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Will dining cars resume 12/15/20?/Flexible dining extended to May 2021?

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LinPhil

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
24
I have a trip booked on the Southwest Chief in March 2021, from Chicago to Flagstaff. Now that Traditional Dining is suspended until May 21, should I consider traveling later? I booked three roomettes for my family, $1800+ one way. I feel like it would be more worth it to wait, it just doesn't seem worth it any more. Should I still go? Maybe there's hope it will return earlier?
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
701
Unfortunately, there's no reason to hope it will return earlier, even if it could. The only thing that could matter is if the highers-up come to believe that flex dining is eating into sales of bedrooms and roomettes. Contact Amtrak to confirm that you will be paying a premium for sub-premium accommodations, and express your displeasure. Unlikely to matter, of course, but maybe if they heard this message repeatedly...
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
21,374
Location
Austin Texas
I have a trip booked on the Southwest Chief in March 2021, from Chicago to Flagstaff. Now that Traditional Dining is suspended until May 21, should I consider traveling later? I booked three roomettes for my family, $1800+ one way. I feel like it would be more worth it to wait, it just doesn't seem worth it any more. Should I still go? Maybe there's hope it will return earlier?
I'd reschedule while you can before the Fares go Up, Up and Away!
 

Sidney

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
150
I don't think traditional dining will ever return. The sleeper fares have not come down at all since flex dining was implemented. In many cases they have risen. I'm not a fan of the current situation,but it doesn't deter me from riding. If anything,fares will continue to rise as this thrice weekly schedule continues.

I wouldn't cancel. It's still a great train ride. A sleeper is one of the safest places to travel. I've done a few cross country trips in the past six months and asides from the food,I have had no problems.
 

tgstubbs1

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
384
I don't know if your stop in Galesburg will be long enough to hop off and grab something but when you stop in Trinidad you might look out the window and see if there are any vendors.

I was able to find something in ABQ about a block from the station.
 

Sidney

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
150
Galesburg is a brief smoke stop and there is nothing close to the station. There is enough time to leave the Albuquerque platform. There is a food stand close by. I ve used it several times. Prices are about half of what you pay on board.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
9
I don't know if your stop in Galesburg will be long enough to hop off and grab something but when you stop in Trinidad you might look out the window and see if there are any vendors.

I was able to find something in ABQ about a block from the station.
I know the station in Galesgurg. You will not have time to get of and grab something to eat.
 

Bostonjetset

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
21
Location
Boston suburbs
I have a trip booked on the Southwest Chief in March 2021, from Chicago to Flagstaff. Now that Traditional Dining is suspended until May 21, should I consider traveling later? I booked three roomettes for my family, $1800+ one way. I feel like it would be more worth it to wait, it just doesn't seem worth it any more. Should I still go? Maybe there's hope it will return earlier?
I think you should enjoy your trip and just make the best of the flexible dining. Who knows when traditional dining will return...also, the actual value of the better food is marginal from a true monetary standpoint. It is more pleasant for sure but IMO not worth rescheduling an entire vacation around.
 

tgstubbs1

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
384
I know the station in Galesgurg. You will not have time to get of and grab something to eat.
I guess I was there for a longer layover once and I recall a bar and grill place about a block from the station. I had a nice pint there.
 

AmtrakFlyer

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
112
Galesburg is staffed by 2 agents that are great. You could order Uber eats or some delivery service. Have it sent to the station. I’m sure they don’t condone it but at the same time I’m sure they’d accept your order and put it on the electric bag cart they drive the baggage out on. Not guaranteed but I’m confident you’d get connected with your food.

Place the order with your name, train and room number maybe your cell phone number. It’s not the agents job to help you out per se but Amtraks lack of edible healthy food is the driver of this decision, not you.

My hunch is this will work at any small medium size station. I’ll be trying it on our next trips.
 

OBS

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
1,623
Location
Long Island, NY
Galesburg is staffed by 2 agents that are great. You could order Uber eats or some delivery service. Have it sent to the station. I’m sure they don’t condone it but at the same time I’m sure they’d accept your order and put it on the electric bag cart they drive the baggage out on. Not guaranteed but I’m confident you’d get connected with your food.

