Assigned Seats

3703 views
31 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 480 posts
Assigned Seats
Posted by JPS1 on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 7:44 AM

Beginning in January business class passengers on NEC regional trains will be able to select their seats.  Actually, the computer will assign them a seat when they complete their reservation, but they can change it.

This sounds to me like another positive step engineered by Richard Anderson or at least signed off by him.  

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 1,424 posts
Posted by rdamon on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 8:06 AM

Next will be boarding zones with 5 of them being called before zone 1.

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 10,904 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 8:08 AM

JPS1

Beginning in January business class passengers on NEC regional trains will be able to select their seats.  Actually, the computer will assign them a seat when they complete their reservation, but they can change it.

This sounds to me like another positive step engineered by Richard Anderson or at least signed off by him.  

 

I wonder: if a passenger is disabled, should he make that known when he makes a reservation? Currently, the seats at one end of the car are set aside for disabled passengers; I have found this convenient.

Johnny

  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 480 posts
Posted by JPS1 on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 5:32 PM

Deggesty
 I wonder: if a passenger is disabled, should he make that known when he makes a reservation? Currently, the seats at one end of the car are set aside for disabled passengers; I have found this convenient.  

If a passenger is not happy with the seat assigned by the computer, he can switch to another.  Seat maps will be available to help make the change. 

If a passenger needs a seat set aside in advance for the disabled, it appears that h/she will need to make the reservation through an Amtrak ticket agent. 

The announcement re: assigned business class seats on the NEC regional trains, also states that Amtrak hopes to push assigned seats out to other trains. 

I would like see assigned seats system wide.  Sometimes I ride coach on the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited.  I would be more comfortable, when boarding the train, if I knew the location of my as opposed to having to wander through the car looking for an open seat.  

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 16,125 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 6:46 AM

Many posters have argued for Business Class on long-distance trains as an intermediate comfort and cost level between coach and sleeper.  Assigned seats would be one of several perks.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 4,516 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, November 4, 2019 5:50 AM

rdamon

Next will be boarding zones with 5 of them being called before zone 1.

The German or European system is pretty awesome in this respect.   They have a electronic diagram of the passenger train as it is made up displayed on the platform so you can preposition yourself on the platform prior to train arrival and you will be right in front of your passenger car.............before the train arrives!!!

 One of the advantages of platforms open to the public at all times and having ticket validation machines on each platform.   You can validate the ticket electronically before the train arrives and all you have to do then is just have it availble to show the conductor if he or she asks to see it on a spot check.   No need for the conductor to scan every fricken ticket on the train either.

On top of all that, typically the train ticket can be also used for connecting bus, light rail or trolley service at the train station.   So you can do a train station to street curb transfer without the need for another ticket.

German domestic airports are also kind of different as well or they used to be pre-9-11.   The way they were setup was security was the gate area where you sat and waited.   You checked into that fenced off area by showing your ticket.   Then when the plane arrives they would take your ticket.  If you left the fenced in waiting area to go get food or what not you had to again show your ticket to get back into the fenced in waiting area.    In a way that is nicer as you don't have idiots waiting in available seats for other flights unrelated to the one boarding next.   The open to the public part of the airport went all the way to the hall right in front of the airline boarding gates.    That was domestic travel in country only.    Foriegn travel you have the rigourous security screenings.   Customs first then go to the gate.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,191 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 4, 2019 6:06 AM

I had the impression that the 'reserved seats' would initially be restricted to just one or two dedicated 'business class' cars.  That said, it should be fairly easy to implement a European-style 'coordination' of assigned car end vs. platform location ... probably on some kind of app rather than potentially expensive platform displays.  I'm surprised that Amtrak hasn't adopted the Megabus-type use of incrementally-priced 'reserved seats' in certain locations for a little additional revenue.

A major part of the need for airlines to use 'boarding zones' is the restriction to one gate and relatively confined chokepoint going through one door from the jetway.  Those who are older may recall some of the proposals for boarding and exit from the first proposed generation of large jets: multiple gates combined with mobile jetway-equipped buses (there was one nifty design, which I thought had been adapted from one of the food-service trucks, that lifted the whole 'bus' body up on parallelogram jacks to the equivalent of level-platform height to give the equivalent of zero-height walkover; this could have furnished inherent ADA compliance when that legislation took effect, with comparatively little impact on the 'rest' of the multiple boarding flow.)

