Is the Chicago lounge back in full operation yet?

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railiner

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From the Amtrak Five Year Plan, vague as it is, with no specific timeline established:

Standardize the designs and elevate the offerings of all station lounges, now branded as Metropolitan Lounges, to enhance the customer experience with the current and next generation customer in mind.
So far, the only lounge that has actually provided any alcohol is Chicago. We shall see what actually opens in NYC and how long it lasts.
I think that the lounges will eventually 'homogenize' into a standard level. The new one in New York is getting a big push as part of the hype of the new train hall...that will probably fizzle in due time....
 

Bob Dylan

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I participated on one of those when I rode from Havre to Chicago. It wasn't Montana wines and cheeses, it was Washington State wines and higher-end Wisconsin cheeses. They did a trivia contest to see who got one of the half-finished bottles, and I won it! The question was, what is Amtrak's official name? There are times when it helps to be a railfan! :) Anyway, I had a nice half a bottle of Washington State Riesling to enjoy in my compartment that evening.
I won a Bottle on the Starlight in a similar manner! It was a Washingtin State Red, and was very nice with Dinner when the Starlight still had the Parlor Car!
 

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Airline lounges serve cocktails gratis, if you don't call a brand. Does Amtrak do that?
Depends on the lounge I suppose. UA charged me but CX and JL were inclusive while mixed use locations provided vouchers based on affiliation. Amtrak has never provided cocktails in my experience.

I was quite impressed with the service and offerings, however we never spent significant amounts of time in the lounge, it was more about stowing the luggage and leaving until departure time.
This task is handled by lockers in other countries whereas we require premium lounge access for basic needs like putting luggage away, cleaning up after a trip, or using a functional restroom.
 
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IndyLions

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Don’t forget that most airline lounges are not included with your ticket, First Class or otherwise. You need some sort of membership. My Delta membership costs a relative fortune.

At least with the Amtrak lounge and its limitations, as long as you have a Business Class or First Class ticket It includes access.

Except the Northeast of course, where Business Class doesn’t buy you anything, but First and Sleeper do.
 

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Don’t forget that most airline lounges are not included with your ticket, First Class or otherwise. You need some sort of membership. My Delta membership costs a relative fortune.

At least with the Amtrak lounge and its limitations, as long as you have a Business Class or First Class ticket It includes access.

Except the Northeast of course, where Business Class doesn’t buy you anything, but First and Sleeper do.

Not true. Business class and first class tickets get you into a lot of airline lounges, especially the international ones. American domestic first class does not, but international first class does with them. Jis could correct me, but I believe it's the same with United.
 
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Exvalley

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Not true. Business class and first class tickets get you into a lot of airline lounges, especially the international ones. American domestic first class does not, but international first class does with them. Jis could correct me, but I believe it's the same with United.
Since Amtrak is a primarily domestic network, I believe the comparison was to domestic first class on the airlines.
 

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That's what I recall...at least in major international airports. Besides the usual membership Admiral's Club's, AA also has "Flagship Lounges" for F and J class traveler's. The best thing about those is the nice shower after arriving on a 'redeye'...
 
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tim49424

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Am I alone in thinking the Chicago lounge is very well managed? Maybe it's because I'm an infrequent visitor there. Pre-Covid, I was quite impressed with the service and offerings, however we never spent significant amounts of time in the lounge, it was more about stowing the luggage and leaving until departure time. Come to think of it, that is my one issue with the lounge. With the amount of sleeper traffic, the bag check room would get so full it was a challenge trying to find a spot, and the agents would discourage you from trying. I would get creative consolidating space, taking care not to impede egress/ingress (because the agents would not let you do that anyway) but it got challenging. If traffic returns to normal levels, they really need a larger bag room.
No you're not alone.....and I was a frequent visitor pre-covid. There are many many times where I did a day trip just to ride the train and didn't plan to do anything but veg out in the lounge from arrival until preboard at around 6 to head home. I love people watching. Dan the lounge attendant is absolutely great and very friendly. Being I was there all day, I'd take advantage of the 12:30 veggie and cheese buffet. The seating is comfortable and if all of a sudden I get antisocial, I can head upstairs where it's more isolated. When I'm on longer trips, I utilize the bag room, which I agree, they should expand. I never have troubles finding room myself, because the Pere Marquette arrives at a little after 9 AM when the lounge is almost completely empty, but I can see where others, like you, would have that issue of finding space. I'd say the lounge is managed excellently.
 

