. (And I try, even if I don't always succeed, to avoid drinking alcohol while flying, as it dehydrates and give one a headache.)

That said, Southwest's free bag policy is definitely good, but I basically find that adding the Early-bird check-in fee is mandatory if you want a decent crack at getting an aisle seat or the seats by the exit row (row 12) that have more legroom. But the best thing about Southwest for me is that BWI is my home airport, and Southwest has more direct and nonstop flights to more places than other airlines.
 

MARC Rider

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Most Amtrak passengers, including those riding on long-distance trains, ride relatively short trips that don't necessarily require much in the way of food service. The point of premium service, like first/business class and sleeper class would be to get extra revenue per passenger mile. According to the RPA figures, they do that very well. However, because of the opaque accounting, we don't know whether how much of that extra revenue gets eaten up by the extra costs of providing the premium service. What they need to do is find the sweet spot in premium service that provides a good product that won't suck up much of the extra premium class revenue. Also a product for the minority of coach passengers who do travel long distance that can bring in some more net revenue from both increased passenger loads and food sales.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Where can you find first class seats for just a few $$$ more than seats on Southwest? I've stopped looking up first class fares because they are so many more multiples of the coach fares that it's not even worth considering for a domestic flight that hardly ever exceeds 5-6 hours and is usually a lot less.
I use google matrix for all my flight searches. You have to be flexible with times and days, but it’s worked for me. First class domestic is well worth the price for my poor back to be happy. Same with a roomette on Amtrak.
 

20th Century Rider

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When you are on a two or three day train trip (four days on the Canadian, isn't it?) the quality and quantity of food takes on a significant relevance. On a three or four hour flight on a plane, I consider food to be quite irrelevant.
When going from Eugene OR to NYC or WAS or BOS, as I've done many times, it's a four night five day trip. The food does become a big deal; and even with the temporary elimination of the 'standard' full menu service on western LD trains... that became boring after a while. Amtrak may or may not bring that back the somewhat limited 'full service dining.' For most of us traveling by train... it is an elective experience because we love trains. Prices will continue to climb on sleeper service regardless of the consistently downgraded food service. Ultimately to really enjoy the experience the Amtrak LD traveler will need to bring along those nifty picnic items that can keep for a few days, or get some upscale takeout available at major stations in the east and CHI. This is today's reality.

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me_little_me

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I should think that most of us realize that all sorts of companies advertise all sorts of things, and then don't deliver on their promises. If that were illegal, then most business owners would be sitting in jail right now.
Breach of Contract and/or failure to deliver advertised products or services rarely rise to the level of being considered criminal. Generally, it is considered to be a civil matter settled by lawsuits or forced (by the big guy) arbitration because a contract is considered legally binding. However, the way contracts are by the big guy's lawyers, it's tough to beat them. That's why the Court of Public Opinion works so well.
 
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