First of all, why did I decide to take Amtrak, I love trains and really hadn’t been on one since I was a kid… admit-tingly things have changed.
So what was my actual experience like?
We might as well start with Baggage Check. I arrived roughly an hour before my train was set to leave. Turns out they are like the airlines you need to check your bag early. I was in the middle of policy change, they took my bag, but warned me next time to make sure I did at least 90 minutes before departure. Turns out you can check your bag a day early for a fee.
I traveled Coach and on this route there was an optional First Class, which includes a Roomette and all your food is included. Including the option to wait in The First Class Lounge where snacks and drinks are FREE.
I went Coach so I had to wait until I was called. Because of track issues my train would leave an hour late.
Once I was called, an Amtrak employee escorted us to the gate and we waited until the 1st Class passengers boarded before us. You do you get a seat assignment as you board the train this is where you have to sit until the train pulls out, and when it arrives at your Final Destination. Otherwise you can get up and move around.
I just have to say something about Amtrak that you don’t even get with airlines and that is ROOM. So you’re limited to the Coach car, the Observation Car and it’s the Cafe for the most part. But if you want to walk around you can. Besides you get massive leg room for someone like me who is over 6 feet tall, it was wonderful.
Unless your traveling First Class, Food is an issue, not as bad as Greyhound, but you do need to know that these days most trains only have a Cafe. Meaning limited selection, but you can get a pizza, it’s frozen until they pop it into the microwave. You can check Amtrak’s website for more details.
But I say bring your own food, especially things to snack on. I suggest smaller bags vs the bigger ones… less of a mess. Also anything that does not need a fridge. But there are tables available and besides you do get a nice view.
You really need to bring water at least a liter per day. They have places you can get water, but they weren’t working on both legs of my journey.
Washing Your Hands, the Restrooms are decent and you can wash your hands. But frankly I didn’t feel clean, Hand Sanitizer was a must for me. Wet Wipes also help, if you feel a bit grimy.
Remember unless Amtrak states you have Wifi you don’t. Also getting a cellphone signal can be spotty at best. When your in a city or a town, no issue. But in rural areas or mountains nothing. There was one part of my journey that I didn’t have a cellphone signal for 6 hours.
You need to bring your own entertainment that doesn’t need an internet connection. My Laptop really helped me, and there are power sockets so electricity is no issue.
You get very good air circulation. Some actually got cold, meanwhile I was fine.
The crew was friendly, I saw some amazing sites, really enjoyed the view.
Special Mention: As we were running some 3 1/2 hours late, Amtrak doesn’t get priority. Freight service goes 1st. They did hand out boxes of small packages of snacks.
I did find out what would happen if someone got into trouble on the train. They get kicked off and arrested, depending on what they did they may or may not be allowed back on. Also the train doesn’t wait.
So getting into trouble is really not a good thing.
Overall I would not hesitate to use Amtrak again. I really enjoyed my trip, want to do others once this pandemic is over.