Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

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Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:22 am

I thought I’d start a topic on Amtrak premium lounges: where are they, how do they compare,what should they offer, where they need them.

Here’s an article on replacing the Acela lounge in New York Penn with a new Metropolitan Lounge: Conde Nast Traveler

Inside Penn Station's Fancy New Amtrak Lounge

Even Traveler's most avid Amtrak users didn't know there was a premium waiting space in New York City's Penn Station, and given the state of it, that's probably not surprising. In the dark ClubAcela lounge, near tracks 7 and 8, you'll find several dated blue chairs, a few bags of chips, a soda machine, and a coffee maker. That's not exactly up to par with the airport lounges we love. (We see you, whiskey bar in the Senators' Lounge at Zurich Airport.) It's a good thing, then, that ClubAcela—rebranded as the Metropolitan Lounge—is getting a major makeover in Amtrak's multi-million dollar Penn Station renovation. And lucky for you, we've got a look inside the new space, which is set to open in early 2021.

Inside the new Metropolitan Lounge, there will be updated seating with USB ports and plenty of outlets, a business center for those looking to sneak in a last- minute call, and dedicated customer service agents so you don't have to join the plebes if something goes wrong. Even better? Passengers will also get priority boarding, and escorted to the train early. While we don't have specifics about what will be served, food and drink-wise, there will be a "rotating selection of hot and cold food items" (an improvement on the current chips and pastries) and booze in the new lounge, Amtrak says. Set 20 feet above the central hall, the premium lounge also gives you a prime people-watching spot.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby shadyjay » Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:00 pm

Its funny how the name for these lounges has come full circle. Amtrak had Metropolitan Lounges up until about 1999/2000, then they were redesignated "ClubAcela" when everything in the NEC was to be rebranded "Acela". At BOS, there was never a first class lounge, until the ClubAcela opened. But NYP, PHI, WAS, CHI, and a few others had been operated through the 90s. The ones off-NEC remained the "what is old is new again" name.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby SouthernRailway » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:16 pm

Great article- thanks for sharing. Looks like a very nice lounge.

I am still suffering nightmares from my brief stay in the Acela lounge at NYP a few months ago: it was dark, crowded and decrepit. Improvement can't come soon enough.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby Acela150 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:22 pm

Of note, ClubAcela is being re branded into Metropolitan Lounge again. Currently the lounge in Philly and Boston are re branded as Metropolitan Lounge. The lounge in South Station was closed for a substantial amount of time due to a water pipe breaking. When the lounge in South Station re-opened it was fitted with new decor and furniture. Philly has had new furniture for a few months now as well. Last time I was in the lounge in Philadelphia was November and it had the new furniture. I've heard that DC has it as well and NYP is on the list as well.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby jonnhrr » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:28 pm

I was in the lounge in Boston back in 2017 when we took the Lake Shore Limited. I thought it was fairly decently stocked with newspapers, snacks, coffee etc. and had comfortable seating. We also got priority boarding ahead of coach passengers.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:55 pm

I wonder how an annual membership option would go over, like what the airlines do? Tie it in with a credit card that has stiff annual fee. And put a bar in these places, while they're at it. I realize that certain Guest Reward members get access, but not everyone travels as frequently as they do.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby jp1822 » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:36 pm

Everyone does realize that the "new" NYP Metropolitan Lounge will be in the Farley Post Office building correct? It will be interesting to see how Amtrak will coral train passengers between the basement of Madison Square Garden and Moynihan Train Station (Farley Post Office building). The swiss cheese and maze just got more complicated for the cat and the mouse.

Cab drivers could easily drop off sleeping car or Acela Express first class passengers at the 7th Ave entrance (you said NY Penn Station right?), but then have to walk the basement concourse corridor length to get from 7th to 8th Ave and on into Moynihan Train Station.

I like the idea of a potential "annual pass" or something that could be purchased to access the Metropolitan Lounge. With the station somewhat isolated, the Met Lounge could provide a good place for general pre or post business meeting(s).
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby andrewjw » Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:11 pm

It'll be possible to get between the concourses without going outdoors, because there will be stairs up from the WEC into Moynihan in addition to the direct staircases down from Moynihan to the main Amtrak platforms. Amtrak will primarily operate from this location.

