Negative long distance trip review article based lack of value and inedible food

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TC_NYC

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Such a rookie trip report. First he didn't go to the wonderful new lounge at Monihan. He made it sound like he wasn't allowed to leave his room the entire trip, didn't go to the diner for his dinner and should have been given a menu for his meal choices.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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I think that’s the issue. Most of the traveling public ARE rookies when it comes to Amtrak. Amtrak should state on tickets or at least when tickets are purchased that sleeper fares grant access to lounges as a perk. As far as leaving room or going to the lounge. Some sleeper attendants give great orientation briefings as to the trains amenities and then again some don’t even introduce themselves. The Cap limited doesn’t have a SL lounge anymore does it? As far as the diner lounge it appears the LSA is allowed a lot of leeway in how they decide to operate it on any given trip.

This all points to the lack of standardized service levels across the system and the fact fares are too high for what’s received especially on east coast trains.
 

Qapla

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From reading the article he went into it with a preconceived idea that he would not like the trip ... statements like he loves to fly, he's always been warry of LD trains, he kept mentioning the 19 hours, he compared it to tiny houses and custom vans and was hoping he could endure it, he kept referring to the bed as being "suspended" from the ceiling, he thought it was strange to eat at 5 PM when many people eat at that time everyday, he did not like the rocking motion and mentioned motion sickness while many like the rocking motion and find it soothing, he declared that after 19 hours the train "finally" pulled into Chicago ... he knew it was a 19 hour trip so it arrived on-time, not finally ... He even wrapped things up by admitting, "I realized the experience wasn't as awful as I thought it would be." - he was expecting the experience to be bad so it was.

He concluded with the sentiment that, "for practical reasons, there's a faster and easier way to go, so next time, I'll stick to the skies instead of the rails." I disagree. There is just as much hassle (or more) to go to the airport and deal with the issues flying has.

If I were to write a review of taking a plane from Florida to NY I am sure it would not be very complimentary since I don't fly - so, knowing I would not like it ahead of time nothing about the flight would make me recommend flying just like he does not recommend trains.

I will agree with him that the price is a bit too high - but that is also a subjective view.
 

lordsigma

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I don’t think this guy would have liked it no matter what. He seemed to go into it with a pretty negative outlook. Didn’t go to the diner to socialize or at least stretch his legs - basically stayed in his room on Netflix. Train travel isn’t for everyone.
 

VentureForth

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But, "we" as a community know better. As an "outsider" - you know, the pool of potential passengers that Amtrak needs to convince in order to be viable - he repeats common issues that "newbies" suffer through, and those are issues that make this their first and last time on the rail experiment.

Customer service, real service, and consistent service are a basic requirement to obtain and retain new customers. Unfortunately, Amtrak sucks at all three.
 

Tlcooper93

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Unfortunately, this guy IS the norm for people who don’t take the train.
Most people would rather pay up for business class.

He absolutely went into it with a negative outlook and didn’t even review any of the more positive portions of the trip, like the end stations.

It makes me want to scream that he couldn’t experience a real meal... the one aspect of trains that could win against flying and roads 100% of the time, and Amtrak won’t do it.
 

dlagrua

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I read the entire article and agree with many of the writers comments. The subjects of value on the NYP-CHI trip when compared to air travel and poor food quality are valid points. The man also noticed that the bedrooms were empty. What does this say? IMO, Amtrak needs to prove that with the high prices charged, they offer a unique travel experience with first class service, food and amenities. The high bucket NYP-CHI sleeper fare is now something like $1700 one way. With the way things are, there is little value in that fare. Long time Amtrak travelers like us have been alienated by the state of Amtrak LD travel and are now flying. We would certainly return to rail travel but not the way things are at the present time. We also have pre-check now that streamlines the security process and that removes one objection to flying. Conclusion: Like every other service, Amtrak needs to earn our business.
 

Tlcooper93

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I read the entire article and agree with many of the writers comments. The subjects of value on the NYP-CHI trip when compared to air travel and poor food quality are valid points. The man also noticed that the bedrooms were empty. What does this say? IMO, Amtrak needs to prove that with the high prices charged, they offer a unique travel experience with first class service, food and amenities. The high bucket NYP-CHI sleeper fare is now something like $1700 one way. With the way things are, there is little value in that fare. Long time Amtrak travelers like us have been alienated by the state of Amtrak LD travel and are now flying. We would certainly return to rail travel but not the way things are at the present time. We also have pre-check now that streamlines the security process and that removes one objection to flying. Conclusion: Like every other service, Amtrak needs to earn our business.
Agreed. This is all well and good, but lets not forget that for some, Amtrak is not a business for success to be earned, but it is rather an essential service. The privilege of driving and/or flying does not extend to all.
 

