Reserved Coach seats sold out??

Key Difference Amtrak Coach vs Business Class  

Amtrak trains offer you two basic seating options: Coach Class and Business Class. In addition to this, Acela Express also offers the special Premium Class which offers more amenities and comfort. It is important to know the differences in these classes in order to select the seating options that suits you the most. The key difference between Amtrak Coach and Business Class is that Business class is more costly and more comfortable than Coach Class. In addition, Business Class has to be reserved in advance whereas Coach Class has both reserved and unreserved options.

CONTENTS 1. Overview and Key Difference 2. What is Amtrak Coach Class 3. What is Amtrak Business Class 4. Side by Side Comparison – Amtrak Coach vs Business Class 5. Summary

Standard seat reservations

From just £2 per person, you can now reserve any seat in the first five rows of our coaches.

Available on most routes, it’s the best way to guarantee you’ll be sat in your preferred spot.

Why choose Standard?✓ Available on most services✓ Choose from the first five rows of window seats


ThruWay Buses

5: ThruWay Buses make for easy transfers

For stops beyond traditional Amtrak stations, ThruWay buses take passengers to their final destinations. As the case for my journey to Solvang, California, a charming Danish community, I boarded a charter-like bus at the Santa Barbara Train Station.

Hop on Amtrak’s Thru Bus service to destinations b
Hop on Amtrak’s Thru Bus service to destinations beyond the train station. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My train incurred delays but my ThruWay bus waited for the train to arrive. The process of getting off the train at Santa Barbara and onto an Amtrak ThruWay bus was painless. Requiring a lot less walking than changing planes at a mega airport, like Dallas/Forth Worth.

The Amtrak Experience

9: Explore your train, especially the observation car

I love sitting in the observation car and watching
I love sitting in the observation car and watching the scenery roll by. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My train pulled a line of train cars. Actually the Coast Starlight train blocks traffic on the streets at the Santa Barbara Station when stopped.

It wasn’t long before I was out of my seat and exploring my train. I went to the observation car with its domed skylights and enjoyed the view. This car is a favorite so it can be hard to get a seat at times.

10: Feel free to bring snacks aboard for your journey

Amtrak trains feature a cafe car, below the observ
Amtrak trains feature a cafe car, below the observation car. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Below the observation lounge, I found the cafe car with a couple of tables. It’s kinda like the convenience store of the train. There’s a selection of drinks, hot and cold, treats and small meals. Nothing really glamorous so I purchased a sandwich before I boarded my train in Santa Barbara or pack your own.

I met a cabin steward, James Lake, a 12-year Amtrak veteran. He graciously took me on a tour of the rest of the train.

More Information

Photo by Ryan Keene

Reserve a Seat

Amtrak coach seats may be reserved or unreserved. Overnight trains and some heavily-traveled short-distance routes, such as the Northeast Regional, require reservations in advance. With reservations, each passenger is guaranteed a seat. Other short-distance routes offer unreserved coach seats to passengers on a first-come, first-served basis, and seats are not guaranteed in the event of a crowded train. Business class seats are guaranteed and require reservations.

Perks on Amtrak Business Class Seats

While all passengers can purchase snacks and beverages at the Cafe Car on most trains, business class travelers enjoy complimentary nonalcoholic drinks and free newspapers in the Cafe Car. On some routes, the business class section may occupy its own car, separated from the coach cars by the cafe or bar car. Acela business class travelers who wish to upgrade to first class will enjoy deluxe seat-side meal service with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, beverage service and extra-large adjustable seats, in addition to business class perks.

Amtrak Trains Amtrak Prices

With all the information gathered from seating and sleeping arrangements above, you’re probably wondering what it’s going to cost you. Well, that all depends on where you are, where you’re going and what type of accommodation you are considering.

I’ve inputted a few one-way scenarios for various cities to Massachusetts and along Massachusetts to give you an idea of some of the Amtrak prices. Days chosen in each month were picked at random:

Chicago, IL to Springfield, MAJanuaryMarchMayJulyOctober
1 Adult Coach – no stops$66$66$83$83$83
2 Adults & Roomette – no stops*$350$474$412$474$350
2 Adults & Bedroom – no stops$907$536$1030$907$536
2 Adults, 2 Children & Family Bedroom – 2 stops $411$589$589$589$589

*Sleeping rooms add an additional charge to reserved coach seats. For instance, if 2 adult coach seats are $132 @ $66 each, the cost of $350 for a Roomette comes from the additional charge of $184 per room.

New Orleans, LA to Boston, MA (BOS)JanuaryMarchMayJulyOctober
1 Adult Coach – 1 stop$140$174$191$140$140
2 Adults & Roomette – 1 stop$577$458$474$458$458
2 Adults & Bedroom – 1 stop$697$787$1246$787$608
2 Adults, 2 Children & Family Bedroom – 1 stop$673$673$790$882$790
Amherst, MA to Boston, MA (BOS)JanuaryMarchMayJulyOctober
1 Adult Coach – 1 stop$30$30$34$30$30
2 Adults & Roomette – 1 stop$119$152$135$127$111
2 Adults & Bedroom – 1 stop$259$164$164$156$156

So although the Amtrak train fares tend to be a little dispersed, there are a a couple things to look out for and take away from this. When looking how to buy an Amtrak ticket, you’ll first want to consider the dates of travel (departure and return), where you are coming from and what your ultimate destination is.

Traveling during the off-season is the cheaper way to go when searching Amtrak ticket prices.

As with purchasing a plane ticket, the price of Amtrak train fares tends to go up closer to the date of departure. If you have the opportunity, buy early.

Look for deals and discounts. Amtrak provides some of these on their website.

I’ll also go hunting for deals on third party sites like RetailMeNot and forums such as this.

Return to top

What is the difference between Amtrak Coach and Business Class?

Amtrak Coach is less expensive than Business Class. Business Class is more expensive than Coach Class.
Amtrak Coach is comfortable, but not as comfortable as business class. Business Class is more comfortable.
Amtrak Coach has both reserved and unreserved seat options. Business Class has to be reserved in advance.
Amtrak Coach offers extra leg space,  fold down trains, reading lights, 120v electric outlets,  etc. This offers many amenities including complimentary non-alcohol drinks. But amenities may differ by the train.


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