There’s something about New York City in December. I don’t know if it’s the sheer madness of the crowds, the chill in the air, or the tree at Rockefeller Center. But I love the City this time of year. Lady Astrojets was invited to an event in NYC this weekend…and well…. I just decided to tag along. The event included a ride on Amtrak via private rail car for the attendees. We could’ve paid another “conference fee” to allow me to join Lady Astrojets in the private rail car, but I could purchase roundtrip travel on Acela for half the price of that fee, so that’s what I did.

Amtrak Acela First Class

I splurged a bit on the way up from Washington’s Union Station to New York Penn Station and purchased accomodations in Acela’s First Class car. More out of curiosity than anything else. The price was an extra $94 dollars. I don’t know if I would say it was “worth it,” but I will certainly say that I don’t regret giving it a try. First Class accomodations include at-seat attendant service along with meals, free booze, etc. First Class tickets include access to the Acela Lounge, which I did visit in Washington. The lounge was a little worn around the edges, but there were snacks, self service beverages, and best of all…. Amtrak pre-boards First Class Acela customers directly from the lounge. The First Class Seats were wide and comfortable with plenty of legroom. Several were “single seats” which was my choice as I was traveling alone.

Pre-boarding was called at 11:35AM for the noon departure. Tickets were checked at the door, and at least three people without First Class tickets attempted to take themselves a seat in First Class, but were promptly booted to the back.

The service was pleasantly delivered by two attendants dedicated to the First Class car, and began with a serving of mixed nuts before departure. I hadn’t had breakfast so this was much appreciated, but I think a little pre-departure beverage service would be a nice touch. Lunch was ordered from a printed menu after our on-time departure. Choices included salmon, something else I can’t remember and a “lighter fare” option. I dined on the salmon, which seemed eerily familiar to standard domestic airline fare, but was certainly edible. Of course, I may be the only person on earth who doesn’t think airline food is that bad.

The only snag in the whole trip was that Amtrak ran out of red wine after the first pass through the car. I did understand that they were picking up more in New York, but that didn’t help me as that was my final destination. One gentleman who boarded in Philadelphia seemed especially disappointed about the lack of red wine, so much so that the attendant went to the cafe car and “borrowed” a half-bottle just for him. I will add that the staff seemed familiar with him, so I’m guessing he was a First Class regular. In fact, there were a handful of customers that the attendants seemed to know by name. Frankly, I can understand why someone would be a train regular given the state of airline dependability in the northeast cooridor.

Even though we departed Washington right on time, we somehow managed to slip behind schedule by 5 minutes or so. Given that it was sleeting when we departed Washington, I’ll take a 5 minute delay over who knows what would’ve happened at the airport any day!

All in all, it was a nice way to get to New York, and I’m happy that I’m taking Acela back home tomorrow. But alas, only in Business Class. 🙂