New dining options (flex dining) effective October 1, 2019

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lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
887
Soda contracts tend to be iron clad. It is tough to get out of them. Even if they want to switch to coke they’ll have to wait or pay a lot.
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
937
I am just fine with Pepsi ...

But then, I can always bring whatever brand/flavor I want
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,564
Soda contracts tend to be iron clad. It is tough to get out of them. Even if they want to switch to coke they’ll have to wait or pay a lot.
Yes, but there are two options at hand:
(1) The contract is coming up organically.
(2) Anderson and Coke are coming up with something to "take the edge off" a switch.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,663
Thanks! I think they’re having us do customs the day before at Key West but it can’t help to be prepared :)
I believe the rule is you have to go through C&I at the first American port that you touch irrespective of whether that is your final destination or not.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,114
My God! What hath Anderson wrought?

We took the Crescent to NYP from GRV on Oct 1. Returned this morning. I can't believe what happened!

Outgoing breakfast
Server was upset we hadn't remembered the menu and didn't immediately know what we wanted. We were expected to memorize exactly what we wanted! She was quite upset at any customer who couldn't immediately tell her what was wanted - not just us. And that was the good server. Worse happened on the return.
Bananas were all rotten.
You had to ask for fruit bowl.
No sign of Kind bar on buffet.
Hot egg muffin tasted like rubber.
Prepackaged muffins tasted like crap.

Outgoing Lunch

Same server. We were told by her we MUST be seated before Washington arrival or no lunch. This was 5 minutes before arrival in DC We went in to the "Diner" and asked if we could go outside for a few minutes for fresh air. Emphatic NO! Then the power went off for engine change so she couldn't cook. She reluctantly let us step out but even though we returned before power was restored, she was angry with us about it. She said lunch had to be finished by Trenton although that wasn't for a few hours. How long did she think it would take to eat that crap?
Same old poor quality roll
No butter offered. You had to ask for butter.
Only two salad dressing choices vs 6 in the old days.
No diet sodas available. She said they ran out "the day before". Sure!
Wine reluctantly given after server demanded to know if we got one at previous night's dinner (we got on after midnight). We must have been memorable considering the car was full of only 5 passengers.
Microwaved garbage.

Then came the return trip. This was a gem.
Return
Walked into the Diner just to ask for a soda and was the only person there. I sat down a few seats from the kitchen and asked for a soft drink. I had to meet her halfway from seat as she wouldn't bring it.
Had to bring my own empty can to trash even though the server was not busy. Actually she was doing nothing at the time. And that was just the beginning.

Dinner
Sign in the back of the car says "Return Trays Here". I thought to myself I guess we have to bus our own table for dinner. Nah! WRONG! Server announces that "the procedure is that the passenger goes to the kitchen area to order the food then returns to pick up the food when it is ready". Get that folks!
We found out you do indeed bus your own table and if you want dessert, you had better go to the kitchen to get it from her. There is no service any more (so no reason to tip). I didn't tip fir the first time in my life in the diner.

The food was the same as lunch on the way up except the roll was better and butter was included.
Sadly, since nobody seated the patrons, people did what they do under the circumstances, spreading out and couples occupied the whole table. The result was that others saw no room and had no idea what to do or where to sit. We and a few others familiar with the old system knew to sit together so as to leave space for others but even then, people didn't know where to sit so we invited a single woman to join us. We had an excellent conversation with her. I was amazed at the number of first time sleeper passengers who had no idea how it was just 2 weeks ago - either the food or the service. I talked to a number of them and told them that 2 weeks earlier they could have had a steak dinner with tablecloth, real cutlery, cloth napkins and a server who took your order and brought your meal.

Obviously others had experienced the new food already. Passengers just walked through from the sleepers at mealtime and headed straight for the cafe without even hesitating. A few minutes later they came back and ate what they bought. And they were the millenials that Anderson is supposedly appealing to. Guess they don't like his garbage food either.
 

jloewen

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
64
My God! What hath Anderson wrought?

We took the Crescent to NYP from GRV on Oct 1. Returned this morning. I can't believe what happened!

Outgoing breakfast
Server was upset we hadn't remembered the menu and didn't immediately know what we wanted. We were expected to memorize exactly what we wanted! She was quite upset at any customer who couldn't immediately tell her what was wanted - not just us. And that was the good server. Worse happened on the return.
Bananas were all rotten.
You had to ask for fruit bowl.
No sign of Kind bar on buffet.
Hot egg muffin tasted like rubber.
Prepackaged muffins tasted like crap.

Outgoing Lunch

Same server. We were told by her we MUST be seated before Washington arrival or no lunch. This was 5 minutes before arrival in DC We went in to the "Diner" and asked if we could go outside for a few minutes for fresh air. Emphatic NO! Then the power went off for engine change so she couldn't cook. She reluctantly let us step out but even though we returned before power was restored, she was angry with us about it. She said lunch had to be finished by Trenton although that wasn't for a few hours. How long did she think it would take to eat that crap?
Same old poor quality roll
No butter offered. You had to ask for butter.
Only two salad dressing choices vs 6 in the old days.
No diet sodas available. She said they ran out "the day before". Sure!
Wine reluctantly given after server demanded to know if we got one at previous night's dinner (we got on after midnight). We must have been memorable considering the car was full of only 5 passengers.
Microwaved garbage.

Then came the return trip. This was a gem.
Return
Walked into the Diner just to ask for a soda and was the only person there. I sat down a few seats from the kitchen and asked for a soft drink. I had to meet her halfway from seat as she wouldn't bring it.
Had to bring my own empty can to trash even though the server was not busy. Actually she was doing nothing at the time. And that was just the beginning.

