Amtrak Coach vs. Business Class: Which Is Right For You?

Choose between coach or business class for legroom and drinks, and enjoy the scenery on your journey.
Lee Huffman
By Lee Huffman 
Published
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Amtrak travelers can choose between 30 routes and over 500 destinations across the U.S. and Canada. Once you know where and when you want to go on your train trip, you'll need to make your next decision: what class of travel to select.

While Amtrak offers private onboard cabins, most travelers choose between Amtrak coach and business class seats to save money. Learn the difference between coach and business on Amtrak, how to upgrade a coach ticket and how to earn rewards on your trip.

What is the difference in Amtrak coach vs. business?

The main difference between coach and business class tickets on Amtrak is found in the seats; a business class seat provides extra legroom and a wider seat. Other business class benefits include free nonalcoholic drinks and bonus Amtrak loyalty points, called Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

Coach seating on Amtrak

Coach class tickets on Amtrak feature reclining seats. Every seat includes a fold-down tray, an individual reading light and an electric outlet. Amtrak passengers can access free Wi-Fi, overhead baggage storage and a restroom in each train car.

You can purchase both reserve or unreserved coach class tickets, depending on your train route.

Reserved coach class tickets include a guaranteed seat for every passenger, whereas unreserved coach tickets are not guaranteed a specific seat.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Only the Pacific Surfliner and Capitol Corridor routes have unreserved coach seating. These tickets allow you to take an earlier or later train on the same day. You can even choose to travel at a later date up to one year from the reservation date.

Amtrak business class

Travelers who want an enhanced train travel experience on Amtrak should consider booking a business class ticket. These tickets feature extra legroom and wide, comfortable seats. Additionally, business class passengers receive complimentary nonalcoholic beverages on most routes.

Business class tickets sold outside of many routes in the Northeast Corridor do not include assigned seating. Instead, passengers are free to select any available eligible seat.

All members of Amtrak Guest Rewards can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on train tickets of any kind. However, when booking business class travel, you'll receive 25% more points.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Amtrak Guest Rewards points are redeemable for train travel, hotels, dining and shopping. Train tickets start at just 400 points. Members can also purchase a single-station lounge pass for 1,500 points or a 12-hour one-class upgrade coupon for 2,500 points.

How can you book Amtrak coach and business tickets?

Amtrak offers four ways to book coach or business class tickets.

  1. Online at Amtrak.com.

  2. Through its mobile apps.

  3. At a staffed train station.

  4. Over the phone at 800-USA-RAIL.

The conductor can also help you with a seat or sleeper upgrade if space is available.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Before booking your Amtrak train seats, check out the latest promotions to save money on your trip. Amtrak routinely offers discounts for students, veterans, active-duty military and seniors.

Savvy travelers know to purchase their Amtrak tickets with a credit card that includes travel insurance benefits. These cards typically offer built-in protections in case your trip is canceled, interrupted or delayed — a helpful backup when you're navigating various train schedules.

Amtrak coach vs. business fares

To illustrate the cost differences between coach and business on Amtrak, this chart shows the ticket price on May 1, 2024, between city pairs.

City Pairs

Coach

Business

Los Angeles to San Diego

$35.

$54.

New York to Boston

$19.

$149.

Portland to Seattle

$26.

$49.

The cost varies by route and travel dates (you can expect to pay more during holidays and peak travel periods). You can make reservations up to 11 months in advance of travel.

Upgrading from Amtrak coach to business

If you want a business seat instead of a coach seat, you can upgrade your ticket. Upgrades are available online at Amtrak.com, through Amtrak’s app, at a staffed train station or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. You can also ask the conductor to help you on the day of travel if if unsold space is available.

The upgrade price varies based on your route and travel dates.

The bottom line

Business class tickets are more expensive than coach class tickets on Amtrak; for the up charge, you will receive a comfier seat with more legroom, points bonuses and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages (on most routes). You can upgrade your ticket from coach to business class in advance or on your travel day, assuming there is space available.


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