staralliance38
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Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:07 pm

Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades VAN-SEA in J

The Olympics were over, but my spring break wasn't. After four hours of sleep, my dad and I left our relatives' house in Richmond and made our way to the Pacific Central Station. That morning would be the start of our Pacific Coast side-trip. This side-trip visited Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles and Calgary with Amtrak, Virgin America and Air Canada: all in the span of one and a half days!

Views of Pacific Central

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Amtrak Cascades 513
Vancouver (VAN) to Seattle (SEA)
Cab 2, Seat 2A, Business Class
Train: Mt. Baker
ETD: 6:40am
ATD: ~7am
ETA: 11:05am
ATA: 11:20am

We arrived at Pacific Central, filled out our Customs card and waited for our seating assignments. My dad and I both reserved business class tickets, but the tickets themselves are issued by VIA Rail Canada.

Business Class on Amtrak Cascades

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We soon left Vancouver...


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and in an hour, we were at the U.S. Border. Customs officials boarded our train and conducted their business on board.

I ate my breakfast sandwich and we were back in the U.S.


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Our first major city was Bellingham, where we saw some firefighters putting out a fire. It may have been a practice, but I'm not sure.


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Cool Runnings started to play in the cabin. After spending our business class food coupons, I went ahead and enjoyed the movie. The movie finished when we neared Seattle.


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Our first view of Seattle!

We de-boarded and walked across the street to get on Seattle's SoundTransit system.


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I would take Amtrak again if I had to. I guess the train is OK. Business class was ok, but I didn't see a major difference in service. On Amtrak's website, they said they would give a complimentary drink service, but I didn't see this. The only thing I liked about J class was the big seats and the seat outlet. Then again, the cost difference was only $10 at my time of booking, so I don't mind.

Overall, Amtrak, OK  

Thanks for Reading!

Next TR Segment: Virgin America SEA-LAX!
Roar, lion, roar
 
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foppishbum
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:47 am

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Thread starter):
I would take Amtrak again if I had to. I guess the train is OK. Business class was ok, but I didn't see a major difference in service.

I was very disappointed last year when I found out the dinning service that was reserved for business class travelers ended a few months prior to my traveling date.   I find it more convenient (and cheaper) to fly to SEA then take Amtrak to downtown Vancouver. Great pictures by the way.
Taiwanese-American :D
 
staralliance38
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:19 am

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 1):

I was very disappointed last year when I found out the dinning service that was reserved for business class travelers ended a few months prior to my traveling date.   I find it more convenient (and cheaper) to fly to SEA then take Amtrak to downtown Vancouver. Great pictures by the way.

Thanks for reading!

The dining car was crowded. If only they did the airline-style meal service haha.

Especially the day right after the Olympics, it was cheaper to take the train, even though I would have liked to fly an Air Canada Jazz Dash or even Alaska! And also, this was my first train ride.
Roar, lion, roar
 
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foppishbum
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:01 am

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 2):
The dining car was crowded.

Yea. That happened during my trip last year, too. They used to provide menu dinning service and the dinning car was reserved for business class pax.   The dinning service was wonderful too!

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 2):
even though I would have liked to fly an Air Canada Jazz Dash or even Alaska! And also, this was my first train ride.

The only time I flew Air Canada Jazz was when I had to meet my friends there for a drive to Banff so I had to chose the least time consuming method.   
Taiwanese-American :D
 
jeffrey1970
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:49 am

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 1):
On Amtrak's website, they said they would give a complimentary drink service, but I didn't see this.

I think you have to go to the snack car and show them your ticket stub. However I could be wrong.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
jeffrey1970
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:53 am

I also wanted to say that I found your tr to be amazing. Plus, you are a good American for cheering for the host country. I will admit I would not have been so good as I would have cheered for the US.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
LH459
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:35 pm

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Thread starter):
: Amtrak Cascades VAN-SEA

Sorry to quibble, but VAN is Amtrak's code for Vancouver, WA. Vancouver, BC is VAC. Other than that, great report! It's always nice to see a rail report.
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is temporary; the evil it does is permanent" - Ghandi
 
staralliance38
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:10 am

Quoting jeffrey1970 (Reply 5):
I also wanted to say that I found your tr to be amazing. Plus, you are a good American for cheering for the host country.
Quoting LH459 (Reply 6):
r Vancouver, WA. Vancouver, BC is VAC. Other than that, great report! I

Thanks for reading jeffrey and LH!

