So we decided to do a bucket list item and take an Amtrak in a sleeper for a long distance ride. We took the Texas Eagle from Chicago to Tucson, Arizona. Union Station in Chicago is very nice though at times confusing to find people to get information from on how anything works. Was a nice waiting area for those with sleeper cars and priority riders which had free snacks and drinks. Boarded the train and here are some thoughts. For one, if your doing a bucket list take the Zephyr from San Francisco to chicago or at least Denver, we heard that is the most beautiful route repeatedly, or if not then the southwest Chief i believe runs from LA to chicago. We heard repeatedly even from employees how Europe's trains are far superior in speed, class , modernity and comfort. I believe this to be true. Amtrak trains are old most of the coaches on this one were 40 some years old. Amtrak has no wifi. I REPEAT AMTRAK HAS NO WIFI !!! This sounds crazy in this era for a business to exist of this nature with no built in wifi for reliability. Passengers are on train for days not hours and yet planes have wifi and trains do not. It was obvious that younger people were not as prevalent on the train. Most of the sleepers were taken by older people close to or retired. And the regular fare passengers seemed predominantly over 40 with small amount in 30s. People can't exist nowadays without good wifi and it's inconsistent depending where the train is running. The observation car was not available until the San Antonio to Tucson part which seems common.
As for the sleeper, well it wasn't all that comfortable, it was fine during the day, hard to sleep in though especially the top bunk and gets very warm at night. You have no control really over temperature the dial in the room doesn't really work and at times we had no AC. San Antonio was a mess because the 4 hour wait to switch the sleep cars to the train going west from New orleans became an all night ordeal due to the train being late from New Orleans. Apparently, the Orleans train was delayed by issues with a freight train blocking the way. This is another issue Amtrak has in that they are completely dependent on Freight trains who own the tracks . Freight does what they want ... Amtrak is constantly delayed by them giving t hem right of way which always causes Amtrak to end up being late. We were supposed to get to Tucson early evening 7-8 pm we go there between 1-2 am instead which causes tremendous issues with our ride in Tucson. Hard to and suggested not to plan anything for the day one arrives somewhere if riding a train because you can't trust their timing.
The food was plenty, harder to get drinks at times. In your area you sometimes have a case of bottled water and coffee area but nothing is consistent and not always told to you. there is a snack area for purchase and drinks and on first part of journey one guy runs that for all passengers on train, and has to close that during breakfast, lunch and dinner times for the sleeper cars. He comes around and you choose a time. And head to dinner, seating on first part was spaced and you had your own table. Food was warmed up in an oven, didn't always look as appetizing as it should be but it was often decently tasty. And the employee did a decent job and tried to be friendly. On second half of journey got a upped quality of food and deserts and plates and silverware though not quite as fancy as i've read it used to be on the train.
Bathrooms, well not a great situation most were not that clean, though they did try, and many were tiny and the one in the room, i dunno that shower bathroom combo tiny room isn't for everyone. So well, something that is up to the individual on their views of that whole situation.
So what was the good part, employees did their best but most or many did seem kinda down overall and not highly expectant of a great experience themselves really, though i would say the younger one's were less male jaded as is such always in life. : o )
but that all being said it was a decent experience. And still considering that Zephyr someday.