We'll likely never see that now, of course ... but for a while, it was an interesting way to decrease terminal dwell.  Think of it as a slightly more complicated version of having multiple doors open on a passenger train.

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Equestria
  • 7,579 posts
Posted by zugmann on Monday, November 4, 2019 2:01 PM

Overmod
Those who are older may recall some of the proposals for boarding and exit from the first proposed generation of large jets: multiple gates combined with mobile jetway-equipped buses (there was one nifty design, which I thought had been adapted from one of the food-service trucks, that lifted the whole 'bus' body up on parallelogram jacks to the equivalent of level-platform height to give the equivalent of zero-height walkover; this could have furnished inherent ADA compliance when that legislation took effect, with comparatively little impact on the 'rest' of the multiple boarding flow.)

 

Does Dulles Airport still use their mobile lounges?

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

  • Member since
    April 2015
  • 319 posts
Posted by Enzoamps on Monday, November 4, 2019 3:15 PM

For some years now, on the Capitol Limited anyway, they have been "assigning" seats on the platform.  The attendant knows what seats have emptied, and has little tags with seat numbers that are open.  As I walk up, he scans my ticket - which automatically includes my wife's ticket without having to scan separately - and hands me a tag with two seats together.  This seems to work pretty well.

I fear if a cross country train made seats at reservation, the train would fill up with single passengers in each paired seat, until all were gone, then there would be very few paired seats left for couples or other groupings.

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Equestria
  • 7,579 posts
Posted by zugmann on Monday, November 4, 2019 3:20 PM

Enzoamps
I fear if a cross country train made seats at reservation, the train would fill up with single passengers in each paired seat, until all were gone, then there would be very few paired seats left for couples or other groupings.

Movie theaters (at least the local ones I use) have that figured out pretty well, it seems.  You can't reserve seats in such a way to cause singles left over, until it becomes neccesary.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 11,652 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Monday, November 4, 2019 6:53 PM

So, the deal, at least in Germany, is you pay a few bucks extra for a seat you select.  So, no problem reserving two together, at least the times I've done it.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,191 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 4, 2019 9:31 PM

oltmannd
So, the deal, at least in Germany, is you pay a few bucks extra for a seat you select.  So, no problem reserving two together, at least the times I've done it.

The alternative is to put up a lottery, e-mailed to all the 'current seatholders', that provides incentives for them to take the 'next best seat' to the one they have in return for allowing their 'reserved' one to be used for two people sitting together, or some emergent need for ADA-like compliance, or whatever.  Perhaps with the understanding that the person wanting the two seats together in privileged territory will pay the agio for the privilege.  Worst case being that their perceived value in sitting together isn't as much as the cost to do so ... in which case there's no real cause to complain, is there?

Of course, you then get into the various issues of people holding out for the 'best possible offer' just to run their perceived compensation up.  But hey! this is America.  Sometimes it's the people who have the things others want to spend gold on that get to make the rules...

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 3,125 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, November 4, 2019 9:48 PM

The German system works well.  At one point they were going to include a mandatory reservation on ICEs,  but there were objections. So my rule of thumb is get a seat reservation at peak times and holidays.  Why introduce a complication like a lottery?

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,191 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 4, 2019 10:02 PM

Not a lottery to assign seats; that's really the wrong word for what I was proposing.  This would be a procedure like that used for overbooking, but voluntary.  

Remember that the example is for someone specifically asking for special accommodation after it becomes impossible to find two 'reservable' seats together.  The idea is to offer everyone with a seat the option to be 'compensated' to let the reservers get two together -- if that involves notifying only seatholders adjacent to still-vacant seats, so be it.  Of course any seatholder has the perfect right to ignore the whole course of the requests, and as this isn't an issue subject to 'bumping' there isn't the issue of "involuntary conversion" as it were.

Instead of the company paying for a 'mistake', we have free enterprise deciding if compensation is 'worth it'.

I fail to see why this isn't superior in principle and fairness to 'too bad; all the available seats are reserved so you can't be accommodated'.

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 3,125 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, November 4, 2019 10:20 PM

As Don will recall, on DB,  for several seats together in each coach, handicapped/challenged people have the priority.  Never any problems. 

