Tip-toeing into Heresy?
On the off chance this damn caronavirus won’t last forever, I’ve started thinking about where I would go and what I would do the next time I travel. I’m thinking Europe and that means jumping off from the East Coast. I’ve even come up with a rough itinerary, but instead of specific dates, the schedule says “Day One, Day two, Day Three, etc.
I’m still tentatively planning to take these trains, starting from and returning to the West Coast:
Seattle to Chicago on the Empire Builder, connecting to the Lake Shore Limited to Boston.
Two weeks in Europe—specific travel plans TBD—and return to the U.S. by flying into Washington.
Washington, DC to New Orleans on the Crescent; New Orleans to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited.
That schedule would include a total of 19 meals—five breakfasts, eight lunches and six dinners.
But—and this is why I’m hesitating—if Amtrak does what I fear they are going to do, there may not be an actual dining car on those long-distance trains. Instead of community dining with other passengers, those 19 meals would be handed to me in a lounge car or delivered to my roomette in a damn cardboard box!
And so I am actually considering—and I would never have thought this possible six months ago—skipping Amtrak in one or maybe even both directions and using the time and money saved to (1) upgrade to First Class for the trans-continental flights or (2) to Business Class for the trans-Atlantic flights, or (3) gain another six days in Europe for more sightseeing, dining and traveling.
This, I think, is what Amtrak’s new poo-bah, William Flynn, doesn’t understand: the traditional dining car experience is that important to me and to many thousands of Amtrak’s best customers. It means being seated at a table with other passengers . . . reviewing the various selections and placing our orders from an actual menu, conversation with fellow passengers sharing our table, and lingering over dessert and coffee. If Amtrak cannot or will not provide that experience, I’m not sure they can count on me as a loyal customer in the future.
How loyal? At least 300,000 miles loyal . . . and counting. Maybe.
My main concern is the air filtration system in the sleeper cars. I cant find anything about it on line, just generic statements from Amtrak. I dont expect HEPA and am aware of the age of the consists, but what can you tell me Jim?
“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” (Sorry, but we were watching A FEW GOOD MEN on TV last night.”) Well–and I don’t mean this to be a wise-guy answer, I think you can expect to be too hot some of the time, too cold some of the time, and about right some of the time. If you’re concerned about dust and pollen–and it’s a serious concern–I would not count on Amtrak’s vintage equipment to have any real effect.
Not what I was asking about. I DONT do cruises because of the GERMS spread form the ventilation system on cruise ships. I want to understand what my risk is for Covid 19 on a long distance train. Last time I went from NOLA to Chicago and then Chicago to Seattle on the Empire Builder, I couldnt imagine wearing a mask the whole trip. Yes, I know its not required in your own sleeper, but thats where my question on quality of filtration by the air system comes in. I have enough points built up to cover a few trips and am planning now.
I checked with my Amtrak Equipment Expert who said if the filtration systems on cruise ships are not sufficient for your needs/concerns, it’s doubtful that the system in an Amtrak sleeping car will be any better. I hope this helps.
Is your tentative itinerary assuming the long distance trains are still running daily vs thrice weekly?
Either way. I can adapt. My main concern is whether or not there will be full-service dining car. If it’s “contemporary dining” on the western trains, I may just fly. Hawaiian Airlines has non-stop flights from Honolulu to Boston and JFK. More time for European trains!