Amtrak Coast Starlight Train: The Complete Rider Guide

Amtrak operates the Coast Starlight, a long-distance passenger train that runs between Seattle and Los Angeles via Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area. The train, which has run continuously since Amtrak’s inception in 1971, was the first to provide direct service between Seattle and Los Angeles. The name is a combination of two previous Southern Pacific (SP) trains, the Coast Daylight and the Starlight.

During fiscal year (FY) 2019, the Coast Starlight carried 426,029 passengers, a 2.0% increase over FY 2018. In fiscal year 2016, the train generated $40.5 million in revenue, a 1.4% decrease from fiscal year 2015.

Note: This site isn’t the official Amtrak site. It’s just here to help people who are traveling on Amtrak train.

Before You Ride: Planning for a Smooth Trip

Amtrak Coast Starlight Train Booking Your Tickets

Booking Your Tickets:

Ticketing Process:

Booking your Coast Starlight adventure is easy! You have two options:

  • Online: Visit the Amtrak website ( and search for trains along the Coast Starlight route (Seattle to Los Angeles or vice versa). The website will guide you through the booking process, allowing you to select your travel dates, desired accommodation, and number of passengers.
  • Phone: Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) to speak with a representative who can assist you with booking your trip.

Accommodation Options:

The Coast Starlight offers various room options to suit your needs and budget. Here’s a breakdown of some popular choices:

  • Coach: The most economical option, offering comfortable reclining seats with ample legroom.
  • Roomettes: Provide private compartments with comfortable seating that converts to a bed at night. They also include luggage storage and limited sink facilities.
  • Bedrooms: Offer the most spacious and luxurious accommodations onboard. These private rooms feature beds, a seating area, and a private bathroom with a toilet and shower.
  • Family Bedrooms: Accommodate up to four people, perfect for families or traveling companions. They typically include bedrooms with upper and lower berths, a seating area, and a private bathroom.


The specific amenities offered will vary depending on your chosen accommodation. However, some general amenities you might encounter include:

  • Meals included in the ticket price (for sleeper car accommodations)
  • Access to the dining car (for all passengers)
  • In-room beverage service (for sleeper car accommodations)
  • Bedding and towels (for sleeper car accommodations)
  • Limited electrical outlets
  • Restrooms (availability varies by car type)

Tip:  Consider researching each accommodation type on the Amtrak website for detailed information on included amenities and additional services available for purchase.

Packing Essentials:

Considering the Varied Climate:

The Coast Starlight travels through diverse landscapes, and the climate can change significantly throughout your journey. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Seasonality: Temperatures can vary depending on the time of year. Be sure to check the forecast for Seattle and Los Angeles around your travel dates. Pack layers to adapt to potential fluctuations.
  • Coastal Coolness: As the train hugs the Pacific Coast, expect cooler temperatures and breezes, especially in the evenings. Pack a light jacket or sweater.
  • Cascade Climates: The train traverses the Cascade Range, where temperatures can be cooler, especially at higher elevations. Consider packing an additional insulating layer.

Recommended Items:

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable ride, pack the following essentials:

  • Comfortable Clothing: Pack layers you can easily adjust to varying temperatures. Consider breathable fabrics like cotton for warmer sections and a fleece jacket or sweater for cooler stretches. Pack comfortable pants or leggings and comfortable walking shoes.
  • Toiletries: Pack all your essential toiletries, keeping in mind TSA regulations for carry-on liquids if you’re flying into your starting point. Don’t forget hand sanitizer and any medications you require.
  • Entertainment: Pack enough entertainment to keep you occupied during the journey. Books, magazines, downloaded movies/shows on your tablet, or a music player with headphones are all great options. Consider bringing a deck of cards or a small travel game for some social interaction with fellow passengers.

Additional Tips:

  • Pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the trip.
  • A small travel pillow can add extra comfort, especially for long stretches of sitting.
  • An eye mask and earplugs can help you sleep soundly if you’re sensitive to light or noise.
  • Pack a small bag for day trips or exploring at stops along the route.

By packing strategically, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable Coast Starlight experience!