Especially if you are staying with Canadian relatives, it would be best to cheer for Canada. I did sympathize with Canada as they haven't won a gold on home turf until Vancouver 2010. When I got to Canada, I just loved the people and hospitality; the feel of the country, so I cheered Canada!

I'm an American every day, just one week, couldn't I be Canadian?

But then again, I'm still missing Canada...

And LH, thanks for catching my mistake! You're right   

Can't wait to write/post the Virgin America, Air Canada and US Airways return TRs!
Roar, lion, roar
 
jeffrey1970
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:56 am

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 7):
I'm an American every day, just one week, couldn't I be Canadian?

Of course you can.

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 7):
Can't wait to write/post the Virgin America, Air Canada and US Airways return TRs!

I can't wait to read them.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
BA
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:05 am

Great trip report!

Doesn't Vancouver's Pacific Central Station have U.S. border preclearance facilities making it unnecessary for inspections at the border? Or are the facilities in the station only for immigration, with customs carried out at the border?
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
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foppishbum
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:03 am

Quoting BA (Reply 9):

Doesn't Vancouver's Pacific Central Station have U.S. border preclearance facilities making it unnecessary for inspections at the border? Or are the facilities in the station only for immigration, with customs carried out at the border?

It is only for immigration. Customs will board the train after it enters the US. They'll walk through the train, look at your passport, ask some questions, then collect the custom declaration form.
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jpetekyxmd80
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:58 am

It looks like you had a very cool Olympic experience.

I've gotta give you just as little suggestion here, though. I know you're posting all of the pictures you took in order, and that can be fine.. but i've noticed that there tend to be lots of duplicates and repetition of shots. For instance, the first 6 pictures of the station really do not bring anything different to the table, and are almost exactly the same. I think you should put more thoughts into your photo selection and pick just one or two pictures of each subject. That will make the report more focused and less distracting for the reader. It's good to take lots of pictures to make sure you get a good shot, but its a good idea to weed out the bad or repetitive in this kind of format. Thanks
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staralliance38
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:26 pm

Thanks for reading!

Quoting BA (Reply 9):
Doesn't Vancouver's Pacific Central Station have U.S. border preclearance facilities making it unnecessary for inspections at the border? Or are the facilities in the station only for immigration, with customs carried out at the border?
Quoting foppishbum (Reply 10):
It is only for immigration.

Yep. Customs on the train is surprisingly fast. I bought a breakfast sandwich right before the border, and by the time I finished it, we we're already moving. Very fast and quick.

Quoting jpetekYXMD80 (Reply 11):
It looks like you had a very cool Olympic experience

Thanks!
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richierich
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RE: Vancouver 2010 - Pt. 5: Amtrak Cascades - Business

Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:00 pm

Thanks for an interesting TR - I always enjoy the rail journey reports. After all, many rail routes compete directly with shorter air routes and it is always good to see what the different options are (or what the competition is offering, depending on your point-of-view). And, like myself, although I am somewhat of an airliner geek this also applies to other modes of transportation. Trains have always had a special fascination for me and I have always enjoyed train travel; although it is often inconvenient in the USA and Canada, it can still be a very rewarding experience. Even if the scenery isn't as amazing as the Cascades, something about the trains' motion makes me relax and puts me to sleep!

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Thread starter):
Cool Runnings started to play in the cabin.

I'm glad you enjoyed the movie but couldn't they have picked something a little more modern? Or was this a nod to the winter Olympics? Judging by the timing, I'll assume the latter.

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Thread starter):
Our first major city was Bellingham, where we saw some firefighters putting out a fire. It may have been a practice, but I'm not sure.

That doesn't look like a practice fire...

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 1):
I find it more convenient (and cheaper) to fly to SEA then take Amtrak to downtown Vancouver. Great pictures by the way.

And it shouldn't be cheaper to fly than take the train... I find this sort of thing all the time on Amtrak and it drives me crazy! You have to go out of your way (and want) to take Amtrak when it should be made easier and cheaper than flying, or at least comparable... just my thought.
None shall pass!!!!

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