Amtrak To Refresh Acela Current Express Interiors

Amtrak Acela Refresh.jpg

Prior to the introduction of next-generation Acela Express trains in 2021, Amtrak is investing in an extensive refresh of its train interiors on the entire existing Acela Express fleet. This update will provide a more modern and comfortable travel experience for customers. 

The refresh is a 14-month program for all 20 trainsets, which includes 100 Amtrak cars and 6,080 total seats. Each trainset will be refreshed individually with new cushions and covers for all First and Business Class seats, new carpet for the aisle runner and a deep clean.

The refresh will occur in advance of the debut of the next generation of the Acela Express trainsets. The first trainset prototype will be ready for testing in 2019 and will enter revenue service in early 2021. All trainsets in the current fleet will be retired in early 2022.

Interesting fact: Materials from the existing Acela cushions and covers will be reused, recycled and turned into carpet padding, while the leather will be upcycled and converted into handbags, wallets and other consumer goods.

Next Generation Acela Express: Coming in 2021

  • Each trainset will have roughly one-third more passenger seats while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort Acela customers expect and feature an improved boarding experience and more comfortable seating.

  • Amtrak is ordering 28 trainsets, 40 percent more trainsets than its current high- speed fleet, to provide half-hourly Acela Express service between Washington, DC and New York City during peak hours, and hourly service between New York City and Boston.

  • The trainset design, together with advanced track maintenance practices that Amtrak will be funding, will result in a smoother ride comparable to international high-speed train service.

  • Each trainset will have modern amenities that will be upgradable as customer preferences evolve:

    • Improved Wi-Fi access

    • Personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat

    • Enhanced food service car offering easy access and greater selection

    • Modern interior design for increased comfort and productivity throughout the journey

    • Exceed the ADA minimum accessibility requirements

Amtrak is contracting with Alstom to produce 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will replace the equipment used to provide Amtrak’s premium Acela Express service. The contract is part of $2.45 billion that will be invested on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor (NEC) as part of a multifaceted modernization program to renew and expand the Acela Express service.

The new trainsets will have one-third more passenger seats while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort of current Acela Express service. Each trainset will have modern amenities that can be upgraded as customer preferences evolve such as improved Wi-Fi access, personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat, enhanced food service and a smoother, more reliable ride.

This procurement comes as demand for Acela Express service is as popular as ever, with many trains selling out during peak travel periods. The new trainsets will allow for increased service including half-hourly Acela Express service between Washington D.C. and New York City during peak hours, and hourly service between New York City and Boston.

The new trainsets will operate along the Washington – New York – Boston Northeast Corridor initially at speeds up to 160 mph and will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph and thus will be able to take advantage of future NEC infrastructure improvements.

Additionally, the trainsets use the base design of one of the safest high-speed trainsets. Concentrated power cars, located at each end of the trainset, provide an extra buffer of protection. The trainsets will also meet the latest Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) guidelines including a Crash Energy Management system.

Amtrak is funding the trainsets and infrastructure improvements through the FRA’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program that will be repaid through growth in NEC revenues.

The first prototype of the new trainsets will be ready in 2019, with the first trainset entering revenue service in 2021. All of the trainsets are expected to be in service, and the current fleet retired, by the end of 2022.

Robots Deliver Coffee and Hospitality in Las Vegas

 Fetch and Jett at Vdara Suite Hotel & Spa at Las Vegas

Fetch and Jett at Vdara Suite Hotel & Spa at Las Vegas

On "The Jet Set," we've discussed the idea of deploying robots to provide guest services at hotels. In the end, the robots didn't leave us feeling very warm and fuzzy, something you need at least a little of when you check into a hotel for some relaxation.

Now may be a good time to revisit the idea. Vdara Suite Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas has given their new robots, Fetch and Jett, a soft touch which may be just the thing to smooth their way to enthusiastic guest acceptance. 

More details from Vdara:

 Robots, Fetch and Jett, are happy to deliver snacks and such directly to guests as they relax in their suites. 

Robots, Fetch and Jett, are happy to deliver snacks and such directly to guests as they relax in their suites. 

“Fetch and Jett are a fun and convenient addition to our team at Vdara. Guests enjoy the novelty of having their morning coffee and other items delivered by a robot, which frees up time for the rest of our staff to focus their energy on requests that require a higher level of service,” said Vdara General Manager Mary Giuliano. “We’re committed to creating special experiences for each guest, and I’m certain this will be a memorable one.”

 The new robots make it possible for Vdara staff to provide an even higher level of service. 

The new robots make it possible for Vdara staff to provide an even higher level of service. 

 

Designed and built by robot developer Savioke, Fetch and Jett are fully autonomous indoor delivery robots that use advanced technology to seamlessly navigate around people and objects. The robots can prioritize multiple requests and wirelessly communicate with the hotel’s systems – even operating the elevators autonomously. Upon receiving a request, a hotel employee will load items into the robot’s compartment before inputting the guest’s room number and hitting the “GO” button. Its secure, tamper-proof lid prevent items from being removed until the robot reaches its destination.

Fetch and Jett will call a guest’s room when they arrive and once the door opens, their lids will automatically unlock for guests to retrieve their snacks and travel kits. After removing their items, Fetch and Jett will ask the guest for feedback on their service before traveling back to their docking stations – typically taking less than five minutes to complete a delivery. 

