During my most recent excursion I decided to take a train. This is no ordinary train ride though. No I decided to go big on my first trip. I booked a 1,200 mile trip clocking in at 26 hours start to finish with no transfers.
Now I can’t help but wonder if I should have done a test run. I quickly realized many things I should have done differently. First and foremost download some movies and tv shows. Hearing that the train has free WiFi makes me assume I can watch and do what I want. But Amtrak has blocked streaming music or movies. Now in their defense it’s more because the WiFi comes from a partnership with cellular providers so they need to limit the strain on the network, but still it sucks.
I also made another mistake and assumed a train was like flying, it’s not. The trains are roomy with tons of luggage and elbow and foot space. Plus you have cute little dinning cars with tables and chairs if you need to stretch your legs. Oh and outlets EVERYWHERE. You can also bring as much food and drink as you want, including alcohol. Now the major limitation is if you are drinking your alcohol you can not do anywhere but the private sleeper car (technically). Similar rules apply to food and non-alcoholic drinks, they can’t be consumed anywhere in the dinning cars.
I got a somewhat unfortunate first experience and I am trying to be as unbiased as possible. My train had a violent incident and was forced to stop and have someone arrested, the a/c was broken in the dinning car and stayed on full blast, lastly we got delayed 3+ hours by track construction. The crew was great through the whole ride and even gave us free snacks and water to make up for the extra long trip. TBH I would have preferred a half bottle of wine, BUT I won’t complain about anything free. My other major grievance was guest related. I went to the dinning car for a few hours and came back to find my bag on the floor and someone in my seat, instead of the empty seat next to mine. So I said something to the fellow and he told me someone is sitting in the other seat. I told him it was me that’s why my bag was there. He shrugged his shoulders and rolled over. It seemed more unusual since you're told to sit between certain seats (i.e. I was told to sit between 10-30) obviously they wouldn't tell more than 20 people to sit there. People all over the train were taking up more than one seat and it forced myself and a few others to sleep in the dinning room.
After all was said and done we got to Philadelphia super late and I had to get a hotel room for the night. The following day I did talk to Amtrak and they refunded half of my ticket and assured me that none of the things that happened were normal let alone all of them in one day. I'm sure I'll take the train again. Overall I did enjoy my trip. I think even though it took much much longer than plane the ride was better. Being able to get up and move around with large seats and dinning areas just makes it more comfortable. Planes today are trying to cram more and more seats by shrinking everything else and offering less and less. As long as you are not in a hurry try taking a train next time, just remember to pack some food and download some movies.