Superliner Bedrooms Get a C-Minus.

I have just returned home from a two-week trip to Connecticut and—this will come as no surprise—I Flew to the West Coast and took Amtrak from there and back.

To start my journey, I flew to Los Angeles on American Airlines and I returned to Maui from Seattle on a Hawaiian Airlines flight. There is little to be said for either flight, except that the on board crew of the Hawaiian flight was, as we have come to expect, friendly and outgoing. Hawaiian provided a soft drink and a surprisingly tasty sandwich; American offered one beverage only.

I had booked Amtrak’s Train 4, the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago, where I connected with the Lake Shore Limited, which I took to Springfield, Massachusetts. My return was the Lake Shore Limited back to Chicago where I connected with the Empire Builder for the two-night trip to Seattle.

It was at lunch one day on the Chief that I was seated with a couple from San Diego. They had purchased one of the big bedrooms for the ride to Chicago and I asked them how they liked their accommodations.

“Well, we’re in Bedroom B,” said the husband, “and compared to a roomette it’s nice and roomy. And of course it’s convenient to have a toilet for our own use,” he said, “but there is no sound proofing and we can hear every word spoken in the next bedroom. And I mean every word!”

Well, he’s right and it’s the main reason that I suggest passengers reserve one or two roomettes instead of one big bedroom. There is a flimsy partition between bedrooms B and C and between bedrooms D and E. The idea was that the partition could be removed, thus creating a suite that will accommodate four people.

It was a good idea in theory, but the removable partition is quite flimsy and—more to the point—it’s not the least bit soundproof. If you’re riding in Bedroom B, you can  clearly hear every word spoken above a whisper in  Bedroom C. Of course the problem is the same with Bedrooms D and E.

If you’re traveling from Chicago to one of the three West Coast cities, it’s roughly a 45 -hour ride. That’s a very long time to feel you must converse with your traveling companion in a whisper. What’s worse, more often than not, the people in Bedrooms D and E either don’t realize or don’t care that every word spoken above a whisper can be clearly heard in the adjacent bedroom.

There is one other option: you can specify you want only Bedroom A when you make your reservation. It’s slightly smaller that the other bedrooms, but at lease there’s a solid wall between that room and Bedroom B.

As far as cost for these accommodations is concerned, they vary with the seasons, but as a very general rule, the fare for a big bedroom is probably going to be about twice the cost of a roomette.

It’s your call.

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Just Released!

A New Book by

Fifty stories from life and 350,000 miles of train travel.

  • Across the U.S. and Canada by train.   
  • London to Paris at 187 mph.      

  • An unexpected performance of Cats in Mongolia.
  • Goose bumps on a warm night in Red Square.
  • Spotting wild camels in the Australian outback.
  • Finding real cowboys in Hungary.

Now available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.



This new book by Jim Loomis is a quick and easy read, full of interesting information about Hawaii that most people don’t know and are surprised to learn:

• There were actually two attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor during World War Two

• There were real cowboys working on ranches in Hawaii *before* there were cowboys in Texas.

• Outdoor advertising (billboards) has been illegal in Hawaii for 100 years.

$6.95 per copy6
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All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide

Fifty stories drawn from 300,000 miles of train travel. The latest version of Jim Loomis's acclaimed All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide (4th Edition, 2015) is available in stores and online in both printed and electronic formats.
Chicago Review Press, 4th edition (Jan 2015)

Available in four formats:
Trade Paper, EPUB, PDF, and Mobipocket (for Kindle)
ISBN 9781569761823

Learn more about the book or order it now directly from Chicago Review Press.


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