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

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me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
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3,092
There have been several improvements to the Offerings during the past 2 years, and now that Anderson has flown off into the Sunset, there are several improvements starting to happen on the LD Trains even as the Pandemic Measures are in effect.
Yeah, but he can only do that 3 times a week and no further east than NOL! Unless he uses his free Delta pass which is more likely since he almost assuredly never took a long distance train during his tenure? (or his life?)
 

OlympianHiawatha

Conductor
Joined
Feb 7, 2008
Messages
4,282
OK, here's an alternative I saw today in my local kosher supermarket.

View attachment 17540

You can, using the magic of chemistry, prepare a hot entree right at your coach seat! There were a couple of other varieties on the shelf, as well. Who knows how they taste? The meatballs are (obviously) all beef, as these are kosher. I ate one of their products during Passover at work a few years ago, and I thought the steam puffing out of the corners of the box during heating was cool, the food quality left something to be desired, but maybe it was because it was the Passover addition, and certain ingredients couldn't be used. Also, the company may have reformulated stuff over the last couple of years.

I don't know whether similar products are available in non-kosher versions (presumably at a lower price).

I might try these on my next rip, but then I might just order the kosher flexible meals in advance, as the varieties on offer look better than the regular stuff.
I noticed on their Web site they also deal meals for the military and correctional facilities; so it makes me wonder just how good these are, especially for the high price.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
1
Not only is it one per trip regardless of how long the trip... they've downsized the plastic wine bottles to 'wine minis.' If you want to maximize your 'only one' slim pickin's try the Corona Beer with a lime wedge... that is... if you still can.
Don’t bother with the wine. They served cheap Barefoot Australian wine on the City of New Orleans when which we took in February. Bring your own bottle which is what we normally do. Now, you can find many great wines with twist off tops so you don’t have to worry about a leaky bottle.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,478
Don’t bother with the wine. They served cheap Barefoot Australian wine on the City of New Orleans when which we took in February. Bring your own bottle which is what we normally do. Now, you can find many great wines with twist off tops so you don’t have to worry about a leaky bottle.
You used to be able to get some pretty good wine on the trains. Especially back in the starlight, builder, & lake shore wine tasting days.

It’s sadly been a while since I rode a full-service diner but the half bottle selections used to be decent.
 

hlcteacher

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Messages
44
will hve
OK, here's an alternative I saw today in my local kosher supermarket.

View attachment 17540

You can, using the magic of chemistry, prepare a hot entree right at your coach seat! There were a couple of other varieties on the shelf, as well. Who knows how they taste? The meatballs are (obviously) all beef, as these are kosher. I ate one of their products during Passover at work a few years ago, and I thought the steam puffing out of the corners of the box during heating was cool, the food quality left something to be desired, but maybe it was because it was the Passover addition, and certain ingredients couldn't be used. Also, the company may have reformulated stuff over the last couple of years.

I don't know whether similar products are available in non-kosher versions (presumably at a lower price).

I might try these on my next rip, but then I might just order the kosher flexible meals in advance, as the varieties on offer look better than the regular stuff.
to look for these, have never seen them in my market; did see them years ago when i was working with the red cross
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,818
You used to be able to get some pretty good wine on the trains. Especially back in the starlight, builder, & lake shore wine tasting days.

It’s sadly been a while since I rode a full-service diner but the half bottle selections used to be decent.
In January, the Auto Train still had half bottles of wine available and they were decent, but pricey.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,818
Re: Self-heating meals. How does that work? Could not read the small print on the box in the illustration. I did see the price, however. $9.99 for Spaghetti and Meatballs?
 

RichieRich

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
273
You used to be able to get some pretty good wine on the trains....
Remember when the AutoTrain had the "Wine Tastings" (actually all-you-could-drink...with enough tips. LOL). It was very decent as it was sponsored by local Virginia wineries.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
14
Has anyone taken sleeper car service on the CL or SM during Covid? I'm curious regarding how your meals are served. I'm hoping you can still have them brought to your room. Any information would be most appreciated. Planning trip Nov/Dec. Thanks again.
 

MccfamschoolMom

Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
220
will hve

to look for these, have never seen them in my market; did see them years ago when i was working with the red cross
I wonder if they're on Amazon? I'll have to check on that.
Edited to add: "Self-heating meals" search results on Amazon. They do have the kosher 5-Minute Meals similar to those described earlier in this thread, and also some Oriental "hot pot" meals and freeze-dried camping meals, for which you have to add water, but do not need a microwave or other external heating source.
 