Dakota 400

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The report sounds like his SCA was not fulfilling his/her responsibilities unless he failed to mention that the SCA did give him an orientation briefing. I can't imagine just "any old menu item" would be delivered to a guest. Makes me think there is "more to this story" than he has written.
 

Qapla

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When your intent is to write a negative article before you even take the trip ... why would you mention all the positive things when you can make the negative things stand out so much more by leaving some details out.
 

Exvalley

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I can't imagine just "any old menu item" would be delivered to a guest. Makes me think there is "more to this story" than he has written.
My first thought was that he pre-ordered his meal. However, even if I pre-order a meal, I would like to decide when it is eaten. It sounds like the dining car attendant wanted to take care of the New York passengers before the Boston passengers joined the train.
 

lordsigma

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I read the entire article and agree with many of the writers comments. The subjects of value on the NYP-CHI trip when compared to air travel and poor food quality are valid points. The man also noticed that the bedrooms were empty. What does this say? IMO, Amtrak needs to prove that with the high prices charged, they offer a unique travel experience with first class service, food and amenities. The high bucket NYP-CHI sleeper fare is now something like $1700 one way. With the way things are, there is little value in that fare. Long time Amtrak travelers like us have been alienated by the state of Amtrak LD travel and are now flying. We would certainly return to rail travel but not the way things are at the present time. We also have pre-check now that streamlines the security process and that removes one objection to flying. Conclusion: Like every other service, Amtrak needs to earn our business.
The writer made some valid points, but he also went into it with a rather negative outlook. If you convince yourself enough that you aren't going to like something you'll probably find a way not to. Amtrak is far from perfect - but train travel in general is also not for everyone. I respect your perspective and opinion that Amtrak currently is not worth your business and that you feel flying is a better value and overall better experience at this time but that you'd consider going back if prices went down or amenities improved and Amtrak certainly has room for improvement - but airlines are not totally innocent of making service and amenity cuts. Once again train travel is not for everyone and overnight train travel is even more not for everyone and I don't expect this gentleman would have liked it no matter what the food was or anything else - he just seemed to have a general snarkiness about train travel in general. I'm not saying Amtrak doesn't have room for improvement and doesn't need new riders. But I just had a recent Amtrak trip that I really have no complaints about including two legs on the reviewed train and pretty much good service across the board - and I was on 4 different trains. And there were other non baby boomers on board who seemed to be having a good time. Not everyone is having never again experiences. Train travel is for people who just want to sit back and enjoy the journey and not just worry about getting there - looking out the window and meeting new people - that isn't everyone.
 
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lordsigma

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I'd also be curious exactly when he took his trip - the environment on the train presently is much better than it was a couple months ago - less restrictive seating in the diner/sleeper lounge gives you a place to go.
 
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I agree with most of what has been said. Amtrak does need to work harder to make the experience better. First impressions and all of that stuff. But, I think the gentleman should have approached the trip with an open mind. I used to love flying, but having gotten older I find that it bothers me more dealing with all the airport hassles. And even though it's "safer" nowadays, I still can't fully relax on a plane. And forget trying to sleep lol. Tomorrow my wife and I will board the California Zephyr for a bucket list trip to San Francisco. Looking forward to the whole 52+ hr on board.
 

anumberone

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The report sounds like his SCA was not fulfilling his/her responsibilities unless he failed to mention that the SCA did give him an orientation briefing. I can't imagine just "any old menu item" would be delivered to a guest. Makes me think there is "more to this story" than he has written.
Uh Huh and it started back sometime when he was factoring in the price of flying and the thought he was doing all of us a favor.
 

Barb Stout

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I don’t think this guy would have liked it no matter what. He seemed to go into it with a pretty negative outlook. Didn’t go to the diner to socialize or at least stretch his legs - basically stayed in his room on Netflix. Train travel isn’t for everyone.
And can you imagine if he was expecting to watch Netflix on a Western train? Lol. Unless he has some Netflix discs. They used to do that.
 

Sidney

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I read the entire article and agree with many of the writers comments. The subjects of value on the NYP-CHI trip when compared to air travel and poor food quality are valid points. The man also noticed that the bedrooms were empty. What does this say? IMO, Amtrak needs to prove that with the high prices charged, they offer a unique travel experience with first class service, food and amenities. The high bucket NYP-CHI sleeper fare is now something like $1700 one way. With the way things are, there is little value in that fare. Long time Amtrak travelers like us have been alienated by the state of Amtrak LD travel and are now flying. We would certainly return to rail travel but not the way things are at the present time. We also have pre-check now that streamlines the security process and that removes one objection to flying. Conclusion: Like every other service, Amtrak needs to earn our business.
A $1700 bedroom between NY and Chicago is insane. Sadly,if one person is willing to pay that price,nothing will change. On top of that,you are getting flex food. Price gouging. No way in hell should Amtrak even THINK of charging that.I know,supply and demand,but this goes WAY beyond that.
 