Checking In and Boarding:

Station Check-In: 

  • Arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before your departure time. 
  • Locate the Amtrak departure board to find your train’s designated check-in area. 
  • You won’t need to check in if you only have carry-on luggage, but have your tickets ready to be scanned by a staff member.

Boarding Procedures:  

  • Boarding typically begins 30 minutes before departure. 
  • Listen for announcements or watch the departure boards for your specific boarding track and car number. 
  • Show your ticket and boarding pass to the conductor when boarding.

Prohibited Items:  

  • For safety reasons, some items are not allowed on board the Coast Starlight. These include: 
  1. firearms 
  2. ammunition
  3. fireworks 
  4. explosives 
  5. flammable liquids 
  6. hazardous materials

Onboard Experience: Unwinding and Taking in the Sights

Amtrak Coast Starlight Train Onboard Experience

Seating and Amenities

Lower/Upper-Level Coach Class Seat

Coach class is available on all Amtrak trains and includes wide, reclining seats with plenty of legroom, no middle seat option, at-seat trays, reading lights, and electric outlets. There are restrooms in each car. Amtrak Guest Rewards customers who travel in Coach earn 2 points per dollar spent.

Superliner Roomette

For customers seeking both privacy and savings in First Class, Roomettes feature:

  • Two comfortable seats by day transformed into upper and lower beds by night
  • Newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens
  • Access to a restroom and shower in your car
  • A dedicated First Class attendant
  • Complimentary lounge access
  • Priority boarding
  • Complimentary meals

Once you’ve booked, your room number will be automatically assigned. Your ticket will include your exact car and room number. Upon arrival, your First Class attendant will direct you to your room.

Superliner Bedroom

For customers seeking plenty of comfort and room in First Class, Bedrooms feature:

  • 2x the space of a Roomette
  • A sofa and separate chair by day transformed into upper and lower beds by night
  • Newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens
  • In-room sink, restroom, and shower
  • A dedicated First Class attendant
  • Complimentary lounge access
  • Priority boarding
  • Complimentary meals

Once you’ve booked, your room number will be automatically assigned. Your ticket will include your exact car and room number. Upon arrival, your First Class attendant will direct you to your room.

Superliner Bedroom Suite

For customers seeking the ultimate First Class experience, Bedroom Suites combine two adjoining Bedrooms and feature:

  • 2x the space of a Bedroom
  • Two sofas and separate chairs by day transform into upper and lower beds by night
  • Newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens
  • Two in-room sinks, restrooms, and showers
  • A dedicated First Class attendant
  • Complimentary lounge access
  • Priority boarding
  • Complimentary meals

Superliner Family Bedroom

For customers traveling with children in First Class, Family Rooms span the width of the car with ample space for two adults and two children (aged 2 to 12) and feature:

  • Seating for four by day transformed two upper and two lower beds by night
  • Newly upgraded bedding, pillows, towels and linens
  • Access to a private restroom and shower in your car
  • A dedicated First Class attendant
  • Complimentary lounge access
  • Priority boarding
  • Complimentary meals

Once you’ve booked, your room number will be automatically assigned. Your ticket will include your exact car and room number. Upon arrival, your First Class attendant will direct you to your room.

Superliner Accessible Bedroom

Accessible Bedrooms are located on the train’s entry-level and provide ample space for wheelchairs. Each room contains:

  • Seating during the day transformed into upper and lower beds at night.
  • On single-level Viewliner trains: an in-room restroom with sink, toilet, and shower.
  • On bi-level Superliner trains: in-room restroom with sink and toilet, access to a private shower in your car.
  • Recently upgraded bedding, pillows, towels, and linens
  • A dedicated first-class attendant
  • Complimentary Lounge access
  • Priority Boarding
  • Complimentary meals, including room service.

Trainside Checked Bicycle

Part of the entertainment of a train journey is the opportunity to explore the stops along the way, and what better way to do so than by bike? If you want to ride their rails with your bike, they provide a variety of services to transport it onboard. 

What’s Allowed?

