First time overnight in coach

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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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When I began riding trains, they were called hat checks, but I agree it makes more sense now to call them seat checks. Some are pre-printed with additional info, but most crews prefer to mark the blank side. Being interested in marketing I enjoy walking through coaches and getting general impressions of where people are headed. Coach travel is better if you are interested in other people.

hatchecknew.jpg

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In addition, if you leave the seat to use the bathroom or cafe car, or just to stretch your legs, it is an indication that the seat is occupied and should (but does not always) discourage anyone else from sitting in what looks like an empty space.
This is why, when I'm in coach, I am always certain to sit in my seat at a station stop.
 

BCL

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In addition, if you leave the seat to use the bathroom or cafe car, or just to stretch your legs, it is an indication that the seat is occupied and should (but does not always) discourage anyone else from sitting in what looks like an empty space.

At least with most long distance trains the crew plans the seating locations. On every long-distance train I've ever ridden (which means the Coast Starlight) at an intermediate point, the coach attendant had a clipboard and already had my seat assigned. Once I was with a non-paying child and we even had two seats assigned even though theoretically it could have been like a lap infant on a plane. But I suppose the seat check is still a good idea just in case someone decides to use a different seat or just wants to sit somewhere else for a little bit.

I did take the CS once from Seattle, and that was a very different experience with a check-in at the counter where I got a car assignment - likely based on final destination. Then a coach attendant assigned me a seat on the spot. It was a lot of passengers getting off around the same stops in the same car. I think more than half my car was getting off at Emeryville and the rest were getting off in Oakland.
 

BCL

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When I began riding trains, they were called hat checks, but I agree it makes more sense now to call them seat checks. Some are pre-printed with additional info, but most crews prefer to mark the blank side. Being interested in marketing I enjoy walking through coaches and getting general impressions of where people are headed. Coach travel is better if you are interested in other people.

View attachment 29236

View attachment 29237

I'm wondering what happened to the printed seat checks. I remember when they first started being used on Capitol Corridor, and I thought that maybe they would spread to the rest of Amtrak.

445-72453b0a22a6091e51b590fedca021a1.data
 

BCL

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I've traveled thousands of miles in U.S. and Canada in coach and as a rule of thumb the crew's interest in where you sit varies with the load factor. At 80% or over it is really essential for the crew to manage the seating. At 20% or less you can move around, as long as you move your hat check and stay in the assigned car.

I was with my kid of the Coast Starlight over a month ago. Mostly we're sitting together but after a while time with the old man doesn't so interesting any more. At one point my kid decides that just lying down on both seats to take a nap was acceptable, and that I would need to find another spot.

So all the other seats around us are empty after the passengers got off. So I banish myself to one of the nearby empty seats. When the conductor comes by I point to my kid lying down he said I'm good since they don't need the seats yet. But at that point our car was maybe 40% occupied and there are a lot of empty seat pairs.
 
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I find it hard to justify the price of a roomette from DC to Chicago. In Chicago I will get a sleeper on the Eagle,Zephyr,SW Chief or the Builder. I ll put up with the one night in Coach on the CL.
Expect the worst when it comes to families, noise, seat mate, and the chair in front of you in full recline. Two points to 'lift' the experience... low expectations and a car attendant that enforces quiet and order. Also know that you are traveling at the same time as saving a night in a hotel room... or $500 in a sleeper. That'll have you smiling and dozing!
 
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Expect the worst when it comes to families, noise, seat mate, and the chair in front of you in full recline. Two points to 'lift' the experience... low expectations and a car attendant that enforces quiet and order. Also know that you are traveling at the same time as saving a night in a hotel room... or $500 in a sleeper. That'll have you smiling and dozing!
The last time I rode coach overnight, I was seated in a row with a mom and her 2 young boys. I had the window seat, the mom sat next to me on the aisle, and the boys were in the 2 seats across the aisle. Actually, it wasn't that bad. They boys were very well behaved. The car was pretty quiet through the night. The only reason I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted was because the seat of the Amfleet 2 coach seemed like it was made of concrete. Perhaps the interior refresh has taken care of that.

