• What is business class?

  • 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 Tadman
 
Ignoring for a moment the direct comparison to airlines (give it a day or so, then lets do just that) what do you expect for seated coach premium travel? There is a lot of discontent with the Amtrak offering, primarily because the offerings are "anti-offerings" as one member put it.

Here's my list:
1. Seamless travel, IE better parking spots in small towns, better luggage handling at transfers, priority boarding, priority dining, at-seat dining
2. Better at-station amenities: a quieter waiting room in middle-large cities with coffee and donuts, wifi, etc... and some counters to sit at with laptop. Luggage check.
3. Amenities aboard - the Surfliner business refreshments is a nice touch, certainly better than the Detroit line "you get one softdrink or water" bs. Dining at seat, drink service at-seat.
4. Quiet. I love kids, just not your kids. I loved partying in college, but I don't want a college party. I love having a few beers with my neighbors, but not with your neighbors.
5. Very good wifi. A separate feed from the current coach "we pretend to care" system.
6. An attendant. The cafe car attendant doesn't count. He or she is usually behind the counter or on a meal break.
  by SouthernRailway
 
I think of it airline-style: a bigger seat and free drinks.
  by Tadman
 
Right, most of us do, but use your imagination. If airlines had no premium service, what would you want from railroad premium seated coach day train service?

Does it have to be solely-aboard? I don't think it does, and in fact your first impression is in the parking lot, then the station. Paying double and then walking from the back of Staples Mills or parking around the corner in a crummy area near Detroit station is not a good impression.
  by SouthernRailway
 
OK, (1) quiet plus (2) a bigger seat and (3) refreshments, preferably alcoholic.

Acela First Class has (2) and (3).

Long-distance trains in a sleeping car have (1) and (2).

I don't care about station lounges (perhaps because I haven't been affected by a delay in boarding a train at a large station).
  by gprimr1
 
1.) A power outlet at my seat, not a strip on the wall.

2.) Extra leg room

3.) A table big enough for a laptop to sit comfortably.

4.) Working WiFi

5.) Free sodas and water (more than 1)

6.) Priority boarding
  by Westernstar1
 
Westernstar1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:52 pm I do think priority boarding, at-seat dining, and a significant upgrade in amenities should be associate with all Amtrak Business Class travel. Definitely better food. How about a dedicated bar with adult beverages and soft drinks, with hors d'oeuvres or even a cheese and cracker plate, something which the Starlight used to offer but later decided was too expensive . Reading some reports and critiques from BC passengers, they still complain of surly BC car attendants, attendants not there when you need them, and nearby filthy bathrooms.

I believe that, on an average, passengers pay $30 to $40 more for Business Class, compared to regular coach. On the Acela, think it could be $100 or more. What "extras" do you get for the increased fare? Is that bottle of water, food coupon, or pillow worth the extra cost (I'll bet it isn't even a "My Pillow" guy pillow :wink: ).

I've taken BC on the Cascades, and BC on other commuter trains, such as the Acela or Pacific Surfliner trains, seem to be popular. BC on the Cascade trains is quite enjoyable.

I've also wondered, however, about Business Class on Long Distance trains. It seem to be fairly popular on the Coast Starlight for passengers traveling from Portland to Seattle. But, do they book BC for the entire route? It seems like the commuter or corridor trains are best suited for BC. I want a sleeper for the long haul, not BC.

WS
Last edited by Westernstar1 on Tue May 26, 2020 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by bdawe
 
Priority boarding is such a bad airline-practice to import to trains. Trains have multiple doors, and much more luggage space. No need to plump dwell times
Westernstar1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:53 pm
Westernstar1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:52 pm I do think priority boarding, at-seat dining, and a significant upgrade in amenities should be associate with all Amtrak Business Class travel. Definitely better food. How about a dedicated bar with adult beverages and soft drinks, with hors d'oeuvres or even a cheese and cracker plate, something which the Starlight used to offer but later decided was too expensive . Reading some reports and critiques from BC passengers, they still complain of surly BC car attendants, attendants not there when you need them, and nearby filthy bathrooms.

I believe that, on an average, passengers pay $30 to $40 more for Business Class, compared to regular coach. On the Acela, think it could be $100 or more. What "extras" do you get for the increased fare? Is that bottle of water, food coupon, or pillow worth the extra cost (I'll bet it isn't even a "My Pillow" guy pillow :wink: ).

I've taken BC on the Cascades, and BC on other commuter trains, such as the Acela or Pacific Surfliner trains, seem to be popular. BC on the Cascade trains is quite enjoyable.

I've also wondered, however, about Business Class on Long Distance trains. It seem to be fairly popular on the Coast Starlight for passenger traveling from Portland to Seattle. But, do they book BC for the entire route? It seems like the commuter or corridor trains are best suited for BC. I want a sleeper for the long haul, not BC.