  • Bicycles and folding scooters weighing up to 50 pounds can be transported on trains. The standard bicycle sizes apply. Maximum tire width is 2″.
  • Checked: Non-folding scooters and bicycles weighing up to 50 pounds and measuring 70″ x 41″ x 8.5″.

Dining Options

Traditional Dining

Traditional dining service is available in the Dining Car on the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle (between San Antonio and Los Angeles).

Traditional dining offers seasonal menus with a wide range of entree options. Complement your meal with a variety of beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits (the first one is on). Make sure to save room for dessert; there’s something to satisfy every sweet tooth. In addition to the regular menu, children can order all of their favorites onboard.

Café service

Coast Starlight Train routes offer Café service, with a variety of meals, snacks and beverages for sale. Customers in all classes of service are invited to the Café and service is available from early morning until late at night. 

Upon Arrival: Reaching Your Destination

After a scenic journey on the Coast Starlight, reaching your destination is the final step of your travel experience. Here’s what you can expect and some tips to ensure a smooth transition from train to your next adventure.

A. Disembarking Procedures

  1. Listen for Announcements: As the train approaches your station, the crew will make announcements regarding the stop. Pay attention to these for instructions on exiting the train.
  2. Gather Your Belongings: Make sure to have all your personal items with you before leaving the train. Check the overhead compartments, under your seat, and in the restrooms.
  3. Exiting the Train: Follow the crew’s directions to the designated exit doors. There may be a small gap between the train and the platform, so step carefully.

B. Station Amenities

  1. Information Desk: Visit the station’s information desk for any immediate questions or assistance.
  2. Restrooms: Freshen up after your journey in the station’s restrooms before heading out.
  3. Waiting Areas: Comfortable waiting areas are available if you’re meeting someone or waiting for a connecting service.

C. Baggage Claim

  1. Claiming Luggage: If you checked in any luggage, head to the baggage claim area indicated by signs or as directed by the staff.
  2. Lost and Found: In case of missing items, report to the lost and found desk immediately with a description of your belongings and travel details.

D. Transportation Options

  1. Taxis and Rideshares: Taxi stands and designated rideshare pickup areas are usually located just outside the station.
  2. Public Transportation: Many stations offer connections to local buses, subways, or trams. Check the station’s maps or ask at the information desk for routes and schedules.
  3. Car Rentals: If you prefer driving, car rental services are often available at or near the station.

E. Local Accommodations

  1. Hotels and Lodging: Information about nearby hotels, hostels, and B&Bs can be found at the information desk or on the station’s notice boards.
  2. Booking Assistance: Some stations may offer booking services or courtesy phones to secure accommodations.

F. Tips for a Smooth Arrival

  1. Plan Ahead: Research your destination station beforehand to familiarize yourself with the layout and services.
  2. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on the train’s arrival time and any changes that might occur during your journey.
  3. Local Currency: If you’re arriving in a different country, ensure you have some local currency for immediate expenses like transportation or food.

By following these steps, you’ll be well-prepared to disembark the Coast Starlight and continue your travels with ease and confidence.

Additional Things to Know

  • Trains use Superliner rail cars, which have two levels.
  • All passengers have access to a café, and sleeper car passengers can dine in the dining car.
  • Stops along the route offer a variety of activities such as beaches, wineries, and hiking trails.
  • You can get off and on the train for a night or more, but you must book each leg of the journey separately.
  • The Van Nuys Station is a 20-minute drive from the Hollywood Burbank Airport, offering an alternative to flying into or out of Los Angeles (LAX) to connect with the Coast Starlight.


A. Coast Starlight Route Map

The Coast Starlight offers a grand west coast train adventure, en route daily between Los Angeles and Seattle. It passes through Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Portland, with the dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile valleys, and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline providing a stunning backdrop for the journey. For a detailed route map, please refer to the official Amtrak website.

B. Amtrak Contact Information

For any inquiries or feedback regarding your reservation or rail trip, you can contact Amtrak through the following channels:

  • Phone: 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
  • Email: Use the contact form on the Amtrak website.
  • TTY: 1-800-523-6590 (for hearing impaired)
  • International Visitors: 1-215-856-7924
  • Group Travel Requests: 1-800-872-1477
  • Customer Service: For specific customer service contacts, please visit the Amtrak website.

