Long distance considerations

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ceo418

Train Attendant
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Sep 4, 2012
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Hi! I am contemplating a long distance trip from Trenton, NJ to Tacoma, WA in mid-September. I'd take the train out and fly back. Based on anyone's past and recent experience, I have a couple of questions:

1. I have enough points to book a sleeper car for the first half of my trip. I have the option to take a Northeast regional to WAS with an hour and a half to wait before the Capitol Limited leaves. Is this a reasonable amount of time? The other option I have enough points for is to take the Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh and board the sleeper car on the Capitol Limited there.

2. I've been keeping up with reviews of the flexible dining menu. While I don't mind the breakfast options, the other food might not be what I'm looking for. Are the café cars still open on the LD trains, and can sleeper passengers go buy food/snacks to bring back to their rooms?

Thanks! I should be making up my mind in a few days and would appreciate any responses.
 

PVD

Conductor
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I've used the CL to Chicago on trips for a change of pace, or when the LSL was priced up. I always took the NER to WAS, much better to wait there in the lounge, than 3-4 hours in Pittsburgh at night.
 

the_traveler

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1 1/2 hours in WAS is usually plenty of time. (Of course anything can happen.)

Myself, I’d chose time in WAS (and waiting in the Lounge - you’re eligible if you have a room) then waiting in Pittsburgh for a midnight departure time.
 

Maglev

OBS Chief
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Sep 4, 2016
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The scenery viewed from the Capitol Limited is much better than the Pennsylvanian. I think an hour and a half is plenty of time for a connection (get it as one reservation so the connection is guaranteed). And who wants to change trains in Pittsburgh in the middle of the night?

The cafes are still open, and sleeper passengers have always been welcome to buy food there and take it back to their rooms. Here's the national cafe menu:

 

PVD

Conductor
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If you are of the nervous type, I'm pretty sure they will let you book a slightly earlier train.
 

the_traveler

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If you’re booking online, chose the “multI-city” option, and enter Trenton to Washington and Washington to Tacoma. On the choices for Trenton to Washington, chose the 9 am train instead of the 10am train. (Or whatever and however long of a connection time you’re comfortable with.)
 

jiml

Conductor
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Feb 27, 2019
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To the OP, have you looked at the Cardinal right from Trenton to Chicago without a train change? Maybe you don't have enough points?
 

me_little_me

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Jul 16, 2010
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I'd look at pre-ordering the kosher meals which seem to be much higher quality. I know I will from now on based on current food non-quality.
 

Chey

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I'd like to know where you got the avatar of one of my cats. It looks like the oldest one, Peaches, and she says she will sue if she finds out it's her.
 

TheCrescent

Train Attendant
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Jun 24, 2020
Messages
24
Note: the long-distance trains are apparently being cut back to 3x/week starting this fall.

The Flexible Dining dinners are OK but breakfasts are just café car food. I'd be sure to bring something extra to eat, particularly for a trip that long.

I'd fly both ways, given the downgraded food and lack of usable lounge space.
 

ceo418

Train Attendant
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Sep 4, 2012
Messages
41
Thanks for the input. I have decided to fly both ways for this trip. I hope to make an LD train trip in the future
 

flitcraft

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 10, 2018
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Alaska Air is still blocking middle seats, at least at the moment. They fly from JFK to SEA nonstop. If you can, whatever airline you choose, go nonstop if you can. That way you avoid an entire sequence of loading and unloading where it is hard to socially distance, you avoid a second airport and the people there, and a second plane full of strangers to be exposed to.

Boo on American and United for packing their planes again! I think the CDC and/or FAA need to mandate blocked center seats; the market alone won't do it, since few airlines can afford to take the financial hit of leaving those seats empty, and they can't raise their fares enough to make up the difference.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
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You let Google be your friend and....viola! Amtrak Special Menus & Special Dietary Requirements But I think you have to call to find out what's available - no menu that I could find.

Previously posted by others and copied by me more than once.
 

ceo418

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 4, 2012
Messages
41
Alaska Air is still blocking middle seats, at least at the moment. They fly from JFK to SEA nonstop. If you can, whatever airline you choose, go nonstop if you can. That way you avoid an entire sequence of loading and unloading where it is hard to socially distance, you avoid a second airport and the people there, and a second plane full of strangers to be exposed to.

Boo on American and United for packing their planes again! I think the CDC and/or FAA need to mandate blocked center seats; the market alone won't do it, since few airlines can afford to take the financial hit of leaving those seats empty, and they can't raise their fares enough to make up the difference.
I've done nonstop on both United and Alaska several times out of Newark. This time I chose Southwest out of Philadelphia, because I like flying with them. One stop each direction, but I'm okay with it. Thanks for the advice! 😊
 

Dakota 400

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Previously posted by others and copied by me more than once.
You let Google be your friend and....viola! Amtrak Special Menus & Special Dietary Requirements But I think you have to call to find out what's available - no menu that I could find.
That's why I asked the question. I found no specific menus either when I checked that site.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,328
Alaska Air is still blocking middle seats, at least at the moment. They fly from JFK to SEA nonstop. If you can, whatever airline you choose, go nonstop if you can. That way you avoid an entire sequence of loading and unloading where it is hard to socially distance, you avoid a second airport and the people there, and a second plane full of strangers to be exposed to.

Boo on American and United for packing their planes again! I think the CDC and/or FAA need to mandate blocked center seats; the market alone won't do it, since few airlines can afford to take the financial hit of leaving those seats empty, and they can't raise their fares enough to make up the difference.
Air Canada and their biggest competitor - Westjet (aka Southwest of Canada) have joined the parade of no longer allowing isolation. There has been some controversy resulting from this here, as AC specifically have been adding stops to planes in isolated zones allowing passengers requiring quarantine to fly with those travelling in a designated "bubble". Bottom line means exactly that - the airlines actually don't care.
 

flitcraft

Lead Service Attendant
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Messages
477
Air Canada and their biggest competitor - Westjet (aka Southwest of Canada) have joined the parade of no longer allowing isolation. ... Bottom line means exactly that - the airlines actually don't care.
I didn't want to hit 'like' for your post, since I think this race to the bottom is dangerous and flat out despicable!
 

Bob Dylan

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I didn't want to hit 'like' for your post, since I think this race to the bottom is dangerous and flat out despicable!
Happening on some our Airlines too!( Are you listening American and United?)

Delta still leaving the Middle seat open and of course Amtral is going a good job with this too!🥰)
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,173
That's why I asked the question. I found no specific menus either when I checked that site.
I do apologize and it appears Amtrak has hidden the real page that had the specifics of the kosher meals or I am too dense to find it now. However, I found PDF files that show in more detail the breakfast meal and the lunch dinner choices from amtrakfoodfacts.com. The page I previously saw had just a summary of the four meals and was on the Amtrak site.

Breakfast:

Lunch/Dinner choices:
Salmon - http://amtrakfoodfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AMTRAK-SDG-020620-33.pdf
Chicken - http://amtrakfoodfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AMTRAK-SDG-020620-32.pdf
Beef - http://amtrakfoodfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AMTRAK-SDG-020620-34.pdf

I should have checked that I gave you the right link and would have found that it appears to have disappeared.
 
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