Place the order with your name, train and room number maybe your cell phone number. It’s not the agents job to help you out per se but Amtraks lack of edible healthy food is the driver of this decision, not you.

My hunch is this will work at any small medium size station. I’ll be trying it on our next trips.
I would only do this if my expectations were set such that it may not be successful. I can imagine many agents not wanting to be responsible for something like this....
 

tgstubbs1

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
384
Amtrak has great people.

But it looks like the future of dining service will look like this:

20201203_085357~2.jpg
Galesburg is staffed by 2 agents that are great. You could order Uber eats or some delivery service. Have it sent to the station. I’m sure they don’t condone it but at the same time I’m sure they’d accept your order and put it on the electric bag cart they drive the baggage out on. Not guaranteed but I’m confident you’d get connected with your food.

Place the order with your name, train and room number maybe your cell phone number. It’s not the agents job to help you out per se but Amtraks lack of edible healthy food is the driver of this decision, not you.

My hunch is this will work at any small medium size station. I’ll be trying it on our next trips.
 

AmtrakFlyer

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
112
I wouldn’t say delivery agent at all. Accept the order and place it to the side for you to find from him/her. Most agents and Amtrak employees will and do go the extra mile. It’s the 20 percent that give the other 80 percent the bad wrap.

Again the true culprit here is Amtrak management. At small and medium size stations agents for the most don’t check bags and in some cases don’t even sell tickets anymore. If agents complain about it maybe it will get back to corporate give it one more reason for meal service to improve onboard.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
9
One of the other problems at Galesburg is that you have to cross the tracks from the station to board the train. That would make it harder for getting back on the train, or having a agent to hand you something to eat. But if anyone can get it done '' well done ''. I hope it works out.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
Honestly, delivering meals to the trains at the stations and having customers pick them up would work great if the trains ran on time which they don't.

If the schedule was reliable, I'd obviously order delivery from my favorite restaurants at places like Denver Union Station. So would many people. But if you have no idea when you'll actually arrive in Denver, it does not work.
 

OlympianHiawatha

Conductor
Joined
Feb 7, 2008
Messages
4,299
Location
Norman, OK
I have a trip booked on the Southwest Chief in March 2021, from Chicago to Flagstaff. Now that Traditional Dining is suspended until May 21, should I consider traveling later? I booked three roomettes for my family, $1800+ one way. I feel like it would be more worth it to wait, it just doesn't seem worth it any more. Should I still go? Maybe there's hope it will return earlier?
I would make the sensible decision and save a lot of money by rebooking on an airline to perhaps PHX and grabbing a rent car there.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
760
C'mon, it's a little too cold this time of year for that outdoor dining and swimming on top of the car; I'd rather retire to my sleeping car bedroom and enjoy the built-in fireplace.
Not a bad idea! But if I have to chop my own wood, wouldn't my axe be considered a lethal weapon?
 

lordsigma

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,013
The May date will be the test - if the vaccine comes out and demand begins to improve and assuming some return to daily service occurs at that time - that would probably be the most convenient time to bring back the meal service. It’s still possible it will come back it’s all still listed on the website and they keep extending a date rather than just saying indefinitely - now if they all of the sudden just erased any mention of it then good luck.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,313
The problem of determining who has been vaccinated needs an almost fool prof way to restore dinning room confidence on trains and elsewhere. That as well as any multi person event. One idea that would never be accepted is a vaccination card with your picture taking the shot(s). That would certainly ease my mind.
 

lordsigma

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,013
It should be noted and as has been stated before - the flexible dining on the western trains is not the only cut Amtrak has made to food and beverage. Acela first dining has been cut and replaced with a boxed snack and the cafe menus have also seen cuts - basically all the fresh stuff like salads and sandwiches have been cut. What’s left is the microwaveable stuff and sweet stuff. It appears the only train that still has a full cafe car menu is, surprise, the Auto Train.
 
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