Last edited:

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
399
Re: Self-heating meals. How does that work? Could not read the small print on the box in the illustration. I did see the price, however. $9.99 for Spaghetti and Meatballs?
I wonder if it's like those heating hand and foot warmers where a chemical process is activated by shaking the bag vigorously. The heat ingredients could be kept in a separate compartment within or outside the food compartments. The list of ingredients on the "HotHands" handwarming device I have includes iron powder, salt, water (clearly not very much), activated charcoal, and vermiculite. The package says it can get up to 158 F.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,721
As I was driving past the Station today (5/25)I happened to see the #22 Texas Eagle arrive on time into Austin today.

So I stopped and watched the De-Training and Boarding and talked with the Agent and Conductor.

The consist was the "Temporary" 1 P-42, Revenue Sleeper,Diner/Lounge,Sightseer Lounge and 2 Coaches.( the Bag Car has been gone for over a Year and the Transdorm is eliminated TFN).

The Crew members are all wearing Gloves and Masks, and Passengees must have space coverings to board.

I was surprised to see about 10 People boarding Coach ( no-one got off) and 3 board the Sleeper.Fares are still Mid to High Bucket for Sleepers, but Saver Fares are plentiful in Coach since ridership is down 80-90%!!!

The agent told me that two of the Regular Agents have been placed on the Extra Board ( there are 4 Agents in Austin) and that there is No Overtime @ all.

The Diner is passing out the Boxed Meals to Sleeper Passengers only to eat in their Rooms or the Lounge. The downstairs tables are closed in the Cafe and only 1 person @ a time is allowed into the cafe.

Also we discussed the restaffing of the Stations in Marshall and Texarkana. Amtrak wants Partime Caretakers with No benefits, the Union Regular Full time hires, but since there is a hiring freeze right now, nothing is happening.

Lastly the Conductor told me that UP and BNSFs freight traffic is way down so the Eagles are running pretty much On Time each day.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2017
Messages
12
So I thought it might be helpful to recount what happened in practice on my recent trip on the TE from Los Angeles to Chicago.

Having boarded in LA and got settled the LSA stopped by our sleeper to say hello and also to give us our chits for the complimentary drinks. These were white seat tags that he then clipped. It was one per person. At lunch the following day the only white wine available was chardonnay and came in the small, single serve bottles. We declined and ended up having a Stella instead. After leaving San Antonio on what was now the TE proper, we did get another drink for free.

Both LSAs seemed shocked that we wanted to eat in the dining car. We ate all our meals there, except for the BBQ that we had delivered via Uber Eats to the train at Fort Worth. We'd grown fed up with the menu options by then!

Overall, the dining options weren't bad but they weren't great either. Breakfast is just a carb-fest with no healthy options and very limited choice. In terms of the other meals, the penne and meatballs was good as was the creole shrimp and andouille. The chicken fettucine was bland. The red wine braised beef wasn't bad. The side salad was dire. The specialty dessert was either the sugar free vanilla dessert (which wasn't offered by default - you had to ask for it) or a brownie / blondie.

In terms of condiments etc. we had butter and salt but no pepper on the SL, and no salt, pepper or butter on the TE. There was ketchup but no mustard on the SL and, again, no condiments at all on the TE. You could have cranberry juice as a mixer for a drink but not for breakfast. There was also no vodka on the TE but they did have Bacardi. There was no lime / lemon wedges on either train. On the SL the cutlery was rolled up inside the napkin whereas on the TE there were little cellophane packs with cutlery and napkins.

The LSA on the TE out of San Antonio thought that full dining was due to be restored on the long distance trains from early June but according to amtrak.com the flexible dining routine is in effect until 6/30 at least.

Both LSAs did their best with clearly limited resources and were cheerful and friendly although clearly disappointed / embarrassed at the level of service they were able to provide. In terms of number of passengers in the diner, we were two and there was another family of four, an Amish couple, and a father and son - that was all we saw during our journey.

Train consist (for those interested in such things) was 2 x P42s, one Superliner Sleeper (SL), diner, lounge, three coach cars (one labelled out of use - so basically one coach for the SL and one for the TE / 422 portion) and finally our sleeping car (TE). Out of San Antonio we had 1 x P42, our sleeper, diner, lounge and two coach cars.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
325
So I thought it might be helpful to recount what happened in practice on my recent trip on the TE from Los Angeles to Chicago.