John Bredin

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When your intent is to write a negative article before you even take the trip ... why would you mention all the positive things when you can make the negative things stand out so much more by leaving some details out.
That's the interesting thing about this review, it's actually pretty balanced and his conclusion isn't "Amtrak sux" but "An Amtrak trip may not be worth what they charge for it." He shows his work, so to speak, by describing the experience in enough detail that a reader can reach his/her own conclusion from his review and not necessarily rely on his conclusion.

I remember someone commenting that they always liked Roger Ebert's movie reviews because he explained in enough detail why he didn't like a movie that the commenter could use Ebert's review as a tool to reach his own conclusion as to whether the movie was worth seeing without necessarily relying on Ebert's yes/no conclusion. This review strikes me as being like that: a person could read it and conclude that a NY-Chi roomette was worth it for them.
 

flitcraft

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Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, so there's that. But I have to admit I eyerolled a bit when he complained that the hallways on the train were so narrow that he could barely get his suitcase down them. I suspect he will be sorely disappointed with the aisles next plane trip he takes.
 

neroden

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That's the interesting thing about this review, it's actually pretty balanced and his conclusion isn't "Amtrak sux" but "An Amtrak trip may not be worth what they charge for it." He shows his work, so to speak, by describing the experience in enough detail that a reader can reach his/her own conclusion from his review and not necessarily rely on his conclusion.

I remember someone commenting that they always liked Roger Ebert's movie reviews because he explained in enough detail why he didn't like a movie that the commenter could use Ebert's review as a tool to reach his own conclusion as to whether the movie was worth seeing without necessarily relying on Ebert's yes/no conclusion. This review strikes me as being like that: a person could read it and conclude that a NY-Chi roomette was worth it for them.
Yeah, I actually thought it was a pretty positive review, except for (a) the food and (b) the price.

We all pretty much agree that Amtrak has been providing terrible food on the eastern trains; this is confirmation that this isn't just old railfans complaining about it, it's new riders too.

And we all pretty much agree that the prices are getting really high. (There are differing views on what to do about that; I think Amtrak needs to buy and deploy more sleeping cars on the eastern trains, and then lower prices to the price where the new, longer train fills up.)
 
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Well, I’m with him on the food and not wanting to go to the depressing “dining car” on the east coast trains yet.

But as for the rest:

The thing that struck me the most was that he enjoyed looking at the views of New York City, and that was the only scenery he had any interest in at all.

The trip along the Hudson River to Albany is beautiful, but he doesn’t even mention it.

I got the feeling he is a young, hyper-energetic type of person from NYC who does not know how to relax, so 19 hours in a train was misery for him, not something nice, and he could hardly wait to get back home to NYC.

He was too impatient to ask where sleeper passengers should board, so he walked through coaches he didn’t have to; he was too impatient to read up and find out about the sleeper lounge and so missed enjoying that; and he didn’t even bother to learn that the “large room” is called a bedroom—fine if you’re just chatting with your friends, but not for an article.

I understand that NYP might not be the friendliest place to ask for information, but if he’s from NYC himself, he would be used to that and not afraid to ask.

Or he could have done more research ahead of time, which is the responsible thing to do if you’re going to write an article.

With his supercilious and impatient attitude, I doubt that he will enjoy anything much in his life, and that’s a shame.
 
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anumberone

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Well, I’m with him on the food and not wanting to go to the depressing “dining car” on the east coast trains yet.

But as for the rest:

The thing that struck me the most was that he enjoyed looking at the views of New York City, and that was the only scenery he had any interest in at all.

The trip along the Hudson River to Albany is beautiful, but he doesn’t even mention it.

I got the feeling he is a young, hyper-energetic type of person from NYC who does not know how to relax, so 19 hours in a train was misery for him, not something nice, and he could hardly wait to get back home to NYC.

He was too impatient to ask where sleeper passengers should board, so he walked through coaches he didn’t have to; he was too impatient to read up and find out about the sleeper lounge and so missed enjoying that; and he didn’t even bother to learn that the “large room” is called a bedroom—fine if you’re just chatting with your friends, but not for an article.

With his supercilious and impatient attitude, I doubt that he will enjoy anything much in his life, and that’s a shame.
I also was wondering about him traipsing the length of the train while boarding. Impatient or too Important.?
 
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