Feel First Class with Amtrak Business Class [classic article]

Though one day I hope to travel Amtrak’s First Class and sleeper cars, I recently traveled on its business class and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! I traveled most of the Vermonter route from Baltimore to Brattleboro, Vermont, an approximately 9 hour journey. The route starts in DC (another hour) and ends near the Canadian border (another 3.75 hours). People — upon hearing this — shook their heads. Really, it was like a writer’s retreat for me!

I was very happy to have been hosted by Ski Vermont to experience it. If you love to ski or just want to try skiing in a world-class destination, you couldn’t ask for a more convenient way to travel with your gear. Forget TSA check ins, taking your shoes off in the winter, x-rays. I just flew this week and an agent flung away (unbeknownst to me) my power cord for the laptop. That was $25 I had to run out and spend, even with illness in the family and nasty weather. With Amtrak, that simply won’t happen!

If you’ve traveled on coach buses or even regular Amtrak, a long journey isn’t the most comfortable. However, their business class is built for stretching out: wider seats, armrests, lots of leg room, a section to store luggage. Again, a comparison with economy class of air travel is in order: the seats on planes are even more narrow these days and less cushy, to lighten the jet fuel load. Strangers casually start letting their arms roam into my space on planes, some even pretending to fall asleep on me! Ooooh, it’s awful. On Amtrak, you can spread out and you still aren’t invading others’ private realms. Plus, good luck having your carry-on luggage near you/accessible these days on a plane.

The Vermonter had the Sunday New York Times sitting on my seat. Pre-internet, I certainly used to roam out for a copy of the paper people love lounging with on weekends. Speaking of internet, Amtrak’s got free WiFi and business class has outlets at each seat. They do say that due to cell towers, that you should save your work and might lose connection in Connecticut (bad pun, I know!). It’s true.

Business Class travelers get unlimited free soft drinks and hot beverages, which worked out for me during the nastiest cough I’ve had in my life.

With all of the space and quiet — though it’s not a “Quiet Car” per se, Business Class travelers are a well-bred bunch — I was able to get lots of work and rest done. I put on my earbuds and Great Big Radio kept me company for the ride.

The lights are subdued in Business Class, so the photo you see is actually of the Café Car, another good place to stretch out or gab with your friends.

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