Dinner
Sign in the back of the car says "Return Trays Here". I thought to myself I guess we have to bus our own table for dinner. Nah! WRONG! Server announces that "the procedure is that the passenger goes to the kitchen area to order the food then returns to pick up the food when it is ready". Get that folks!
We found out you do indeed bus your own table and if you want dessert, you had better go to the kitchen to get it from her. There is no service any more (so no reason to tip). I didn't tip fir the first time in my life in the diner.

The food was the same as lunch on the way up except the roll was better and butter was included.
Sadly, since nobody seated the patrons, people did what they do under the circumstances, spreading out and couples occupied the whole table. The result was that others saw no room and had no idea what to do or where to sit. We and a few others familiar with the old system knew to sit together so as to leave space for others but even then, people didn't know where to sit so we invited a single woman to join us. We had an excellent conversation with her. I was amazed at the number of first time sleeper passengers who had no idea how it was just 2 weeks ago - either the food or the service. I talked to a number of them and told them that 2 weeks earlier they could have had a steak dinner with tablecloth, real cutlery, cloth napkins and a server who took your order and brought your meal.

Obviously others had experienced the new food already. Passengers just walked through from the sleepers at mealtime and headed straight for the cafe without even hesitating. A few minutes later they came back and ate what they bought. And they were the millenials that Anderson is supposedly appealing to. Guess they don't like his garbage food either.
We (wife Susan and I) took the Crescent Sun.-Mon. from WAS to Meridian, MS, and had a very friendly experience with Candy, our SCA, and the African American woman who was the staff on the dining car. We had the beef stew and the shrimp Andouille stew and found both tasty. I think I reported on this already, but cannot now find my message. The staff woman was very friendly and efficient, brought food to tables, simply a day vs. night difference compared to "Me Little Me"'s experience recounted above.
Breakfast had adequate options. Muffins are likely disappointing -- I didn't try 'em -- but had raisin bran with banana slices on top, followed by a breakfast sandwich. Just fine.
So far as I'm concerned, tho problems remain (slick tables are a hazard in case the train rounds a curve...), and it does not equal the "steak cooked the way you like it" of the previous dining car, it was OK and she was fine.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MrNews

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
15
Recently traveled TPA <--> EWR on the Silver Star, so no "new & improved" food service yet. Actually, nothing except the Cafe Car, whose attendant made frequent announcements about openings, closings, breaks, etc etc. Moderately annoying, but necessary, I guess. I checked it out, and they did not have the one item I wanted, and we did not risk the sandwiches or "burger." We'll certainly miss the old service, with the steak dinner, served on chinette plates at sunset, and occasional conversations with strangers at our table. Our new strategy is to bring a small cooler with frozen packs, which lasts about 24 hours, some homemade sandwiches. fruit, chips, and a collapsible water boiler. We prepared our own soups, tea, etc, and were reasonably happy, despite the $1700 R/T cost. It's disheartening that Amtrak is making the idiotic mistake of erasing the few things that make traveling the rails unique, and better, than flying or driving. So many businesses follow that "model," and end up shooting themselves in the foot.
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
813
I'm sure Anderson et al are joyfully proclaiming: "I LOVE it when a plan comes together!" (with apologies to the A-Team on TV). How many LD passengers will soon become EX-LD passengers? One can skip the food on an airplane as it's never over 4 hours unless going overseas. But to spend 18-30 hours on a train and have to eat that garbage? I can assure you, they WON'T be back!
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,849
I'm sure Anderson et al are joyfully proclaiming: "I LOVE it when a plan comes together!" (with apologies to the A-Team on TV). How many LD passengers will soon become EX-LD passengers? One can skip the food on an airplane as it's never over 4 hours unless going overseas. But to spend 18-30 hours on a train and have to eat that garbage? I can assure you, they WON'T be back!
This entire controversy about Amtrak dining is making me to re-think about my plans for a possible Auto Train trip this Winter.

What quality of food and of service will be provided? What attitudes and service will I experience from the LSA and the SCA?
 

Charles785

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
79
I certainly hope conductor me_little_me reports that atrocious customer service experience to Amtrak!
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,564
This entire controversy about Amtrak dining is making me to re-think about my plans for a possible Auto Train trip this Winter.

What quality of food and of service will be provided? What attitudes and service will I experience from the LSA and the SCA?
The Auto Train hasn't been affected by this mess as of yet. What dates are you looking at traveling?
 

OBS

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
1,570
The Auto Train hasn't been affected by this mess as of yet. What dates are you looking at traveling?
Not to mention if in a sleeper, they are trying to slightly improve meals. Auto train crews have probably the most consistent quality of service of any crew base.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
887
This entire controversy about Amtrak dining is making me to re-think about my plans for a possible Auto Train trip this Winter.

What quality of food and of service will be provided? What attitudes and service will I experience from the LSA and the SCA?
As stated by others, the diner for sleeping car passengers on the auto train is remaining the current format and will still have a full staff so if you were going to get a sleeper there’s no reason to reconsider. The coach diner is going to an a la carte format where passengers have to pay for meals (it is still unknown what this will look like whether it will be just cafe car food or whether they may be selling meals similar to the flex dining menu) however this is supposed to be accompanied by more consistently cheaper coach tickets. They are also going to have food trucks at the two stations to give people the option of eating before the trip or getting food to bring aboard. While many have balked at the food truck concept, there are actually some really good and unique ones out there but I guess it depends on who they bring in. I think that could be hit or miss depending on if they bring in decent food truck operators. But again to conclude, if you are staying in a sleeper you will still get the traditional auto train dining. It’s a fun trip and I’d recommend it to anyone. It is a great service and quite convenient at getting you and your vehicle down to Florida.
 
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