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Flexible dining - Requesting a review from a recent rider

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John-MCPO-USN

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Messages
71
Wrapped up a trip on CZ yesterday (1105, DEN->SAC), and the food was not the worst I ever had - but certainly was far from enjoyable. Only 5 tables being used in diner.....no food service to rooms....on CZ they alternated availability each day (so it wasn;t the full flex menu each day). Riding CS down to LA today, and CS from LA->SEA on Thursday - then EB across to CHI.....will post if anything is different on those routes. I have a grocery bag-o-snacks with me (but I do that on each journey) but more enjoyable this go-round.
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,110
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Wrapped up a trip on CZ yesterday (1105, DEN->SAC), and the food was not the worst I ever had - but certainly was far from enjoyable. Only 5 tables being used in diner.....no food service to rooms....on CZ they alternated availability each day (so it wasn;t the full flex menu each day). Riding CS down to LA today, and CS from LA->SEA on Thursday - then EB across to CHI.....will post if anything is different on those routes. I have a grocery bag-o-snacks with me (but I do that on each journey) but more enjoyable this go-round.
It's not only contrary to longstanding Amtrak policy (that your SCA will bring meals to you in your room if you ask) but also completely outrageous during a pandemic to compel passengers to mingle in a common area. It's near-certain that some (many? most?) passengers who've booked sleeper accommodations during the pandemic have done so at least partly for the relative safety that comes with self-isolating in a private room.

I hope you'll send an email to Amtrak about this refusal to deliver food to rooms. Ditto the made-up practice of limiting the availability of items on the already too-limited flex menu. Management might or might not be willing to do anything about enforcing their own rules, but they simply can't if they don't know what's going on.
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
706
Location
Oregon Coast
Pre-pandemic Acela first class meals would be a good alternative to what they are doing with flex dining. Sadly even Acela First Class has not escaped downgrades. The Acela FC food has been downgraded to what sounds like a boxed snack due to the pandemic. Hopefully the meals will return eventually.
Only time will tell... but this is a big revenue booster for Amtrak... if anything actually returns, it'll be here...


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dlagrua

Conductor
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,140
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
On a recent Cardinal trip they required you to bring your food to your room. On the two Empire builder trips to Whitefish this month the dining car was open and that's where we sat down. It was a welcome refreshing break from being cooped up in our bedroom the entire trip.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,576
Location
Virginia
On a recent Cardinal trip they required you to bring your food to your room. On the two Empire builder trips to Whitefish this month the dining car was open and that's where we sat down. It was a welcome refreshing break from being cooped up in our bedroom the entire trip.
My instinct on this is that on the two-night trains, trying to compel pax to stay in their rooms for the whole 48 hours or so has been accepted as a losing proposition.
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
706
Location
Oregon Coast
My instinct on this is that on the two-night trains, trying to compel pax to stay in their rooms for the whole 48 hours or so has been accepted as a losing proposition.
Kind-a like an 'incarceration proposition...' and that along with the dismal food which has made some ill... as was the case in a recent post, defeats the entire purpose of travel by rail. Very sad... hope things improve. 😠🙄😦
 

Palmetto

Conductor
Joined
May 12, 2014
Messages
2,036
Location
Miami
This part is infuriating. It seems like all these things are subject to the whim of the LSA.
Correct. Because there is no accountability on board anymore, as I've stated in other threads. Heck, even my city bus system had spotters riding the system. Anyone know what the airlines do in this regard?
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
706
Location
Oregon Coast
Wrapped up a trip on CZ yesterday (1105, DEN->SAC), and the food was not the worst I ever had - but certainly was far from enjoyable. Only 5 tables being used in diner.....no food service to rooms....on CZ they alternated availability each day (so it wasn;t the full flex menu each day). Riding CS down to LA today, and CS from LA->SEA on Thursday - then EB across to CHI.....will post if anything is different on those routes. I have a grocery bag-o-snacks with me (but I do that on each journey) but more enjoyable this go-round.
It makes me angry to see you and any other passenger get treated like this... what! no food service to your room? Does that go against policy? What's with that SCA??? Flex menu is restrictive enough... but can't figure what extra effort was necessary to at least make all items available each day??? I am assuming coffee not available in the sleeper... did your SCA offer to bring you coffee in the morning? [I think I know the answer to that... it's what Palmetto said...
Because there is no accountability on board anymore
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,720
This part is infuriating. It seems like all these things are subject to the whim of the LSA.
I thought that you said Amtrak shouldn’t cater to passengers who expect good service? Seems like this is right in line with the new business plan to attract people who don’t care about food or service!
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
706
Location
Oregon Coast
I thought that you said Amtrak shouldn’t cater to passengers who expect good service? Seems like this is right in line with the new business plan to attract people who don’t care about food or service!
It's a perfect plan indeed... since everyone does in some way have an interest in food and service when paying so much for LD sleeper accommodations... no one will will ride. Then our government... which oversees our national transportation infrastructure... will indeed be 'justified' for discontinuing all LD service.
 

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
264
Location
Michigan
I thought that you said Amtrak shouldn’t cater to passengers who expect good service? Seems like this is right in line with the new business plan to attract people who don’t care about food or service!
There's good service, consistent service and then there's berating passengers contrary to policy because you feel like it.

