Seat assignments (Acela pilot Feb 2018)

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bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
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813
So if we were booked on Acela from NYP to BOS or vice versa, how good would our odds likely be at getting two or three decent seats together 48 hours out?
Based on what I observed, you'll end up at one of the 4-person tables as those appear to 'go' last. 

When I  used a pair of 48 hr upgrades, I managed to find a 'double' seat to myself against bulkhead facing backwards on #2153 from NHV as all single seats were taken.  Not bad.  On #2172 from WAS, I was the first one at a 4-seat table...probably because I called 47 hrs 50 minutes prior to departure.  Upon departure, I had a table mate diagonally across from me (on the aisle).  At BAL, I got a woman next to me.  Spot #4, opposite me at the window and traveling backwards, never had a passenger.

So, to get a couple seats together 48 hrs out...call as close as possible to 48 hrs to upgrade.  For what it's worth, I couldn't apply the upgrade using Firefox or Internet Explorer on my computer, nor could I do it on my Android phone.  Apparently, Amtrak has some IT issues or they intentionally, but silently, discourage people from upgrading into Acela first class.  So...when calling, have the seating diagram in front of you Acela First Class Seating. You'll have to figure out which direction the train is going though, and choose first/last car appropriately. 
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,778
Ok here's my story. 

From PHL-NYP the FC Car was sold out we ended up sitting next to two business travelers who had their stuff spread out on our seats who promptly moved their stuff when they saw our arrival. 

Mom and I sat across from each other. When we got to NYP the seat next to my Mom was empty. The conductor told us that the guy who had that seat was "at the bar" and I could sit there. So from just after passing New Rochelle to Route 128 I was able to sit next to my Mom. So it appears that passengers who use upgrade coupons are best off boarding at WAS, NYP, RTE, BBY, or BOS. 
 

Triley

Conductor
Joined
Dec 14, 2008
Messages
1,391
Ok here's my story. 
From PHL-NYP the FC Car was sold out we ended up sitting next to two business travelers who had their stuff spread out on our seats who promptly moved their stuff when they saw our arrival. 
Mom and I sat across from each other. When we got to NYP the seat next to my Mom was empty. The conductor told us that the guy who had that seat was "at the bar" and I could sit there. So from just after passing New Rochelle to Route 128 I was able to sit next to my Mom. So it appears that passengers who use upgrade coupons are best off boarding at WAS, NYP, RTE, BBY, or BOS. 
Once again, this is what bewildered me working that car.

(Presumably) his company bought him a first class ticket, which includes alcohol, but he went to the cafe as paid for it.

Oh well, more for the rest of the passengers in the car.
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,778
I just booked a trip in FC for January on 2160. I just looked at the seat choices on my phone. Everything is open except for the 4 seats I booked and 1F. ARROW originally gave me on my first reservation 3A and 3C. I asked for 8A and 8C. I was booking with companion coupons that were given to me from another AU'er. When I booked the other 2 it assigned 3A and 3C again. I picked 9A and 9C for those seats. Which is a four seater table. So it appears that seats are assigned from the rear end of the car. Rear end being designated as the end where FC passengers enter. 
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
813
I just booked a trip in FC for January on 2160. I just looked at the seat choices on my phone. Everything is open except for the 4 seats I booked and 1F. ARROW originally gave me on my first reservation 3A and 3C. I asked for 8A and 8C. I was booking with companion coupons that were given to me from another AU'er. When I booked the other 2 it assigned 3A and 3C again. I picked 9A and 9C for those seats. Which is a four seater table. So it appears that seats are assigned from the rear end of the car. Rear end being designated as the end where FC passengers enter. 
My guess is that the computer always assigns the lowest number rows first, similar to how roomettes and bedrooms are filled.  

I'm surprised the companion coupons 'work' in Acela FC.  I know sleeping accomodations are exempted.  I learn something new every day! 
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
813
 So it appears that passengers who use upgrade coupons are best off boarding at WAS, NYP, RTE, BBY, or BOS. 
From what I've witnessed in quite a few trips along the NEC, NYP-PHL has the most passengers.  Northbound, I've witnessed standing room only in business class on #148 about 2 years ago because at PHL, a 'mob' boarded BC, including me.  I always position myself on the platform to board at the rear of the car at PHL and other cities as most passengers board from the front.  That gives me a better chance of getting a window seat before they 'work their way down' towards the rear. 
 

Acela150

Conductor
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Jan 11, 2008
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My guess is that the computer always assigns the lowest number rows first, similar to how roomettes and bedrooms are filled.  

I'm surprised the companion coupons 'work' in Acela FC.  I know sleeping accomodations are exempted.  I learn something new every day! 
If one reads the Terms and Conditions of the coupon, one has to pay for the upgrade. :)  Something I had know about.

