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Old Jul 29, 12, 12:23 pm   #1
 
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Getting the most of out our trip

Hi folks,

We're a British couple travelling with our baby around the NE corridor for our vacation. We've got the following legs (NYP-BOS, BOS-PHL, PHL-WAS and WAS-NYP) in First on Acela Express and wondered if anybody had any tips on maximising the experience.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 29, 12, 12:38 pm   #2
 
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Originally Posted by MadProfessor View Post
Hi folks,

We're a British couple travelling with our baby around the NE corridor for our vacation. We've got the following legs (NYP-BOS, BOS-PHL, PHL-WAS and WAS-NYP) in First on Acela Express and wondered if anybody had any tips on maximising the experience.

Thanks.
Hi MadProfessor,

I don't have very many tips, but here are a few that come to mind:

- Since you will be in Acela First, make sure to take full advantage of the Club Acela lounges in NYP, BOS and WAS. Boarding at WAS and BOS is much more civilized, but boarding in NYP can be chaotic to say the least.

I recommend checking in at the Club Acela and informing the agent that you would like a red cap (who will assist you with luggage and provide a 5 minute head start on boarding ahead of everyone else in the lounge and at least 15 minutes before general boarding). Especially since you have a baby, this will help to make the transition from lounge to train much less stressful.

- You will be served meals on each of the Acela First legs, but keep in mind that you are not required to accept the meals at a certain fixed time. When the attendant takes your order, you can specify that you'd like to wait an hour or until after you depart Philadelphia, etc.

- This isn't a tip per se, but just a general thought. I travel Acela First quite often and don't see very many babies. If your trip is during the week, there will be a lot of business people on cell phones and some sitting in groups looking over papers and trying to get work done. There is a chance you'll get some stares and possibly some dirty looks if your baby happens to cry loudly. I'm not taking sides and advocating that you do anything differently, just something to be aware of.

I hope these were helpful. Enjoy your trips!
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Old Jul 29, 12, 6:16 pm   #3
 
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If you ever plan to take Amtrak again, I'd sign up for Amtrak's loyalty program- amtrakguestrewards.com. Maybe you'd get enough points with any bonuses that are available to get something, even a gift certificate or something.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:38 am   #4
 
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Boarding at NYP does not have to be quite so chaotic if you do it from the mezzanine level. If you are in the Acela lounge, the agents often announce the track number before it goes up on the big board. The instant that they make this announcement, leave the lounge and take the stairs down to the mezzanine level (the stairs are located in the center of the main waiting area, one on each side of the big board). There are staircases on that level that lead to each track. Just find your track, walk down, and get on the train. This is the prime way to get a good seat without having to deal with (read: tip) a redcap.

If you are traveling in F then you also have to decide for yourself whether you want to tip the attendant at the end of your ride. They are often rather blatant about soliciting tips (which many find aggravating, myself included), but it is up to you whether you tip or not. It is certainly not required.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 9:22 am   #5
 
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One minor suggestion for the NYP-BOS portion of your trip. I prefer to sit on the right side of the train (if your seats are facing the direction that the train is moving). You get a great view beaches and Long Island Sound for part of the ride.

For the same view, you'll want to sit on the left side for BOS-PHL.
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Old Jul 31, 12, 2:36 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
We're a British couple travelling with our baby around the NE corridor for our vacation
Will your baby be travelling on your lap or in a carrier? My wife and I did a fair bit of travelling with my son when he was still portable. For his and our comfort, we typically brought a carrier for him that fit on the seat. For the three BOS to NYP trips we did (in business class), I purchased a ticket for him so I'd be guaranteed to have a place to put his carrier. In all cases, there was no need for the ticket so I returned it for a refund after the trip.

Other than that, other posters have given good advice. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Aug 2, 12, 6:01 am   #7
 
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Thanks for the advice folks. Not a great start to out vacation with a trip to the ER in NYC last night.

Anyway...how long before departure do you recommend arriving at the stations? We have a 12:15 train on Saturday NYP-BOS.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 6:35 am   #8
 
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Thanks for the advice folks. Not a great start to out vacation with a trip to the ER in NYC last night.

