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Brightline Train Service Premium Class Review [Orlando to Miami]

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

545 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

30 Published Articles 3097 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Brightline recently opened its Orlando station and now offers trains running from Orlando to Miami with intermediate stops. Because of the distance from the Orlando station to the next nearest station, West Palm Beach, you’ll notice a different service offering than on other Brightline trains, and it’s quite an impressive experience.

I’ll examine what is provided for this roughly 3-hour and 30-minute journey, what you can expect on board, and what this ticket costs.

What Is Brightline?

Brightline is the future of higher-speed rail in the U.S. It’s the only private passenger rail operator and is backed by significant funding, allowing it to build tracks and operate trains in a much different fashion than you’ll find on the government-funded Amtrak services.

Brightline serves Orlando, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura, and Miami, with a future planned starting point in Tampa.

Brightline Florida map
Image Credit: Brightline

Smart (economy class) and Premium (first class) are the 2 classes of service on Brightline trains. In this review, I’ll detail my experience with the highest class of service on board, Premium.

Booking Brightline

The easiest way to book your travel is through the Brightline website or Brightline app. Because Brightline only has 2 different fare categories, it’s extremely easy to decipher which one will better suit your needs based on the departure times.

I traveled on January 28, 2024. For my trip, the Smart fares were $69, while the Premium fares were $139. With it being a 3.5-hour journey, I decided to book the Premium class for a little more room and amenities.

Hot Tip:

Depending on your travel dates, Brightline’s Premium cabin can be only a few dollars more than the Smart fares, so if you’re flexible with your times and dates, you can save a ton of money in a better train car.

Consider using one of our recommended best credit cards for travel purchases when booking your ticket. I purchased this trip with the American Express Green Card®, which earns 3x Amex Membership Rewards points on travel, including trains. It’s worth noting that all fares are non-refundable, and if you choose to cancel a Premium ticket, you’ll only receive a voucher for the full amount back to your account.

Orlando Station

The first and most obvious thing you’ll notice about Orlando station is that it is not anywhere near downtown Orlando or any of the theme park hubs like Walt Disney World or Universal Studios. Orlando station is actually situated at Orlando International Airport (MCO), accessible from all terminals via the free terminal transfer train.

If you’re coming in off of a connecting flight, the station is very convenient and accessible, but if you’re looking to access downtown or one of the theme parks, you’ll still have to rent a car or catch a ride-share from the airport. The Orlando station was initially planned to be near Disney Springs, but logistical challenges from Disney, Brightline, and the nearby towns and communities caused the station to be relocated to the airport.

Orlando to Miami: Premium Class

Orlando’s Brightline station is conveniently situated on the Orlando International Airport property, so if you’re arriving on a flight, you have an ideal connection to the train. Follow the signs, and you’ll see the station.

Brightline Entrance MCO
Brightline entrance at Orlando International Airport.

Check-In and Security

Once at the station, you’ll see check-in desks to the left. You only need to visit these if you have questions about your ticket. For most passengers, you’ll proceed directly through the security checkpoint.

Brightline MCO Check In
Brightline Orlando check-in and security.

Security at Brightline stations is different than airport security. You don’t need to take off your shoes or remove electronics. You only need to slide your bag onto the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector. It’s far less painful than the security lanes at the airport.

Brightline MCO Station
Seating near the Mary Mary Bar at Brightline Orlando station.

Premium Lounge

Once you’re through, you’ll see the Premium lounge off to your right. Lounge access is included in all Premium tickets, and you’ll find a lounge in all major stations along the route. To get inside, scan your ticket at the automated gates, and they’ll open if you have access.

Brightline Lounge Entrance
Brightline Premium Lounge entrance at Orlando.

Inside, you’ll find a lounge space very similar to one you’d see in an airport. There are comfortable seating options and tables with high-top chairs, bar seats, couches, and coffee tables.

Brightline Premium Lounge
Brightline Orlando lounge seating.

A small bar area had complimentary self-serve canned or bottled beverages, wine, and beer.

Brightline Bar at MCO
The lounge served both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

A buffet area offered a light lunch with meats, cheeses, salads, breads, finger sandwiches, and more. While I didn’t partake in any food, it looked tasty and fresh.

Brightline Buffet Premium Lounge MCO Lunch
A small buffet was available for lunch.

One downside of this lounge is that you must go outside the space to use the restroom. That said, getting back inside is easy as it’s a quick scan at the gate.

Boarding

You’ll hear an automated boarding call to proceed down the escalator just before departure.

Brightline Boarding Gate
All passengers board at once.

Downstairs, you’ll arrive on the tracks, and each train car is clearly labeled, with Premium class towards the front.

Brightline Train Exterior
Premium class is located at the front of the train.

On Board

Stepping on board, you’ll see the seats configured in a 2×1 setup, with some seats having a conference arrangement with fixed tables.