From what I've witnessed in quite a few trips along the NEC, NYP-PHL has the most passengers.  Northbound, I've witnessed standing room only in business class on #148 about 2 years ago because at PHL, a 'mob' boarded BC, including me.  I always position myself on the platform to board at the rear of the car at PHL and other cities as most passengers board from the front.  That gives me a better chance of getting a window seat before they 'work their way down' towards the rear. 
NYP is where the largest turnover is on any train that goes to or from Boston. PHL is a hit and miss station for each train. Sometimes it's large, sometimes not so much. :)   
 

amamba

Conductor
Joined
Jun 11, 2008
Messages
4,083
I traveled PVD - NYP FC two weeks ago. On my way south,  I was on the super early Saturday Acela. We left PVD before 7 am. When I boarded the car was dark and no one instructed me to sit in my assigned seat and there wee only a handful of ppl in the car. I sat in what I thought was my seat but I was one row off. The car remained no more than 20% occupied during the trip and at one point the conductor told two strangers sitting across from each other at a single table they could spread out. 

On my way home, I was on the 4 pm out of NYP on Sunday (2254?). It was sold out. Everyone was instructed to sit in their seat and it looked like everyone complied. I had a single seat again but then again I ensured I did at the time of booking. 
 

Acela150

Conductor
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Jan 11, 2008
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So I booked a FC trip and paid for the seat for a trip in May. Every seat on my return trip except one is open. When I went to chose my seat on both trips something stuck out to me. My northbound trip is on 2168. 2168 turns from 2151. Normally FC is on the front of 2168. The interesting thing is on Amtrak.com when I went to change my seat is the diagram shows FC would be on the rear. So I made my seat choice based on FC being on the front. I'm taking 2165 south to Philly. 2165 is a toss up with FC Car location. But as of late it's been on the rear. But Amtrak.com shows the car as on the front.

SO... With that being said I'm going to take a guess at something. Amtrak.com shows the FC car on the rear for Northbound trains and the front for Southbound trains. That's nothing short of a guess.
 

Acela150

Conductor
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Jan 11, 2008
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I booked two Acela trips yesterday for August 5th. I just looked at the tickets and don’t see a seat assignment. The trips are only between WIL & BAL.
A guess says that they will be doing what they did with FC, Introducing it slowly and in increments.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
469
MODERATOR NOTE: a 2018 thread regarding seat assignments on Acela was merged with this existing thread

This is always a sore subject. Last week I took the Capitol Limited to Pittsburgh from Chicago. Of course I was hoping for two seats to myself or an attractive friendly woman as a seatmate,but both of these never seem to happen. My seatmate was a rather gross individual with significant body odor. It was obvious he had been drinking. First thing he does is hit me up for money and then wants to engage in loud conversation. You know the type. I just put on my headsets and made the best of a bad situation. Of course everybody in my car was going to Pittsburgh,so there was no break.

My question is..I understand the different coaches for different destinations. Especially,when Pittsburgh arrives at 5AM,it's good to have all the Pittsburgh bound travelers in one car. Why can't we just pick our own seats in the assigned car? Yes, i know there are a few arranged for two or more people traveling together,but possibly they can be designated "couples only" before we leave? It would be nice to pick your own seat, and if worst comes to worst,you'll have my situation.

When traveling by plane, you really don't mind because it's rarely more than a five hour flight,but on a cross country train in coach you could be sitting next to someone for three days! At least, the Capitol Limited has The sightseer car to escape to, No such luck on the other Eastern trains.

I did survive the night having spent most of it in the Sightseer Car.
This is indeed sore point! I had upgraded to business class on the Surfliner and was sitting next to a window... seats unassigned. Then along came a couple that wanted to sit together so I was told I would have to find another seat. I do understand the couple wanting to sit together but the everything was full and the only remaining seat was an aisle downstairs. My gripe... why cant passengers have the right to pre choose seats like the airlines? Certainly the technology exists; as for the situation described above... my sympathies go out to anyone who sits next to someone who doesn't present themselves responsibly when traveling!
 

KnightRail

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
486
For future reference, booking, and seat selection:
Power Car
CAR 1: 1st Class Car
CAR 2: Quiet Business Class Car
CAR 3: Business Class Car
CAR 4: Cafe Car
CAR 6: Business Class Car
CAR 6: Business Class Car
Power Car

“CAR #“ decals are being/have been applied both on the interiors and exteriors of the trainsets.
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,778
For future reference, booking, and seat selection:
Power Car
CAR 1: 1st Class Car
CAR 2: Quiet Business Class Car
CAR 3: Business Class Car
CAR 4: Cafe Car
CAR 6: Business Class Car
CAR 6: Business Class Car
Power Car

“CAR #“ decals are being/have been applied both on the interiors and exteriors of the trainsets.
Thanks for the intel. Much appreciated. I'd say I'd take shotgun in the lead power car. :p But I've done that a few times, so I'm good on that front. :)
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,567
And, as before, it seems that Amtrak slaps a seat assignment in your hand without asking or letting you see the map.

