First time on Amtrak

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by tulane09, Jan 1, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. tulane09

    tulane09 Silver Member

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    Anyone have any dos and don'ts? Taking a Valentine's Day trip from DC to NYC with the fiance. Was able to get a saver award there ($49/person), used 8,000 UR for the return (getting 3.6cents/point). We're not checking baggage. How is the wifi?
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Wifi is better now than it used to be but still not spectacular. More or less the same as gogo in-flight in terms of the technology and the bandwidth.

    In DC the boarding can be a bit crazy, with long lines in the station until they open the doors and let you on to the platform to get to the train. In NYPenn I never feel like the lines are as bad and if you start on the lower level of the terminal (one flight down under the big board) you can usually skip much of the line as soon as the track number posts.
     
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  3. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

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    All of this. At Union Station it really pays to get there early (depending on the particular train you take--it's not a usually big deal if you're leaving in the early morning). I ended up arriving at the station 25 minutes before a WAS-WIL run last month (departure at 14:00) and found myself at the end of a line made up of several hundred of my closest friends. I considered myself very fortunate to find an open inside seat when I finally got to a car.
     
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  4. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    The Wifi works okay but not great. I'll second Wandering Aramean's remarks there.

    The overhead space on the Amfleet equipment tends to be a little smaller than on most aircraft, so if your carry-on bag is the absolute largest that will fit on a 737 you might have difficulty fitting it overhead. There are luggage racks at the end of each coach but they fill up quickly... yet another reason to get to the station early.

    You're welcome to bring your own food and beverages on board but not alcohol. If you intend to purchase anything from the Cafe car you can usually expect a bit of a line, but be patient... we go as fast as we can back there! I also recommend people carry at least some cash as sometimes the credit card machine goes down and we can only take cash.

    If you forget your e-ticket for any reason... don't fret. You can get a reprint in the station from an agent or a quik-trak machine and if the lines at either of those are too long... just have your photo ID ready on board. The conductors can look up your reservation by name in their ticketing devices. This is something that isn't readily published but is a nice thing to know for stress relief in the event you can't print it, don't have the app, don't have time at the station, etc.

    Go explore on the train! Once you leave the station and your ticket has been collected, at least take a few minutes to walk up and down the train and check out the Cafe, even if you don't want to buy something. One of the benefits to taking the train is not having a seatbelt light... so take advantage of that! Hope you have a great trip and let us know how it goes.
     
  5. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    One thing you should know is that there's a master switch in the middle of each car that controls the electricity supply to seat-side outlets. Sometimes that switch gets kicked to "off" by an unknowing passenger. If you don't have power, ask the conductor to check that switch.

    Internet is good enough for streaming music in my experience.

    Enjoy the ride!
     
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  6. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    One more thing... Don't do what this passenger did. ;-)

    image-746943724.jpg
     
  7. DCAview
    Original Member

    DCAview Silver Member

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    In all my years of Amtrak trips up and down the corridor, I never knew this -- and it's great to know!
     
  8. tulane09

    tulane09 Silver Member

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    Leaving tomorrow, assuming no weather cancellations. Train at 9:20, figure I'll metro in and get there about 8ish. Expecting lines from all of today's cancellations.
     
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  9. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Get there early! Hope it all goes well.
     
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