 

  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 480 posts
Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, November 7, 2019 8:47 AM
Even though I did not technically have a traveling job, I traveled nearly a million commercial air or train miles for work assignments.  With the exception of Amtrak and Southwest Airlines, I could choose my seat in advance of departure.  
 
Included in my travels were 28 trips from the U.S. to Australia as well as four trips from Australia to London.  I never had a problem with assigned seats, and I never encountered anyone that complained about them. 
 
On one occasion on a flight between LAX and Melbourne, a family could not be seated together.  When the problem was made know, several of us switched seats so that they could sit together. 
  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: Great Plains
  • 1,658 posts
Posted by York1 on Thursday, November 7, 2019 9:08 AM

I've told the story before, but years ago my wife and I and three daughters traveled by train for two days.  At Chicago, we were first in line to take the train west.  This train originated in Chicago.  We waited in line several hours so that we could be sure to sit together.

When we finally boarded the train, nearly all the seats were filled.  We ended up with two seats in one car, two in another, and one by itself.  I complained that we were first in line and the train was starting there completely empty.  I was told that the people had tipped Redcaps who got them onto the train ahead of the line.

I guess this was an early form of reserved seating.  Trouble was I didn't know about it until then.

John       

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 26 posts
Posted by david vartanoff on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 2:02 AM

All of the first line pre Amtrak tains offered reserved seats.  You could arrange a window or aisle left or right etc.  Amtrak went to "G/Coach" because in the early years no one in sales/reservations had a clue which capacity coaches would be on a given train.  The San Francisco Zephyr, for instance often had 2 PS built)  44 seat coaches and two Budd built 46s--all ex Santa Fe.    Sometimes a couple ex CB&Q 50 seat cars would be in the mix.    As heritage cars are long gone, returning to actual reserved seats SHOULD be an improvement.    Of course, given the "we make up the rules" attitude of many OBS personnel, it may be entirely moot.    

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 10,904 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 9:54 AM

I do not know how coach seats are assigned on various long distance trains at various stations, but in Salt Lake City a conductor comes into the station several minutes before either 5 or 6 is due, collects tickets and gives each passenger a slip with a car number and seat number written on it. Sleeper passengers, of course, have their accommodations assigned when the reservations are made, and their slips show those numbers.

Johnny

  • Member since
    July 2011
  • 369 posts
Posted by runnerdude48 on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 12:05 PM

We could eliminate all this complication simply by assigning only sleeper rooms and letting coach passengers sit where they want.  Do you really want to be forced to sit in a seat next to a woman with a crying infant?  Or next ot a drunk or slob.  With assigned seats you have no choice.  As I get older I no longet travel on Amtrak long distance coaches but in the NEC which I travel frequently the only times I don't get a seat next to my wife is boarding at Philadelphia heading to Boston.  But, at Penn Station the train pretty much empties out and we move seats and sit together.  Penn Station is the only station where I see assigned seats as an advantage.  They help avoid the otherwise inhumane and horrible boarding process there and give you a fighting (literally) chance to get a good seat.  Otherwise I would rather wait until I board and pick my seat companion rather than have some computer do it.

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 10,904 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 1:29 PM

You and your family of four are traveling coach and you board at 3:15 in the morning without any indication of reserved seats--and cannot find even two seats together. Would you not prefer having seats that are together assigned?

Johnny

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 3,125 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 2:17 PM

Why not have coach seat reservations as an option?  Other rail systems offer the choice for a small fee as Don and I have said before. No need to reinvent the wheel when a proven system exists. 

  • Member since
    April 2017
  • 15 posts
Posted by Bobkat525 on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 4:50 PM

@ Zugman - - - Mobile Lounges @ IAD; Yes, between areas of the terminals not served by the rail shuttle - to keep International travelers quarantined betw. their planes and ICE - and, occasionally, to service individual planes under special circumstances.