(The fact that all seating is de facto 1-1 for now does help with this, at least marginally. I still wish them nothing but the worst with this.)
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,990
And, as before, it seems that Amtrak slaps a seat assignment in your hand without asking or letting you see the map.

(The fact that all seating is de facto 1-1 for now does help with this, at least marginally. I still wish them nothing but the worst with this.)
It's really not so bad, although they do need to tweak the app a bit to make it easier to change your seat, if you desire it. When I used it last month, after you saw the seat map, it wasn't clear how to apply your desired change. Anyway, I would guess that the vast majority of Amtrak passengers are buying a train ticket to travel from point A to Point B, not to sit in a specific seat. Since they started seat assignments in Acela First, I've had to tolerate one or two less desirable seats, but usually it works out pretty well. In any event, whatever seat you sit in, the train arrives at its destination at the same time. I would guess that if a passenger wants a specific seat, they need to make their reservations early. If a passenger doesn't want seatmates, they need to travel at non-peak times. The more successful Amtrak is, the greater the chance that you're going to have a seatmate. And for those who want more passenger rail, that's a good thing.
 

Anderson

Conductor
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Nov 16, 2010
Messages
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I mean, my main complaint down in Virginia has generally been this: After booking, and ONLY after booking, I can tell which seats have a seatmate *at some point in the trip*. However, for a NPN/NFK-WAS trip (one I have made many times) or even NPN-BAL, there is a MAJOR difference between "I have a seatmate all the way" and "I have a seatmate for 20 minutes between ALX and WAS" (or "I have a seatmate between WAS and BAL"). This gets particularly annoying because...well, I think I once got plopped next to another passenger in an otherwise-empty car (it was 5 of 62 seats taken in BC at that point; I think we got up to like 15 seats or 20 seats taken by the time we got to WAS) by the app.

On the Acela, the analogue would be a WAS-NYP ticket: Do I have that seatmate between WAS and NYP? WAS and BAL? NWK and NYP (because they're going NWK-PVD)? (For that matter, do I have an aisle seat where my window-seat seatmate changes three times? This isn't relevant right now but it applies under normal circumstances.)

As I think I mentioned before, this is a major difference versus almost all airlines (where even on a "tag" flight you'll have at most one occasion for a passenger shuffle...for example, FRA on the JFK-FRA-SIN flight Singapore runs, or MAN on IAH-MAN-SIN).

Basically, it's a bad implementation of a dubious change that I think a bunch of us expect to be used to jack us for more money down the road.
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
If you wanted to take a train from Germany Cologne to Frankfurt half an hour from taking the screenshot below, you can still reserve a seat in a ICE-train.

Screenshot_20200729-115002_Brave.jpg

This train started in Bruxelles.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
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May 6, 2011
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Just got my modified eTickets for my Acela trips next week - showing car # and seat.
 

mfastx

Service Attendant
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Apr 30, 2010
Messages
187
So happy this is being implemented, this is long overdue. Nice for us to catch up to the rest of the civilized world where you can choose your seat on trains.

Of course there are some difference between trains and planes regarding assigned seating. I wonder if people may be restricted on where they can sit based on their O/D pair. We'll see how it works out and how they can make sure that all seats are used in an efficient way.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
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May 6, 2011
Messages
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From an email I just received:

There is no fee to reserve or change your seat and you may do so at any time, even when you are onboard and your train has departed.

To allow for physical distancing between customers, only window seats will be available to reserve. If you are traveling in a group of two or more, you will each be designated window seats in separate rows but may sit next to one another onboard if you choose.
 

Acela150

Conductor
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Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,778
I was on 2154 today from PHL to RTE. At PHL they had markers on the ground indicating where each car would be. Each car has a logo next to the exterior doors and in the cars as well that shows the "car number".
 

KnightRail

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
486
Effort will be made to try to keep the Acela trainsets oriented the same with Car 1 on the South/West end closest to Washington and Car 6 on the North/East end closest to Boston ergo on an odd numbered train the first class *should* be at the front and on an even numbered train first class will *should* be at the rear.

Boston
CAR 6: Business Class
CAR 5: Business Class
CAR 4: Cafe
CAR 3: Business Class
CAR 2: Quiet Business Class
CAR 1: First Class
Washington
 
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