I was heading down to San Diego in February to visit friends, and was planning to take Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Irvine to San Diego. I’ve been on the Pacific Surfliner before, taking it from Los Angeles Union Station to Santa Barbara. It’s a nice experience and helpful in avoiding LA traffic. Additionally, the Irvine Station allows for free parking for 72 hours, so I could park there and avoid paying over $50 in parking at my San Diego downtown hotel.

It was $12 to upgrade from Value Coach to the Business Class offering, for a total of $39 one way in Business Class. I decided to take the splurge and upgrade to Business Class, for my approximately 2 hour train ride.

Disclaimer: This review was from February of this year before the COVID-19 situation worsened.

Pacific Surfliner Business Class Benefits:

In business class on the Pacific Surfliner benefits include

  • 100% refundable before departure
  • Access to the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge at Los Angeles Union Station (too bad I didn’t start or end from that station)
  • Extra legroom
  • Complimentary snacks and drinks
  • Guaranteed seat (in case of crowded trains where standing room is only available)

The Pacific Surfliner Business Class Experience:

My train to San Diego was delayed about 20 minutes, as was my train back to Irvine too. There was some track construction going on so that could have been the cause.

On my Saturday morning train to San Diego, it was quite packed. We found a seat on the first floor on the side of the train that had views of the Pacific Ocean at some points. Since it was a morning train, there was coffee, tea, water, and juice, as well as little pastries available to grab in each car. Not sure how the service would be in the current COVID situation.

The seating had ample legroom and was in a 1-2 configuration on the lower level.

My train back to Irvine was at night on Sunday, and it was much emptier. I was able to find a nice seat on the second level. Seats on this level were arranged in a 2-2 configuration, and looked quite different than my first train. There was a lot more legroom on the upper level than my seat on the lower level. Having previously been in coach on the Pacific Surfliner, there is quite a bit more legroom in Business Class.

Additionally, the attendants actually came by for drink orders and handed me a snack box. The snack box was quite nice, as it had beef jerky, cookies and trail mix. I opted to try a red wine and they came back with a cute little bottle.

Other Features:

If you’re still hungry or want a more complete meal, there’s a Market Cafe onboard that serves fresh sandwiches and salads, snacks, sweets, craft beers, cocktails, and other items available for purchase.

Free Wi-Fi is offered on board and it worked decently well for me in both directions.

Is it worth the $12 business class upgrade for a snack and a bit more legroom for 2 hours? Depending on the crowds, if you’re riding the train on a busy day or for a special event, you may want more space and a guaranteed seat while avoiding the crowded coach cars.

The Verdict:

Overall, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Business Class provided a nice and comfortable train ride to San Diego, allowing me to avoid weekend traffic into San Diego and saving money from paying for parking at my downtown hotel.

Have you tried the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in Business Class before? What were your thoughts? Comment below!




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