Content of the material
Coach seats are the cheapest tickets on an Amtrak train, and all trains have coach seats except for the Acela Express. These seats are larger and more comfortable than seats on an airplane, recline and have a power outlet, reading light and tray. Plus, there are no middle seats. There are only two coach seats together then the aisle and two more coach seats.
You can sleep in these seats if desired. They just don’t recline all the way and you may be disturbed by passengers exiting and boarding the train at all hours of the day and night.
What you don’t get? Free food or drinks. These items cost extra and can be purchased in the cafe car. On long-distance trains, meals are also available to purchase. Note that if you book a roommette or bedroom on long-distance trains, meals and coffee are included.
What is Amtrak Coach Class
Amtrak Coach is one of the three seating options available on Amtrak trains. Amtrak coach is available on all trains except Acela Express. Amtrak coach has both reserved and unreserved options.
Reserved Coach Seats
Reserved coach seating is available on long distance and most short and medium distance trains. The amenities offered, however, might depend on the type of train and destination.
Short / medium-distance trains offer wide reclining seats with sufficient legroom for the passengers’ comfort. They also consist of fold-down trays, individual reading lights and 120v electric outlets.
Coach seating on long distance trains have all these amenities, but they also provide extra leg room, leg rests, and foot rests.
The Superliner trains also offer bi-level sleeping cars; upper-level coach provides a panoramic view whereas lower level coach provides the convenience of being close to the restrooms.
Unreserved Coach Seats
These seats are usually found in short distance trains. Though seating is not guaranteed without prior reservation, unserved seats have most features of reserved coach seats including comfortable reclining seats. These seats also come with individual reading lights, 120v electric outlets and fold down trays.
Figure 1: Amtrak Superliner Coach Class
Compare the Classes
Coach class offers basic accommodations with comfortable reclining seats, tray tables and overhead reading lights. Amtrak business class seats are cushier with headrests, adjustable footrests, more legroom, tray tables and electrical outlets for laptops or DVD players. Seats usually face forward. However, in business class, rows may face each other over a fold-down conference table. In both classes, each pair of seats on either side of the car’s central aisle shares a picture window.
Before your journey starts, Amtrak Auto Train stations have food trucks available to enjoy while you wait for the vehicles to load.
Your ticket includes meals and a glass of wine for the guest in the sleeper cars. Coach passengers are responsible for purchasing meals on their own, or they can bring in food and eat it at their seats or in a lounge car. Due to FDA regulations, you cannot consume food you brought onto the train in a food service car; some exemption applies info here.Auto Train Café Car Menu
Sleeper Car Dining Car Menu
Weighing the Costs
A business class seat may cost $30 to $40 more than a coach seat on regular routes. On Acela Express trains only, an upgrade from Acela business class to first class may cost more than $100. Business class seats aboard Acela trains – the minimum level of accommodation – are about the same price as business class fares on regular trains. Both business and coach fares vary, depending on the departure time or day, holiday scheduling, or route. Frequent Amtrak travelers also can join Amtrak Guest Rewards and earn points and status they they can exchange for upgrades.
References Amtrak Historical Society: Brief Amtrak History Amtrak: Seating Accommodations