For more detailed information, visit the Amtrak website or reach out to their customer service for assistance.

Coast Starlight Train Cost

The cost of an Amtrak ticket varies depending on the type of ticket, the distance traveled, the time of year, the day of the week, and how early you book. Coach seats are the most affordable option, followed by roomettes and bedrooms. To view current ticket prices, use the Find Trains feature on the homepage and enter your estimated travel dates.

As of 2023, expect to pay the following one-way fare if you travel the entire Coast Starlight route:

$100 for a coach seat.

Over $500 for a roomette.

Over $900 for a bedroom.


Should you take the Coast Starlight or Cascades train?

Amtrak operates both the Coast Starlight and the Cascades passenger trains. The main distinction is that the former covers nearly the entire West Coast, whereas the latter is limited to the Pacific Northwest. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route runs from Seattle to Los Angeles, while the Amtrak Cascades train runs from Vancouver, British Columbia to Eugene, Oregon.
The Coast Starlight also includes sleeper cars, which you would expect from a long-distance train. However, Amtrak Cascades’ schedules are more flexible on shorter routes such as Portland to Seattle. We generally recommend taking the Coast Starlight for longer trips and the Cascades for shorter ones. You can compare all of their available times and prices by entering your destination and travel dates into Wanderu’s search engine.

Do Amtrak Coast Starlight trains have WiFi?

No, Amtrak Coast Starlight does not currently offer WiFi on its trains. However, we find that a good book helps pass the time, and streaming services such as Netflix allow you to download TV shows and movies to watch during your trip. Plan ahead of time, and you’ll be entertained throughout the train ride.

Are there power outlets or USB plugs on the train?

Yes, there are power outlets on the Amtrak Coast Starlight trains. You can usually find one or two outlets for each row of seats, so be a considerate traveler and check to see if your seatmate wants to charge their electronics as well. The onboard power outlets allow you to charge both a computer and USB devices using a USB power adapter, which is normally included with most phones and tablets.
Because Amtrak Coast Starlight may occasionally use replacement train units, not all journeys are guaranteed to include power outlets. We recommend bringing a power bank to charge your phone for all journeys longer than 2 hours, just in case.

What is Amtrak Coast Starlight’s schedule?

On a normal day, Amtrak Coast Starlight operates 290 train journeys. However, the exact departure and arrival hours vary according on the day and route. To find the exact timetable for your journey, utilize the search function on this page.

Can you pick up will-call tickets at the station?

No, Amtrak Coast Starlight does not provide will-call tickets. Purchase your tickets online and ensure that you have everything you need to board before arriving at the station.

Do you need an ID to get on the train?

Yes, Amtrak Coast Starlight asks you to provide an ID to an agent before boarding the train. Make sure you have government-issued identification that matches the carrier’s standards. Alternative IDs, such as a college ID, will not work.

Are there bathrooms on Amtrak Coast Starlight trains?

Yes, there are restrooms aboard Amtrak Coast Starlight trains. The restrooms are rather basic, with a toilet, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Most restrooms do not have running water. Please exercise care and hang on to a rail when using a restroom in a moving vehicle.

Are meals or beverages available?

The Amtrak Coast Starlight delivers snacks to keep you fed throughout your journey. Make sure to have a credit card and some cash in case you get hungry.

Do you have to print your Amtrak Coast Starlight ticket?

To board the Amtrak Coast Starlight train, no paper tickets are required. Instead, when you make your reservation, you will get an eTicket via email. You may show the ticketing agent this eTicket on your smartphone as you board.

Does Amtrak Coast Starlight offer any premium features like extra legroom or movies?

Amtrak Coast Starlight goes above and beyond to provide its customers with premium amenities.
Do you find yourself squished in a regular seat, or do you prefer having more room to spread out? You’re in luck, as Amtrak Coast Starlight has extra legroom seating. Because there is no standard for what extra legroom is, the extra space you receive may differ between train lines, but having extra is always beneficial.

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