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Who travels in the Sleeper Cars?

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WICT106

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 8, 2003
Messages
841
Location
Wisconsin
I'm also in the 'visit family once per year' category of sleeper passenger. While I could fly between Wisconsin and Florida, I enjoy taking the train more. There's nothing special about flying, anywhere. All that is available seems to be airborne cattle cars. Taking a train, while it has some significant flaws, has been more pleasant, overall, for me.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,727
Location
Toronto area
I'll bet you know that there's a secret time zone in between Central and Pacific. :D
A lot of North Americans forget about this. I blame the media - how many times have you heard something announced as "8 o'clock Eastern, 7 o'clock Central and 5 o'clock Pacific"? The one in-between is seldom mentioned. As you would know, it's worse in Canada with two others that get little attention unless you live there (even after we dropped one in 1983). Taking the train to Halifax last year, I was amazed at the number of people who couldn't understand why they'd been serving breakfast for an hour before they showed up.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,235
Location
Baltimore. MD
I’ve used Amtrak sleeping cars for business travel as well. Some managers I’ve worked for will only book me a flight but some will give me a travel stipend equal to the ticket they would have booked me.

One manager was convinced I was taking the train so I could pocket some of the money... until I showed them the receipts and that I was actually spending some money out of pocket in order to take the train. Haha.
Me too. My managers got a deal from me, as they would reimburse coach fare, and I did the sleeper part out of pocket. Considering that the Amtrak coach fare was usually a lot less than airline coach fare, they got a deal from me. But I'd only do it for 1-night trips.
 

manchacrr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 17, 2008
Messages
339
Location
Baton Rouge, LA
I fall into both the avid railfan and handicapped categories. On overnight trips I always book a roomette for several reasons. First is the privacy, especially at night. Second, I sleep with a CPAP machine, which is very difficult to set up when sitting in coach. Third, the meals are included in the price of the room, so it is more cost effective than travelling in coach and having to pay for all your meals while on the train, especially if the train ride is more than one night, such as on the western Amtrak long-distance services such as the Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, California Zephyr, and Empire Builder.

I love to travel and love trains, so I make sure that I have the time to take the train when I plan my vacations. During the daytime, you will most likely find me sitting in the Sightseer Lounge with my radio scanner and camera. In the evening after dinner, I like to sit in my room and read a book or watch a movie.
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,125
Location
Spring Creek, NC
A lot of North Americans forget about this. I blame the media - how many times have you heard something announced as "8 o'clock Eastern, 7 o'clock Central and 5 o'clock Pacific"? The one in-between is seldom mentioned. As you would know, it's worse in Canada with two others that get little attention unless you live there (even after we dropped one in 1983). Taking the train to Halifax last year, I was amazed at the number of people who couldn't understand why they'd been serving breakfast for an hour before they showed up.
I once heard a radio host, in New Mexico I think, say: "It's 6 o'clock in the Forgotten Time Zone." :)
 

20th Century Rider

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Jan 26, 2020
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Oregon Coast
Travel by sleeper... especially on the Zephyr... was a land cruise like no other. With the tracks below lulling one to sleep at night... to the interesting conversations in the sightseer lounge... and buoyant conversation while eating 'railroad french toast' in the dining car... those were days of wonder!

But now the sleeper coach is dirty and falling apart, frequently perspiring as the heaters are in full throttle with no window to open for air making sleep difficult... surly attendant who's griping about his job, and those carcinogenic unsatisfying tiny meals of fat, sodium, and highly processed synthetic food product... a most unpleasant way to travel... only carryover is the high cost of the fare!
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
524
Eeep! I totally forgot elderly couples with mobility issues! I think that's the only kind of passenger I've ever seen in the Handicapped rooms (except for the SCA or Conductor)
The very first time I traveled on Amtrak (3 or so years ago), my sister and I were assigned to the H room. We hadn't asked for it and paid the same price as the roomette we thought we would be traveling in. I don't know why Amtrak changed us from a roomette to the H room, but it gave me the opportunity to practice my flute without bothering other people.
 

