• Flexible dining for sleeping car passengers

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by jonnhrr
 
Planning a trip from Dallas to Boston in April and I was wondering how the "Flexible Dining" works now under COVID for sleeping car passengers. From what I have read it implies that you don't eat in the dining car anymore, are meals brought to you by the attendant for you to consume in your room? This is our first trip in a couple of years.

Jon
  by J.D. Lang
 
I took a trip last July from NYP to Chicago on the LSL and then on the Cardinal from Chicago back to NYP in a sleeper on both trains. On the LSL you could eat in the VII diner or take your meal back to your room. There were not many people in the sleepers and they had every other table blocked off for social distancing so I choose to take in my first experience in the beautiful VII diner. On the Cardinal they have the dinette light car and you could not sit in there. Your car attendant would give you a menu, take your order, then bring you the food.

I haven't been on any superliner trains since Covid-19 but I've watched a couple of youtube videos of being on the SW Chief and those diners where closed with your attendant taking the order and bringing the meal to your room.
  by jonnhrr
 
OK thanks. Will be interesting to see how they handle it on the Texas Eagle.

Jon
  by Morning Zephyr
 
In September, I had a similar experience to JD Lang. On the Cardinal, sleeper passengers were confined to our rooms and not allowed to sit in the Amcafe. (As you know, the Cardinal has no proper lounge at all.) Not only do passengers have to eat all their meals in their rooms, they basically have to stay in the rooms the whole time. By contrast, on the Empire Builder and on the Lake Shore Limited, sleeper passengers could eat meals in the diner, properly distanced. And the Empire Builder has a real lounge, which passengers can occupy, while the Lake Shore does not.
I have no idea why people are not allowed to use the tables on the Cardinal under the same conditions as the Lake Shore.
  by urr304
 
Why are not coach passengers giving a choice of dinners too? Of course, they would pay as they ordered and not included with their ticket as sleeping car passengers.

Just a contrast in costs.
Posted Amtrak menu shows steak dinner:
THE AMTRAK SIGNATURE STEAK* 25.00
Grilled to order, USDA Choice Black Angus flat iron steak with optional red wine
sauce. Served with baked potato, sour cream and vegetables. (750 cal.) Enjoy
this selection with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Compared to PRR diner steak dinner of 1932 for $2 [$36.95 in 2021] not counting customary 15% tip which now I guess 18% is expected no matter how the service was.
  by jp1822
 
From a trip in October involving the following:

1) Lake Shore Limited - one could eat and occupy the V2 Sleeper Lounge as long as social distancing was obeyed. Beautiful car, no need to eat in room. Nicey airy, roomy, and good way to see the passing scenry.

2) Empire Builder - in both directions, people could occupy the Sightseer Lounge and sleeper car passengers were accommodated in the diner - social distanced.

3) Capitol Limited - eastbound I was forced to have my dinner in my bedroom. This was VERY awkward and a bit annoying when trying to juggle food and drink on a little fold out tray......the drink ended up on the floor. They brought dinner to all passengers in brown bags. In the morning, I could have an extended breakfast/brunch in the Cross Country Cafe (Sleeper Lounge - also doubling as the food service car for coach passengers). As long as I was "eating" I could stay in the CCC (or Sleeper Lounge), but if not eating they were pretty adamant that I return to my bedroom (unlike the Lake Shore, but similar to how the diner would work on a Superliner train.

In October (first of the month and end of the month) when I was travelling - sleepers on the Builder were 80% full (Seattle and Portland - one sleeper only). Capitol Limited - sleeper was overbooked and it was just ONE sleeper. Lake Shore Limited was about 70% full.
  by Greg Moore
 
urr304 wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:09 pm Why are not coach passengers giving a choice of dinners too? Of course, they would pay as they ordered and not included with their ticket as sleeping car passengers.

Just a contrast in costs.
Posted Amtrak menu shows steak dinner:
THE AMTRAK SIGNATURE STEAK* 25.00
Grilled to order, USDA Choice Black Angus flat iron steak with optional red wine
sauce. Served with baked potato, sour cream and vegetables. (750 cal.) Enjoy
this selection with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Compared to PRR diner steak dinner of 1932 for $2 [$36.95 in 2021] not counting customary 15% tip which now I guess 18% is expected no matter how the service was.
I wrote to Amtrak about this when they announced the "improved" dining on the LSL that didn't allow coach passengers to purchase a meal in the diner. They never responded to that comment.

The lack of dining car access on the LSL (and now I think other trains) has impacted my travel plans. I'm more likely to fly or drive some of my trips because of this. I still find it insulting to disallow coach passengers from being able to buy a decent meal on board.
  by Arborwayfan
 
All the food options should be available to everyone.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Problem there, Prof. Martens, is that they know exactly how many Sleeper passengers they have during any meal period and they are "obliged" to offer a complimentary meal to. They don't know how many Coach passengers would choose to purchase such.
  by eolesen
 
Prof. Norman is probably right about provisioning.

I suspect it is also a little bit about product differentiation... If you want diner service, pay the sleeper fare. When I fly coach on an airline, I can't order the first class meal...

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  by Arborwayfan
 
So sell the meals ahead of time, with the tickets. Plenty of people spring for a nice meal who can't or won't pay for a sleeper, including people who are taking a long daylight trip. I have eaten more dining car meals as a coach passenger than as a sleeper passenger, and there always seemed to be a fair number of coach passengers in there for any given meal. It's not as big a deal for me with flexible dining (no one's getting the dining-car atmosphere or the grilled burger), but it still seems wrong to say that to get a $20 lunch you have to have a several-hundred-dollar bed.
  by Alphaboi
 
IIRC when Flex-dinning was first introduced Amtrak said eventually coach passengers would be able to order meals in advance.

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