Assigned seating is coming to Northeast Regional business class in 2020
There's no better feeling on Amtrak than not having to battle it out for overhead storage space or a seat with a table. Assigned seating is major benefit of booking a first-class Acela Express ticket, which is specific to the route that runs between Washington and Boston.
Now, if you're traveling in business class on the popular Northeast Regional route, you will soon have assigned seating. Beginning January 11, 2020, business class passengers will have the ability to select their preferred seat, which will allow families, friends and colleagues to sit together. Lack of assigned seating is a major drawback to booking business class tickets on Amtrak but the rail company has said in the past that it planned to offer it on more routes.
Amtrak says seats will be automatically assigned after booking. If you want to select a preferred seat, you can change at any time prior to boarding, similar to Acela First. Even better, you won't pay to choose or change your seat assignment.
“Our assigned seating offering in Acela First class has proven to be popular, efficient, and an improvement to the customer experience, so it’s only natural that we expand it onto more of our trains,” said Amtrak CEO and President Richard Anderson. “We’re proud to offer Northeast Regional Business customers the same perk that Acela First class customers already enjoy that benefits the onboarding and traveling experience.”
Notably, this good news doesn't extend to Acela Business class, which is popular among business passengers traveling between major hubs on the East Coast such as Washington, Philadelphia and New York. The statement says that it's "evaluating" adding assigned seating to more routes, which ostensibly means Acela Business class would be under consideration. Acela First Class passengers got assigned seating back in 2018 and many trains in Europe already offer the option.
The Northeast Regional route carried nearly 8.7 million passengers in the fiscal year 2018, according to figures from Amtrak. That route runs between southeastern Virginia and Boston. Acela, which is an all-business and first-class train between Washington and Boston, carried nearly 3.5 million passengers in 2018.