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NYP-WAS: Acela vs. Regional, FC vs BC vs Coach

NYP-WAS: Acela vs. Regional, FC vs BC vs Coach

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Old Jun 5, 07, 9:34 am
  #1  
ALW
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NYP-WAS: Acela vs. Regional, FC vs BC vs Coach

I may have an opportunity to take Amtrak from New York to Washington. I was surprised to see a relatively small difference in time between the Acela and Regional services (2h45m vs. as little as 3h10m).

Acela also seems to be much more expensive than the Regional Service, even with the upgrade to BC (e.g. Acela for $157 vs. Regional BC for $67+$34). It doesn't sound like you get much more for $157. But I could be wrong, what does Acela give you over Regional BC?

FC on Acela (guess it's not on the other trains) is much more expensive but I might try it anyway, one way at least. I can see it gives better seating (2-1 vs. 2-2), lounge access, hot meal, etc.

I tried to relate these to VIA's service, which is either Coach or First, andVIA's First seems to be somewhere between BC and FC: same 2-2 seating (as VIA Coach) but more legroom and renovated seats, AC power at each seat, hot meal and free drinks, lounge access.

Thanks for any advice!

=aw

Last edited by ALW; Jun 5, 07 at 9:40 am
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Old Jun 5, 07, 10:28 am
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I've never ridden Acela first class, but I have been on Acela business class, as well as coach and business class on regional trains. I've found the business class on regional trains to be more comfortable than the business class on Acela.

Unless you want to spring for Acela first class, which I've heard very good things about, I would take a regional train (assuming that the extra half-hour travel time does not matter to you). You can apply the discount code "V688" to regional trains for a 20% discount off of the coach fare. (V688 is not valid on Acela. You can still upgrade from coach to business on a regional train with V688, but the discount only applies to the coach fare, not to the upgrade charge.)
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Old Jun 5, 07, 10:47 am
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Have you read this thread? It was a lively discussion of the differences between regional service and Acela service.

Acela FC has improved since that thread (so I understand). I just don't know if FC is worth about $250. Can you score a coupon from Coupon Connection? Personally, I would go Acela Biz class tops and bring my own food (if I was paying out of my own pocket). The nice thing is that NYC is the start of that leg of service, so if you get in the right line then you can get a good seat on the train.
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Old Jun 5, 07, 11:56 am
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Thank you both for the advice and the links. It sounds like Regional Coach is the way to go, or Acela First. I'll probably be travelling alone though if we were taking Amtrak together I'd probably splurge for FC one way.

=aw

Last edited by ALW; Jun 7, 07 at 9:49 pm
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Old Jun 5, 07, 12:08 pm
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We prefer Business Class on the Acela between NYP & WAS. The noon Acela used to be about the same price as the Regional Business Class in each direction. The Acela has a more consistent ontime record as the dispatchers usually give priority to the Acela over other trains. The Acela morning and late afteroon trains are the most expensive. I don't see any difference in the comfort of the trains although the Acela is usually more crowded. Good Luck and enjoy your trip.
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Old Jun 5, 07, 9:04 pm
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Thanks, that consideration of actual running times is a good one. Right now I'm looking at Regional being so much cheaper (esp if a 20% code works) that I can't justify Acela. It's a business expense but my money.

I'm still very tempted by taking Acela FC one-way for the experience. Are there ever Acela promos?

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Old Jun 6, 07, 7:15 am
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There are Acela Promos but they are generally double(or triple) AGR points or take 2(or 3) r/t and get a voucher for a r/t free.
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Old Jun 6, 07, 10:28 am
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Thanks for the additional info. I looked at the AmtrakDelays.com site and it does indeed look like Acelas have better on-time performance.

This will probably be a last-minute decision (whether to drive on to WAS, or take the train). Since there's apparently no discount for R/T, I'll probably order to one-way tickets.

Is there any convenient place close to I-87 where I could get the ticket issued ahead of time? That would (hopefully) save time on Tuesday at NYP if I already have a ticket. I have to stop in Plattsburgh but I understand there's no Ticket Office and no QuikTrak machine there.

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Old Jun 6, 07, 11:38 am
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Don't forget there is also the lower-priced Chinatown express bus NY <-> DC. $20 one-way, I think!
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Old Jun 6, 07, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by ALW View Post
Is there any convenient place close to I-87 where I could get the ticket issued ahead of time? That would (hopefully) save time on Tuesday at NYP if I already have a ticket. I have to stop in Plattsburgh but I understand there's no Ticket Office and no QuikTrak machine there.
The 2 easiest stations off I-87 to get tickets before hand are Saratoga or Albany/Rensselaer. Saratoga has a ticket window, but no QuikTrak machine. Albany has both.

