What Are Coach Seats Like on Amtrak?

Trains have been a popular means of transportation for well over one hundred years. A trip on today’s trains is much different than it was even fifty years ago. You can expect to relax and enjoy the scenic view instead of being crammed in your seat when riding coach on an Amtrak train.

Amtrak coach seats are quite comfortable to sit in whether you are taking a short trip or overnight trip. When riding on an Amtrak overnight the seats typically recline more than a standard seat would. The extra leg space and reclining seat allow for you to have a comfortable yet affordable trip.

 Many people choose to ride coach when they ride on Amtrak. You will have a much more comfortable ride without people bumping elbows with you on either side. In this article, you will find out exactly what to expect when riding coach from how the seats are to what you should bring when riding coach.

How Big Are Amtrak Coast Seats?

Amtrak seats are roughly two-foot wide with a seat pitch of around forty inches. Seat pitch is the distance from the back of one chair to the back of the one in front of it. The average traveler will be able to easily sit and relax in their coach chair.

You will also be able to lean back to rest if needed without bothering the person behind you. Amtrack coach seats are far more spacious than your standard seat. Coach seats are also only in rows of two seats compared to three. This means you will not be stuck in the middle of two strangers bumping elbows.

Traveling very close to a stranger is not only uncomfortable, but it can be awkward. It is hard to relax and enjoy the view when you are sandwiched in between two people. Coach seats also come with:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Fold-down trays
  • Overhead storage
  • Reading lights

The space, views, and amenities make it no surprise that many people choose trains over airplanes. Unless you want to spend a lot on a plane ticket you won’t get the same level of comfort as you will on a train.

With an Amtrak coach seat, you will be able to stretch out for legs, cross or legs, or even prop them up on your suitcase if you have it sitting in front of you. The space is night and day compared to an average airplane seat.

amtrak coach seats

Is Amtrak Coach Seat Comfortable For Sleeping?

Amtrak coach seats are quite comfortable to sleep in. Not only do they recline a decent amount the plush seats make sleeping comfortable. The seat in front of you will be a little farther away allowing you ample leg space. While not everyone will be able to enjoy sleeping in a seat many travels this way every day.

Space alone doesn’t always mean a seat will be comfortable enough for you to fall asleep in. Many passengers travel overnight without getting a roomette or sleeper car. They simply stay in their seat. If you are going to be taking a long trip and do not want to get a roomette or sleeper car you should get a coach seat. Standard seats on an Amtrak will:

  • Have Less leg room
  • Have three seats in a row on some trains
  • Not have certain amenities offered
  • Not recline anywhere close to the amount of a coach seat

If you do not want to spend the extra money on a roomette at least pay a little extra for a coach seat. Coach seats are still very affordable and far less expensive than a plane ticket. You also will not get views on an airplane like you will and Amtrak.

Are Amtrak Coach Seats Assigned?

If you are hoping for a window seat and traveling alone (not able to trade seats with your companion) you may wonder if there are assigned seats. After all, it would be nice to pick the exact seat you’d like just like you can with some airlines.

Before buying your ticket, the site or station will let you know which the particular route is, either open or assigned seating. If seats are open it is almost free for all so getting to the station early is ideal if you’d like to pick your seat out. If you can pick your seat online, you will be guaranteed your seat when you arrive.

Can Coach Passengers Eat in an Amtrak Dining Cart?

When you ride coach with Amtrak there will be a food cart available, but you will also be able to use the dining car. There are plenty of foods and snacks to choose from on every Amtrak train. The prices may vary slightly depending on the area you are in. Prices are higher than fast food but lower than sit-down restaurants’ prices. There are several foods to choose from when riding coach such as:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Assortment of snacks
  • Cold Drinks
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Drinks
  • Hotdogs
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Pizza
  • Variety of breakfast options

If you love a late-night snack or need to eat at certain times, be sure to pack snacks. You will have plenty of space to store your snack in your coach seat. Every coach seat has a tray that folds down so you can eat in the comfort of your seat if you would like.

amtrak long distance
Jonathan Lee

Are You Allowed to Bring Food on an Amtrak When in Coach?

When riding with Amtrak you are allowed to bring food and snacks. This not only helps to save money but the dining cars typically close around 10:00 pm. If you like a late-night snack you will want to pack some for the trip. Drinks can add up on the Amtrak so an ice pack and a few bottles of water can save you money.

