How To Ride Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Business Class Cars

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Business Class Cars

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner Train

The Pacific Surfliner is the train operated by Amtrak which runs between San Luis Obispo and San Diego. For the vast majority of the train’s route, it follows long the California coast and in some places along the route, the railroad tracks are right up against the water during high tides. While the full route of the Pacific Surfliner is between San Luis Obispo and San Diego, not all trains run the full length of the route. Trains run more frequently between Los Angeles and San Diego which currently stands at 12 roundtrips per day, 5 roundtrips per day between Goleta/Santa Barbara and San Diego and 2 roundtrips per day between San Luis Obispo and San Diego.

The number of daily city pair frequencies listed above are only for direct train operated service between those cities only. The Pacific Surfliner also offers more services between city pairs via schedules that combine train and connecting Amtrak Thruway Bus service. The Amtrak Thruway Bus connections, are coordinated with the arrival and departure of the Pacific Surfliner Train so generally neither the train nor the Thruway Bus leaves without meeting and taking on connecting passengers from each other. You can find the latest full schedule for the Pacific Surfliner here.

The Pacific Surfliner offers checked luggage, but NOT all stations stops offer checked luggage service. Both your originating and destination stations must offer checked luggage for you to be able to take advantage of checked luggage service. Aboard both Coach and Business Class cars, luggage racks are available at the end of the car on the lower level. Also, open luggage racks are available above your seat which can easily accommodate carryon style luggage. Full information on current Amtrak’s Checked Bag Info and Amtrak’s Carry On Bag Info. You may take your bicycle aboard the Pacific Surfliner but you must make a “bike reservation” which is free. You can make the bike reservation while purchasing your ticket on amtrak.com. The bike racks are located in the Coach/Baggage car which is located at the end or front of the train depending on the direction of travel. You will need to take your bike to the bike racks yourself and secure it before finding yourself a seat. Full Pacific Surfliner Bike Info

Only on the Pacific Surfliner, you can bring your surfboard aboard the train as carryon luggage. According to Amtrak, all surfboards must be encased in a protective cover before you can bring one aboard. Amtrak seems to be very flexible on what constitute a “protective cover.” My guess is they are trying to avoid the wax from getting on the equipment aboard the train. You can find more information on Amtrak’s Special Items In Baggage page.

Pacific Surfliner Business Class

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Car

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Car

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Car

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Car

Aboard the Pacific Surfliner trains, both Coach and Business Class are offered. Business Class has its own TWO cars as of last year. The main Business Car is attached right behind the locomotive and is 100% dedicated to Business Class passengers. The second car, which is a Superliner Railcar generally used on Amtrak’s Long Distance route is at a minimum 50% dedicated to Business Class or during busy times, 100% of the Superliner Railcar is Business Class. The Superliner car is connected to the main Business Class car so Pacific Surfliner Business Class passengers can easily move between the two cars. Most of the Superliner overflow Business Class cars have airline style curtain which is used to divide the car in the middle when only half of the car is used for Business Class passengers.

Pacific Surfliner Superliner Business Class Legroom

Pacific Surfliner Superliner Business Class Legroom

Business Class seats have substantially more legroom than coach seats. With a Business Class ticket, you are guaranteed a seat but NOT a specific seat. The guaranteed seating is one of the biggest distinguishing difference between Business Class and Coach on the Pacific Surfliner. Coach passengers are NOT guaranteed a seat and on many busy trains, Coach passengers have had to stand until a seat becomes available. Ever since last year when the Superliner car was moved from Coach to Business Class as mentioned above, overcrowding and standing room only in Coach has become more prevalent and conversely the chances of sitting together with your travel companions in Business Class or having an empty seat next to you have dramatically gone up.

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Coffee And Pastries

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Coffee And Pastries

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Snack Box And Wine

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Snack Box And Wine

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Service

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Service

The majority of trains have a dedicated train attendant in Business Class who will provide you with the afternoon snacks and also provide assistance to passengers who require help. On the few trains without a train attendant, generally you can receive your snack boxes and beverage by going to the Cafe and showing the cafe car attendant your ticket. Sometimes, the conductor might setup the drinks and snack boxes in the buffet area for you to help yourself if there is no train attendant aboard. If in doubt, it is best to ask the conductor when he or she comes to scan your ticket.

Los Angeles Union Station Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Sign

Los Angeles Union Station Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Sign

Los Angeles Union Station Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Drink And Snack Bar

Los Angeles Union Station Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Drink And Snack Bar

For those Pacific Surfliner Business Class passengers who are starting or ending their trip at LA Union Station, you are entitled to use the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge while waiting for your train. The LA Union Station Metropolitan Lounge is located on the second floor which one can access via the elevators next to the rental car desks. Inside the lounge, snacks and beverages are available along with a quiet and clean place to work or just relax while waiting for your train. The Metropolitan Lounge attendant can also help you with any ticketing changes or issues as well as storing your luggage for you while you go out and about with your business in town.