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Am I alone in thinking the Chicago lounge is very well managed? Maybe it's because I'm an infrequent visitor there. Pre-Covid, I was quite impressed with the service and offerings, however we never spent significant amounts of time in the lounge, it was more about stowing the luggage and leaving until departure time. Come to think of it, that is my one issue with the lounge. With the amount of sleeper traffic, the bag check room would get so full it was a challenge trying to find a spot, and the agents would discourage you from trying. I would get creative consolidating space, taking care not to impede egress/ingress (because the agents would not let you do that anyway) but it got challenging. If traffic returns to normal levels, they really need a larger bag room.
At the old lounge in Chicago, you could actually check your bags with a redcap, and they were stored in a reasonably secure space. None of the other lounges had that, and the Chicago lounge doesn't have it any more, either. The new lounge in New York has lockers where you can put your bags, so at least no one sees a tempting bag lying around. Unfortunately, these have no locks, though they are in full view of the lounge attendant, who might question someone opening many locker doors and looking inside.

I guess if you're really worried about securely storing your bag, you have to bite the bullet, go down to the baggage desk, and day-check the bag for $10. However, on my last trip, I stowed stuff there for the day and had no problems.
 

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Pre-covid, I had no issues with the Chicago lounge. I thought the food and drink offerings were fine and appropriate, though the one time I used the old Legacy Lounge I thought what they offered was slightly better. Nevertheless, I don't expect a smorasbord. If what is reported in the 5 Year Plan holds, it will be interesting to see how Amtrak standardizes their lounges. But we also know Amtrak's credibility is suspect.
 

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Not true. Business class and first class tickets get you into a lot of airline lounges, especially the international ones. American domestic first class does not, but international first class does with them. Jis could correct me, but I believe it's the same with United.
A Delta domestic First Class ticket does not get one entry into a Sky Club. A passenger can purchase a Day Pass. (Unless the rules have changed.)
 

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That's what I recall...at least in major international airports. Besides the usual membership Admiral's Club's, AA also has "Flagship Lounges" for F and J class traveler's. The best thing about those is the nice shower after arriving on a 'redeye'...
In Japan airport showers are available to nearly anyone for around $10. Giving everyone the option to clean up before or after a long flight benefits the bather and everyone in their vicinity. It also helps keep the airport and aircraft facilities cleaner and less soiled. Ask yourself if basic cleanliness should really be limited to a few customers with flagship lounge access the next time your nose gets tweaked on a long flight or waiting in line for immigration.
 
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20th Century Rider

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(No Amtrak lounge has alcoholic beverages, free or otherwise. I have been known to bring a bit of an additive for the free coke. Just be subtle...)
The Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago had free wine tasting as recently as 5 years ago... and continued on with a pay bar service which was discontinued. I remember that for the wine tasting, 'adults' were allowed two tastes carefully measured out at 2 oz per taste. That's so that no one would have to be carried out of the lounge inebriated. [Gimme a break!]
 

