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

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mitako

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Exactly how wide did he expect hallways on a train to be? His points about expense and food are valid, but his personality kind of comes through as a whiner. Business Insider should have found someone a little more adventure-friendly to write this piece.
 

junebug

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A woman was dissing Amtrak on the Facebook page. I thought she might be a rookie just complaining. What happened to her sounded seriously bad. I messaged her to see if I could help. She was on the Coast Starlight from LA to Seattle. They bused them from LA to Sacramento and since she was on a pass, she said they just left them off in Sacramento to their own devices. She was crushed, wanting to show her husband how fun Amtrak is.
 

anumberone

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Exactly how wide did he expect hallways on a train to be? His points about expense and food are valid, but his personality kind of comes through as a whiner. Business Insider should have found someone a little more adventure-friendly to write this.
I think the width of the corridor as a rule is about right. When the train is a rockin I like to keep my hands on the surface of both sides to keep from building up too much sideways motion. It would be easy to end up in someone’s room uninvited.
 

Exvalley

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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.
I think his point was that the train should offer MORE space than the plane, especially if it costs a lot more.
 
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Manny T

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Not sure I understand the dissing of the author's point of view. He paid $550 and spent 19 hours on a trip that can cost as little as $70 and take 1 hour 40 minutes in the air. So he's somehow deficient, as a first timer, because he didn't (i) check out the lounge (ii) enter the correct car to avoid a long walk through narrow corridors (iii) demand an orientation from his SCA (iv) receive a menu and order the meal of his choice (v) abandon his Netflix for a walk around the train and a look out the window and (vi) interact with fellow passengers during a worldwide Covid pandemic? I mean, the burden was on him to navigate the Amtrak experience? We spend 1,000 posts on AU discussing how to get a minimally decent meal, yet he's supposed to board the first time and ace it? I don't think so. I think his account is legitimate and an honest appraisal of what he encountered and how he evaluated it. We all know the trip he described can be exactly how he presented it, and for him, it was.
 
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lordsigma

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I can’t speak for everyone else but I’m not (at least for my own intentions) dissing the authors point of view - I’m simply saying train travel isn’t for everyone. I just feel that it’s unlikely this particular author would have liked train travel in any circumstance and I don’t feel a flat iron steak and cheese cake would have been a game changer there - and that’s ok. I have members of my own family I wouldn’t recommend overnight train travel to because they wouldn’t have the patience for it. It simply is not for everyone. That’s not being an apologist for Amtrak - there’s certainly criticism warranted including some points raised by this author and Amtrak could do more to improve amenities and service consistency with what’s being charged - but even with all that….train travel and especially overnight train travel isn’t for everyone - and again thats ok - it is for me but I am the weird one of the family as the train rider and I accept that. I’ll give him credit for giving it a shot.
 

ScottR

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Harummph. And i I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I would do that in a heartbeat. And I know the LSL is…well…not a great train.

By the same token I can wake up at the buttcrack of dawn, pay some bleary eyed Uber or cabby to take me to the airport….get stuck in morning traffic stressing if we are going to make it in time even though I left at 4.30 am, and then have to stand in an hour security line, wondering if I am going to make it though that, And invariably I always seem to need some extra screening…so there is that. And the Security line itself…. iPad in and out? Shoes and belts on or off?

If you think Amtrak is inconsistent you should fly out of some of our regional airports

So let’s say we made it through Security. Nothing is open in the airport but Starbucks and McDonalds, and what I really need at this point is a Bloody Mary, or at the very least a Mimosa, but there is none to be had, and the Starbucks line is 45 minutes long as it is the only thing open unless you want an Egg McMuffin. And it is still early, and everyone is grouchy.

But by the time I get my double latte, the flight is being called, so I rush over,
make it onboard, only to find I am in the middle seat between two hefty guys.

Then the plane is delayed because there is a slow leak in one of the tires so we sit there for two hours. It’s Covid so there is no on board beverage or snack service and they don’t tell you what is going on, and I am in economy plus because my company is trying to economize.

Then the baby two rows up gets sick and throws up on mom and dad and the truly unfortunate passenger in the aisle seat….who though he was lucky because he had an aisle seat on a totally packed plane. I’m just glad it isn’t me.

