Now if you dig around online you will find lots of Amtrak reviews from curious first-time riders like me who decided to give it a try. Most of them are somewhat negative, but I didn't let that stop me from using a service that I think should be a reasonable alternative to flying.
I’ll say this – there are reasons why people fly and even when delayed, with a crying baby on board, air travel still beats a long-distance trip in coach on Amtrak. My voyage took roughly 18 hours each way. 18 hours. Yes it actually felt that long, perhaps longer. All I kept thinking was that I once flew to China from Chicago in fewer hours than it takes to get to NYC on the train.
The crew was professional and friendly. No complaints there. Most of the other passengers minded their own business, though toward the end of the long ride you could tell some people were starting to get a little irritated. One clearly drunk man got into an argument with a conductor, then came up to me to show me a large stack of cash he had in his pocket. He wanted me to know he was a “hustler”. I shrugged him off and went back to my book.
The seats had foot rests, decent recline, and power outlets. I had a whole row to myself. But I don’t think the cushions had been thoroughly cleaned in some time. They had this faint odor which became unpleasant after a few hours.
Honestly, those were my only complaints. I had a wonderful time in New York and what I'll remember most about the trip were the experiences I had after I arrived. I don’t mean to bash Amtrak, but it wasn't the best method of long-distance travel for me and next time I’ll be flying. I like that rail travel is more energy-efficient that air travel. I like that it’s safer than driving, more affordable than most other methods of travel, and allows people in smaller cities to go places. It just needs to be faster.