Is Solo a Good way to Travel Amtrak?

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Amtrak Apple

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The Apple Capitol of the World
Trust me - you can still travel coach when you get older ... I do

Don't know if I would say I'm "cheap" - I just can't afford a sleeper
I can't either, and there's something about my Germanic/Czech Midwestern roots that scoffs at "spending all that money!"

My trip this summer came at the end of several months off after losing my dream job due to HR incompetence and a new manager in an *ahem* swinging contest, so I didn't mind the time to myself - it beat being at home day after day with the same thoughts in my head. I got back on a Friday and started a new job on Monday...but I've been planning my vacation days since!

The other nice thing about traveling solo and leaving the other half at home was that I was totally on my own agenda, so I could stop and see friends and do things that wouldn't be nearly as exciting for him. Only problem is that by the time I came back, our kitten had bonded with him and now I'm chopped liver! 😭
 

20th Century Rider

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I can't either, and there's something about my Germanic/Czech Midwestern roots that scoffs at "spending all that money!"

My trip this summer came at the end of several months off after losing my dream job due to HR incompetence and a new manager in an *ahem* swinging contest, so I didn't mind the time to myself - it beat being at home day after day with the same thoughts in my head. I got back on a Friday and started a new job on Monday...but I've been planning my vacation days since!

The other nice thing about traveling solo and leaving the other half at home was that I was totally on my own agenda, so I could stop and see friends and do things that wouldn't be nearly as exciting for him. Only problem is that by the time I came back, our kitten had bonded with him and now I'm chopped liver! 😭
All this is nice... but please! Amtrak Apple! Tell me where is the Apple capital of the world??? Is it the Wenatchee area of Washington State, or the south central part of Wisconsin where I grew up... and the finest treat of autumn were those Granny Smith's that were destined for the most mouth watering apple pies to be smothered in freshly churned Wisconsin Dairy Vanilla Ice Cream? Perhaps you will send us to New York State?

Wherever you want to send me for the fall apple harvest, I will go... all you gotta do is hop an Amtrak train!


2058047853_6f8494802c_b-e1472594559460.jpg
 

cirdan

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That is one huge difference between Amtrak and many airlines. Even the not so great American carriers by world standards, such as Delta and United at least bet their future on superior, industry leading IT infrastructure, with excellent customer facing interfaces, as have many reputable foreign international carriers. Not so with Amtrak. The best they have done of late is hire a patently incompetent bunch to run the rickety IT system that they have such as it is.
I don't know to what extent the IT infrastructure of a major or even a minor airline is home grown versus something they bought off the shelf. After all, if it's good enough for one airline it should be good enough for any other. Even things like loyalty points are handled in much the same manner.

The rail market is much smaller than that and you can't just clone airline software as the situation is so fundamentally different with numerous intermediate stops etc. Or also things like booking a room for two for sole occupancy. I don't think airlines have anything comparable.

So basically if Amtrak wants anything it has to hire software developers and build it from first principles.
 

jis

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I don't know to what extent the IT infrastructure of a major or even a minor airline is home grown versus something they bought off the shelf. After all, if it's good enough for one airline it should be good enough for any other. Even things like loyalty points are handled in much the same manner.

The rail market is much smaller than that and you can't just clone airline software as the situation is so fundamentally different with numerous intermediate stops etc. Or also things like booking a room for two for sole occupancy. I don't think airlines have anything comparable.

So basically if Amtrak wants anything it has to hire software developers and build it from first principles.
So you believe that the business logic used by all airlines is more or less the same? I guess you do need to spend a little more time learning about this then :p

One of the biggest issues in IT integration after an M&A action is what to do with the business logic. If what you think were true then there would be very little problem in that area. Having seen the post M&A integration at pretty close range after the Continental-United merger I developed a new appreciation of the complexity. I admit I thought somewhat like you before that. 🤷‍♂️

No large airline has bought their IT infrastructure off the shelf. No such shelf exists 😉. Some large underlying components, yes, but not the whole integrated system. They all have pretty significant IT departments, and additionally they do a lot of contracting out and leasing service components including maintenance. But still most of the business logic integration is managed from in house and quite a bit of the work is also done in house in several airlines. Each have their own operational model quite distinct from anyone else's usually.

In my standards development days I had the privilege of working with the big 4 in the US plus a few Europeans.
 
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Exvalley

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The rail market is much smaller than that and you can't just clone airline software
IF they wanted to go the cloning route, surely they could clone software from the scores of other railways across the globe that offer advanced seat selection.

And if they can already do it for business class, how hard would it be to roll it out for coach class?
 

Trollopian

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Yes. In my experience in traveling all of Western Europe and considerable part of Eastern Europe including parts of Russia, that technique of knowing just a bit of the language to get a conversation started worked very well...
Yes. It's always rewarding, and polite, to learn at least some rudiments of the language where one is visiting.

Favorite memory from my trip to Jesenik, Czech Republic (formerly Freiwaldau, Austria) was standing outside a little pension at lunchtime trying to figure from the posted menu what I, a vegetarian, might eat. A family of four came up behind me. I motioned them to go ahead, with a smile and one of my few useful phrases, "Nemluvím česky" ("I do not speak Czech"). "An American!" the papa boomed. "I love Americans!" They were day-trippers from Poland, just across the border, and like many Poles had family in Chicago.
 

Willbridge

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There's also something to be said in favor of the hybrid model - traveling solo but meeting locals for touring or exploration. On some of my trips, helping me was an excuse for their getting around to seeing things that they had not seen before.

One of the stories in my website depended almost completely on other people who wanted to help:

The Embracing Forest – Berlin 1969

Each person knew part of the story.
 

Amtrak Apple

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The Apple Capitol of the World
All this is nice... but please! Amtrak Apple! Tell me where is the Apple capital of the world??? Is it the Wenatchee area of Washington State, or the south central part of Wisconsin where I grew up... and the finest treat of autumn were those Granny Smith's that were destined for the most mouth watering apple pies to be smothered in freshly churned Wisconsin Dairy Vanilla Ice Cream? Perhaps you will send us to New York State?

Wherever you want to send me for the fall apple harvest, I will go... all you gotta do is hop an Amtrak train!


View attachment 24302
Heh. It's Wenatchee. Although I get my apples from the small farms, and don't pick myself. I keep tasting notes because there are so many different varieties you never see anywhere else.
 

20th Century Rider

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I love traveling solo in Amtrak...I can save money with a roomette instead of a bedroom as the roomette is perfect sized for a single person. I take the LSL two weekends a month to see my grandkids and getting there really is half the fun lol
Cool! A great way to go along with some personal time, space, and the world flying by outside your window!
 

jis

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There's also something to be said in favor of the hybrid model - traveling solo but meeting locals for touring or exploration. On some of my trips, helping me was an excuse for their getting around to seeing things that they had not seen before.
I generally go for the hybrid model. That is why I like the Gatherings and Fests. It gives you a ready made hybrid environment where you can be as solo as you like in your Roomette, and then become hybrid merely by joining the group at meals and at other times for a chat.

Outside of Fests and Gatherings I tend to do the same, except that the people interacted with are all new. What is important is to have the freedom to disengage whenever things get boring. Afterall, not everyone you meet wants to talk about things that interest you, or sometimes, even talk at all, these days.
 

Nick Farr

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Who would advance seat reservations displease, exactly?
Conductors who like being able to rearrange passengers if they need to.

The other thing is that seat reservations are dependent on standard equipment. Airlines generally know what they're going to fly but their computers also know how to reassign seats.
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
Conductors who like being able to rearrange passengers if they need to.

The other thing is that seat reservations are dependent on standard equipment. Airlines generally know what they're going to fly but their computers also know how to reassign seats.
Pre Amtrak Conductors managed to deal with it. Pre Amtrak reserved seat trains (the El Capitan or Coast Daylight for example) had seat assignments. "Reserved" trains without seat assignments are an Amtrak invention. There were a lot more unreserved trains then, but assigned reserved seats were the norm on "name" long distance trains from at least the early 50s forward.

Amtrak equipment is pretty standard. The only big variable is the number of cars, but for any given train, the car types are standard.
 

joelkfla

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I didn’t realize that…. I thought since they can be in coach with a carrier then they can be in a sleeper, especially since they always try to sell you a pet ticket (along with a bike pass) every time you book.
Yeah, I don't know the reason, but I assume it's because they have no way of knowing whether the pet is staying in the carrier when your curtains are closed. And an accident by an uncrated pet would be no fun for the SCA to clean up, and could make things very unpleasant for the following occupants.
 

Nick Farr

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I didn’t realize that…. I thought since they can be in coach with a carrier then they can be in a sleeper, especially since they always try to sell you a pet ticket (along with a bike pass) every time you book.
Dogs and cats up to 20 pounds (combined weight of pet and carrier) are welcome on trips up to seven hours on most routes

Pets should remain entirely inside a closed carrier while in stations and onboard trains and must remain with you at all times; do not leave them alone. Onboard, place your pet carrier under your seat (not under the seat in front of you)

Pets are welcome in Coach class, but remember they may not travel in First class, non-Acela Business class, bedroom accommodations or food service cars.


https://www.amtrak.com/pets
 

Nick Farr

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Yeah, I don't know the reason, but I assume it's because they have no way of knowing whether the pet is staying in the carrier when your curtains are closed.
The primary reason is pet allergies. There's no way they can clean allergens created by pets completely out of a sleeper car as part of the normal cleaning process.

Generally, in the coaches, there's enough air circulation to effectively mitigate the allergens given normal cleaning procedures. Even still, they usually confine pets to a designated coach so as to accommodate those with pet allergies.

The secondary reason, and the prime one limiting pets to seven hours, is the relief needs of the animals. Most pets under 20 lbs can "hold it" for seven hours--but it's unrealistic to expect they can hold it longer than that. It's another reason they're confined to their crate for the duration of the journey, beyond the safety of the passengers.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The sanitation habits of pet owners range from incredibly clean to absolutely disgusting and the last thing I want when I board is several hours of some prior occupant's stomach churning pet funk at Amtrak's sleeper prices. Amtrak compartments are full of fabric and carpeting so it's not like they can be sanitized after an accident. This is one area where Amtrak and I see eye-to-eye and if it were up to me no pets would be allowed onboard. That being said the government's mandated acceptance does not appear to have caused major problems as currently implemented.
 
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