NER Business Class or Acela First Class--Best Bet for COVID Times?

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Joined
Jul 3, 2020
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3
Hi everyone,

I am looking to book a train from BOS to NHV to visit my parents. I would like to take either Northeast Regional Business Class or Acela First Class; I want assigned seating and a designated train car that won't have a ton of foot traffic from the rest of the train (I *think* both types of cars are always at either the front or back of the train?). I have taken NER BC many times before, but never Acela FC.

I'm wondering which class would theoretically (i.e., I know my travel carries risk regardless so there's not really a true right answer) be considered the safest bet in these times of COVID. I'm especially wondering in terms of social distancing, really, being that I already understand the time differential. But for example, are seats farther apart in FC than NER BC? What's the maximum passenger load for each? Other things I should consider?

FC entails somewhat insane pricing, but I might be persuaded to use it going one way (to my parents) if there's more than a nominal difference as far as safety choices go. At the moment I lean toward NER BC in both directions due primarily to said insane pricing...but since I do have knowledge gaps as far as FC and how it compares, I thought it wouldn't hurt to check with you guys.

Thank you so much for reading!
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
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8,778
I was on 2252 and 2159 on the 28th and 29th. Both trains were empty. Very few passengers. ON 2252 I was one of 8 passengers in the car I was in. 2159 was about the same. FC on 2252 was empty when the FC car passed me at RTE. FC is only serving Boxed meals and drinks in cans and bottles. Not worth the price you'd pay IMO. I'd go for BC on a Regional.
 
Joined
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Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to the reply. Yeah, I did read about the crappy food situation--I don't care as much about that, even though it's supposed to be part of what I'm paying for. I'm think I'm mostly concerned about least pax capacity/foot traffic, and also seat pitch. I get the sense that the FC car configuration might have the seats farther apart than on Regional BC, if for no other reason than the 2x1 setup. As well, I wonder if FC would be the most consistently empty car right now (as you saw anecdotally).

However, even if those things are true, I can't imagine any pitch difference on FC vs. BC is really *that* significant. And they're booking everything at 50% capacity anyway (and again, as you noted based on your trips, they're probably still not even getting close to that in ridership right now). Also, I haven't seen the assigned seating charts yet, but I'm also suspecting they're at least doing an alternating every-other-row thing.

If you have any additional thoughts on this I'd love to hear them (and if my throwing around jargon to look cool is actually making me look the newbie idiot I am, I humbly ask your forgiveness 🙂). If not, thanks again for your reply and happy travels!
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
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I haven’t been on a train in awhile (so I can’t say firsthand), but as I understand it, even in coach, they’re assigning seats right now. They are only assigning everyone a window seat. (If you’re in a group, you can sit together.)

And with the reduced ridership and them limiting to 50%, I might want to save $$$ and go Regional coach.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,003
I haven’t been on a train in awhile (so I can’t say firsthand), but as I understand it, even in coach, they’re assigning seats right now. They are only assigning everyone a window seat. (If you’re in a group, you can sit together.)

And with the reduced ridership and them limiting to 50%, I might want to save $$$ and go Regional coach.
Good advice! Ditto!
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,778
I haven’t been on a train in awhile (so I can’t say firsthand), but as I understand it, even in coach, they’re assigning seats right now.
Actually they're not assigning seats on the Corridor. With the exception of FC and BC on Regionals.
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Jul 9, 2014
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4,488
I'd go with business class as I don't believe they are limiting coach capacity to 50% anymore.
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2014
Messages
4
Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to the reply. Yeah, I did read about the crappy food situation--I don't care as much about that, even though it's supposed to be part of what I'm paying for. I'm think I'm mostly concerned about least pax capacity/foot traffic, and also seat pitch. I get the sense that the FC car configuration might have the seats farther apart than on Regional BC, if for no other reason than the 2x1 setup. As well, I wonder if FC would be the most consistently empty car right now (as you saw anecdotally).

However, even if those things are true, I can't imagine any pitch difference on FC vs. BC is really *that* significant. And they're booking everything at 50% capacity anyway (and again, as you noted based on your trips, they're probably still not even getting close to that in ridership right now). Also, I haven't seen the assigned seating charts yet, but I'm also suspecting they're at least doing an alternating every-other-row thing.

If you have any additional thoughts on this I'd love to hear them (and if my throwing around jargon to look cool is actually making me look the newbie idiot I am, I humbly ask your forgiveness 🙂). If not, thanks again for your reply and happy travels!
It's not the pitch, but that fact that FC is three across instead of four, which makes it much less dense. That doesn't make much difference if both continue to be empty. ...might be a consideration if things start to look more normal at some future point.
 

Brian Battuello

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
86
I am planning a Boston-Baltimore trip, and thinking of blowing some points on an Acela first class (which I've never done). I understand they are going with the box meals :-( but still have beverage service. Just curious - is the liquor service unlimited, like airplane FC/BC? I'm not planning on arriving in Baltimore drunk, but could easily go through a few cocktails on a six hour trip...
 

Brian Battuello

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
86
Also, on a 9am to 3pm trip, would they service breakfast and lunch? Just for planning purposes, one would be plenty...
 

the_traveler

Conductor
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Nov 14, 2007
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It was unlimited drinks in glasses, but as I understand it, you now get things in their original containers - like a bottle or can of Budweiser!
 
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