Los Angeles Union Station Amtrak Redcaps Taking Passengers To Train

Los Angeles Union Station Amtrak Redcaps Taking Passengers To Train

From the Metropolitan Lounge, you can request for redcap service to come pick you up and take you and your bags to your train. The redcap will arrive via the rear entrance of the Metropolitan Lounge and take you to your train via golf cart. And finally the most important thing about the Metropolitan Lounge access is that the BATHROOMS ARE CLEAN and spotless vs the dirty, smelly and crowded mess in the main station.

Tips For Riding Pacific Surfliner Business Class

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Recline

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Recline

If you want a quitter ride with more comfortable seats, I recommend that you sit in the Superliner overflow Business Class Car that I mentioned earlier above. The seats in the Superliner cars were designed for long distance overnight travel so they are much more comfortable and plusher than the seats in the main Business Class car which were designed for short distance travel. The lights are dimmer and the intercom system is more muted than in the main Business Class car. The recline of the seat is deeper and even comes with leg rests on some trains. When boarding, ask the train attendant or the conductor if the Superliner car is being used 50% or 100% for Business Class so that you sit in the correct section of the Superliner Railcar.

Pacific Surfliner Coach Class

Seats in the Coach Cars are same as the seats in Business Class but the legroom is substantially less than in Business Class. When I’ve traveled in coach aboard the Pacific Surfliner, the tray table have touched my mid torso when I pulled one out to do some work. As of my last research, the Business Class Car has about 70+ seats while the Coach Car has 90+ seats which gives you an idea of how much denser seating in Coach is.

Also, seating is NOT GUARANTEED in Coach. Your Coach ticket on the Pacific Surfliner only entitles you to travel on the train but not travel sitting down. On busy trains such as the 700 series Pacific Surfliner trains, overcrowding and traveling standing has become more frequent as the Pacific Surfliner became more popular.

Buying Tickets For Pacific Surfliner Train

All tickets for the Pacific Surfliner Train are sold by Amtrak, either online, via the Amtrak App, at station kiosks, Amtrak 800 Number, or via a Amtrak agent at one of the many stations. Not all Pacific Surfliner stations have a ticket machine or a Amtrak agent working, so buying your Pacific Surfliner ticket at Amtrak.com is your best option.

By buying your Pacific Surfliner ticket ahead of time, you qualify for discounts such as for AAA members, students, seniors, military, veterans and for passengers with disability. Children under 2 years of age ride free and those between 2-12 can travel at 50% discount per fare paying adult. You can find out more about the latest Amtrak discounts and rules by visiting Amtrak.com.

Tickets for Coach on the Pacific Surfliner is good on any Pacific Surfliner train between your ticketed city pairs. When buying your ticket, you will have to select a date, your city pair, and a specific train but you DO NOT have to travel on the specific train your ticketed for. Your Pacific Surfliner ticket is valid for 1 year from the date of purchase so if you change your mind on traveling after purchasing your ticket, then you can just save the ticket and go another time within a year. There are some exclusions to this anytime validity rule which happens to generally fall on holidays and long holiday weekends. For the latest rules and details, please visit Amtrak.com.

Since Business Class has guaranteed seating, one can not just jump on any Pacific Surfliner Train they wish to. If your travel plans change and your traveling in Business Class, your going to have to use one of the Amtrak ticket purchasing options listed above to change your reservations. I would recommend that you make the changes online if you bought it online or by calling the Amtrak 800 number. I’ve discovered a quark where if you purchased your Business Class ticket early and received one of the many discounts and now you need to make changes to your reservation, your going to have to payback the discount that you received in order to make the change. Keep this quark in mind before booking your Business Class ticket for the Pacific Surfliner.

Food And Beverage Aboard The Pacific Surfliner Train

Pacific Surfliner Cafe Menu

Pacific Surfliner Cafe Menu

All Pacific Surfliner Trains have a cafe which is named the Seaview Cafe. On the bi-level Pacific Surfliner Trains, the Seaview Cafe is located on the lower level of the third railcar from the engine. The Seaview Cafe menu aboard the Pacific Surfliner is focused more towards local product and is different than the processed food heavy cafe menu aboard other Amtrak trains. Beer, wine, and cocktails are available in the cafe car and many of the wine and beer on sale in the cafe car are local brands from cities and towns that the Pacific Surfliner operates to. You can find the current Pacific Surfliner Seaview Cafe Menu.

Pacific Surfliner Cafe Food Menu

Pacific Surfliner Cafe Food Menu

The Seaview Cafe attendant will heat up any sandwiches or food items that require heating that you bought from the cafe ONLY. If you bring your own food down to the cafe and asked for it to be microwaved, the attendant will tell you NO. Credit cards, debit cards and cash are all accepted in the Seaview Cafe. Also, the Seaview Cafe also sells bus/rail day passes for LA Metro and San Diego MTS. For those of you who do not currently have a tap or compass card, buying your day passes at Seaview Cafe is a much better deal since they only charge you for the pass and NOT the tap or compass cards which will cost you extra if you were to buy it at one of the Metro or MTS machines.

Trip Reports From My Pacific Surfliner Train Trips:

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Back Home
Pacific Surfliner Business Class To San Diego
Pacific Surfliner Business Class From San Diego To Los Angeles
Pacific Surfliner Business Class Orange County To San Diego