Amtrak passengers in Acela’s first class section will no longer have to fight for a prime seat.
The train service is now offering assigned seating in the first class section of its Acela Express train, which operates on the popular Northeast Corridor.
Customers will be able to select their seats ahead of time. They have the option of single or double seats, a window or an aisle, or a two- or four-person conference table.
Amtrak will evaluate the program before deciding on expanding seat assignments to more routes.
“By reducing the anxiety and stress of boarding, we’re making the onboarding process easier, while continuing to ensure the safety of our customers,” Tim Griffin, Amtrak’s chief marketing officer, said in a written statement. “Customers have long requested assigned seats on trains, allowing families, friends and colleagues to sit together.”
The practice of assigning seats on long-distance trains is common in Europe and Asia, but Amtrak has always had a first-come first-served policy. That practice has at times resulted in passengers not being able to find seats during holiday and other peak seasons.
Amtrak’s new CEO Richard Anderson, who began Jan. 1, was previously CEO of Delta Air Line. Amtrak, which is federally subsidized, has been adopting services that airlines have been introducing in recent years, such as Wi-Fi and outlets at every seat.
As for the seat assignments, customers can modify their assigned seat any time prior to boarding via Amtrak.com, Amtrak’s mobile app or with a ticket agent. There are no fees for reserving or modifying a seat. If the customer does not show up after two hours, the seat will be given away.