As a hat-tip to the property’s dog-friendly policy, Fetch and Jett’s exterior resembles the coats of different canine breeds. The helpful (and housebroken) robots provide a fun and refined experience for guests at the hotel and spa.

More about Vdara: Vdara Hotel & Spa is an internationally inspired all-suite hotel and spa designed for those who love the excitement of Las Vegas but prefer to enjoy it in an exclusive, non-gaming, smoke-free setting. The holistic spa, luxurious pool, intimate meeting space, sophisticated lobby bar and casual eatery and marketplace at Market Café create a warm and inviting environment. Located between ARIA Resort & Casino and Bellagio, Vdara offers access to all of the city’s best entertainment, gaming, shopping, dining and nightlife, while providing a retreat from it all.

 

 

  

More Jetiquette @JetBlue

Updates and improvements headed to JetBlue A320 fleet

JetBlue formally unveiled their A320 restyling program this month which will provide improvements in passenger comfort, connectivity, and entertainment. Although this will be the first major overhaul of their fleet since 2000, the airline has held onto its image as a leader of innovation and customer service; this effort will help them maintain their favorite-airline status among so many travelers. 

Here are some improvements highlighted in JetBlue's announcement: 

Introducing A Sleek and Smart Seat
In 2019, JetBlue will outfit its A320 aircraft with the Rockwell Collins Meridian seat, customized for the airline’s needs and featuring a number of design elements with customer comfort in mind:

  • Expanded seat width offers more than 18 inches, the widest available for the A320.
  • The most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline (a).
  • Enhanced cushion comfort.
  • Adjustable headrests, a new feature for JetBlue’s A320.
  • Contoured seatback design at knee level creates additional living space for every customer.
  • Redesigned seatback stowage options, including an innovative elastic grid to accommodate a variety of customer items.
  • At least two easily-accessible and repositioned power connections at every seat.

Exceptional Entertainment Options
Also in 2019, JetBlue will build on its reputation as an industry leader in inflight entertainment options with Thales AVANT and ViaSat-2 connectivity. With this system, JetBlue will offer customers aboard its restyled A320s expanded entertainment choices in nearly every region the airline flies.

  • 10.1 inch, 1080P high definition screen at every seat.
  • More than 100 channels of live television.
  • Expanded collection of on demand movies, TV shows and video content, plus new gaming features.
  • Destination-specific content allowing customers to enhance their travel experience.
  • Picture-in-picture function.
  • Enhanced, 3D flight map offering multiple ways to track time to destination.
  • NFC paining turning personal handheld devices into remotes or gaming controllers.
  • Expanded Fly-Fi connectivity, providing coverage to nearly the entire JetBlue network.

All About In-Air Ambiance
JetBlue’s A320 restyling also allows the airline to refresh the overall feel of the aircraft interior. New LED lighting will enhance the look and tone of the in-cabin ambiance and allow for a variety of lighting settings to increase customer comfort. New sidewalls and overhead bins will also be installed, as well as a variety of newly incorporated design elements throughout that will capture JetBlue’s unique style and personality.

Restyling Schedule
JetBlue expects to complete approximately a dozen A320 restyles by the end of 2018, with the ability to complete multiple aircraft each month by 2019. JetBlue’s so-called A320 classics will be restyled first. JetBlue’s overall A320 restyling is set to take approximately three years.

Jetiquette of Pet Travel Accommodations

 Diana Bulger of the Fairmont DC welcomes Fergie and Hillary to their Georgetown Hotel. 

Diana Bulger of the Fairmont DC welcomes Fergie and Hillary to their Georgetown Hotel. 

When traveling with pets, it's absolutely essential to make the right choices when selecting accommodations. Not only should be concerned with our pet's comfort, but we also do not want to encounter issues when it comes to hotel policies. Choosing hotels that go above and beyond to present a pet-friendly property is always best. 

When staying in Washington, DC, we checked-in to the Fairmont Washington DC, which is located in Georgetown. Fergie and Hillary felt right at home and were able to enjoy a nearby park as well as easy access to some of the best of everything Washington has to offer. 

Some of the best parts of our stay were the freshly baked dog treats, chef prepared pet cuisine, doggy water bowls and many more little touches throughout our stay. 

Best of all was the hospitality extended to our pets by the staff of the Fairmont Washington DC. It was a very special trip. 

Global Jetiquette

As we travel the world, it's essential to familiarize ourselves with the local customs and protocol of the areas we will visit during our trip. Certain habits and behaviors may be appropriate at home or in some countries but considered rude or offensive in others. 

We recently had some leading experts of travel etiquette share their thoughts and tips with us on a recent episode of The Jet Set and here is what they had to say: 

Some quick takeaways: 

Pamela Eyring
President, Protocol School of Washington

In Egypt, always accept offers tea or other gestures of hospitality from your host. To refuse would most likely be considered insulting. 

In the Middle East and other regions, back pats or touching someone's arm, elbow or shoulder is considered inappropriate and lacking decorum. 

Phil Shawe
CEO,  TransPerfect

Asjust to your destination's time-zone before departing in order to arrive rested and refreshed. 

Lindsey Ueberroth
President and CEO, Preferred Hotels and Resorts

In Asia, never leave your chopsticks upright in a bowl of noodles. It denotes death in China and Japan and is considered inappropriate.