PM me if you need directions. I lived in that area.

Remember that you need a 3-day advance for any discounts!
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Old Jun 6, 07, 12:46 pm
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Thanks for the tips (though I'll stick with the train, thanks JT_BOS).

Good point about the 3-day advance. BTW, V688 on page 1 of this thread doesn't mention that requirement. I tried a booking using V688 tomorrow and it was rejected. For next week, it gave me 20% off $67.

I got all the way to being asked for my name, but still no opportunity to read the fare rules. What are cancellation penalties like? The site just says, "Cancellation fees may apply to canceled reservations. Not all tickets are eligible for cancellation and may have further restrictions based on the type of fare you reserved." which is somewhat uninformative.

Our plans should be fairly solid by Friday, and I can book then, but if there's a big penalty (or if there's a penalty when V688 is invoked) it might not be worth it. We could still get to NYC and discover the friends are busy, or just decide to drive on to WAS instead.

I'm really leaning towards coach going down and Acela FC [sounds like a soccer team!] coming back though the optimal times outbound are Acela trains. Like VIA, there's no incentive to buying R/T, vs. two one-ways?

I can see both those stations are fairly easy to get to, it will have to be Albany if at all as we're passing through there around 8pm (too late for Saratoga). Can I use the machine when my ticket is purchased with a Canadian CC? Might be a U$ Canadian-issued CC in case of cancelling. Alternatively, how much time would I have to allow for ticket issue at NYP at about 4-5pm in the afternoon?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 6, 07, 1:07 pm
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Originally Posted by ALW View Post
Good point about the 3-day advance. BTW, V688 on page 1 of this thread doesn't mention that requirement. I tried a booking using V688 tomorrow and it was rejected. For next week, it gave me 20% off $67.
In the past (last year ), there was no advance requirement. (You could use H570 for this afternoon's train!) But now, they all have a 3-day advance.

I got all the way to being asked for my name, but still no opportunity to read the fare rules. What are cancellation penalties like? The site just says, "Cancellation fees may apply to canceled reservations. Not all tickets are eligible for cancellation and may have further restrictions based on the type of fare you reserved." which is somewhat uninformative.

Our plans should be fairly solid by Friday, and I can book then, but if there's a big penalty (or if there's a penalty when V688 is invoked) it might not be worth it. We could still get to NYC and discover the friends are busy, or just decide to drive on to WAS instead.
As long as the tickets are not printed, there is no penalty for cancellation. If they were printed, you have 2 choices:

A) 90% refund for a cash (or credit) refund, or
B) 100% value for a voucher to be used later for Amtrak travel.

Like VIA, there's no incentive to buying R/T, vs. two one-ways?
Correct.

Can I use the machine when my ticket is purchased with a Canadian CC? Might be a U$ Canadian-issued CC in case of cancelling. Alternatively, how much time would I have to allow for ticket issue at NYP at about 4-5pm in the afternoon?
I honestly do not know about the CC. If you use the QuikTrak at NYP, assuming there is no line, it can be very quick.
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Old Jun 6, 07, 1:22 pm
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Sounds like I should book two one-ways (another incentive not to book R/T) as soon as I know my plans, but not print until I'm sure. Since I'd be going through Albany the night before, I should know by then, and in any case it's <$6 (10% of 80% of $67). By putting WAS-NYP on a separate itinerary, I could cancel (if I got a ride back from someone, say) without penalty.

I suppose the way the rule is written, there's no concern about printing and then changing plans, since 100% would be applicable (unless the change involved a price reduction, e.g. from an Acela to a later Regional train).

Thanks for the info. I may ask over on AC forum about using Canadian card.

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Old Jun 6, 07, 8:02 pm
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I'd recommend against driving NYC-WAS if you're not used to really heavy traffic -- the infamous NJ Turnpike deserves its reputation. It ain't pretty, either, and the tolls add up.

In many cases (with shorter distance city pairs) Acela is a big premium just to ride on newer equipment. Still, it sells well.

I've never tried it myself, but I can't foresee any problems with using a Canadian CC to pick up the tickets; the V/MC/AX networks are exactly the same across the border.
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Old Jun 6, 07, 9:01 pm
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Thanks for the advice. I guess I'll book _something_ when we get to the 3-day deadline, even if plans aren't 100% firm.

I've done the NJT several times, at least from I-287 (exit 10?) south, trips to FL and to Arlington 2 years ago. It hasn't been that terrible, though we've always timed it to avoid the worst of the traffic (since why would you want to drive in traffic anyway?).

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