Acela Customers Looking to Social Distance on Amtrak Will Now Be Able to Reserve Seats in Advance

Customers will be automatically assigned a seat but will have the option to change it.

Amtrak Acela train
Photo: Amtrak

Amtrak will allow Acela business class customers to reserve seating in advance at no extra cost next month, in a further effort to make customers feel safe traveling in the age of coronavirus.

Starting Aug. 3, customers will be allowed to reserve a window seat, including in their quiet car, ahead of their trip. Currently, aisle and rear-facing table seats are blocked, but groups traveling together can decide to sit together.

Customers will be automatically assigned a seat but will have the option to change it.

“As Amtrak delivers a new standard of travel, reserved seating is one of several new initiatives we are undertaking in support of expanded health and safety protocols,” Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “By providing customers with an easier and safer boarding process that limits people moving through the trains trying to find a seat, we are able to meet customer expectations for safer travel.”

In addition to requiring passengers to sit apart, Amtrak mandates all customers and employees wear face masks while in the station and on the trains. The company also said all of its trains have onboard filtration systems that refresh the cars with fresh air every four to five minutes.

The new Acela option comes after Amtrak cut back on service, initially suspending the signature Acela Express trains in March as COVID-19 started to sweep across the country. In the beginning of July, the company then reduced service on several routes, including long-haul service between New York and Florida.

But riding a train can be a great way to see large stretches of the country at a slower place (something we could all probably use a little more of). Amtrak’s private rooms give riders breathtaking views of national parks and wildlife with social distancing built right in.

Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 before departure — and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration.

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