Another advantage over the sleeper is the low expectations regarding on-board service. When I went, there was traditional dining for coach passengers -- except that the sleepers were filled that night, so no dinner reservations available. But with the low fare I paid, I wasn't bothered too much about having a pizza in the cafe car. People paying $500 for a sleeper tend to get all bent out of shape about flex dining, being forced to eat flex dining in their rooms, or even on the trains with restored traditional dining, having the diner be out of what they want to eat. Obviously, Amtrak needs to fix that stuff, but at the current time, it might well be that traveling the long-distance trains in coach might be the preferred way to go. You just have to be prepared, and also try your best to travel when it's not too busy.
 
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The last time I rode coach overnight, I was seated in a row with a mom and her 2 young boys. I had the window seat, the mom sat next to me on the aisle, and the boys were in the 2 seats across the aisle. Actually, it wasn't that bad. They boys were very well behaved. The car was pretty quiet through the night. The only reason I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted was because the seat of the Amfleet 2 coach seemed like it was made of concrete. Perhaps the interior refresh has taken care of that.

Another advantage over the sleeper is the low expectations regarding on-board service. When I went, there was traditional dining for coach passengers -- except that the sleepers were filled that night, so no dinner reservations available. But with the low fare I paid, I wasn't bothered too much about having a pizza in the cafe car. People paying $500 for a sleeper tend to get all bent out of shape about flex dining, being forced to eat flex dining in their rooms, or even on the trains with restored traditional dining, having the diner be out of what they want to eat. Obviously, Amtrak needs to fix that stuff, but at the current time, it might well be that traveling the long-distance trains in coach might be the preferred way to go. You just have to be prepared, and also try your best to travel when it's not too busy.
Very well said... it's all about state of mind and adaptability. If cordial to your seat mate they will be cordial to you. And with that you can get some sleep in a full coach car. I remember taking the bus into downtown Seattle when I lived there to avoid the driving and parking hassle. After a day of walking around I was tired... found a window seat in a packed city bus, and slept for the two hour trip back to the commuter parking lot.

And with the money saved go ahead and splurge on the not so healthy food in the cafe car. BTW sad to see BC taken off the LSL and Cardinal... the 2 - 1 seating would be an excellent choice for a night run.

IMHO the two most important things about traveling basic coach... state of mind and adaptability.
 

BCL

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Where's the benefit? Probably cheaper and easier for the conductor to make a couple of strokes with a pen.

It's just a portable printer. I see them everywhere including some mobile point of sale terminals. But those printed seat checks are extremely readable, with date, reservation number, train number, origin/destination station, etc. And I'm sure that they could do other things such as print out receipts. I've seen seat checks where I could barely read it. I think of it like how doctors these days print out prescriptions rather than hand write them.
 

Bonser

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The last time I rode coach overnight, I was seated in a row with a mom and her 2 young boys. I had the window seat, the mom sat next to me on the aisle, and the boys were in the 2 seats across the aisle. Actually, it wasn't that bad. They boys were very well behaved. The car was pretty quiet through the night. The only reason I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted was because the seat of the Amfleet 2 coach seemed like it was made of concrete. Perhaps the interior refresh has taken care of that.

Another advantage over the sleeper is the low expectations regarding on-board service. When I went, there was traditional dining for coach passengers -- except that the sleepers were filled that night, so no dinner reservations available. But with the low fare I paid, I wasn't bothered too much about having a pizza in the cafe car. People paying $500 for a sleeper tend to get all bent out of shape about flex dining, being forced to eat flex dining in their rooms, or even on the trains with restored traditional dining, having the diner be out of what they want to eat. Obviously, Amtrak needs to fix that stuff, but at the current time, it might well be that traveling the long-distance trains in coach might be the preferred way to go. You just have to be prepared, and also try your best to travel when it's not too busy.
Well said.
 

joelkfla

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It's just a portable printer. I see them everywhere including some mobile point of sale terminals. But those printed seat checks are extremely readable, with date, reservation number, train number, origin/destination station, etc. And I'm sure that they could do other things such as print out receipts. I've seen seat checks where I could barely read it. I think of it like how doctors these days print out prescriptions rather than hand write them.
Still, where's the benefit? You don't need to be able to read it. It doesn't even need to be in English. As long the conductors know what it means, they could scrawl anything -- stars, bars, x's, whatever.