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
267
Location
Michigan
The very first time I traveled on Amtrak (3 or so years ago), my sister and I were assigned to the H room. We hadn't asked for it and paid the same price as the roomette we thought we would be traveling in. I don't know why Amtrak changed us from a roomette to the H room, but it gave me the opportunity to practice my flute without bothering other people.
How long was your trip?
 

anumberone

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Aug 8, 2015
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Los Angeles
Planes and Trains, two different options, Planes get you long distances fast, Trains on the other hand for me, are all part of a getaway to be enjoyed. People I've run into on trains, mostly in the diner, are a mixed bag, veteran train riders, and newbies. Some are loving it, others just waiting to get there and get OFF. I enjoy the dining car experience 95% of the time. I don't spend much time in the lounge except for the late evening, have closed the cafe bar while conversing with a couple of passengers, can't really recall the conversations. My wife and I are looking forward to the next time.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
745
I dont ever recall Slumber Coaches having Meals included Penny, and for sure not Alcohol.

And usually a Slumber Coach upgrade, say from WAS-ATL on the Crescent was only like a $25 Upgrade.( I rode this route many times in both directions).

This makes me think you were in a Heritage Sleeper, and the upgrade was for a Roomette, since your Meal was included.
My thought exactly.
 

cirdan

Conductor
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,391
One type of sleeper passenger I have come across over the years, is the "token" sleeper. They are a member of a group (a family ?) that otherwise are all traveling in coach. They swap the usage (tag team) of the sleeper compartment throughout their trip (for a nap?). It becomes my interest or problem, when the person currently in the sleeper, resists turning it over to the next person, especially when this disruption happens at like 3am.
I have seen the same on an airliner, with one token family member being in business class.

Strangely the cabin staff, who are otherwise very protective of the class distinction, didn't seem to have a problem with it.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
524
I had a friend in college who was from Albuquerque named Dave Stout. Any relation?
I have both a brother and nephew (his son) whose names are Dave, but neither have lived in ABQ, so no, your Dave Stout is not related to me as far as I know.
 

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
595
The type of sleeper car passenger that I am is the 'visit family once a year' type. I take Greyhound from Ohio to Chicago. Then catch the Friday departure Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited and arrive in Tucson Sunday evening. I love taking the train and usually spend the entire time on the train staring out the windows loving the scenery. Once my family visit is over I usually am in a rush to get home so I fly back. I already have a trip planned for this fall and I am hoping that full dining service will be restored by then.
Highly unlikely, I'm sorry to say.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,305
Location
Gator Country Florida
the person sitting next to me in coach was a man who had just come from work as a maintenance man and who was a smoker. I was very uncomfortable sitting next to him and dreaded looking forward to attempting to sleep next to him
Penny, you are not the only one that would not want to sit next to someone like that. I'm a man and I do not enjoy riding with someone who smells of old sweat or old tobacco ... let alone both of them at the same time! I don't blame you for seeking another seat in the least.

Planes get you long distances fast, Trains on the other hand for me, are all part of a getaway to be enjoyed.
When I have mentioned taking the train to some I know they admit they never thought of taking one. Not all people take the plane to get there fast. Many take it because they don't want to drive. Seems they never even think of taking the train because the train does not advertise 😥
 

Exvalley

Service Attendant
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174
I am mostly a business traveler. The Lake Shore Limited gets me into Chicago refreshed and ready to go for afternoon meetings. My company pays for first class air travel. A roomette is usually pretty close in price.
 

joelkfla

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
197
I'm sure that's the case, but I have yet to notice a mobility challenged passenger ride alone in those rooms. I once saw one elderly lady with a walker struggle up/down the stairs--the SCA and the Conductor managed to swap this lady into a downstairs roomette, but that's the only thing I noticed.
Well, I've only managed to make 2 trips so far (not counting VIA Canadian.) :)
 

gaspeamtrak

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 20, 2006
Messages
335
Location
Ontario, Canada
When I was younger and my parents were paying it was usually by coach but when I started working at 17 and making "money" I always take a sleeper if they are not sold out !!! Even on day trips I try and go "Business Class" on Via or on Amtrak... It's worth every penny :):):)
 

Devil's Advocate

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Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,615
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Texas
I would add "women traveling alone" (who do not want to sleep next to a stranger) to the list.
I agree with the concern but disagree with the implication that it's a gender specific issue. I don't want a smelly, touchy, or neurotic seatmate regardless of whatever hardware may be involved. I've sat next to women on flights who acted normal on boarding only to become aggressive and confrontational when intoxicated. Even if everyone is clean, quiet, and acting on their best behavior sleeping with a random stranger in Amtrak's undivided loveseat contraption creates a potential minefield for mistakes and misunderstandings. Imagine risking your livelihood because you unconsciously rolled the wrong way in the middle of the night without so much as an armrest to guide you. Amtrak's long haul coach seating needs a long overdue revamp to reflect changing social norms and legal considerations.
 

