VIRGINIA -- My recent experience shows that Amtrak provides unreliable service, the trains are out of repair, and the customer service response is terrible. I bought two round-trip tickets so that my son and I could travel to Philadelphia to meet an important appointment of my son. For that reason, I bought tickets for an Amtrak train due to arrive at 12:15 pm. On Saturday, Nov 15th, after we arrived at the Alexandria station, however, we were informed that the 9 am train would not arrive which required us to take a train arriving at 10:45 am if we paid an additional $25.
If Amtrak had sent me an email notice prior to 9 am -- as I had requested when buying the tickets -- disclosing the problem with the first train we would have avoided the needless wait. Then we got on the second train (for which I paid an additional $25) and went to Union Station DC. That train, however, also had mechanical difficulties which created significant additional delay.
The train then proceeded on and I bought a Panini from the Amtrak food service. It has very soggy and hardly edible. At 2 pm (one hour and forty-five minutes after the scheduled arrival time), we arrived in Philadelphia on the second train. As a result of Amtrak's poor service, my son was agitated and a half hour late for his appointment.
I went on the Amtrak website and filed a complaint requesting a refund of one-half the price of my Amtrak tickets plus $25.00. Five days later I was contacted by an Amtrak representative that Amtrak would refund the $25 additional charge but none of the cost of one-half the tickets. No discussion about it and no apologies -- the representative refused to discuss why I would get no refund on the tickets. I then went to the Amtrak website to get the telephone number or email of Amtrak management to discuss the matter, but there is no way to contact them. Amtrak has very little concern about its customers.
LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA -- I and my wife never used Amtrak for long distance travel before and decided to check it out. We took a trip from Tampa, FL, to Trenton, NJ, in April 2013.
The experience proved to be horrifying. Following is a summary of problems and issues during this trip:
One of the tickets was a for a handicapped person. We were promised special seats for handicapped – instead, we got regular seats but close to toilets, there were no special handicapped seats available on the train. The seats on the train were very uncomfortable and not very well fit for a 25 hour trip even for a healthy person. Anti-sanitary conditions almost everywhere on the train. Dirty toilet paper from the restroom lay on the floor of the train car – it got stock to people's feet and they carried it around - the train personnel did not care and did not clean up.
The toilets were in extremely anti-sanitary condition since we boarded the train and to the end of the trip. Half-way down there was no more water in the toilet tanks for flushing. A lot of the bathrooms were out of order. The smell in and from the bathrooms was intolerable from the beginning to the end of the trip. Nevertheless, the lines to the restrooms were often long because of not too many functioning restrooms available on the train. When we asked about cleaning the toilets more frequently – our request was met with extreme rudeness from one of the train conductors. This followed up with harassment from the conductor.
Washing hands in the restrooms was an extreme challenge. Forget about brushing your teeth. Our waiter in the restaurant was very nice but his helper was extremely rude. Amtrak website promises Wi-Fi and two story train cars – this happened to be a complete lie. The train ran 1-1.5 hours behind schedule most of the way from Florida to New Jersey arriving to our destination in Trenton, NJ, 50 minutes late. The trip proved to be disastrous, we are planning not to use Amtrak anymore for our future trips. We contacted Customer Relations who were not very polite or receptive to our complaint.
Nevertheless, they finally issued a $150.00 travel certificate good for one year for travel by Amtrak. The certificate is in my and my wife's name. To cash it in we will have to travel with a handicapped person to the nearest Amtrak station (about half an hour away) - both of us would need to be present - we were informed by Customer Relations. Such a service from a transportation company is fully unacceptable. We used train services in Europe very extensively - we loved it. Amtrak sucks!
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- We paid for 2 business class tickets from L.A. To San Diego Aug. 30 to Sept. Nothing but disappointment. On the trip out we did not receive lunch. Were told drinks only after 12. We arrived 12:30 and never got a beverage. It gets worse. On the way home we called AmTrak before departing our hotel to inquire if we could take the 3 o'clock instead of the 4 o'clock train without any penalties. We were told by an employee of Amtrak it would be fine and no there would not be a problem to change times.
Anyhow, we boarded and got comfortable in our seats, when this very rude women named **, I think, she would not allow me to see her badge, told us to leave and go to coach. We explained we talked with AmTrak and they assured us there would be no conflict. Well ** would not listen to us. She insisted we vacate or seats, which costs far more than coach, because the train was expecting to be full and someone else would be in our seats.
Anyhow, my husband, who needs more leg room as he is over 6 ft. tall was forced to sit in coach with his legs up to his elbows. This is so unfair, as no one came into those seats at all. We could see since we were in the next car and had a clear view of business class seating. I am a reasonable person and feel we were treated unfairly. What can you do to make this right? Clearly, ** has a power thing going on and made us feel helpless. We are seniors who use the train often, but now worry this could happen to us again. I expect an apology from you, and at best a refund!
In summary taking Amtrak was a terrible experience. Arrogant unfriendly personnel, dirty bathrooms, cold temperatures because A.C. Is turned up too high, dirty windows, too uncomfortable to get any sleep, trains don't run on time, for what they charge for a sleeper you may as well fly. I would never take Amtrak again, I would drive first. Read the story: Amtrak experience was terrible. We took the Southwest Chief from Chicago to L.A., CA, 2 Reserved Coach Seats, departed 09-JUN-10; 3:15 pm - arrival 11-JUN-10; 8:15 am. This is what we experienced on the trip to L.A.
We were assigned seats by an Amtrak employee before boarding the train. Our seats were #3 and #4 on the last car of the train. We had all of bags in place and were all settled in. Then about 20 min. after the train pulled out of the station, the attendant for our car whose name is ** told us that we could not sit in those seats, they were for her and that we had to move. I told her that we were assigned those seats at the station, she said that they didn't know what they were doing and we had to move. We were somewhat embarrassed in front of the other passengers, since ** made us feel like we were trying to get away with something.
So took our luggage and moved to the new seats. Shortly thereafter we decided to go to the observation car, we spent maybe an hour and a half in the observation car and returned to our seats. When we returned to our car there were 2 people sitting in the seats that ** removed us from. When I asked ** why there were people sitting in those seats she said they over booked the train so she had to seat them there. Well the train was not over booked.
The rest of the evening and next day ** sat in the seats across from this couple and spent a lot of time talking to them, I suspect they were her friends and she wanted them to sit in the back across from her and that's why she moved us. ** was arrogant and not very friendly, she seemed to be bothered if you asked her a question. She spent a lot of her time texting on her cell phone. Sometime during the second day she moved up to the car in front of us along with her friends. Some other people then sat in the seats she removed us from.
All of the windows on the train were dirty, the windows on the observation car were very dirty, we could hardly see out of some of the windows, very disappointing since that's one of the reasons for riding the train. The bathrooms were always dirty but by the second day the sinks were clogged up, water was to the top. Some were out of paper towels. I saw a passenger put paper towels in one of the bathrooms, I don't know where she got them from. I guess ** was too busy texting.
During the second evening my wife came back from the restroom and told me that when she passed the baggage area she didn't see one of my suit cases. I went down to the baggage area and could not find one of my suit cases. I was now almost frantic thinking of the things I had in my bag that would be lost. I informed one of the conductors that my bag was missing, he went down to the baggage area with me, asked me to describe my bag, I did, he then took me to another car, showed me a bag that was stored above a seat that had a passenger in it and asked me if that was my bag, and it was.
He told me that sometimes they move people's bags from the baggage area so that can have room for larger suitcases. How can they move people's bags without telling them? If my wife hadn't noticed that my bag was missing what would I have gone when we got to our destination. Amtrak has no consideration for its passengers. Forget about trying to sleep in coach. The seats are very uncomfortable, they give you a very small pillow about 12" by 8" and don't even think of asking for two. The temperature was freezing at night, they wouldn't turn off the air, grown men were bundled up in blankets and wore hoodies.
Also the aisle lights are so bright they keep you awake, I was lucky if I got an hour of sleep each night. No A.C. Outlets by the passenger seats. The only electrical A.C. outlets were 2 of them on the observation car, of course everyone and their brother wanted to plug in. We were almost an hour late leaving Albuquerque, N.M., the morning of our arrival the conductor told me we would be a good 45 min. late arriving in L.A. so I called my son who was picking us up that we would be about an hour late.
I don't know how the engineer did it but we ended up getting to L.A. around 45 min earlier than what our original scheduled time was. So of course we had a long wait at the L.A. Station for my son to pick us up. The return trip, Southwest Chief, from Los Angeles to Chicago 19-JUN-10; 6:55 pm -- arrival 21-JUN-10; 3:10 pm. The return trip was slightly better than the train going out. But again we had a rude, arrogant attendant named **. Again the air was turned way up and it was freezing at night.
Earlier in the day an elderly man asked ** if he could turn the air down since it was cold on the car, ** was almost rude to him and told him that he couldn't and wouldn't turn it down. That evening I asked ** to turn down the air, it was too cold to try to sleep, again grown men were bundled in blankets wearing hoodies. ** told me that if tried to turn down the air he might break it and then we wouldn't have air conditioning the next day, what kind of crap is that? Again about an hour's sleep all night. The other thing on this car was the guy running the snack bar would come on the P.A. System about every half an hour trying to sell his snacks, drinks and food, Very Annoying.
All the windows were again dirty. The bathrooms were kept a little better. This time we kept all of our bags with us. An attendant named ** did try and keep things cleaner than the first train, she was often going around with a vacuum. The train arrived about an hour and a half late to Chicago.
NYC, NEW YORK -- Amtrak used to be a great option for getting round trip from upstate to NYC. It is now easier to drive car and park at any of the Metro parking lots that have express into city. Way cheaper option if you consider new pricing schemes for new reservation policies and constant increases in fares. With their new reserved seats policy the ability to have meetings run late or planes not leave on time meant one could just jump on next train to get back. It is cheaper and more convenient to drive to LIRR station or into to NYC now and have to deal with old, rattling, dirty, coaches with the most unhappy reps ever.
They now think themselves airlines which includes bad customer service, pretend penalty fees, and constant policy reminders. Trains are meant to be flexible, as they are in every other country I have traveled, which allows you to overlook the problems. Amtrak we have options, $160+ flexible round trip tickets to Albany! Today my international flight was delayed and Amtrak charged $82 to book the next half empty train going north. Why would anyone prepay for train ticket? Just buy lowest fare before you leave.
WINDSOR, CONNECTICUT -- At any time of day or night some train engineers continually blow their whistle in short blasts anywhere between the Farmington River and Hayden Station Road in Windsor Connecticut. It appears that they know someone along that area of the track and they are saying Hello but it is annoying to most (all) of the people in the area. I know they must blow at the Pierson Lane crossing and again at Hayden Station with two long, a short and a long but not all along the track in between like playing a symphony with the trains whistle. This happens on either the northbound or southbound trains at any time of day or night with one of the engineers. Please help stop the unnecessary noise.
POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK -- My first Amtrak experience, I was really excited! Looking forward to the scenic views, lounge car, being able to relax instead of taking a "white knuckle" driver to my destination. It would have taken me 4 hours if I drove myself. This ride ended up taking 8 hours. I was unable to find a seat right away, not because it was full of people but every row had 1 person that used up 2 seats. Finally I found the lounge car and was able to relax, window view, free internet that didn't work at all. So lounge car shut down, had to find another seat.
Finally after many stops I was able to find a window seat. Bathrooms were disgusting, pee all over floor possible sink. Pissed soaked towels in overflowing garbage, toilets that didn't flush! Remember I was stuck here for 8 hours. I did mention to the employees in the cafe and they said that they would lock the door, never happened. I was truly excited about my trip and was looking forward to taking more, not now, never again!
A long planned trip to Disney World with the grandkids was scheduled for the week following Thanksgiving. When I was making the travel arrangements, I was dreading the airport hassles, with visions of my 5 year old grandson being strip searched. (I think we all saw that video). Then I remembered the Auto Train. We did this trip a few times when our own kids were small, and liked it then. It's even better now. The train departs from Lorton VA, so we drove down from Boston the day before, and spent the time on a quick DC tour. You board the train at 3 pm, and at the same time your car is loaded onto a car carrier.
The train pulls out at 4, and at 5 they have the first seating for dinner in the dining car. On the outbound trip I had chicken marsala, wine and cheesecake. Returning it was braised beef, more wine and a decadent brownie a la mode. In general, the conductor and support staff are very cordial and friendly, and took time out to socialize with the kids. In the evening they run a movie in the lounge car, and put out cookies and snacks. After that, I was ready to recline my seat and close the shades. There are sleeper cars available, but I find the regular seats just fine. I didn't even need the bar car ahead of time to ensure a good sleep.
In the morning there is a Continental breakfast in the dining car. At 9 am the train rolls into Sanford FL, where they unload your car and you have a quick hop to WDW. Perhaps the best thing is because you have your own car, you can pack whatever you want. No luggage to haul around, you just take what you need onto the train with you. (i.e. Your toothbrush) Since you never know what to expect at this time of year, we packed both summer and cool weather clothing. The kids got a huge kick out of riding and sleeping on a train, and the cost (for 5 of us) was slightly less that airfare would have been. It was a win-win. I think I am going to consider taking a train next time I vacation, it was a very pleasant alternative. I'd love to see them give the airlines a run for their money.
FREMONT, MICHIGAN -- I am compelled to write and relate the horrible experience we received at the hands of the Amtrak Company. In the last five years, my family and I have been frequent and preferred travelers on Amtrak. We have traveled on Amtrak on our last three cross country vacations as first class passengers. We even use the Amtrak Visa as our most used credit card. I would also like to add here that as a teacher, I was one of the biggest advocates of train travel and your company until our most recent experience.
You can review the file # ** for details on our train reservations and tickets, but our trip went seriously awry almost at the very beginning of our journey. We planned to park in the long term parking in Holland Michigan and meet the Southwest Chief in Chicago. Upon pulling into the parking lot, we were immediately accosted by two women who refused to identify themselves. They were telling everyone that they could not park in the Amtrak designated lot but must move to a lot over a half mile away. The women claimed that the alternate lot was clearly identified with Amtrak signs and flags, but it was not.
Afraid that we would miss the train, my husband parked the car in a completely random parking lot nearly one mile away from the Amtrak lot. Throughout our entire stay in California, we never knew if our car would be in the lot when we returned or not. The one Amtrak employee at the station would not comment about these two unidentified women who were claiming to everyone that the parking lot would be "ripped up" for remodeling in a day or two even though the parking lot looked like it was in fine condition.
The train to Chicago was canceled and busses were sent to take us to Chicago. The Amtrak employee on our bus was very nice, but he did not know where the train stations were. We were lost a few times, and the employee had to go into gas stations (in full Amtrak uniform) and ask where the train stations were. Fortunately, we arrived in time to still catch the Southwest Chief train #3 on July 6.
As I stated before, my family and I are seasoned Amtrak travelers. Our car Hostess was excellent on this trip out to California. Our kids were really disappointed that Amtrak no longer employed a Native American guide for narration in the Western states or provided a movie in the lounge car. Our car Hostess, however, did point out many places of interest to us. Also very disappointing on our trip to California was the major decline in the food and service of the dining car.
We tried to understand paper table cloths and plastic plates as the ravages of budget cuts, but the "special" was the same "country fried steak" on both nights of the trip, and the passengers who were in the private, pulled cars treated the diner like a bar. They were given very preferential treatment to the Amtrak first class customers who only wanted to feed. We found the dining staff to be exceptionally rude to paying Amtrak customers and exceptionally accommodating to the people in the cars that were being pulled behind us.
All of the minor inconveniences pale, however, to what we experienced when our Train # 5 Southwest Chief arrived in Chicago at 9:00 p.m. - over five hours late. Once again, as seasoned Amtrak passengers, we did not worry about the delay and believed all the assurances we were given on the train that buses would be waiting to take us to our destinations or appropriate hotel accommodations would be made. Now, the nightmare begins.
When we arrived in Chicago, the customer service staff acted completely surprised and irritated by our presence. We were herded back and forth between a foyer, the ticket line, and waiting room G. Our family was sent and waited in line in three different places. The promised busses never came. Finally near midnight, we made it to a customer service employee who informed us that we were all going to be sent to a hotel in Homewood - a far south suburb which was over 40 miles away. I have enclosed a review on this hotel. I grew up near this hotel and it had hourly rates when I was a child.
There was no way I was going to this hotel 40 miles away from the station, after midnight, when I knew what a filthy and dangerous place it was. Because the employees would not send a bus back to this hotel until noon, anyone with a possible morning connection was basically told to like it or lump it. Especially rude throughout this entire experience was an employee with the last name **. She was seriously angry when about 15 of us opted to spend the night in the station and catch morning connections rather than go to this "fleabag" motel over 40 miles away.
Amtrak claimed that all Chicago hotels were filled. This was not true. Ms. ** said they usually put people up in Hyatt, Swiss hotel and Westin. I called all three hotels that night, and they all had rooms. Those of us who were spending the night were not given pillows or meals or even allowed in a first class lounge. We were ushered into a filthy coach lounge with individual metal chairs that were bolted together - not conducive to sleeping.
Ms. ** backed by an equally nasty security guard who insisted on treating us like prison inmates informed us that we had "refused" their offer of a hotel and we had better get something to eat (with our own money) in the next half hour because we were going to be confined to this room by the security guard. Making the best of it, we found some mats that were velcroed to the wall, and we made up beds.
In this group of fifteen was a crying teenage girl who we had to give money for food, other children, and a man who was traveling to his brother's funeral and needed to be there by the next afternoon. My husband had to phone work and tell them he would miss another day - not an easy call to make when you have been on vacation for two weeks. When we got all settled, in comes the nasty security guard and this Ms. ** again. In a loud voice with guard behind her, she demanded to know who had taken the mats off the walls.