Prescriptions need to be readable by the pharmacist, and an error can have grievous consequences. The doctors I go to neither write nor print them; they're transmitted electronically.
 

toddinde

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The last time I rode coach overnight, I was seated in a row with a mom and her 2 young boys. I had the window seat, the mom sat next to me on the aisle, and the boys were in the 2 seats across the aisle. Actually, it wasn't that bad. They boys were very well behaved. The car was pretty quiet through the night. The only reason I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted was because the seat of the Amfleet 2 coach seemed like it was made of concrete. Perhaps the interior refresh has taken care of that.

Another advantage over the sleeper is the low expectations regarding on-board service. When I went, there was traditional dining for coach passengers -- except that the sleepers were filled that night, so no dinner reservations available. But with the low fare I paid, I wasn't bothered too much about having a pizza in the cafe car. People paying $500 for a sleeper tend to get all bent out of shape about flex dining, being forced to eat flex dining in their rooms, or even on the trains with restored traditional dining, having the diner be out of what they want to eat. Obviously, Amtrak needs to fix that stuff, but at the current time, it might well be that traveling the long-distance trains in coach might be the preferred way to go. You just have to be prepared, and also try your best to travel when it's not too busy.
I always enjoy my train travels; coach or sleeper. I’m one who doesn’t think the Flex dining is that horrible. I bring headphones, ear plugs, and an eye mask. If it’s more than one night, I bring a wash cloth, towel, and change of clothes. Coach is an inexpensive, fun way to travel.
 

BCL

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Still, where's the benefit? You don't need to be able to read it. It doesn't even need to be in English. As long the conductors know what it means, they could scrawl anything -- stars, bars, x's, whatever.

Prescriptions need to be readable by the pharmacist, and an error can have grievous consequences. The doctors I go to neither write nor print them; they're transmitted electronically.

I think it should be readable by the passenger as well as the other conductor. I've heard of conductors who were confused because another conductor's notation was inscrutable, especially if there's a relief conductor. Some are extremely simple though. The simplest is just destination code, number of passengers, and seat assignments. But I've seen some conductors (especially on corridor routes) just mark them with a tick or maybe just fold them a certain way.
 

MccfamschoolMom

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The last time I rode coach overnight, I was seated in a row with a mom and her 2 young boys. I had the window seat, the mom sat next to me on the aisle, and the boys were in the 2 seats across the aisle. Actually, it wasn't that bad. They boys were very well behaved. The car was pretty quiet through the night. The only reason I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted was because the seat of the Amfleet 2 coach seemed like it was made of concrete. Perhaps the interior refresh has taken care of that.

Another advantage over the sleeper is the low expectations regarding on-board service. When I went, there was traditional dining for coach passengers -- except that the sleepers were filled that night, so no dinner reservations available. But with the low fare I paid, I wasn't bothered too much about having a pizza in the cafe car. People paying $500 for a sleeper tend to get all bent out of shape about flex dining, being forced to eat flex dining in their rooms, or even on the trains with restored traditional dining, having the diner be out of what they want to eat. Obviously, Amtrak needs to fix that stuff, but at the current time, it might well be that traveling the long-distance trains in coach might be the preferred way to go. You just have to be prepared, and also try your best to travel when it's not too busy.
I could do that when I was in college, but the hubby & I would find coach seats far more uncomfortable to sleep in now that we're in our 60s. (I could probably survive flex meals & cafe car "cuisine", though.)
 
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