Shortline

Conductor
Joined
Mar 13, 2011
Messages
1,103
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All over the United States
I'm in the business traveler category. Not afraid to fly, I'm Platinum on American, and A List Preferred with Companion Pass on Southwest. I fly a lot. I just sometimes justify the train. Now that I'm living in Birmingham, I often fly to NYC, PHL, or WAS, then train back. Sometimes I train both ways, but that usually means leaving on a Sunday, or returning on a Saturday. That's my time.....So I avoid that usually.

Most of my trips now, are on the Crescent, in the 20 hour range. So I tend to bring my own dinner on board (sandwich, cheese/crackers/wine, etc) and make do with breakfast on board. I have now had all the meals. I'll pass, when I can. The benefit for me, is leaving say, Washington at 6 PM, and being in Birmingham by noon the next day, rather than spend another overnight, or land late the same night.

I also sometimes go out West, to LA. Again, usually fly one way, and train the other. Those trips I justify by using the time to work on projects.

But it's getting harder to justify. The service just isn't there. I simply want comfortable, clean, consistent, timely service. Where is that new bedding we heard so much about? The current blankets and pillows are terrible. Too often, we're either insanely late, or cancelled all together. Was woken up at 0630 last month, on the Capitol, with the announcement that we were very late, and would terminate in PGH, and everyone off, and onto a bus. Not entirely sure why they felt they had to wake the whole train up at 630, to tell us we had to get off in 2-3 hours, but ok. But busses "were ordered but didn't know when they would arrive-May not make the connection to the Crescent. Forget it. I Ubered to the Airport, and flew back home. And the food...well, that's been beat to death.

And the pricing, seems to be modeled for the land cruise market. I honestly have a hard time justifying the train, a lot of times. In a week or so, I need to be in Scranton. I can fly, in 4 hours, first class for $618. The train, to Philadelphia, is $820, and I'm still 2 hours dive away. Just going to have to fly. Even roomettes, tend to be hundreds more, than the same trip in first class by air. Honestly, it's like Heroin. I know it's bad for me (time wise, and money wise) and I know it's going to be disappointing. But I still do it. 6-10 trips a year. Plus, the occasional Acela trip between NYC and WAS (those, actually make sense to me). But the long distance trains, are just getting really hard to justify anymore. But I do. Not even sure why anymore!

Amtrak-There is a market for business travelers. But most of us, are going to need something a little more competitive from you!
 
Last edited:

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
267
Location
Michigan
I almost forgot to add! No weight restrictions! I hauled at least 200 lbs of kit with me to Reno and back and nobody said a word.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,288
Travel by sleeper... especially on the Zephyr... was a land cruise like no other. With the tracks below lulling one to sleep at night... to the interesting conversations in the sightseer lounge... and buoyant conversation while eating 'railroad french toast' in the dining car... those were days of wonder!

But now the sleeper coach is dirty and falling apart, frequently perspiring as the heaters are in full throttle with no window to open for air making sleep difficult... surly attendant who's griping about his job, and those carcinogenic unsatisfying tiny meals of fat, sodium, and highly processed synthetic food product... a most unpleasant way to travel... only carryover is the high cost of the fare!
Other than the fire, how was your day, Mrs. Oleary?
 

como

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
210
Another category is convenience. When my mom's health started to fail I used to take several round trips a year between Ottumwa and Denver. I could fly nonstop to Denver from where I live in Missouri, but I often would travel on short notice. The 2.5 hour drive to Ottumwa followed by a 12 hour trip meant that I could leave home at 3 p.m. arrive in Denver early the next morning. A similar schedule on the return trip. Cheaper than flying and more relaxing than driving. I was surprised at the number of people boarding across Iowa and Nebraska to go to Denver in both coach and sleeper. My wife and I now do the trip once or twice a year. Coach one way and sleeper the other.
 
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