The Top 21 Questions Asked About Amtrak Rooms

by Kev
Amtrak's City of New Orleans

Thinking of booking rooms or accommodations for an Amtrak Adventure but not sure if they are right for you? I hope this article will help you out. This article covers the top question I get asked about rooms on Amtrak.

After traveling around the United States via Amtrak, I found any room on the train is my happy place. I enjoy the privacy, being able to sleep horizontally, and showering in the morning.

Viewliner
The Silver Meteor, Amtrak Viewliner Train

Terms you should know

  • Accommodation: For this article, accommodations are any room in a sleeper car
  • Accessible Room: This room is for those with limited mobility and a helper
  • Bedroom: A bigger room with a sofa, chair, sink, and bathroom/shower combo
  • Car Attendant: Amtrak employee whose job is to assist you while you travel in a sleeper car. Car Attendant replaces the term porter.
  • Family Room: These rooms, only on Superliner Trains, are designed for two adults and two small humans.
  • Roomette: A small room that is comfortable for one and cozy for two. These rooms have two chairs that fold into a bed and an upper pull-down bed (more on  Superliner Roomettes)
  • Sleeper Car: A car containing roomettes, bedroom, handicap accessible place, and  Superliner trains also have a family room
  • Superliner: Two-level rail cars are on all long-distance routes that do not go to New York Penn Station.
  • Viewliner:  Single-level long-distance trains set, only found on east coast routes.
Amtrak Superliner Train
An Amtrak Superliner Train

1) What are the advantages of booking accommodations on Amtrak?

  • Privacy: Rooms have a sliding door with a window, but if you want to block out the world, close the drapes.
  • Sleep Horizontally: At night, the lower seats fold into a bed, and your travel companion can sleep in the pull-down upper bunk. The person in the upper bunk needs to crawl up or use a ladder in the bedrooms.
  • ShowerThere is a shower for everyone to use. Passengers in the bedrooms have a shower/bathroom in the room.
  • Use of lounges: Your sleeper ticket allows you to use Metropolitan Lounges or Club Acela at these stations to use for free.

2) How do you book a room on Amtrak?

  • Over the phone call Amtrak at 1-800-USA- Rail
    • Agents can book new reservations or help modify existing ones.
    • Answer questions and can also work to find rooms together
  • Staffed station
    • Station attendants can also help find accommodations together if needed.
    • If you are new to train travel, a trip to a staffed station is an excellent opportunity to get to know the station, parking, and what is around before your first trip.
  • Amtrak App or Website
    • On-line tickets are an easy way to book your next adventure anywhere and at any time.

After booking the trip, Amtrak sends out an email, including your receipt, with the ticket. This ticket is scannable from your phone, or if you want, a paper ticket is printable from home, Quick-Trak machines, or station agents.

3) Are the prices per person or for the couple?

If you are looking to book more than one passenger, enter the number of passengers for that trip, and hit find trains, your travel options will display.  The price on the screen is the total price for the party. Ticket prices include your rail fare (what you pay to ride the train) and the cost to reserve the room. If two people are on your ticket, both pay rail fares, but there is only one room fee.

It is possible to book separate accommodations for one ticket, but it will cost more.

4) How do discounts work on Amtrak?

First off, here are Amtrak discounts; see if you qualify for one! If you are eligible, the percentage off only applies to the base fares and not to add-ons such as business class or rooms.

There is a chance that only one passenger may qualify for a discount, such as a parent with a child where the child qualifies, but the parent doesn’t.

For example:

Let’s say rooms cost $200 and rail fare is $100, for a solo traveler, the cost is $300, but for two people, the cost is $400. If the solo traveler qualified for an Amtrak discount, the price is now $290 because the reductions come off the rail fare and not off the room price. For a parent and child, in this scenario, the cost comes to $350 because children 2-12 pay half.

5) When do I get my room assignment?

Sleeper car Number
Amtrak’s car number indicating this the 01 car on train 30, The Capitol Limited

Rooms get assigned after your payment is processed. Amtrak emails a ticket to you, like below, telling the car and room number, plus equipment type. Tickets bought at stations look different, but the information is the same.

Most long-distance trains have more than one sleeper. To identify what car is yours, look for the four-digit number Amtrak gives to that car for that trip. The first two digits represent the route number, and the second two are the consist or location number of that car. Amtrak displays the number next to the entry door of the sleeper car.

For example, Sleeper 3000 is next to the sleeper lounge on the Capital Limited.

Here is an example from one of my last trips to Charleston, S.C. (part of the ticket I redacted for my privacy)

Amtrak TIcket
Your ticket shows the equipment type, car number, and room number.