Having boarded in LA and got settled the LSA stopped by our sleeper to say hello and also to give us our chits for the complimentary drinks. These were white seat tags that he then clipped. It was one per person. At lunch the following day the only white wine available was chardonnay and came in the small, single serve bottles. We declined and ended up having a Stella instead. After leaving San Antonio on what was now the TE proper, we did get another drink for free.

Both LSAs seemed shocked that we wanted to eat in the dining car. We ate all our meals there, except for the BBQ that we had delivered via Uber Eats to the train at Fort Worth. We'd grown fed up with the menu options by then!

Overall, the dining options weren't bad but they weren't great either. Breakfast is just a carb-fest with no healthy options and very limited choice. In terms of the other meals, the penne and meatballs was good as was the creole shrimp and andouille. The chicken fettucine was bland. The red wine braised beef wasn't bad. The side salad was dire. The specialty dessert was either the sugar free vanilla dessert (which wasn't offered by default - you had to ask for it) or a brownie / blondie.

In terms of condiments etc. we had butter and salt but no pepper on the SL, and no salt, pepper or butter on the TE. There was ketchup but no mustard on the SL and, again, no condiments at all on the TE. You could have cranberry juice as a mixer for a drink but not for breakfast. There was also no vodka on the TE but they did have Bacardi. There was no lime / lemon wedges on either train. On the SL the cutlery was rolled up inside the napkin whereas on the TE there were little cellophane packs with cutlery and napkins.

The LSA on the TE out of San Antonio thought that full dining was due to be restored on the long distance trains from early June but according to amtrak.com the flexible dining routine is in effect until 6/30 at least.

Both LSAs did their best with clearly limited resources and were cheerful and friendly although clearly disappointed / embarrassed at the level of service they were able to provide. In terms of number of passengers in the diner, we were two and there was another family of four, an Amish couple, and a father and son - that was all we saw during our journey.

Train consist (for those interested in such things) was 2 x P42s, one Superliner Sleeper (SL), diner, lounge, three coach cars (one labelled out of use - so basically one coach for the SL and one for the TE / 422 portion) and finally our sleeping car (TE). Out of San Antonio we had 1 x P42, our sleeper, diner, lounge and two coach cars.
Meal wise, everything is down now; even those first class seats on trans cons have seen deplorable service. It's kind-a wild and disappointing ride for travelers. Keep your fingers crossed for restored 'real food' in July! 🤠
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,478
Thanks for the report. The vanilla pudding being available would be nice as I can’t eat the brownie.

I agree the shrimp and sausage dish is decent, I tried it and the beef and the beef was way too salty for me to want to eat ever again.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
325
The chef doesn't seem to be relishing the actual taste of the main course... although some components of the meal, such as the drink and crunchies look good as is the protein drink with the powdered coffee. Nice dessert! Really cool is the chemical heating system. As an old timer I wonder how my arthritis ingratiated hands would do with all that taring and ripping; but certainly better than the very boring and tiring flex meals!🤢

This was definitely fun viewing!😄
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,818
The recent dining reports do not encourage me to plan another Amtrak journey.

An old Cunard Line advertising slogan: "Getting there is half the fun." "Half the fun" for me are decent meals in the diner on Amtrak.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
325
The recent dining reports do not encourage me to plan another Amtrak journey.

An old Cunard Line advertising slogan: "Getting there is half the fun." "Half the fun" for me are decent meals in the diner on Amtrak.
Here it is! My favorite text book of all times... "Homelands Beyond the Seas." When I was in 5th grade at 3rd Street School in Milwaukee Wisconsin, my neighboring classmates were dying of boredom, yet this book launched forever my desire to to travel; and how beautiful travel was in the 1950's. The biggest part of the thrill were those exotic culinary meals served on the Milwaukee Road dining cars... I only rode it a few times because in those days as a child, we weren't rich and rail travel was literally a pipe dream. I cherished this 'textbook' and got my folks to purchase it from the school district. But later on after graduating high school my parents encouraged me to throw away all the old 'junk.' Oh how I miss this beautiful book! And all the dreams it inspired! 🤠
A1fUEg0ZJEL.jpg
 
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