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I upgraded my Amtrak seat to first class by bidding $95. Here's what the 4-hour ride was like.

Molly O'Brien smiling on a train with a tray of food in front of her
I was intrigued by the chance to get a first-class experience for almost half the price. Molly O'Brien
  • I bid on an Amtrak upgrade and went from business class to first class.

  • My upgrade cost $95 (on top of my $57 business-class ticket) and came with lounge access and food.

  • The Amtrak Lounge was elegant, the first-class seat was spacious and I enjoyed my four-hour ride.

A few days before my Amtrak ride from New York to Boston, I got an email from Amtrak asking if I'd like to bid on an "enhanced experience" using the BidUp process.

I was able to bid a minimum of $95 to get from business class to first class, which comes with complimentary meals, beverages, and large, reserved seats.

My original business-class ticket was $57. Even after a $95 bid, I'd still only be paying half price for a first-class ticket, which usually costs about $300.

So, I placed the minimum bid and waited.

The morning of the trip I received an email confirming my bid was accepted.

Amtrak lounge access sign  in front of escalators
My credit card wasn't charged until my bid was accepted.Molly O'Brien

My bid was accepted the morning of my trip. In total, I spent only $152 to sit in first class on the train.

With my first-class ticket, I could access the Amtrak Lounge at Penn Station, my departure point.

The Amtrak Lounge was very elegant.

Bar in Amtrak first-class lounge
Access to the lounge was limited to certain travelers.Molly O'Brien

The Amtrak Lounge at Penn Station had tons of white marble and elegant lighting.

It felt clean and bright, and there was plenty of space to sit before I boarded my train.

There was a full spread of free hot and cold breakfast items and takeaway snacks.

La colombe coffee in a large dispenser next to syrups
The Amtrak Lounge serves La Colombe coffee. Molly O'Brien

There was also a self-serve tea and coffee bar with plenty of syrups and tea options.

The complimentary coffee and elegant vibes made lounge access feel like a huge perk.

While I waited, I kept an eye on the screen with all of the train boarding updates.

Amtrak monitor with train departure times
I was able to see which trains were leaving NYC. Molly O'Brien

The Amtrak Lounge had its own bathrooms, and I liked that it had a big screen that kept me updated on when each train was boarding.

At boarding time, someone personally escorted first-class passengers to the train and showed us to our seats.

People getting on an Amtrak train
It was nice to get on the train before almost everyone else. Molly O'Brien

As the first train car, we had the easiest access to the platform for embarking and disembarking.

It was nice to have a staff member bring us right to our seats.

I had lots of space to spread out in my seat.

Author Molly O'Brien sitting in first-class Amtrak seat
My first-class Amtrak seat came with access to a table. Molly O'Brien

My seat was comfortable, and I had an entire table to use to work, using the train's WiFi.

Because we bid, we didn't get to choose our seats. Fortunately, the ones next to us were empty.

We used them for our small bags and some personal items.

After we departed, a server came over and took my food order.

Amtrak food menu
The Amtrak Acela menu had a lot of options. Molly O'Brien

Since my train left at 11 a.m., breakfast and lunch options were available. The menu had things like chili, omelets, and beers.

Everything was complimentary, including alcoholic beverages.

Glass of La Colombe coffee on Amtrak train
I ordered coffee during the Amtrak ride. Molly O'Brien

Although I could've ordered complimentary alcohol or soda, I stuck with coffee.

It was La Colombe, one of my favorite brands, and it didn't disappoint.

I also chose the cheese plate.

cheese slices and grapes on Amtral mat on table
The cheese plate came with grapes, crackers, and jam. Molly O'Brien

I thought my cheese plate was really tasty. There was a solid selection of different types of cheeses, and it kept me full for the whole ride.

Halfway through the trip, a staff member also came around to offer us mixed nuts as another snack.

My husband got the lobster mac and cheese, which looked hearty.

Lobster mac and cheese, yogurt, and croissant on Amtrak table
I was impressed the Amtrak Acela had lobster mac and cheese as an option. Molly O'Brien

I was impressed Amtrak offered something as upscale-feeling as lobster mac and cheese on board.

It looked good, and it came with a rich-looking dessert.

The first-class car bathrooms were spacious.

First-class bathroom with lit-up mirror, sink, and toilet
The Acela's first-class bathroom felt big enough. Molly O'Brien

The bathroom had a mirror with soft lighting, a toilet, and a sink with countertop space that could fit a small cosmetic bag if needed.

I also checked out what business class would've looked like.

Business Class section of Amtrak train
The business-class Amtrak seats seemed spacious, but I was happy to have gotten my upgrade.Molly O'Brien

The business-class seats looked almost as large as the ones in first.

Still, business class doesn't come with perks like food service or lounge access. I was happy to be in my upgraded section.

Finally, after about four hours, we arrived in Boston.

Amtrak train at night
First-class passengers disembarked at the front of the platform.Molly O'Brien

When I arrived in Boston after a roughly four-hour journey, I disembarked at the front of the platform.

Overall, I felt the $95 for an upgrade to my four-hour trip was worth it.

Molly O'Brien smiling on a train with a tray of food in front of her
Upgrading to first class made my Amtrak ride even better.Molly O'Brien

The relaxing on-train experience, access to an elegant Amtrak Lounge, complimentary food and drink, and personal escort to the train were worth the extra $95.

The four-hour train ride was worth it, too, even though a flight from New York to Boston would've taken about an hour.

An economy plane ticket would've cost about the same, but I'd also pay extra to order a rideshare to whichever NYC airport I chose. Based on where I was staying, it's much easier and cheaper to walk to Penn Station in midtown Manhattan than to get to any nearby airport.

And, on the train, I didn't have to pay extra to check my luggage.

Read the original article on Business Insider