While yellow cabs might treat their riders poorly, I expect the rideshare apps will add a railroad selector just like they have terminal selectors at airports. Select Amtrak, and you get dropped off along 31st or 33rd just west of 8th Avenue, or on the west side of 8th in between.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby andegold » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:04 pm

Accessing the West End Concourse is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do in Penn Station. It essentially involves going through the subway station completely off the beaten path of any other railroad concourse or, alternatively, going down to the platform for tracks 5 - 21 and up the other end. Either way, there are currently no signs to guide you. None, zero, nada, zilch. Perhaps that will change with the formal opening of the new station in a year or two. Not a trip for the novice. I would imagine it will take several years before cabbies and Uber drivers learn the new routines. As for their apps they're professionals and should know the city in which they drive. Relying on the app as too many of them do is just one reason I hate most of these services. Finding the right destination on the app is not always easy or logical. The same station may be listed very differently depending on the railroad. The app might show "NJT", "NJ Transit", "New Jersey Transit", "LIRR", "Long Island Rail Road",or even "MTA LIRR". It could put Penn (or Pennsylvania) before or after Amtrak. To think that you can just type in "Penn Station" and have the app pop up a list of all three railroads is, I think, wishful thinking.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby andrewjw » Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:42 pm

I agree it is quite difficult to find WEC, I just wanted to point out it is possible. I was responding to the post, "It will be interesting to see how Amtrak will coral train passengers between the basement of Madison Square Garden and Moynihan Train Station (Farley Post Office building)." to make the point a) Amtrak will be using Moynihan as their primary location (and leaving or renovating the MSG basement) b) once Amtrak has moved, expect that the current Amtrak signage which directs people to their MSG basement location will be adjusted to direct them to Moynihan and c) LIRR and Amtrak will both have the ability to renovate their current locations which will allow for wider concourses and clearer navigation.

Have you ever taken Uber or Lyft to/from an airport? I am guessing not, because then you would understand exactly what I mean. At an airport, you just type in e.g. "JFK" and the app pops up a list of all the airlines and will set the destination to a different drop-off point depending on your selection.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby Tadman » Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:50 pm

jp1822 wrote:Everyone does realize that the "new" NYP Metropolitan Lounge will be in the Farley Post Office building correct? It will be interesting to see how Amtrak will coral train passengers between the basement of Madison Square Garden and Moynihan Train Station (Farley Post Office building).


This is the current situation at Chicago Union Station. The Met lounge is in the Great Hall across the road from the terminals. Usually the passengers are called about ten minutes before general boarding is called, given a track number, and kissed goodbye. It doesn't work too bad, as almost all passengers are going to the far easterly tracks of the south terminal. That said, I can't stand being told to sit back down once I've gathered my things. Just let us on the darn train at that point, or don't call us.

Also, compare this to airports. Most airports don't call flights in the exclusive lounge. They count on the passenger to use their head and bail out 20 minutes before boarding, and find their own way to the gate. That gate might be a long walk, much farther than city block. Once at the gate, the passengers must board in whatever group they were assigned, which likely requires waiting for sixteen groups of people none of us are ever in.

One one hand, the get-up-and-sit-down is frustrating, on the other hand, it's sure better than the airline model. And it doesn't require a $50 ride to the airport.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby David Benton » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:32 am

I think most Acela passengers would be repeat riders,l doubt it will take long to adjust.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby andrewjw » Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:18 pm

Tadman wrote:
jp1822 wrote:Everyone does realize that the "new" NYP Metropolitan Lounge will be in the Farley Post Office building correct? It will be interesting to see how Amtrak will coral train passengers between the basement of Madison Square Garden and Moynihan Train Station (Farley Post Office building).


This is the current situation at Chicago Union Station. The Met lounge is in the Great Hall across the road from the terminals. Usually the passengers are called about ten minutes before general boarding is called, given a track number, and kissed goodbye. It doesn't work too bad, as almost all passengers are going to the far easterly tracks of the south terminal. That said, I can't stand being told to sit back down once I've gathered my things. Just let us on the darn train at that point, or don't call us.

I'm not sure if there's a misunderstanding here. The new Lounge will be in Moynihan, along with Amtrak's primary non-elite waiting area, ticketing office, and primary boarding gates. No street-crossing (aboveground or below) will be required, nor even descent to the WEC for most boarding. Staircases will lead directly from the ground floor of Moynihan to the main Amtrak platforms 7-16. If Empire Corridor stays on 5-6 that will require going down the stairs from Moynihan to the WEC. And Keystones will no longer be able to turn on 1-4.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby jp1822 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:22 am

Hopefully Amtrak riders will get used to going to the new facility. Amtrak had still talked about maintaining a presence in both Moynihan and current facility at basement of Madison Square Garden, but it certainly would make more economic sense to consolidate. NJT finally did, but it took them a while, and even still, passengers use both the old Amtrak/NJT concourse and the new East End Concourse. Amtrak will certainly need tracks 5 and 6 for the Empire Corridor Connection. That may take a maze to find from Moynihan.
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Re: Amtrak Metropolitan and Acela Lounges Thread

Postby andrewjw » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:37 am

5-6 are accessible from the WEC, which will be directly accessible from Moynihan. About as complicated as getting from the current Amtrak area to tracks 1-4.
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