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.