  • Member since
    September 2016
  • 10 posts
Posted by Dave Phelps on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:28 PM
Regionals already have dedicated Business Class cars and have for years. It's always the car furthest from the locomotive. What's new is specific seat reservations within that car.
  • Member since
    January 2008
  • 972 posts
Posted by Sunnyland on Friday, November 22, 2019 10:24 AM

had not heard about this.  Rode LD coach  for the first time overnight on our way to Glenwood Springs from Chi to pickup rental car to drive on to Utah for 150.  They had us get together in groups that wanted to be seated together, there were 3 of us and when we boarded, coach attendant showed us what seats were available. Not a problem in Chicago but boarding at Glenwood Springs home could have been a problem as people were already on train. But they seemed to know where to put us, must have been some assignment of seats, as the 3 of us got to sit together across the aisle from each other.  When we board TX Eagle in St. L to Chi, no groups put together to sit but we have been able to find seats OK.  Maybe not across from each other but close.  I can remember early days of riding to KC or Chicago and having a ticket good for 30 days, just board and find seat. When  they picked up ridership, then you had to pick a specific day for trip but still find a seat anywhere.  Mom remembered Frisco picking up people at resort town of Valley Park and train would be crowded. People sat on luggage or stood in aisle, would not be allowed today. 

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 1,180 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Friday, November 22, 2019 11:58 AM

I seen on alot of trains they divide the coach space by destination. Are they still doing that?

  • Member since
    December 2018
  • 480 posts
Posted by JPS1 on Friday, November 22, 2019 1:22 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
 I seen on alot of trains they divide the coach space by destination. Are they still doing that? 

Most of my recent train riding has been on the Texas Eagle between Dallas and San Antonio. 

Normally the Eagle has three coaches.  If a passenger is going to Cleburne, McGregor, Temple, Taylor, or San Marcos, they are told which coach to sit in.  The platforms at these stations are very short, and the conductors don't want a coach passenger walking through one or two other coaches to get off the train.  They only open the door on one coach. 

Passengers going to Austin or San Antonio, as well as Fort Worth and Dallas on the northbound train, usually can sit wherever they like.

If the southbound train has a light load from Fort Worth to San Antonio, which is often the case, the crew will close the last coach and require the passengers to sit in the first two coaches.  

  • Member since
    January 2008
  • 972 posts
Posted by Sunnyland on Friday, November 22, 2019 2:30 PM

runnerdude48

We could eliminate all this complication simply by assigning only sleeper rooms and letting coach passengers sit where they want.  Do you really want to be forced to sit in a seat next to a woman with a crying infant?  Or next ot a drunk or slob.  With assigned seats you have no choice.  As I get older I no longet travel on Amtrak long distance coaches but in the NEC which I travel frequently the only times I don't get a seat next to my wife is boarding at Philadelphia heading to Boston.  But, at Penn Station the train pretty much empties out and we move seats and sit together.  Penn Station is the only station where I see assigned seats as an advantage.  They help avoid the otherwise inhumane and horrible boarding process there and give you a fighting (literally) chance to get a good seat.  Otherwise I would rather wait until I board and pick my seat companion rather than have some computer do it.

 

When parents and I traveled, never any reserved seats except on UP City of St. Louis, they had seat reservations they gave Dad with his passes.  Otherwise it was the roll of the dice.  Mom and I always sat together and Dad took a single seat, he figured it was better if he sat with a jerk than one of us.  Worked out well. When I have rode LD alone, I have always been in a sleeper or roomette  except for recent trip on CZ, but my friend and I sat together and our other male friend sat alone, same idea as Dad used.  

 
  • Member since
    April 2015
  • 319 posts
Posted by Enzoamps on Saturday, November 23, 2019 2:00 PM

I get on the Capitol in Toledo.  This is about a few minutes before midnight.  They ask us our destination and do sort us by car.  Those of us going all teh way to Washington would be sent to one car, others going only to say Cleveland would be in another car.  They want to avoid activity in the cars overnight tothe extent possible.  SO we in the Washington car will have relatively fewer people getting up overnight.    Obviously it is not exact, but it does help.

They check seats emptying at each stop, so they know what seats are free upstairs when they board new passengers.

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 11,652 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Monday, November 25, 2019 8:58 AM

Enzoamps

I get on the Capitol in Toledo.  This is about a few minutes before midnight.  They ask us our destination and do sort us by car.  Those of us going all teh way to Washington would be sent to one car, others going only to say Cleveland would be in another car.  They want to avoid activity in the cars overnight tothe extent possible.  SO we in the Washington car will have relatively fewer people getting up overnight.    Obviously it is not exact, but it does help.

They check seats emptying at each stop, so they know what seats are free upstairs when they board new passengers.

 

Same on the Crescent when I have ridden.  "Shorts" go in one coach - closest to cafe car.  The "through" passengers in the others.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy