Love Hate Relationship With Amtrak
CHICAGO-LOS ANGELES, ILLINOIS -- Here's the good, bad and ugly regarding my many trips on Amtrak, always long distance (since I had to stop flying due to an ear pressure issue)
Good: if you get a sleeper car, you are treated well by everyone working on the train it seems.
Bad: Sleeping cars will make it prohibitively expensive if you need to travel more than once a year and book quick.
Ugly: if you book coach (which still costs slightly more than a similar airline ticket for long, big city trips), be prepared to be treated like trash by most Amtrak employees. You might as well not be human. I have dealt with 10% of attendants who aren't like this (and be very thankful if you get a dreadlocked gentleman named Michael, he is awesome).
Good: food, which is included in your total if you book a sleeper, is surprisingly edible.
Bad: if you do not get a sleeper, the dining options are pretty pricey for what you get and they tend to serve you with less care (a recurring theme with Amtrak employees).
Ugly: Amtrak is ridiculously disorganized, will overfill overnight trips with seating arrangements, when you walk through the train, there are empty 2 seaters all over the place. Meanwhile, they consistently put tall guys together for days, making it very uncomfortable just because they can. And they will not rectify it because if you are traveling in coach, who cares about you.
Good: very informative about delays, which aren't their fault. Anyone who travels by train knows Amtrak doesn't own the rails and the vaunted private sector believes all goods have the right of way over people. So if you blame the government, as some commenters do, you should note the next bad. And they try to make up time in the middle, but obviously can not get ahead until the end since they can't leave stops early.
Bad: a lot of entitled jack holes seem to ride, whether it be 12 pieces of luggage guy or fall asleep on your shoulder guy.
Good: lots of great scenery. Great way to see the country. Multi city option is great.
Bad: the guest rewards program is awful. They spend more time with point gimmicks on credit cards and other shopping offers than they do on loyal travelers, which is just awful.
Ugly: I will reiterate, most of the attendants are just horrid. Watch your stuff like a hawk, because if something goes missing, they don't care at all.
Good: always had an outlet right at my seat. Makes travel easier.
Bad: get wifi and join the 21st century. Most Greyhounds have it for crying out loud.
Good: loads of legroom and carry on space. Bring some food with you if you can taking advantage of this.
Bad: pay someone to clean the bathrooms, although maybe some passengers should join civilization instead of being gross.
I could say more, but this covers the what to expect.