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

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I appreciate that, which is why Amtrak should offer a choice.
I agree completely. I missed the part about not being given a choice of times. For example, if I wanted my meal at 5:00 and was told I’d get a bag with dinner thrown at me at, say, 8:45, I’d be annoyed, too!😁
 

jis

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I appreciate that, which is why Amtrak should offer a choice.

That said, the overwhelming majority of people who live in a large urban area have their dinner later than 5:00 PM.
Officially Amtrak does offers a choice ranging from 5pm to roughly 9pm. However, as is true with Amtrak all around, what a specific Amtrak OBS person will do appears to be a matter between him/her and his/her maker with sometimes a very tenuous link to Amtrak's official policy. Lack of consistency is one of major shortcomings of Amtrak services.
 
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me_little_me

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I live in a rural area, and I would be upset if I was served dinner at 5:00 PM. Considering that the Lake Shore Limited departs from Manhattan, nobody should be forced to eat dinner at 5:00 PM.
Horrors! Good thing they serve whine with the evening meal.
 

lordsigma

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I don’t know if anyone else noticed but he published a follow up amended article about the trip and some of the negative points were toned down a bit. I wonder if his publisher asked him to tone it down a bit. This is the second version;

 

daybeers

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I don’t know if anyone else noticed but he published a follow up amended article about the trip and some of the negative points were toned down a bit. I wonder if his publisher asked him to tone it down a bit. This is the second version;

It's not updated on the original Yahoo link posted, but it's originally from Insider anyway: looks like someone got to the author and they rewrote the article in a much more positive tone: I took a 19-hour overnight Amtrak train for the first time. Here are 14 things that surprised me about the long-haul journey.
I noticed on Sunday. The difference is hilarious.
 

Qapla

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You honestly believe that it’s a good idea for Amtrak employees to force passengers to take their dinner at 5:00 pm?
Since he said, "For dinner, I ordered pasta with chicken and veggies, a small salad, and a roll." - my guess would be he also "ordered" the 5 PM meal without realizing it.

Also, though this rendition of his trip is a bit less negative, his description of the bed as, "a bed could be pulled down from the ceiling. ... I chose to sleep in the bed suspended by straps." makes it sound like it is a sling or hammock instead of a "bed"

Wonder how many of his other negative reviews he had gone back and changed ...
 

danasgoodstuff

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Clever marketing, get 2 for 1 writing positive and negative versions of the same review. Maybe not what he was doing, but I take it about as seriously (not) as if he was.
 

me_little_me

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You honestly believe that it’s a good idea for Amtrak employees to force passengers to take their dinner at 5:00 pm?

Interesting take.
Considering the garbage flex food they "force" the passengers to eat, it is a minor, minor issue. We normally eat at 6:30-7PM but I've eaten dinner at times between 4:30PM and 9PM while traveling using planes and trains. And remember, your 5PM may not be the train's 5PM so flexibility in eating is not all that difficult to endure, given that the food is not difficult to endure.
 

Exvalley

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Considering the garbage flex food they "force" the passengers to eat, it is a minor, minor issue.
Interesting take.

In my opinion, companies that want to grow need to emphasize quality customer service and not force choices down the throat of customers. I imagine that many people would object to being forced to eat dinner at 5:00 pm, but perhaps I am wrong.
 

zephyr17

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Well, emphasizing customer service is not something Amtrak has done, except for lip service. If they ever intend to get serious about it, the first step would be to get some supervision on the trains. And develop some metrics for it and manage to those metrics.
 

me_little_me

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Except Disney doesn't focus on guest experience anymore; they focus on cutting costs.
Then Amtrak should be able to find a former one pretty easily and at a reasonable salary. Especially since these days, those jobs are few and far between and there are probably a lot of laid off people who used to do a bang-up job at it in the days when guest experience, customer satisfaction and prompt service existed.
 

20th Century Rider

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Good news for those of us who dislike the flex meals... a version of the new western menus may be coming to Eastern trains, according to Trains Magazine June 15, 2021 article. Amtrak does understand the underwhelming disdain for those 'puddle on a plate' casserole style meals... and will be starting to made changes late this year and early next year. According to the article, it will be a smaller menu than in the west... but the quality will be much better. So hang in there and enjoy the ride.