Brightline Premium Empty
Premium seating is 2×1.

Most seats had a drop-down tray table in front.

Brightline Tray
The tray tables are very sturdy.

While at-seat storage was limited, plenty of overhead bin space was available to store luggage. Each seat reclined a small amount using a knob under the armrest. It was more of a gentle recline and not something I’d use to be comfortable while taking a nap, but it did the trick for a relatively short train ride.

On the sides were wide panoramic windows, though the windows had a permanent shade built in that made it difficult to see outside.

Brightline Windows
Unfortunately, the windows were hard to see out of.

In Premium class, you’ll find an attendant, and their role is especially important on this long stretch from Orlando to Miami as there are multiple service opportunities. While the attendant could help store bags and provide assistance, the attendant in my car was fairly laid back and didn’t really offer any assistance proactively.

Service

Orlando to Miami (and vice versa) is the longest stretch of the Brightline service and offers the most extensive service. To sum it up, you’ll receive way more in the 3 hours of your ride than on some transcontinental flights in first class!

Hot Tip:

There’s no in-train entertainment for the ride, so be sure to download any content on your device before departure. The trains also have complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi.

As the train pulled away from Orlando station, I was offered a prepackaged wet towel, useful for wiping off my hands and the tray table in front of me.

Brightline Towlette
A refreshing towel was offered before the main drink service.

After a few minutes, the attendant prepared the beverage cart and began the formal service, starting with drink selections. There wasn’t an actual menu of Premium class drinks on offer, which I found frustrating, but I asked the attendant, and he explained everything available.

I got a good hint of what might be served by looking at the economy class menu, though this menu lists charges next to each item, and all items are free in Premium.

A wide selection of liquors, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks was offered. I selected a freshly squeezed orange juice, which came in a small bottle. This wasn’t an ordinary Tropicana orange juice, but one that felt very premium and something you’d find in a nice restaurant or hotel.

Brightline Juice and Candy
There are lots of drinks on offer.

Following the drink service was a meal service. You won’t find a meal on any other portion of this route, so you need to be going the full length to receive it. On offer was a Caprese or roast beef sandwich, each with different sides. The Caprese sandwich came with hummus and vegetables, while the meat sandwich came with a small side Caprese salad. Both were served with a fresh fruit salad.

Brightline Lunch Tray
A hearty sandwich, a side, and fruit for lunch.

While the sandwich was packaged and presented in a box, it actually tasted very fresh and didn’t feel cheap at all.

Brightline Caprese Sandwich
The sandwich tasted freshly made.

After all, this is the type of meal that would be hard to find on most domestic airline routes, so having what I’d consider to be a full lunch service was phenomenal. Departures in the morning get a breakfast-style box, while those during the lunch and dinner hours, like mine, receive a choice of sandwiches.

About 2 hours before arrival in Miami, I was offered a small chocolate cake packaged in a plastic dome, which I thought was a cute touch.

Brightline Dessert Dome
Who can say no to dessert?

A second small meal service was offered about 45 minutes before arrival in Miami. This meal included prepackaged cheese wrapped in prosciutto or a vegetarian hummus dip. This small box also came with a bag of popcorn and a fruit bar. It was a small pick-me-up that was an incredibly thoughtful thing to offer, though highly unnecessary on such a short train journey.

Brightline Snack Bag
A snack is served before arrival if you’re not full from lunch.

Arrival in Miami

On arrival in Miami, you exit the train and walk through the station to the exterior sidewalk. From there, you can easily grab a cab or ride-share to your final destination or, like in my case, grab the Brightline airport shuttle bus to Miami International Airport (MIA).

The shuttle leaves 10 minutes after the train arrives at the station, costing $10 per person for the ride. If you have multiple people, you’ll likely save using a ride-share, but the van was conveniently sitting at the curb, ready to go, so I decided to take it.

Brightline Bus to MIA Shuttle
A convenient bus shuttles you to Miami airport if you have an onward flight.

Final Thoughts

Brightline has really upped its game and provides a truly premium offering if you’re traveling the length of its tracks from Orlando to Miami and back. With lots of food, complimentary drinks, and a great price point, it would be hard to choose any other method of travel for the roughly 3.5-hour journey.

It’s a shame Brightline doesn’t have other routes throughout the country, as this extensive service on what is a relatively short train ride puts most other train operators to shame!

The information regarding the American Express® Green Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Brightline go from Miami to Orlando?

Brightline does go from Miami to Orlando. It is currently the longest distance the train service offers.

How long is Brightline ride from Orlando to Miami?

The ride from Orlando to Miami is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.

How much is a train ticket from Miami to Orlando?

The average cost of a Smart ticket is about $60, with the ticket costing more if you wish to ride in the Premium class.

Does Brightline go directly to Miami Airport?

Brightline’s Miami station is located in downtown Miami and is about a 20-minute drive from Miami International Airport (MIA).

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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