6) What comes with your Amtrak room?

  • Meals
  • Coffee and juice in the morning
  • Shower
  • Turndown service
  • A place to hang-up clothing (either a small closet or wall hook)
  • Comfortable chairs with a fold-out table, bigger rooms have a sofa.
  • Large windows to watch the country go by
  • Use of lounge cars and dining car or sleeper-lounge
    • Sleeper lounges are on eastern trains.
  • Additional lights such as a night light and reading lamps
  • An outlet

Due to Covid-19, all long-distance trains use Amtrak’s flex dining, but the Auto Train, it still uses traditional dining.

7) Will I share a room with strangers?

No, the only passengers in your room are the people on your tickets.

8) How big are accommodations on the train?

The rooms are small and cozy, like an RV.

Roomette around 3’6″ by 6′ 6″ (the Viewliner roomette is a little bigger). I am about 6’2″, 190 pounds, and fit comfortably in the room. Bedrooms are around 6’6″ by 7’6,” but the bath and shower room takes up space.

Superliner Bed
Superliner roomette bed in night mode

9) Beds: Are they comfortable, and how are they made?

For me, the beds are comfortable, but your mileage can vary. All the rooms on the train have bunk beds. The lower bed consists of the two lower seats pulled together, or the sofa flattened in a bedroom, with a mattress placed on top. The upper bunk pulls down and has safety straps. When two people are sharing a room, one person needs to be able up to climb the top bed. Roomettes have steps to get up there, while bedrooms have ladders.

Amtrak Bedroom at night
An Amtrak Superliner Bedroom made up for the bed time.

10) Is it hard to sleep on the train?

I tend to sleep well on the train, but sometimes I need a little help, such as melatonin or sleep aid. The train’s motion relaxes me as I sleep, but sometimes I wake up when the train stops because I miss the movement. The horn lulls me to sleep.

I wish Amtrak had larger pillows because I am a side sleeper. I pack a blowup pillow and a small blanket to add to my comfort to help with this problem.

11) How to get around the train once aboard?

Superliner door
The doors connecting Superliner Sleepers

Trains are linear, meaning to go from one section to another; your journey includes walking through other cars.  It can be a hike from where you are to where you want to go on some trains.

At the end of each car is a sliding door with upper and lower (foot) buttons; hitting either will open the door. Be careful when walking between cars while the trains are moving. Grab on to the candy cane striped handles to help you balance when going between cars. Trains cars can sway in opposite directions, and snow and rain can make their way into vestibules, making them wet or slippery, so be careful and use the grab bars. You must wear shoes while walking around the train.

12) Can I hop on and off of the train during my trip?

There are select stops where you can get off the train for a smoke or fresh air. Most station stops are quick for boarding and un-boarding, but if the train arrives early, Amtrak holds the train at that station until the scheduled time and often allows the passengers to wait. Smoke stops are usually crew changes and refueling stops.

If you do get off the train, don’t wander too far from it because when it is time for the train to leave, the conductors alert the crew and passengers, and they are off. As a warning, the engineer may blow the horn (two quick toots) when it’s time to board. If you do not make it on the train, the train WILL LEAVE WITHOUT YOU!

13) What are my food options on the train?

Amtrak signature stake meal
Amtrak’s signature flat iron steak with potatoes and veggies

Trains traveling West of the Mississippi offer traditional dining cars (the meals come with your sleeper car ticket), the cafe car, and whatever you bring aboard. Amtrak offers contemporary meals in the sleeper lounge, the cafe car, and whatever you get aboard for trains East of the Mississippi.

During Covid-19, all long-distance trains, but for the Auto train, use Amtrak’s flex dining.

14) Can I drink on the train?

You sure can; I often do! If you have a sleeper on an Eastern long-distance train, your first one is on Amtrak!

Amtrak sells adult beverages in the cafe and dining cars, or you can bring your own. IF YOU BRING YOUR OWN, YOU CAN ONLY CONSUME IT IN YOUR ROOM. If you get out of hand, the next station might be your stop even if it is not your destination, and could include local and federal fines.

15) How many bathrooms are in a sleeper car?

All bedrooms have a their own restroom.

Superliner trains have one restroom upstairs and two or more on the lower level.

Viewliners do not have public restrooms in the cars, but every accommodation has a toilet. Roomettes do not have enclosed bathrooms, so If two people are in the roomette, one will have to leave while the other “goes.”

16) Are there showers for sleeper passengers?

Amtrak Shower
Sleeping car passengers have showers available to them, like this Viewliner Shower.

