First Class on Surfliner??

Old Apr 9, 17, 2:27 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Left Coast
Posts: 823
First Class on Surfliner??

I was surprised to see a first class car on the surfliner when riding recently between LAX and Santa Barbara. We booked business class using points, but I would have booked first class had I known it was possible. For future reference, how does one determine if a surfliner train has such a car, and how to book a seat? I didn't even know such was a possibility.
zippy the pinhead is offline  
Old Apr 9, 17, 3:24 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: flyover country
Posts: 977
no answer, just more questions

What does "First Class on Surfliner" mean? Were there rooms? Were there benefits beyond business class? If so, what were they?

Was there a sign saying the car was first class? If not, how did you know?

I'm interested in the answer to your question, but also in what the practical effect of being in first class on a Surfliner is.
serpens is offline  
Old Apr 9, 17, 4:12 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: East Coast, USA
Posts: 1,001
I'm confused too. If there indeed is a First Class, it's better be a sleeper. The Club Car or "Metroliner F" (2X1 leather that used to roam LAX-SLO and vv) doesn't count, as it was still business.
radiowell is offline  
Old Apr 9, 17, 4:29 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: CWT
Programs: Amtrak Guest Rewards, Hilton Honors
Posts: 40
Did you actually look IN the car? I know from observation lately that Surfliners have what appears to be a car in Amtrak California livery right behind the business car/ahead of the lounge car.
Amtrak's website, the reservation page, only lists "Coach" and "Business Class"
FrensicPic is offline  
Old Apr 9, 17, 8:24 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Left Coast
Posts: 823
There were signs on the inner doors of the car, which plainly stated that it was a first class car and that tickets were required. The northbound train had the engine in the back, connected to the business car, connected to the first class car. The interior was different than the business car interior; it was darker, the seats were wider, and they were different in that they had kind of a semi lazy-boy recliner leg rest that comes up.

I should have asked the conductor.

===========
Update

Talked with an Amtrak employee regarding the first class car. Apparently it is a business class car which is put into the train in anticipation of demand, regardless of what the signage says.

Last edited by zippy the pinhead; Apr 10, 17 at 10:21 pm Reason: Added information
zippy the pinhead is offline  
Old Apr 11, 17, 10:36 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Left Coast
Posts: 823
Another update. I rode from Santa Barbara down to Orange County today and there was a similar car on this run (#31018). At first it was quieter than the business class car, and the seats reclined nicely, so I sat in that car. The downstairs level had no seats, just some space for luggage and some restrooms.

When the opportunity presented itself I asked the conductor what the deal was, and he said more or less the same thing the person at the station told me: the car is used as half business class and half coach, and they put it in the train to accommodate high demand for business class at certain times. You can see from photographs around the Web that the car has been in service on the Surfliner from time to time.

Some interior shots:




This side of the curtain is Business Class, the other side is Coach. The conductors were seated in the four seats facing each other just in front of the curtain, making sure the only ones who came into business class were ticketed as such.



Why it was signed "first class" on the one train, I have no idea.
zippy the pinhead is offline  
Old Apr 12, 17, 7:56 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: flyover country
Posts: 977
Thanks for the follow-up report, zippy the pinhead.
serpens is offline  
Old Apr 13, 17, 5:13 am
  #8  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: New York, NY, USA
Programs: HH Diamond, Amtrak Exec
Posts: 3,262
That's one of the retrofitted cars for the Coast Starlight, the overnight run from LA to Seattle. They're offering Business class seating on that train which provides a few extra perks. Guess they were running short of regular Surfliner cars.

It would also explain the first class signs, since sleepers are considered first class. The signs were probably handy because of that.
AlanB is offline  
Old Apr 16, 17, 2:56 am
  #9  
Marriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Orange County California
Programs: IHG Platinum Ambassador, Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Platinum Premier, Mileage Plus Silver
Posts: 1,103
They started this late last year. The Superliner Coach car was moved next to the business class car and now used for overflow business class. At first, I believe they used the whole car for business class, but couple months later, Amtrak added a divider curtain with only half the car used for business class and the other half for coach.
seat38a is offline  
Old Apr 16, 17, 8:33 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: East Coast, USA
Posts: 1,001
Thanks for the update. Yes, they do this at times, especially at peak riding times (e.g., Del Mar racing).
radiowell is offline  
Old Apr 17, 17, 5:51 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Left Coast
Posts: 823
Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
They started this late last year. The Superliner Coach car was moved next to the business class car and now used for overflow business class. At first, I believe they used the whole car for business class, but couple months later, Amtrak added a divider curtain with only half the car used for business class and the other half for coach.
That's what the conductor said (started around September 2016), but the photos linked downthread show that this car has been in service on the Surfliner before.

Is the interior of the car original? Hard to believe if so, since the condition seemed very good.
zippy the pinhead is offline  
Old Apr 20, 17, 8:28 pm
  #12  
Marriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Orange County California
Programs: IHG Platinum Ambassador, Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Platinum Premier, Mileage Plus Silver
Posts: 1,103
Originally Posted by zippy the pinhead View Post
That's what the conductor said (started around September 2016), but the photos linked downthread show that this car has been in service on the Surfliner before.

Is the interior of the car original? Hard to believe if so, since the condition seemed very good.
The Superliner cars have always been on the Surfliner for Coach passengers. They were the 5th car from the engine. Superliner cars are the ones used on Long Distance trains and have seats which are comparable to the Domestic First Class seats on airlines. The State of California, leased the Superliner cars for use on State Supported routes due to the popularity of the service and the lack of extra Surfliner cars. I've always said that the Superliner cars were way too nice to be used for Coach and it looks like someone high up also thought the same thing. I personally sit in the Superliner Business Class because the seats are nicer than the regular business class seats.
seat38a is offline  
Old Apr 25, 17, 7:07 pm
  #13  
Moderator, Alaska Airlines & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SGF
Programs: AS, AA, UA, AGR (ex-75K, GLD, 1K, and S+), Choice Diamond, HZ PC, Costco Exec, NPS Passport
Posts: 22,882
Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
I personally sit in the Superliner Business Class because the seats are nicer than the regular business class seats.
The only shortcoming of the Superliner cars was, until recently, the lack of Amtrak Connect wifi in them. As of my latest experiences on the Surfliner, this has been rectified, and wifi is now available in all cars, Superliner included.

No reason to pay more for business unless you forecast traveling on an over-full train. Just pay for Coach and sit in the Superliner.

(Bonus: because the Superliner's lower door does not open at station stops, there are often more empty seats in the Superliner car than in other seats, so it's a win-win-win to grab a seat in the Superliner.)
jackal is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread