Can I be ordered to sit in a particular car?

Old Sep 22, 17, 7:52 pm
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Can I be ordered to sit in a particular car?

I just boarded a train, around middle of he coach cars, and a conductor was standing outside and insisted I go one way, versus another. He said people needing single seats have to go sit in X car, and the direction I was headed is only for doubles.

Well, I called BS. The car he wanted me to suffer in was overcrowded, any single seats had a sleeping person slumped / usurping both, it smelled, the bag racks we're all full...meanwhile the car he decided was "doubles* is clean, cool, plenty of open seats, lovely, quiet, perfect.

So I sat in this car anyway. Conductor saw me moving into the car he didn't want me to join and says "sir I asked you to sit in that car." I told him there weren't any seats, there are no reserved seats, and that I can sit anywhere I want. And I did sit down. And I didn't see him again. All I can find on the website is that seats are all first come first served. Is there any official rule that allows him to order me to sit somewhere specifically?

Mind you, this car is FULL of single riders.
(Long time flyertalk guy but first time on the Amtrak thread, apologies in advance if this question has already been asked/answered, I don't see it.)
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Old Sep 23, 17, 8:16 am
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What route was this on? I havenít seen this before, though on the Michigan routes they typically split up the train by destination
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Old Sep 23, 17, 8:29 am
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The Carolinean, boarding in Baltimore, northbound to New York.
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Old Sep 23, 17, 10:44 pm
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On the NER that never happens but it has happened to me on several LD trains I've taken in coach. It burns me up, tbh. I know they have their system, but it is often to the detriment of the single traveler. Mine have been within the same car and there is usually a sign/card on the seats saying they're reserved for parties of two. I have no trouble moving them when there is a particular seat I want to sit in (I move the sign to a different pair of empty seats, obviously).
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Old Sep 23, 17, 11:11 pm
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Yes, for long distance trains they often do this. My guess is because they know pretty close to many people are boarding and getting off at each station, and generally know how many of those booked together, they have a sense of how many "group seats" they need to save. I've had different experiences with how strict they are - sometimes I've been assigned a specific car, a few times I've been assigned a specific seat when boarding.

Also for overnight trains, they usually ask you to board a specific car based on your final destination - this allows them to group people together who are getting off at stops in the middle of the night, so as not to disturb people in every coach on the train.

Presumably, you could leave a jacket or small bag at your assigned seat, and then go sit in the cafe car where there's seating on a first come, first serve basis (though you might have to get a coffee or something to eat to sit there)
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Old Sep 24, 17, 6:45 am
  #6  
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Amtrak reserves the right, whenever operating conditions require, to transfer passengers from one car or train to another en route.

https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Satel...=1241267399716
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Old Sep 24, 17, 6:52 am
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Originally Posted by marcworld View Post
I just boarded a train, around middle of he coach cars, and a conductor was standing outside and insisted I go one way, versus another. He said people needing single seats have to go sit in X car, and the direction I was headed is only for doubles.

Well, I called BS. The car he wanted me to suffer in was overcrowded, any single seats had a sleeping person slumped / usurping both, it smelled, the bag racks we're all full...meanwhile the car he decided was "doubles* is clean, cool, plenty of open seats, lovely, quiet, perfect.

So I sat in this car anyway. Conductor saw me moving into the car he didn't want me to join and says "sir I asked you to sit in that car." I told him there weren't any seats, there are no reserved seats, and that I can sit anywhere I want. And I did sit down. And I didn't see him again. All I can find on the website is that seats are all first come first served. Is there any official rule that allows him to order me to sit somewhere specifically?

Mind you, this car is FULL of single riders.
(Long time flyertalk guy but first time on the Amtrak thread, apologies in advance if this question has already been asked/answered, I don't see it.)
Pretty simple answer right on Amtrak's website. "Yes"
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Old Sep 24, 17, 7:35 am
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"Ordered"??? 🙄🙄

I ride the Acela and at many times conductors walk about or make announcements requesting people move around. I do know for a fact that they do ask other to move from the quiet car if they cannot keep quiet.
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Old Sep 24, 17, 8:30 am
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This is a common practice outside the NEC ---often only a few cars are opened at any given station because of platform size and on some long distance trains only one or two cars are used for short haul passengers.

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Old Sep 24, 17, 10:03 am
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On long-distance trains, I will often have coach attendants try to tell me where to sit, but more rarely conductors. I tend to ignore the coach attendants' instructions when the alternatives are more comfortable but am much less likely to challenge the person who can throw me off the train at the nearest grade crossing.

I've never had a conductor question me about my seat when I've sat in a different seat than a coach attendant directed me to. If they did, I'd of course comply.

I've also moved seats (taking my seat check with me) mid-trip, especially at or just before the next crew change point (the new crew won't even know that I'm not where I was told to sit).

I cannot recall the last time anyone directed me to a specific seat or made me move on a corridor train.

Last edited by jackal; Sep 25, 17 at 7:57 am
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Old Sep 25, 17, 7:18 am
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Originally Posted by marcworld View Post
The Carolinean, boarding in Baltimore, northbound to New York.
Same train where I had a similar experience, albeit in Business. Assigned an aisle seat, and basically told, "that's your seat, no moving" despite there often being window seats open. Was told by the car attendant that she wouldn't allow any single travelers into window seats after the early stops "to keep the doubles open." After that, I decided the inflexibility probably rendered BC worthless on a route like that (I can bring and/or buy beverages to make up for the "freebie"), but guess I would likely not have done any better in coach.

I am surprised that the NEC crew (as it would be a different crew from WAS north to NYP), though, would continue to sort passengers like that, since it's effectively just another corridor Regional at that point, northbound.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 10:28 pm
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This is standard and sometimes very frustrating. I was once booked WAS to CYN on the Carolinian and traveling with two friends who were booked WAS to RGH. The attendant demanded we sit in separate cars, because not all cars open at CYN and apparently having me move cars after RGH would be too confusing. (I finally won that fight by simply saying, fine, I'll get off ten minutes earlier at RGH.)
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Old Sep 27, 17, 7:58 pm
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I've had one experience on the Carolinian. There was no line to board. Everyone just crowded around the door at the gate. They boarded the ADA passengers first, then whoever was at the front was assigned a seat. The train was severely overbooked, and they only boarded a handful of people including myself before they told everyone else that they were SOL.

I was assigned a seat, and when I got there, there was a person that took up about 75% of my seat because he was so large. (I'm a slightly larger than average person myself). When the conductor came by, I asked to be moved, only to be told that there were no more seats. So, I moved to the cafe car once it opened. The conductors seemed fine with me sitting in the cafe car.

Originally Posted by octr202 View Post
Same train where I had a similar experience, albeit in Business. Assigned an aisle seat, and basically told, "that's your seat, no moving" despite there often being window seats open. Was told by the car attendant that she wouldn't allow any single travelers into window seats after the early stops "to keep the doubles open." After that, I decided the inflexibility probably rendered BC worthless on a route like that (I can bring and/or buy beverages to make up for the "freebie"), but guess I would likely not have done any better in coach.
Complain to Amtrak. They seem to be very generous with compensation lately.
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Old Nov 15, 17, 9:21 pm
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I travel every so often on the Capitol Limited between DC and northern Indiana. If you start at Union Station, you are directed to one of the three coach cars depending on your destination. They seem to put all the Chicago people in the forward coach car; the Toledo-Waterloo-Elkhart-South Bend people in the middle car, and the rest in the rear car. They also give you a small ticket with a seat number on it which you are expected to sit in the whole trip (they don't mind you getting up and sitting in the sightseer car). Therefore, I try to be the last person on board, as this will generally allow me to take a seat without a neighbor in the rear of the car.

Part of the reason for this is that some station platforms are too short for the entire train to park in front of (Rockville, Cumberland, Connellsville and Elkhart come to mind), and the train makes two stops at these stations, one for the sleeping cars, the other for the coach cars.

I'm going Friday evening 11/17, and trying Harper's Ferry (HFY); I'm going in a roomette in both directions. HFY is not much further for me than WAS, and the parking situation is much better there than at Union Station.
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