Anyway...how long before departure do you recommend arriving at the stations? We have a 12:15 train on Saturday NYP-BOS.
Oh, no! I hope the patient, whoever it was, is OK and able to enjoy the vacation!

If you have a fair amount of luggage/baby gear to deal with, and if this is your first time navigating Penn Station, then I would advise you to show up perhaps 30 minutes before train time. I routinely screech into Penn with as little as 5 minutes to spare, but I never have bags and I've been a frequent traveler through that station for the last 16 years.

Once you get the hang of it you can cut your lead time to 15-20 minutes.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 11:58 am   #9
 
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It was our baby. He was pretty sick but quickly bounced back with the right care. They're fairly resilient little things really.

We need to collect our tickets from the machine and would like to check out the lounge. I guess an hour beforehand should be fine. We do have quite a bit of luggage with all our baby stuff.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 12:15 pm   #10
 
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It was our baby. He was pretty sick but quickly bounced back with the right care. They're fairly resilient little things really.

We need to collect our tickets from the machine and would like to check out the lounge. I guess an hour beforehand should be fine. We do have quite a bit of luggage with all our baby stuff.
Good to hear the little guy is doing better. That must have been very scary.

Keep your expectations VERY low for the Acela lounge at NYP. It is not a place I would willingly arrive 45 minutes, or even 10 minutes, ahead of time to sit in. It's a cramped, windowless, loud room with bathrooms that could have been lifted straight out of your junior high school, brusque-to-surly attendants, and just packets of chips (crisps) and a soda dispenser for refreshments. There is a blaring TV set to CNN at all hours, which is hard to avoid being deafened by. At the time of day you'll be there, you should not have a problem with seating, but I have been there at times when pretty much every chair is taken.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 5:38 pm   #11
 
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Thanks for the tips.
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Old Aug 5, 12, 4:32 am   #12
 
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Thanks for the help. I may get around the writing up a trip report but briefly:

- Penn is a zoo and fairly dirty. Reminds me of our London stations before they refurbished them all about 5-10 years ago.
- The lounge is comfortable with large seats but that's it. I never thought I'd miss our first class lounges in England.
- The view from the Acela was lovely, the service friendly and the drinks very generous. The food was fairly good.
- The train is slow! It's about half the speed of the train I most frequently use back home. I guess this is the tracks and not the train itself.
- It was so very easy going from Penn to Back Bay.

Overall we were very happy.
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Old Aug 5, 12, 1:57 pm   #13
 
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Glad you enjoyed it! When you go back on the train, I recommend boarding at Boston South Station (instead of Back Bay). That way you can wait in the BOS club acela, which is nicer than the one in NYP, and again, you can preboard with a redcap you will help you with your bags.

I also really like the club acela in PHL, which has an elevator that you can use to access the platform for the train directly from the club.
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Old Aug 9, 12, 6:43 am   #14
 
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Getting the most of out our trip

I must say Boston has been much nicer. It's smaller, quieter and cleaner than NYP and there was a lovely red cap called Alan waiting by the entrance to the Club Acela lounge who has lovely and friendly. He's taken our bags while we wait in the lounge. And Lynn, the lounge attendant was much friendlier than the folk at NYP.

The lounge is similar - rubbish snacks but large, comfortable chairs. However there's some natural light which is a big improvement. Both lounges have been very quiet.

So a last question - can we upgrade a leg to First once it's been ticketed?

We booked a multi city ticket travelling
NYP-BOS
BOS-PHL-WAS
WAS-NYP

Only NYP-BOS and BOS-PHL were booked in First as they're the long trips but my wife has gotten used to the calm of the F experience and we thought about upgrading the WAS-NYP. Is this possible as we already have the tickets?
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Old Aug 9, 12, 10:00 am   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadProfessor View Post
...
Only NYP-BOS and BOS-PHL were booked in First as they're the long trips but my wife has gotten used to the calm of the F experience and we thought about upgrading the WAS-NYP. Is this possible as we already have the tickets?
Yes, you can, but it could be costly. Basically, the segment is cancelled and a new booking is made. The segment is repriced at the current base fare, then the F charge is added. If you presently have a lower base fare, the total cost for moving to First may high. Doesn't hurt to call and ask, then you can decide if it os worth the increase.
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