Finally we take off only to arrive in Chicago 4 hours late, then have to wait on the tarmac 3 hours because the airport is a clusterf..k due to a hurricane down south.

so now it’s 4.30 am since I left, 8.30 pm since I arrived. Should have taken the train.😀
 

ScottR

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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.
Yes this is how I see it as well. Good take.
 

Qapla

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I used to watch Siskel and Ebert all the time - and I do NOT equate this review as reminiscent of an Ebert review. While Roger may have given a movie a 👎 and explained why and left the decision to you .... he DID know about movies. He never gave a review that went something like:

"I really like TV programs better, especially the ones that are only an hour long but I decided to suffer through a 3 hour movie to see what it is like and, while the story was somewhat interesting, the popcorn and Coke cost too much, the seats didn't recline as far back as the one I have at home and the room was just too dark - but, I guess the movie was OK although it was not worth the money"

I don't fly! Can't take heights. Have never flown and don't plan to start now. That said, I would not decide to fly to write a review of the experience - I can tell you now, no matter how fast the plane was, how smooth the ride was, how cheap the ticket was ... I would not give a favorable sounding review because it would be my first, last and only plane ride.

That is how his review struck me. Had the ticket been $150 dollars and he got a steak and lobster dinner by candle light at a table with a white linen table cloth - he would still have said it wasn't worth the price - because it wasn't as fast as a plane ... it's that simple.
 
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Not sure I understand the dissing of the author's point of view. He paid $550 and spent 19 hours on a trip that can cost as little as $70 and take 1 hour 40 minutes in the air. So he's somehow deficient, as a first timer, because he didn't (i) check out the lounge (ii) enter the correct car to avoid a long walk through narrow corridors (iii) demand an orientation from his SCA (iv) receive a menu and order the meal of his choice (v) abandon his Netflix for a walk around the train and a look out the window and (vi) interact with fellow passengers during a worldwide Covid pandemic? I mean, the burden was on him to navigate the Amtrak experience? I mean, we spend 10,000 posts on AU dissecting how to get a minimally decent meal, and he's supposed to board the first time and ace it? I don't think so. I think his account is completely legitimate and an honest appraisal of what he encountered and how he evaluated it. No dissing is warranted imho. We all know the trip he described can be exactly how he presented it, and for him, it was.
I did not mean to come across as unkind—I certainly would never do that on purpose. If he were writing informally as a newbie traveler for other travelers, I would not have been so critical.

However, if this was an article for a professional publication, which I assumed it was, I do think the burden was on him to navigate the Amtrak experience—in other words, do his research thoroughly.

To his credit, his writing was clear, and I did not see any spelling or grammar errors (although I was skimming it so might have missed something).

I do think he came across, perhaps unintentionally, as feeling superior—especially with the implication that, after leaving New York City, there was nothing worth looking at—which may have led to some harsher reactions here than if he had seemed a bit more humble.
 

Ziv

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I was wondering about what the chances were that I could download a movie while the Empire Builder (or the CZ or the SWC...) was stopped for 6 minutes in Winona or 20 minutes in Havre. Do stations have wifi for travelers on the Western/LD trains? It would be phenomenal to have wifi for the entire trip but having it at the stations would at least allow me to get a movie or download a couple news articles at each stop.
You can download Netflix movies / shows. You don’t need a constant internet connection.
 

Barb Stout

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You can download Netflix movies / shows. You don’t need a constant internet connection.
Ah. Clearly I don't watch much video stuff. I used to say that I don't watch TV, but then last year one time when I was very tired and decided to take a peek at my TV, I got on a Star Trek jag and have been wasting my time catching up on those that I never watched because I had given up on TV as a worthwhile activity when I was younger.
 

TEREB

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We’ve been Silver service snow birds for the past 11 years, with yearly trips to visit family for maybe 20 years prior. Always traveled in either roomettes or as we got older, bedrooms. Except for the first trip with my son in coach during mid winter recess when the heat was stuck on on for the entire trip. It was also my first day with hot flashes. 🥵. I cried and begged for a roomette or to be changed to another car, but no luck. Sold out train.

