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Coast Starlight Seats or Roomette for LA to SLO?

Coast Starlight Seats or Roomette for LA to SLO?

Old Feb 6, 13, 10:26 am
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Coast Starlight Seats or Roomette for LA to SLO?

Hi - I'm thinking about taking the Coast Starlight with my mom from Los Angeles to the Central Coast. Is it worth an extra $80 ($40 each) to get a roomette? Obviously, we won't be sleeping, and the breakfast and lunch aren't worth that much, but the added privacy might be nice.

I've taken this trip before in the opposite direction and enjoyed wine tasting, but I don't believe we will get this on this northbound section.

Also, is there a private viewing car or other amenities that I am forgetting about? Thanks!
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Old Feb 6, 13, 10:47 am
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Sleeping car passengers also have access to the Parlour Car (if included in the consist) that offers more comfortable seating and casual dining options. I'm not sure I'd pay the extra for just that. If you make your way to the observation car early, you should be able to stake out some nice seats there for your trip.
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Old Feb 6, 13, 11:26 am
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Observation Car

That's a good idea...thanks! Can we go to the station early, say 20 minutes beforehand, and then get on and go directly to the observation car, or do we need to go to our seats first?

Also, does the regular Pacific Surfliner have a decent car from which to enjoy the views? The times (earlier) would be better, but I don't think it would be nearly as enjoyable.
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Old Feb 6, 13, 11:40 am
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Unless you request assisted boarding, LAX does not announce track numbers until the train is ready to board. I have yet to have two Amtrak trains follow the same procedure in a row. Some conductors will collect tickets and assign seats as you board. Some will collect tickets outside the train and let you pick seats after you board. Some will let you board and collect tickets once they make the rounds. Your best bet is to ask once you get to the train.

I don't recall if any of the Surfliners have any sort of observation car. But if the choice is between getting to my destination earlier or an observation car, I'd go earlier. But that's my choice. If you've got all day to get to where you are going and the cost is equal, the view may win out.
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Old Feb 6, 13, 12:29 pm
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The Surfliner does not have an observation car, though you can pick your seats. If you are taking the early Surfliner to SLO (Train 761/1761) be aware that every other day it uses Amfleet cars which have smaller windows and are single level cars (lower to the ground).

The CS does not serve Breakfast on the first day. You shouldn't have a problem getting a seat in the SSL if you are boarding at LAX, even if the conductor doesn't collect tickets before hand. There usually is a booth in the lobby of the station for coach passengers to check in and receive seat assignments.

The PPC would be more of a private viewing car as it is restricted to sleeping car passengers. You would receive lunch with your Roomette if you went that route in either the diner or the PPC. The wine and cheese tasting usually starts after SLO unless the train is running a bit late.

You may enjoy the ride on the CS a bit more than the PS in terms of viewing but unless you were riding futher north and getting Dinner for two, I wouldn't think the Roomette would be worth it for that price and that distance.
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Old Feb 7, 13, 11:50 am
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Presumably you want to be able to enjoy the scenic ocean views as you head north to SLO. With a roomette it's luck of the draw in terms of whether you'll be facing the ocean or facing away from the ocean. If the latter is true then you will probably spend much of your time away from your roomette anyhow, which would make you really wonder what the point of that extra $$$ was anyhow. [And no, lunch in the diner is NOT worth $40 p/p so that in and of itself isn't reason to upgrade].

Unlike coach seats, you have absolutely no way of knowing or influencing which side of the train your roomette will be on.
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Old Feb 8, 13, 3:41 pm
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I'm a frequent PS rider but have only been on the CS a few times, most recently this past summer. Generally boarding for LD trains starts earlier than for the local/regional trains, so once onboard you can roam about the train. I think we've gotten on as early as 30 minutes before departure. Just don't dwell in the dining car since the attendants will be setting up in there.

If you opt for a roomette from LAX to SLO, you will get lunch along the way in the PPC or diner. On our trips, the included wine tasting occurred after SBA and concluded before SLO. I believe, but am not sure, that they try to arrange the sleeping cars such that the bedrooms face the ocean. If true, you can use that information to select a roomette that will face the ocean. Otherwise, you can always go to the PPC to see out both sides at once.

It's a personal preference whether the above amenities are worth the price difference. If you've never done it before or infrequently ride LD trains, the experience may be worth the splurge, especially since you said you'd be travelling with your mom. The CS is one of Amtrak's premier LD routes.

FYI the PS is usually cheaper, especially if you're able to apply a discount code. It's a regional train and does not have an observation car as standard equipment. As a previous poster mentioned, there is a good chance you'll up one of Amtrak's older single level trains, which is not as nice as standard PS trainset.
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Old Feb 9, 13, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by fanoftravel View Post
Hi - I'm thinking about taking the Coast Starlight with my mom from Los Angeles to the Central Coast.
No a surcharge of 1.5 times the base fare is hardly worth it to me, not if you were going to Portland, it's a different story.

Bob H
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