Vintage travel on a Pullman train car

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

There’s a new way to travel — in vintage style!

Pullman train cars are rolling again between New Orleans and Chicago, and unlike a trip on Amtrak, Pullman rail service recalls a time when train travel made you feel smart and sophisticated, like Cary Grant in the1959 movie “North By Northwest.”  Much of the movie was filmed on a Pullman train, and    Pullman Business Development Manager Luis Quiniones says the new company is “bringing back the golden age of rail travel to America in 2013.”

The original Pullman rail company started service in 1867, and finally went out of business in the 1980`s. The new company, based in Chicago, is restoring the old cars and putting them back on the rails.   Passengers like train historian Steve Myers and his wife Sandy say they would rather be relaxing in the Pullman lounge car, than be stuck eating peanuts with strangers on a plane.

The accommodations in the sleeping cars vary from luxurious to simply comfortable.  The best room is the wood-paneled “master suite,” which is large enough to have a full private bathroom with a shower.

But Pullman managers stress that what sets Pullman apart from other train travel, is service.  The food is prepared daily on board, and passengers are served three elegant meals .  On a recent trip, the dinner menu included filet mignons with a madeira wine sauce.  All drinks are included in the price, and are prepared to order by a steward.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for Pullman is the round-the clock service from a Pullman porter, who’s responsible for attending to passengers every need.  Pullman Porter Paul Carter showed us how porters are trained to” flatten” themselves against the wall of the narrow train corridors, so as not to get in the passengers’ way.

Pullman train travel is refined, genteel, and not for people in a hurry.  This is the way to go if you want to see the Louisiana bayou just outside your window in the evening and Chicago skyscrapers in the morning.  The train also runs in the opposite direction, and you can ride back to New Orleans the same day.

Prices range from $500 for a semi-private sleeper compartment, to nearly $3000 for the master suite.  Also, there’s a 25 percent discount for early booking, and the company has just launched a package deal which includes a three night stay in Chicago.

For more information on prices and discounts, go to


  • burtward

    I love visiting the Galveston train museum near The Strand. It has numerous Pullman cars and they smell like you are in the 30's. I once made a trip from Fort Worth to Chicago and back via the Texas Eagle. I splurged with a buddy and got the sleeper cabin. The beds fold up in the day and we had nice chairs and a table. You just sit and watch the USA fly by. It was hard to see at night so I had a portable TV to watch. A basketball game came on and the cook stopped by and caught some of it with us. He then gave us a tip to order the steak for supper. Maybe because we were on a train, but that steak was so darn good. We agreed not to use our own bathroom for anything except #1. There was a crew bathroom down stairs we could use. We surely didn't use the shower/crapper. Imagine taking a shower while sitting on the crapper. No way. The crew shower was nice. Sleeping was a tad bit unsettling. There were rough track at times and passing trains woke me up. Sometimes it got rough enough for me to say, "Oh Lord, this is it, I'm buying the big one." I also took my laptop and GPS attachment. We could follow our route. We reached central station in Chicago and then each of us paid our porter $40. Yes, he was Black. At one time, all Pullman Porters had to be Black per the union rules. It was very good pay for a Black man. Pullman was an early day Walt Disney. Except Pullman actually made good on his operational city. Disney never got it off the ground like he envisioned.

Comments are closed.