The latter of those three is unacceptable and absolutely not what I was advocating for. I think you knew that, but went for the cheap shot ad hominem attack anyway. Shame on you.

I thought we were all on the same team, trying to save LD trains.
 

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
264
Location
Michigan
My instinct on this is that on the two-night trains, trying to compel pax to stay in their rooms for the whole 48 hours or so has been accepted as a losing proposition.
It's kind of ridiculous the Dinette isn't at least partially open. Aren't there SCAs to bring your meals to you?
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
706
Location
Oregon Coast
It's probably fair to say that we all feel mucho frustration with an intolerable litany of bad news... the pandemic is coinciding with a long and gradual decline in service... the first abrupt disappointment was when flex dining was introduced to eastern one nighter trains... then the pandemic hit. Then flex was expanded to all LD trains. Staff morale on the trains also seems to be nosediving... resulting in even more disappointing service... all this from forum reports!

Folks are discouraged and attempting to come up with optimistic predictions and opinionated solutions. Some good news is eagerly anticipated and will certainly be well received. Amtrak administration isn't knowingly in touch with its most loyal customers, and it's not focused on future planning. No one really seems to have an answer for, "What's next?"
 

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
264
Location
Michigan
Folks are discouraged and attempting to come up with optimistic predictions and opinionated solutions. Some good news is eagerly anticipated and will certainly be well received. Amtrak administration isn't knowingly in touch with its most loyal customers, and it's not focused on future planning. No one really seems to have an answer for, "What's next?"
I think we have some pretty good answers here, I'm just wondering how to get people to pay attention.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,544
Location
Texas
Only 5 tables being used in diner.....no food service to rooms.
I don't think passengers should be forced to eat meals in their room but I also don't think they should be stuck eating in the diner during a pandemic. Although this is asking a lot I do hope you report this situation to Amtrak (by calling and asking for customer relations) so it can be addressed and rectified for the benefit of other passengers.

Correct. Because there is no accountability on board anymore, as I've stated in other threads. Heck, even my city bus system had spotters riding the system. Anyone know what the airlines do in this regard?
On long haul haul flights airlines have a position known as the purser who is in charge of service staff. They are tasked with ensuring consistent service and resolving or documenting any issues that may arrive. Amtrak used to have a similar position but got rid of it years ago and put the conductor in charge of service staff. This puts both the customer and the conductor in an awkward and unhelpful situation.
 
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jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,563
Location
Toronto area
Correct. Because there is no accountability on board anymore, as I've stated in other threads. Heck, even my city bus system had spotters riding the system. Anyone know what the airlines do in this regard?
One airline I'm directly familiar with used to contact high-tier frequent fliers regarding an upcoming trip with an offer of additional benefits or miles for filling out a very detailed survey. The compensation was never less than 25K miles (enough for a domestic round-trip) and frequently more. Well worth it.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,301
Location
Austin Texas
One airline I'm directly familiar with used to contact high-tier frequent fliers regarding an upcoming trip with an offer of additional benefits or miles for filling out a very detailed survey. The compensation was never less than 25K miles (enough for a domestic round-trip) and frequently more. Well worth it.
As others have noted on this Forum through the years, Amtrak surveys sent out to riders are basically worthless due to the format that is used, and the lack of the ability to actually point out the good and the bad that occurred during your journey.
 

anumberone

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
1,726
Location
Los Angeles
This has to have an impact.
Amtrak is planning to lay off up to 20 percent of its workforce by October due to severe financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said that the cuts ...
 

John-MCPO-USN

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Messages
71
OK - sooo, on the CS from SAC->LA on Monday, entire menu was available, with 3 options (eat at table, delivery to room by SCA or pick-up in diner and you bring it back to your room to eat). Same menu (of course), but much better crew than CZ. And, as far as car cleanliness goes - the CZ sleeper was definitely not clean (by normal standards....much less COVID), but the CS sleeper was (and the SCA was dedicated to his role and very engaged). Will post a report on the NB CS on Thursday (LA->SEA), and then 3 days on the EB to CHI on Sat->Mon.....
 

John-MCPO-USN

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Messages
71
Well - #14 yesterday/today was much better (service wise) than the CZ. And, on #14, no social distancing in the Diner....so, no wait list (no shared tables - but, no “Only 4 tables in the diner” that CZ was running). Same food, but the offer to deliver was made at the beginning of each meal. And, CZ would not permit sleeper passengers from using the tables during non-meal hours - the CS (both 11 and 14) had no problem with sleeper pax using the tables (which several of us did). Zero freight traffic on the Coast Sub (from LA to Watsonville Jct - z-e-r-o....not even a daylight manifest). So, far all of my journey has been early at final destination. #8 over to CHI starting tomorrow.
 

John-MCPO-USN

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Messages
71
#8 today - and the EB is by far the best service/cleanliness (half-full dining car, and very willing to deliver meals to room if preferred - outstanding service by both Dining and SCA crew).....and this eastbound SEA crew was just notified all but one member was furloughed.....so a rough trip this journey. Also, passenger count on all the trips this week have been dismal (in both the sleepers and coach).....pretty sad....but, happy to have made the trip before the 3x-a-week service. After 8 days on the rails - I will not eat a TV dinner type meal for at least 6mos - maybe longer...........
 
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