Yes, there are showers. It’s fun taking a shower at 79 mph. Bedrooms have a small room that houses the toilet and shower. Roomettes and other accommodations share one shower room with a dressing area.

17) What does Amtrak provide for showers?

Amtrak provides washcloths, towels, and soap for your shower, but not shampoo. The soap is either bar or liquid.

Dr. Brohhner’s soap works well for travelers because of its versatility. The soap works well to clean you and your clothing.

18) Can I smoke on the train? Can I transport marijuana?

All Amtrak trains are non-smoking, including e-cigarettes and vapes. If a passenger gets caught smoking on the train, the next stop will be their stop (even if it is not their destination), and conductors will issues tickets that are federal fines.

There are “smoke breaks,” but they are not guaranteed. If you are a smoker, it would be wise to find something to curb your habit.

As of now, you cannot transport marijuana on Amtrak trains even if it legal in the state you are come from or going to visit. Amtrak is under federal jurisdiction, so they follow federal laws.

19) Can my pet travel with me?

No, Amtrak does not allow pets on trains that travel longer than seven hours. Click here for Amtrak’s policy on service animals.

IF YOU HAVE A WORK ANIMAL, CHECK THE POLICY BEFORE BOOKING YOUR TRIP.

View from an Amtrak Viewliner roomette
A view from an Amtrak Viewliner roomette

20) Do I tip the car attendant?

Tipping is not necessary but is a great way to reward excellent service. I will tip great car attendants and not tip for unsatisfactory service. The average tip is around $10 = $20 per day, but a heartfelt thank-you works well or whatever you can afford if that is not possible. You can also let Amtrak know when you receive excellent service (see tips 21).

21) Can I contact Amtrak for a compliment or complaint?

Constructive criticism is helpful, and the praise of an employee is even better. To contact Amtrak, click here.

Kev’s tips for Amtrak Rooms

Getting ready for the night:

Once the car attendant makes your room for the night, there is not much room left. It helps to get dressed before your room is made up for the night or as your attendant is preparing your room. Bathrooms or the shower area work well for changing.

What else you need to know:

Take advantage of the fresh air stops. Stepping off the train breaks up your trip and allows you to stretch your legs.

Do not plan on WI-fi. Even your cell phone will not have service from time to time.

Train manners

Viewliner Hallway
Looking down the hallway of a Viewliner Sleeper Car

Be respectful of others. Talking to fellow passengers is a fun way to meet a new train buddy, but not everyone wants to hear your conversation, so keep your voice down.

When walking in other parts of the train, remember there are other riders. If the lounge is busy, consider sharing a table instead of hogging it yourself. With that said, if you are a night owl and there is no one around, feel free to take up the entire area. If you need to make a long phone call at night, going to the lounge car is the courteous thing to do so that others can sleep.

Walkways are tight quarters, and you may get bumped into or let others pass by to get through. It is a great time to practice your manners and say hi to your fellow riders. Make sure that your bags or luggage is not banging into others as you walk through the train.

Gear to improve your stray in an Amtrak Accommodation

From my experience, these are helpful things for staying in a sleeper.

  • Tablet (iPad Air 3 for me),
    • Subscription apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime allow you to download select shows to watch without wi-fi.
  • Smartphone (I use an iPhone X)
    • Map apps are cool for determining a location.
    • Also work well for games, listing to music and podcast.
  • Other Electronic accessories
    • Headphones
      • Bluetooth or corded, make sure they are comfortable.
    • Extension cord
      • One with a few outlets, extension cords work well, there is often just one outlet in the room.
    • A backup battery
      • Just in case, I have used one to charge my phone overnight because it was easier.
    • Chargers and cords
  • Comfort items
    • Snacks are a good idea
    • Amtrak’s Comfort Kit, available at some stations and cafe car
      • The kit comes in a bag and contains a small blanket, eye mask, neck pillow, and earplugs.
      • You could make your own
    • Blowup pillow
    • A water bottle
    • Wet wipes
    • Sleep aids
    • Pain relief and a small first aid kit
    • Shampoo or a multi-use soap like Dr. B’s (if required)
    • PJ’s or something to sleep in (just in case)

For More information on specific rooms on the train

If I missed something, let me know in the comments below or message me.

Safe Travels!

Kev

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2 comments

loretta mendoza March 7, 2020 - 8:19 am

I so love your time and effort for traveling with Kev. I can’t wait to make a reservation to Texas, near Brownsville area. Blessings to you

Reply
Kev March 7, 2020 - 8:23 am

Thanks Loretta! If you need any help let me know!

Reply

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