Surprising Things About Business Class Travel Amtrak Acela Train

I traveled business class on Amtrak’s Acela train from Baltimore to New York and had a few surprises along the way.

The author in his business class seat.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Earlier this year, I booked a business class ticket on a Amtrak Acela train traveling from Baltimore to New York.

Two weeks before my trip, I booked a standard Amtrak Acela business class ticket for $121. For full disclosure, Insider paid for the trip according to our reporting standards.

A coach ticket on a regular Amtrak train costs about $62, research finds on the Amtrak website for February — the same month I traveled — of next year.

My trip left me thinking I would come back this way, but I had a few surprises along the way. From booking my ticket to traveling, here’s what surprised me the most about traveling business class on Amtrak Acela.

For context, you should know that while this was my first time in business class on the Acela train, it wasn’t my first trip with Amtrak – not by a long shot.

The author is sitting on a train to Miami

The author in an Amtrak bedroom.

Joey Hadden/Insider

I have traveled on many Amtrak trains by coach and have also spent 60 hours on Amtrak trains between Miami and New York in rooms and rooms which cost hundreds more than my Acela ticket. These were long-haul routes that offered private accommodation in sleeping cars.

While traveling between Miami and New York, I realized I wasn’t cut out for long-haul train travel, but I was more willing to try it on a shorter route for my trip to Baltimore. My Acela trip from Baltimore to New York took about two and a half hours.

To that is an Amtrak express option for regional trips in the northeast with stops in 13 cities. This particular ride was 20 minutes faster on Acela than it would have been on a typical Amtrak regional train.

Read more: 14 things that surprised me most about overnight Amtrak rides after spending 60 hours in sleeping cars

During the booking process, I was surprised to learn that Amtrak Acela – an east coast express train – only has two classes: business and first.

Amtrak First Class Open Door (L) and Amtrak Business Class Open Door (R)

The business and first class cars of an Amtrak Acela train.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Every Amtrak I’ve traveled on before had economy class seats, but Amtrak Acela trains only have two types of cabins: business class and first class seats.

On the first leg of my trip, from New York to Baltimore, I upgraded to first class, which costs $152 more because it includes larger seats, meal service, and access to lounges at select stations. Amtrak.

But for this second leg on the way back, I kept my original business class ticket to see how it compared to the first class experience.

Since business class is a step up from the coach, I expected the seats in each row to be a bit farther apart. But I thought they felt so close to each other.

Inside a business class car on Amtrak

Inside a business class car on an Amtrak Acela train.

Joey Hadden/Insider

As I got on the train, I noticed that the seats seemed larger than those on other Amtrak trains I had been on in the past. They also felt closer to me than the seats on other trains I had been on.

For the first two hours I had plenty of room with an empty seat next to me. But when someone sat there near the end of my ride, I felt crammed without much personal space.

An Amtrak representative told Insider that business class seats are 20 inches wide and 26 feet deep.

But for seats so close together, I had exceptional legroom.

The Author's Legroom on the Amtrak Business Class Train

The author’s seat from above.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Even though the seats were close together, I still had plenty of legroom. Below me, a footrest has also been removed from the seat back.

An Amtrak representative told Insider that business class seat pitch is 42 inches.

Since all other Amtrak accommodations I’ve experienced besides the coach came with a meal, I was surprised the Acela Business Class ticket didn’t include one.

Side-by-side photos show the Amtrak Cafe

The Amtrak Acela coffee car.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Amtrak Acela Business Class tickets do not include meals like First Class, Roomette, and Guest Room do.

So, for the first time, I ordered off the menu in the cafe car. The cafe had tables and stools, I could take my food back to my seat to eat there.

Although it was a little less comfortable than I expected, in the end I had a good trip and would pay more to travel on an Acela again to save 20 minutes, or in other cases, maybe -be even longer.

The author wearing a jacket, hat and mask in front of an Amtrak Acela train

The author takes a selfie as he exits the train.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Overall, business class had fewer benefits than I thought, but the time saved on an express train would be worth it for me to take the Amtrak Acela again.

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