 

jis

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Good news for those of us who dislike the flex meals... a version of the new western menus may be coming to Eastern trains, according to Trains Magazine June 15, 2021 article. Amtrak does understand the underwhelming disdain for those 'puddle on a plate' casserole style meals... and will be starting to made changes late this year and early next year. According to the article, it will be a smaller menu than in the west... but the quality will be much better. So hang in there and enjoy the ride.

Hope springs eternal :D
 

Manny T

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The article is about the author's impressions. He was served dinner at 5 PM -- this is what he said about it: "The attendant delivered my dinner at 5 p.m., earlier than I expected. When I asked to have it later, the attendant said that she would bring it anyway and that I could just hold on to it."

So it looks like there was an exchange -- he wanted it later, she said "I'm bringing it at 5 PM and you can hold it until later." If these facts are correct, it's not a question of "is 5 pm early or late for dinner?" It's a question of, is this good or acceptable service? No and no. Obviously if he wants to eat at 7:00 the dinner will be cold. His dinner time is his choice, and flex dining was supposed to allow for different times for different folks. He was completely in the right here.

I lived in New York City for decades. Dinner time is 8 P.M. (well, in Manhattan). People work late, go to the gym, go home and change, etc. and then go out to dinner at 8 PM or later. Of course, some people eat earlier. They are known as "early birds" and there are often specials for them.

America today is primarily urban. Hence if we want to establish a generalized "dinner time in America," we wouldn't look to rural areas or the "many people" who eat at 5 PM. A quick google search of "What is US dinner time" comes up with this: "Typically people eat dinner between 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM. Dinner time fifty years ago people ate between 5:00 PM and 6:30PM but now due to work and commuting schedules dinner time for many of us has shifted to eating later." (2017) Another entry computes America's "exact" dinner "time" to 6:22 pm.
 
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Dan O

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I read his piece on camping.

Not quite sure why anyone would want to camp in the northeast off season at a KOA. I go camping some but KOAs are known to be expensive although they do offer amenities like playgrounds and pools in season. Going camping off season is a bit like going to a sports stadium offseason--not a lot of folks around and not much going on. Camping in season at national and state parks can be very enjoyable with much to do and see. Plus, there would have been other people for him to see and talk with if he so desired. To me, this article on camping reads like "I rented an RV to see how much fun it can be and went to Death Valley in July."
 

John Santos

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I read his piece on camping.

Not quite sure why anyone would want to camp in the northeast off season at a KOA. I go camping some but KOAs are known to be expensive although they do offer amenities like playgrounds and pools in season. Going camping off season is a bit like going to a sports stadium offseason--not a lot of folks around and not much going on. Camping in season at national and state parks can be very enjoyable with much to do and see. Plus, there would have been other people for him to see and talk with if he so desired. To me, this article on camping reads like "I rented an RV to see how much fun it can be and went to Death Valley in July."
"Pulling up to the campground, I instantly knew all my preconceived notions were about to be proved wrong." I think this happens to this guy A LOT. He didn't google the location of the campground. He didn't check the rates beforehand. It doesn't sound like he talked to ANYONE with previous experience. He was surprised at how few campgrounds in the northeast are open in JANUARY. Someone should have directed him to a state park or a National Forest campground. Much more primitive, but much more beautiful and unplowed under several feet of snow... (I don't know of any national Parks with camping closer to NYC than the Cape Cod National Seashore or Acadia, both of which are definitely closed, except perhaps to primitive backcountry camping, in the winter. Backcountry camping is where you carry all your gear for several miles into the woods to reach your campsite. You need a permit and have to pay fees and there is no WiFi.)

BTW, Amtrak is an excellent way to go camping in distant areas. No problem (except stove fuel which you have to buy at your destination) packing everything you could need in a large duffel bag and bringing it on a train. It is technically possible to do this on a plane, but you really have to limit your equipment. A piece of cake on Amtrak. You almost certainly will need to rent a car at your destination. Maybe not for Glacier...
 

Qapla

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His dinner time is his choice, and flex dining was supposed to allow for different times for different folks. He was completely in the right here.
Not so sure he was "completely in the right here" since some of the statements in his report do not match. In one place he indicates the diner just showed up while in another he says he ordered the food. When ordering your food isn't the time you want to eat is usually part of that ordering process. So, if the "default" time is 5 PM and he did, in fact, order the diner and didn't bother to change the default time (or didn't notice he was to select a time) that is not the fault of the person who brought the food at the "ordered time"

Could it have been handled better - I'm sure it could have ... but, since non of us where there and his report is so inconsistent, we will never know.
 

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