WS
  by photobug56
 
On Acela, you have either Business Class or First Class. No 'coach'.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Business class...

Bigger seat, more room, free drinks of any type... Lounge access... USB chargers & 120v plugs in seat..

Better wifi? Okay, slap repeaters along the train at 5GHz, do 2.4GHz for customers, and slap connecting micro-cell towers along the rails. ALL THE RAILS. I don't consider that a business class service when it's all train long (as advertised).

I can't see what trains can improve on.
  by Tadman
 
bdawe wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 5:38 pm Priority boarding is such a bad airline-practice to import to trains. Trains have multiple doors, and much more luggage space. No need to plump dwell times
Amtrak has not figured that out yet. Long train? Open two doors. It's aggravating as heck and unsafe when icy or snowy conditions are present and many are boarding with luggage.

I'd pay for business class to alleviate that by boarding first. Of course, I'd pay just for a competent manager to kick some a** and get rid of half the idiotic practices they use.
  by John_Perkowski
 
gprimr1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:29 pm 1.) A power outlet at my seat, not a strip on the wall.
2.) Extra leg room
3.) A table big enough for a laptop to sit comfortably.
4.) Working WiFi
5.) Free sodas and water (more than 1)
6.) Priority boarding
Add to 5) Beer, wine, or liquor.

Now, can you see Pullman parlor car service, plus WiFi... 😉
  by RRspatch
 
photobug56 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 7:21 pm On Acela, you have either Business Class or First Class. No 'coach'.
No, the ACELA trains have first class cars with 2x1 seating and coach class cars with 2x2 seating that have been renamed by Amtrak as "Business Class". This was done for the sole purpose of charging more for the seat than they could if it was called a "coach" seat. Instead of playing name games Amtrak should just call it ACELA coach class and charge an ACELA or "High Speed" supplement. Having ridden the ACELA in "Business Class" I didn't find it that much different than coach class on any other train other than the fact that seat moved much faster.

Now on the long distance trains Amtrak two types of "Business Class" cars. Some of these cars have 2x1 seating in what were at one time First Class Amclub cars. Other business class cars have 2x2 seating in a lesser density seating. Of course this inconsistency is something Amtrak is unfortunately very good at. Outside the NEC on eastern long distance trains business class cars should be set up in a 2x1 seating layout. Anything less and you're setting in the same coach seat that the rest of the passengers are in. This long distance business class car could be a split coach/business class car with a divider in the middle as is done in Europe or one end of a food service car as is done with the former Amclub cars.

BTW - speaking of the former Amclub cars, Amtrak discontinued Amclub service prior to ACELA in order to drive First Class passengers to the higher priced ACELA trains. I really think there should be some type of First Class service on the Northeast Regional trains. First Class would be at your seat meal service while Business Class would be a wider seat with maybe juice and coffee self serve.
  by eolesen
 
Business class should be about productivity and comfort.

Terminal Services:
* Hassle-free check-in and boarding (minimizing time from curb to seat)
* Walled off lounge area to wait during on transfers or delays with food & beverages available at all hours

Onboard Services:
* Fully adjustable power seat (leg rest, reclining back at a minimum)
* Decent size work surface able to hold a laptop *and* a snack/beverage
* 110V and USB Power easily reachable
* Adjustable and dimmable task light
* Somewhere to tuck away a purse, backpack or briefcase out of view
* Modest degree of privacy from others, e.g. half-walls or adjustable partitions
* In-seat service for drinks and/or meals

The premium for this should be worth 25-50% above a coach ticket.
  by Greg Moore
 
And of course, for a short-while, you had business class on LD trains like the Crescent (well worth the extra cost for an overnight when I didn't want to spring for a sleeper).

But yeah, I'd like to see something consistent.

And then Empire Service trains where you have Business class, but no cafe service on many trains. I think at one point they stocked a few free sodas, but you had to ask for it. I don't think they do that any more.

I'll tell you the one thing I'd love in business class (shows my age): a decent regional newspaper.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Greg Moore wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 5:17 pm I'll tell you the one thing I'd love in business class (shows my age): a decent regional newspaper.
That's one deal Amtrak could do with the Acela: a locked-down Kindle in every seat, pre-loaded with the latest Washington Post, NY Times, Philly Inquirer, and Boston Globe (aka the major regional newspapers along the route).

Given it's $60/device (cheap, assuming Amazon gets to throw ads on the screen, it's locked down to certain Wifi hotspots Amtrak controls, Amazon gets the opportunity to sell it to you on board via the device, and Amtrak swaps them out every week to charge), it would be a decent add-on to Business class. Newspaper is delivered digitally, there's no trash (except what's written), and customers don't feel guilty about leaving a device behind because it's not theirs.

(I could say "Kindle Fire" but that's an LCD screen, vs eInk which lasts forever on a charge, thus swapping 'em out once a week.)