Needing to be in St. Louis after a business trip in Chicago left me with a few choices. I could have flown, but with flights over $150 one-way, I wasn’t too keen on that option. Instead, I elected to take the Texas Eagle Amtrak long-distance train for its leg from Chicago to St. Louis. All in, I paid $100 for my business class cabin, which included a meal for my journey.
Long distance trains depart from Chicago’s Union Station. Interestingly, Amtrak operates the Metropolitan Lounge for business class passengers, which reopened last year. So, needing to get a bit of work done before my train, I headed there before my trip.
Check-in was quick into the Metropolitan Lounge. They feature a desk in the front, with a storage room for your luggage. Keep in mind, there is a lot more luggage on trains, since folks can bring bikes and other larger items with them.
The lounge is two stories, so I found a quiet area to work on the top floor.
The lounge featured a number of water stations with sparkling and still water, as well as a main buffet station. I arrived around breakfast, and pickings were slim, with just a few bananas, apples, and oatmeal, plus coffee and soft drinks.
Later, lunch was served, and those familiar with airport lounges will recognize the cheese cubes. They also hosted a free wine tasting, where we were allowed two small pours of local wine.
The lounge does have a cash bar, but it’s only open from 4:00pm-7:00pm.
Don’t expect any special treatment getting from the lounge to your train, though. I had to find my own way to the train (not a big deal, but this used to be a feature in the past).
I settled into my private car, which was spacious enough for my 5 1/2 hour trip.
Above my seat was a fold-down bunk bed, which could be used to nap. Also available in my car was coffee and juice, complimentary.
Once we got rolling, I explored the train. The main public car is the “SuperDome” cars which have windows on the ceiling for gazing. I loved this card, especially because the train’s “Trails and Rails” program with the National Park Service got me a stamp from the rangers on board from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL.
Soon enough, it was dinner time at 5:30 PM. You reserve your time with your conductor, and I chose the earliest one. You share a table if you’re a single passenger like me. With my ticket, I could order anything off the menu, so I chose the $30 “Surf and Turf,” which was a delicious steak with shrimp, side salad, and dessert.
Alcoholic drinks aren’t included, but soft drinks are.
Views were great during dinner.
Overall, Amtrak ended up being two hours delayed, which was annoying, but at least you have more room to spread out. I would probably fly next time, but it’s nice to have another option that’s more reasonably priced.