Riding on a sleeper train for several thousand miles seems a bit silly sometimes when you can just hop a plane for a couple of hours and get to the same destination in a fraction of the time, especially when it's often cheaper to fly anyway. Amtrak, however, is attempting to counter that image by promoting its train service as the landlubber's equivalent of a luxury cruise--a booze cruise, that is. According to an Associated Press article, the passenger rail service is trying to "gin up new business" (Ha, ha! You slay me, AP!) by offering a complimentary $100 worth of alcoholic beverages to passengers who cough up the cash for first-class seating.
Kind of. If you're a member of Amtrak's guest rewards program and you book a ticket that's part of its GrandLuxe offerings (be prepared to pay somewhere between $800 and $1600) between November and January, you'll be given a hundred bucks' worth of credit toward libations en route. Considering a glass of house wine costs $6 and a fine scotch costs about $7, it'll be enough to keep your cheeks nice and pink for the entire journey.
The AP article quotes an Amtrak representative as saying that it's a test move as part of a greater plan to revive rail travel's vintage image as a classy way to get from coast to coast. It could equally, however, turn Amtrak into a hot destination for traveling bachelor parties or fraternity spring break trips. ("Cancun? No way, dude, we're doing the Amtrak thing!")
Unfortunately, the Amtrak party-train service won't extend beyond a few overnight routes: the California Zephyr between Chicago and San Francisco, the Southwest Chief between Chicago and L.A., and the Silver Meteor between the District of Columbia and several Florida cities. That means it won't be valid on my beloved Acela Express that runs from D.C. to Boston, but then again, I don't think the BlackBerry-and-business-casual crowd that rides the Acela needs to be given any top-shelf scotch anyway.
Some advocacy groups have already voiced concern that people will get a little too sloshed on board and then stagger right behind the drivers' seats of their cars upon reaching their final destination. Makes you wonder whether Amtrak will have to breathalyze its passengers when they debark...