We explained to her that we all had, and that it was our only means of passing the night without food, pillows, blankets, and now locked bathrooms. Again she angrily insisted that we were offered a hotel that we did not take and we were lucky they were letting us stay in this lounge. I then informed her that all of us wanted MORNING connections and would not be transported 40 miles away from the station without transportation back until noon could not go to this hotel. She then said she was going to get a manager and that we would not be permitted to use the mats.
After she strode away, the security guard told us that we were lucky we were not going to be thrown on the streets. He told us he should take us out and turn us out on the streets of Chicago and it was only by the grace of Amtrak that we were getting this lounge. My kids started crying and then he left. A few minutes later, the manager strode into the lounge, took one look at our pathetic selves that you must remember had been a train for three days before this experience. Then he strode out again without a word.
Thankfully, we never saw Ms. ** again, but at 5 am, the security guard yelled in prison tone and fashion, "OK, ladies and gentlemen, this lounge is opening in 5 minutes. You need to get up, put the cushions back and get out. McDonalds will be opening in 5 minutes!!!" Let me tell you, at that moment, I did not feel like someone who had paid thousands of dollars to be a first class passenger on Amtrak, my husband was missing work, my exhausted kids were sicker than dogs, I felt dirty inside and out. We cashed in our train tickets, and headed to Greyhound by cab. We slept on the floor of the Greyhound station until our bus came to take us to Michigan.
I am not writing this letter because I want anything from Amtrak, but you need to be aware of the way first class passengers were treated at the hands of your corporation. Our experience was nothing short of a nightmare but then I think what if I were elderly, or a mother traveling alone or someone like that poor terrified teenage girl with no money who spent the night in the lounge with us? What about these people? C'mon Amtrak, you can do better and you know you can. Time to clean house and start being a service for people again.
I am only a teacher, but I could have never treated anyone the way Ms. ** and the rest of that staff treated us. I could have never went home to my comfy bed knowing there were people in that stuffy, nasty lounge all night. Shame on them. Shame on them. And if you ignore this letter and do nothing about this: Shame on you. When we arrived back in Holland, MI and hiked the mile to our car absolutely no changes had been made to where we were originally going to park in the Amtrak lot.
On May 29, 2010 I boarded an Amtrak train leaving from Detroit @ 6:48 am. After boarding this train appox 3 hours into our train ride the conductor indicates to the passengers, "There is a trespasser". After sitting there scared because of the word used, the conductor returns appox 30 minutes later to state "Did you hear what happened?"
We stared waiting for him to continue. So, he states "there has been a suicide, someone jumped in front of the train right outside of Battle Creek MI". After waiting for several hours, the train runs out of cold water. And this was horrible because the air conditioning was not working either and to top this off the train smelled like urine. About 4 hours after this "suicide" we start moving, then appox within the hour the engine stops because the train ran out of gas; which delayed the train appox another hour.
After all this we finally made it to Chicago, entering in on the 351 Wolverine train @ 5 pm when we were supposed to be there @ 11:30 am. Customer Service changes our tickets to leave the next day @ the same time. No compensation for our time or accommodations. We left upset and angry.
On, May 30, 2010 we returned to try to speak to someone again about this huge interruption. It was very hard as a (Manager in Chicago Union train station @ 5 pm on May 30, 2010) told us it was not Amtrak's fault someone committed suicide and delayed the train. Well, with this information I was really upset as ** is wrong. Amtrak should be and will be taking responsibility for this unexpected event which changed the lives of there over 300 passengers. But, I guess the uneducated manager, Amtrak decided to hire does not understanding, business 101. This event altered me and over 300 other passengers' lives and Amtrak should be held responsible.
Amtrak is a company who relies on people to making their business a success. I have learned the old philosophy, meaning successful businesses still count on customer's word of mouth to bring in business. Well, with this being my first experience with Amtrak, I will say this will be my last. I will continue to use the old philosophy at all cost to indicate to people and Amtrak's future customers to "not" use this company for their transportation needs. I believe with this being said Amtrak should have reimbursed at the least half of our train ticket and/or paid for our hotel. Amtrak did nothing; because Ms. ** stated it's not Amtrak's fault for altering our whole trip.
With this being said, most people will stop here at commenting on review pages, contacting customer service, telling friends and family or even continuing to write letters. Well, not me I am an advocate of customer service and every customer should be treated with respect. The way ** spoke to me and my family was downgrading and disrespectful and I guess because Amtrak is not to blame, myself and my family should take the blame for not only our travel plans being altered but the disrespectfulness of ** as well.
I would hope to think, Amtrak takes this very seriously as I am going to continue to use my voice and contact channel 2 in Michigan; reporting this incident. I also, would hope Amtrak does not take lightly to their "Managers" being disrespectful to c.