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The Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago had free wine tasting as recently as 5 years ago... and continued on with a pay bar service which was discontinued. I remember that for the wine tasting, 'adults' were allowed two tastes carefully measured out at 2 oz per taste. That's so that no one would have to be carried out of the lounge inebriated. [Gimme a break!]
More than 4 Ounces of Wine is gonna cause you to be "carried out"?😱
 

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I guess if you're really worried about securely storing your bag, you have to bite the bullet, go down to the baggage desk, and day-check the bag for $10. However, on my last trip, I stowed stuff there for the day and had no problems.
Not at all worried about anyone wanting to steal my 20 yo suitcase, or the clothes and toiletries in it. (On the return leg the clothes will need washing). The problem is more that if the bag check room is full, the employees discourage you from leaving your bag in it. Which is one of the best perks of the lounge. The agent will actually tell you there's no more room, and I've gone in there and rearranged a few items to make more room. In these instances, the agent simply cautioned me not to block the floor space, which I wouldn't do, in fact other people had left their bags on the floor and I ended up moving those too.
They really, really need a bigger storage room. Maybe not right now, but when traffic rebounds to pre-Covid levels, they do.
 

20th Century Rider

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Not at all worried about anyone wanting to steal my 20 yo suitcase, or the clothes and toiletries in it. (On the return leg the clothes will need washing). The problem is more that if the bag check room is full, the employees discourage you from leaving your bag in it. Which is one of the best perks of the lounge. The agent will actually tell you there's no more room, and I've gone in there and rearranged a few items to make more room. In these instances, the agent simply cautioned me not to block the floor space, which I wouldn't do, in fact other people had left their bags on the floor and I ended up moving those too.
They really, really need a bigger storage room. Maybe not right now, but when traffic rebounds to pre-Covid levels, they do.
It is my hope that employee attitudes towards customer service will improve as the pandemic recedes. The Chicago lounge has some 'real characters' that have been with Amtrak for many years and are quite jaded. Over recent years the customer service problem has increased... management doesn't do enough to motivate and inspire respect for the passengers.

But it is also important to recognize those who go above and beyond for customers... be sure to tip them!
 
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neroden

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I think that the lounges will eventually 'homogenize' into a standard level. The new one in New York is getting a big push as part of the hype of the new train hall...that will probably fizzle in due time....
So, before changes in recent years, the New York lounge was the shabbiest, followed by Boston, followed by DC.

Boston was upgraded, then NY was upgraded; they are both rather similar in physical style and quality to the Chicago lounge now. Since Amtrak plans to replace the DC lounge (which remains small and cramped), I think the standardization is going to make them all similar to the current NY, Boston, and Chicago lounges, which is really quite fine.
 

Cal

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So, before changes in recent years, the New York lounge was the shabbiest, followed by Boston, followed by DC.

Boston was upgraded, then NY was upgraded; they are both rather similar in physical style and quality to the Chicago lounge now. Since Amtrak plans to replace the DC lounge (which remains small and cramped), I think the standardization is going to make them all similar to the current NY, Boston, and Chicago lounges, which is really quite fine.
I hope an upgrade comes to LA and Seattle, which doesn't even have a lounge!

Having something like the Magnolia Room in NOL put into place at places such as Albuquerque, Denver, Sacramento, and other large cities along LD routes would also be nice.
 

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So, before changes in recent years, the New York lounge was the shabbiest, followed by Boston, followed by DC.

Boston was upgraded, then NY was upgraded; they are both rather similar in physical style and quality to the Chicago lounge now. Since Amtrak plans to replace the DC lounge (which remains small and cramped), I think the standardization is going to make them all similar to the current NY, Boston, and Chicago lounges, which is really quite fine.
I've been in the Moynihan lounge three times. Hands down,the best of any Amtrak lounge and by far the best selection of food and drink.
 

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I hope an upgrade comes to LA and Seattle, which doesn't even have a lounge!

Having something like the Magnolia Room in NOL put into place at places such as Albuquerque, Denver, Sacramento, and other large cities along LD routes would also be nice.
Excellent idea. Seems so obvious and something sleeper passengers would really enjoy. Seattle should be the first.
 

Cal

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Excellent idea. Seems so obvious and something sleeper passengers would really enjoy. Seattle should be the first.
Not just sleeper passengers, but also Business passengers on the Cascades and Surfliner. But of course, that would require Amtrak putting effort in to make sleeper travel a better experience.
 
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