Amtrak operates several combination “Amfleet Dinette” cars that include a half cafe car, and half business class seating – which is always the best. You can read more about how to always ensure you get this seating here.
I board Amtrak‘s Vermonter service in Trenton, NJ. The train begins in St. Alban’s Vermont, and makes its way down to Washington DC. While the train takes a full day to go from Vermont to DC, you can board the train at all intermediate stops, so it makes a great commuter train for Northeast travelers wishing to leave later, and get into DC late at night, or wishing to leave DC early to get to New York/Boston early. I was headed to DC to stay at a hotel where I got an extraordinarily cheap rate thanks to this membership open to everyone.
As the train approached the platform, I boarded the Cafe Car at the rear of the train. In staffed Amtrak stations, there is usually an announcement as to where the Business Class cabin is going to be.
Boarding the train, you’ll find Business Class in a 2×1 seating. Each seat as power-ports against the wall, and also has a recline feature that actually is more than most domestic airline First Class cabins. There’s even a leg rest that will extend out, as well as a foot rest on the seat in front of you.
You’ll also find a cup tray in the seat armrest.
Included with your ticket are complimentary non-alcoholic beverages in the cafe car, as well as a newspaper. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any newspapers available for taking, though did avail myself of a soda. The cafe portion is only steps away from the Business cabin, and an attendant is there to get you a drink from behind the counter. Note: There is no at-seat service like the Acela or airline cabins.
As the train progressed down the tracks to Washington, a gentleman in one of the single seats to the left got up to use the bathroom. While he was there, his tray table all of a sudden fell off its bracket, causing his laptop and glasses to tumble to the floor. Amtrak doesn’t always have the most sound equipment ever, and you’ll often find things either broken, or patched with duct tape. In this case, it appeared as if his laptop was okay, though I would have been very mad had the same happened to me.
The seats have a decent pitch, and legroom is worthwhile. In the Northeast, a trip like this will only cost you 6,500 points one way, which is a steal for a ticket that can run you well over $200. I recently wrote a post on how you can guarantee your Amtrak ticket is always less than $50 here.
In some ways, I actually find these seats more comfortable that airline seats, and since the cabin is smaller, its certainly better than being stuck in one of the coach cars, where there is hardly an empty seat and folks are sprawled out sleeping. I find it worthwhile upgrading to Business on the trains that have this car if nothing else more than it’s a cabin of only a few people, and there’s always a comfortable seat to be had – where in the coach car, you’ll risk being crammed in with folks who aren’t happy with someone sitting next to you.
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If you haven’t considered before, I highly recommend enrolling in SELECT, which gets you a ton of travel discounts:
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