We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Sleeping on Amtrak

Arlington, Texas
Level Contributor
23 posts
33 reviews
Save Topic
Sleeping on Amtrak

I'm looking at a solo trip driving around British Columbia for a week or so in September. Rather than simply flying into and out of Seattle (a lot cheaper than Vancouver), I've considered heading up via a mix of plane and rail, such as fly to SF and take the train to Seattle. Other forums have been helpful on describing route options, but I'm curious about sleeping options.

As an example, I could go from Fort Worth to Seattle in 4 days for $350 if I only reserve a coach seat, but if I want a coachette for overnight legs, I might well spend more than $1000 just on those, which is a budget breaker (just me so the de-facto single suppliment is in play).

Are the coach seats equivalent to an airplane seat, and as hard to sleep in?

MaineUSA
Level Contributor
851 posts
132 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

On the superliner trains which I think both of your trips are the coach seats do have a leg and foot rest and can be reclined. This May due to a delayed train we we had to ride in coach from Chicago to Minot ND till we could get back into a roomette. The seat was comfortable enough during the daytime but I didn't sleep that well that evening. In addition you may be subjected to crying babies and other assorted noises. To spend four days under such conditions would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in my opinion. I think Shallow Shoals put it better in a recent post where he noted that if you're 18 years old one might be able to put up with it - otherwise find a roomette or fly.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
17,258 posts
119 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

Yes, I'm well on my way past 18. Thanks a lot BPh. Baron: on the Coast Starlight northbound out of SF/EMY, you leave Emeryville around midnight and wake up circumventing Mt. Shasta (7:am) Mid-day is spent traversing the Cascade mountain range (Chemult to Eugene), the Willamete Valley to Portland and north to the Puget Sound. You're right about the upgrade charge to a roomette. You pay one accommodation charge over and above the chaircar transportation charge whether you are one or two people. To be honest with you, I'd suggest taking the chair car of that one short night. The seats are large; about the size of first class airline seats but with more leg-room and leg rests. The drawback, as BluePhantom notes, is that you are in a car with 40 other people trying to sleep: It's like a red-eye flight. Somebody is going to snore. However, once the dawn dawns you have a whole day of beautiful scenery, the lounge car (so-so bloody mary's), the dining car and and experience you can't get driving through or flying over. I'm a bit confused as to your pricing a trip from Texas to Seattle. Are you talking about a combo of The Texas Eagle/ Sunset Limited and the Coast Starlight? That's too many nights on the train for chair-car. You should opt for a roomette for that long of a trip. The roomette charge allows includes meals in the dining car. You also have a communal shower in each sleeper car. The Texas Eagle/Sunset spends a whole day meandering through Texas so it's a long journey. The additional perk for sleeping car passengers on the Coast Starlight (LA to Seattle) is the first class Parlour [sic] car. PS from Seattle you can take a train or Amtrak bus to Vancouver.

Arlington, Texas
Level Contributor
23 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

I was trying different options from going the entire length of the trip by train to flights to an intermediate location and pick up the train from there. Amtrak's website did send me to Illinois first and then head west from there if I wanted to take the train from Fort Worth all the way to Seattle. Since I'm more interested in Amtrak as something different to try rather than the basis of the trip, I suspect that flying to California and taking a relatively short leg is a better option for my purposes.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
17,258 posts
119 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

Nah! You'd catch the Texas Eagle on a Tues, Thurs, Sat in Fort Worth at 1:25pm heading to LA. The train on those days has through cars which hook up to the Sunset Limited in San Antonio. You sleep in the car while the two train sets are bumped together and arrive in LA the next day. The Amtrak computer was either direct routing you to your final destination of Seattle which puts you through Chicago or you wanted to leave heading west on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun: days that there isn't a through train. The trip through Chicago and over the upper Great Plains on the Empire Builder is shorter but not an efficient route for sightseeing on the west coast. If you just want to try the train then fly into LAX and take the fly-away bus to Union Station (also called LAX but for trains) Take the Coast Starlight all the way to Seattle. Get a roomette for this 2 day journey. Or do as you mentioned and fly in to SFO and take the one day trip chair-car on the Coast Starlight from SF/Emeryville to Seattle. Go to amtrak.com and download the Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited and Coast Starlight schedules. The connection(s) from Seatttle to Vancouver BC are noted on the Coast Starlight schedule.

Oostburg, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
270 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

Another option to break up your trip is to take Amtrak one way, and then fly back (or vice versa). I took Amtrak Coach on the SEA -->> Chicago Empire Builder route recently and I enjoyed it.

That's 2 nights sleeping in coach, but I didn't mind it. One important aspect is the quality of other passengers on your coach. In late September there should be less kids. I try to travel Tu-Fr because I believe the load is lighter then. I had an older, grouchier conductor who did an excellent job of maintaining order in the Coach (if you got out of line, he corrected you).

When you're in Coach, you meet many more people and hear "war stories". Going through North Dakota I talked with several young guys working in the oil fields. Traveling solo in Coach, you can expect that most times you will share a seat with someone, and it leads to meeting new people.

But I realized 2 nights sleeping in coach is about it for me.

My recommendation:

Fort Worth --> LAX fly

LAX to Vancouver by Amtrak (beautiful route)

Vancouver to SEA by bus or Amtrak

SEA --> Fort Worth Fly.

Limerick, Ireland
Level Contributor
154 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

Im afaid it may be best if you use american airlines.. Sleeping Accommadation is rediculously expensive on amtrak.

Chicago
Level Contributor
8,474 posts
77 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

Agree that the sleeper accomodations are expensive on amtrak but it does include breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining car.

8. Re: Sleeping on Amtrak

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 05 October 2012, 21:18