I take Amtrak all the time, especially the #3 and #4 Southwest Chief from Chicago to Kansas City. Me and the wife have taken that Pittsburgh to Chicago trip (we got on in Washington) and got a sleeper. A week after we bought our tickets, they called and offered us an upgrade to the Deluxe sleeper for $50 additional.
All sleepers have outlets, as mentioned. But do NOT count on using the outlet in the lounge car. There is one, but it is in a location that is pretty much impossible to use for anything other than charging cell phones. It’s located in the upstairs bar area by the stairway down to the snack bar. You can’t run a cord to anywhere to sit within 12 feet. So you can charge your laptop there, assuming you don’t mind leaving a laptop sitting there. The irony is that the lounge car is where all the Amtrak employees will tell you to go to plug in.
The coach cars are being slowly renovated, and as they are, outlets are installed at every seat. But Amtrak has been putting these cars on their most profitable routes on the east and west coasts. The Southwest Chief doesn’t see them except when they are being moved from one are to the other. So you stand a chance of getting one of the older cars. Those only have three outlets per car. Two are on the same side as the stairwell, spaced halfway between the stairwell and the end of the car. The third is directly opposite the stairwell. The problem is that any or all of these outlets may be located behind the seat! There is a gap between the seat and the wall, but it is less than half an inch, and is too small to plug in a regular cord. So you should shop for a cord like this with a flat disc plug. You can rotate the chairs to get access to the outlet by pressing down on the treadle near the aisle. But don’t do this while the Amtrak employees can see you, and do NOT rotate any seat around fully. That will piss off the Amtrak employees to no end, and I’ve seen people thrown off the train for it.
Amtrak used to have TVs in the lounge cars and would play “airline” versions of movies. That ended when they started a program of renting digital players. That program failed, but the movies never came back. So make sure you have your own.
The dining car is a generally enjoyable experience, but a couple of things: The number of employees has been cut in half in recent years all through the train. That means there is one car attendant per two or three cars. And only two wait staff, one cook and one pursuer per dining car. So you might have to wait for your order to be taken or to get your check. But it’s not as if you have somewhere else to go. The short staffing means that only half the car might be used at one time, as they tend to alternate ends. And this means that you will sit with strangers, 4 to a table, to minimize how many tables they have to re-set.
Your sleeping car accommodations include meals in the dining car, but not alcoholic beverages or stuff from the snack car. There is coffee and juice in the middle of the car.
I take the train all the time, and for my purposes it’s perfect. I don’t fit into Southworst’s cramped seats and the Amtrak coach seats are roomy and have a ton of legroom. The train goes from downtown to downtown, and for my regular KC to Chicago trip the “90 minutes” of the plane, when you include the trips to and from the airports, the hour you need to arrive early to get a decent seat on Southwest’s “Greyhound Bus of the Air”, the time to get through security, the time to get your luggage…all together the plane takes five hours compared to the seven hours of the train. And a lot less stress.