You can bring a small cooler on the train as a carry-on bag with any food you would like. Some people grab food from local restaurants to eat later on the train. Amtrak will have certain weight and size restrictions for coolers so it is best to keep them small.

Are You Allowed to Walk Around on an Amtrak When in Coach?

One of the best things when riding with Amtrak is the ability to walk around as you, please. You can walk to the dining cart and have a meal in there or eat back at your seat. You are also allowed to go to the bathroom as you please which is not always the case when flying.

There is nothing worse than the fastened seatbelt coming on when you were about to run to the bathroom. If you need to freshen up or change Amtrack bathrooms are spacious. There is also another big perk to riding on an Amtrak train, the observation car.

Not all Amtrak will have an observation car but if yours does make sure to take advantage of it. In this car, the seats face large windows that go all the way up the side of the train. There are power outlets to allow you to relax or work as you take in the views.

It is important to mention that while train cars do not have turbulence there are bumps and jerks as the trains go over the tracks. On some railways, you will feel it much more. Some people have trouble walking around a train at first due to the feelings of being unbalanced.

Be careful stepping between trains there are sometimes gaps. The trains can also move at different times as the gentle rock across the tracks. Hold on to any handles and step carefully. Always wear shoes when you are not sitting in your seat.

What to Bring When Traveling in a Coach Seat

When you are traveling coach, you will have a roomy seat to relax in and the option to buy food and drinks. You are allowed to bring extra food or drinks on board to save money but what else will you need to bring? If you are traveling for a long period or overnight, it is best to bring a few things from home such as:

  • A small blanket
  • Change of clothes
  • Chargers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Headphones/earbuds
  • Socks if you intend to take your shoes off while sleeping, some trains can be chilly
  • Travel bathroom amenities, while you can’t shower you can wash up
  • Travel pillow
  • Your computer, tablet, or phone

When traveling it is best to never travel with valuables. If you do have a tablet or laptop, you can use a travel bag and sit it beside you to keep it safe. Checked bags with your expensive items are ideal as they will be in part of the train with passengers can not easily get to.

Is There Wi-Fi on an Amtrak Train?

Most short Amtrak routes will have Wi-Fi but the longer trips will most likely not have access to it. When traveling across many states there will typically not always have any form of internet, unfortunately. It is best to have movies already downloaded onto your devices before taking off on your trip.

Make sure to plan and check on the route you are taking. If you require Wi-Fi for work you may need to see about different hotspot plans to ensure you will have internet the whole trip. Keep in mind there are some dead zones across the country where even with the best cell phone plans you may not have service.

amtrak coast starlight
Glenn Beltz

Do the Windows Open When Riding Coach With Amtrak?

Windows on Amtrak do not open. It is not just a safety issue but some areas are extremely hot, sitting in a tin can on a hot day with warm air blowing forcefully is not an ideal situation. There are some cases where the conductor or other worker opens a window for people to take pictures. While this is not the norm it has happened here and there on Amtrak trains.

Even if it looks like a window may open, do not open it. It is dangerous and if you were to fall out chances are no one would see you fall. If you drop your phone or camera trying to get a nice shot the train will not stop for you to retrieve it.

Are You Allowed to Get Off the Train Before Your Stop?

There are some Amtrak stops where you are allowed to get off of the train and some that you should not. You must never leave the station or wander off too far. Amtrak will not wait for passengers, if you miss the all-aboard call you will be without your luggage and your ride.

There are typically three types of stops when riding with Amtrak which are:

  • Boarding stops – This is when they are picking up passengers, this stop lasts minutes, and it is not advised to get off of the train at this time.
  • Crew change stops – This stop can take around thirty minutes which is plenty of time for a short walk around the station and some photo ops in the town you are in.
  • Fresh air break – Every so often the train will stop for anyone who would like to get some fresh air. The conductor will announce how long the stop will be which is typically under ten minutes.

Getting off the train is always at the passenger’s discretion. Keep in mind your valuable left behind is not being watched and the train will leave when it is ready to. You will hear an all-aboard call before the train takes off. They cannot wait for people, if they did this at every stop the train schedule would be thrown off.

Amtrack Coach Seats Are More Comfortable Than You May Think

When riding with Amtrak and choosing a coach seat you will be very comfortable. Not everyone wants to pay the higher price for a sleeper car. Thankfully the plush coach seats recline nicely to rest on a long or overnight trip. You will not regret your choice of choosing a coach seat when riding with Amtrak.


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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