Save that seat: Amtrak now allows business class passengers to reserve Acela seats

Jul 28, 2020

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All aboard! Amtrak has begun expanding reserved seating options for Acela business class customers beginning Monday, August 3.

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The new perks will come at no additional cost, but will allow travelers to view and select their seats before traveling, including available spots in the Quiet Car. The preview tool will also allow travelers to see how full their train will be in order to gauge social distancing and personal risk comfort levels.

Related: Complete coverage of Amtrak Guest Rewards

“Reserved seating is one of several new initiatives we are undertaking in support of expanded health and safety protocols,” Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said in a press release announcing the new feature. “By providing customers with an easier and safer boarding process that limits people moving through the trains trying to find a seat, we are able to meet customer expectations for safer travel.”

TPG reporter Victoria Walker recently stated that she’s temporarily switching her travel loyalty to Amtrak, given the company’s commitment to safety and hygiene by requiring face coverings and potentially banning customers who don’t comply, as well as its recent customer-friendly changes such as extending elite status and the expiration date on Amtrak Guest Rewards points. Throwing in cheap cash farespoints promotions and the ease of earning Amtrak points, Walker makes a compelling point for everyone to consider train travel in 2020.

Acela business class travelers receive an automatic seat assignment at the time of booking, but have the option to change their seat choice via the interactive map on the app or Amtrak website. Amtrak currently offers window seats only while Acela operates at a reduced capacity, for the sake of social distancing; aisle and rear-facing table seats will be blocked off on customer seat maps.

Related: Amtrak Acela restarts

Passengers traveling together with companions or in groups will be assigned seats in separate rows; however, they can choose to sit together while on board. Amtrak staff can also help modify customer seat assignments.

Related: New Amtrak app

The reserved seating feature will remain even after the COVID-19 pandemic, and will also be available onboard the new Acela trains which debut in 2021

During the pandemic, Amtrak has implemented a number of additional protocols to keep travelers and employees safe:

  • All travelers and employees must wear face masks on board trains and thruway buses, although masks can be removed within private rooms.
  • Amtrak deep cleans and sanitizes all trains prior to service, with additional en-route cleaning to disinfect restrooms and frequently touched surfaces.
  • Bookings have been limited on most trains to allow for more physical distancing in seating areas.
  • All Amtrak trains are equipped with onboard filtration systems with a fresh air exchange rate every 4-5 minutes.
  • All non-safety materials have been removed from seatback pockets.
  • Sinks are available in each car’s restroom for frequent hand washing.
  • To move between cars, customers can use an “automatic door open” button with their foot.
  • When the train is approaching a destination, conductors will make announcements regarding where and when customers can disembark to minimize door crowding.

Featured photo by Brendan Dorsey for The Points Guy.

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