With each of our trips we boarded with a positive attitude. We were finally able to relax. To enjoy the trip without worrying about the length of the ride. I would pack a little goodie bag with some snacks and a beer or 2 for my husband and a single serve wine or 2 for myself. Meals in the dining car was so enjoyable. Both with the food and our table mates. Our room attendants were always so friendly and helpful. On one trip to visit my dad in VA, my room attendant greeted me with little Hershey’s miniatures. I’m a chocolate lover, so he just stole my heart. That winter, I made many Silver Star trips to him before he passed away.

Then Flex meals was introduced. On our Oct 2019 trip, Food was bad. Terrible for what my husband ordered. Everything was over cooked. We were spoiled from wonderful meals in the past. Breakfast offered a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit. The star of all the meals.

Our last trip was last month. We chose to stay in our bedroom for our meals. Sad to say, no fruit with breakfast. This time food, although not over cooked, was way too salty. Even for my hubby that salts everything even before tasting.

We booked this trip knowing the food would be bad. Excited to be in a Viewliner II bedroom. Which I have mixed feelings about. Will I do it again? Yes. In a heartbeat. But if our next trip will still have the flex meals, The night before, I’ll go to ShopRite and order sandwiches to take onboard.

BTW, we’ve paid as little as $800+ for a bedroom. Mostly in the $1,200 range and $1450 for our last trip with a few free trips sprinkled in between thanks to Guest Rewards.
 

crescent-zephyr

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The author has a new article out. Spoiler alert: He is hard to impress.

Lou Malnati’s doesn’t have the atmosphere of the original Uno and Geno’s East - I agree it feels like a standard chain restaurant.

The personal deep dish pizzas never taste like actual deep dish in my experience. So that was his other “rookie mistake.”
 

Exvalley

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I also laughed when he said that he could not get deep dish pizza in New York City, but his friends recommended Unos in Chicago. According to Google there are at least two Unos in NYC.
 

Exvalley

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I am starting to think that Mr. Olito is just a wee bit negative.




 

Tlcooper93

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To be fair, I tried Malnati’s just before boarding the C Zephyr and was utterly disappointed. Definitely had a better experience with other Chicago pizza chains (even Digiorno)

it was undercooked and pretty tasteless.
 

me_little_me

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The author has a new article out. Spoiler alert: He is hard to impress.

Well, since NY style pizza is the only REAL pizza, what would one expect? It's like ordering BBQ in NYC - you just don't do that! It's a mortal sin.

Like champagne which can only be made in the Champagne district of France (everything else is "sparkling wine"), pizza can only be made in NY (and some places in SOUTHERN Italy like at my cousins' house) unless made by a pizzamaker born and trained in NYC and who moved elsewhere to do missionary work teaching the heathens, savages and infidels to make real pizza instead of bowing to false idol pizzas.

I'm not saying that the heathens, savages and infidels in Chicago make bad food - it just isn't pizza and it should be labelled as "pseudo-pizza" or "faux pizza" or "false idol pizza" to stop real New Yorkers form being cheated.

:):)
 

Bob Dylan

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To be fair, I tried Malnati’s just before boarding the C Zephyr and was utterly disappointed. Definitely had a better experience with other Chicago pizza chains (even Digiorno)

it was undercooked and pretty tasteless.
PIZZA, Most Overated Food there is!😉😄
 

Oreius

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It seems to me the “reporter” didn’t partake in all the perks available when riding in a Sleeper. He didn’t check out ClubAcela before boarding. As a sleeper passenger that’s one of the perks you get. Also, they will actually board you from the lounge and take you to your assigned car. I rode the Meteor in February and they did just that. In fact, a RedCap took me up to check my suitcase at Philadelphia first then up to the lounge.

Also, you are given a choice to either eat your meals in the diner or your room. It seems to me he CHOSE to eat in his room. Every SCA I’ve had has always introduced herself ( I’ve had ladies on my three trips). I’ve always eaten in the diner, even if the food is not freshly prepared; it’s part of the experience.

All of my sleeper trips have been “free” (paid with AGR points). However, if I have time I will take a sleeper car over flying. You get much more room, and most importantly privacy. I am a large person, and have to buy two seats on an economy airline like Southwest. Most of the people in the sleepers are like me who love the train and/or older people who have the time. I don’t like security checkpoints or crowded airports. So, I disagree with much of the article.
 
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