Baggage checking

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MccfamschoolMom

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
536
Location
Dwight, IL
Our local station doesn't have staff, let alone baggage check-in, so any train journeys we make starting from there will be with carry-ons only. I remember when our daughter would come home from library school in the Chicago suburbs on breaks, she'd have just a backpack and a rolling duffel at most, and would ride coach on a Lincoln Service train.
 

saxpower

Train Attendant
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
41
Location
Wilmington, DE
In June I took the Cardinal to Washington and my checked bag beat me to DC. It went on the Capitol Limited.

It really isn't crazy, Amtrak routes bags on the most direct route to the city they are tagged for, unless a specific route is marked on the tag. With just a WAS tag and no other information, a bag in Chicago is routed via the most direct route, which is the Cap. Unless noted on the tag, the baggage handler has no way if knowing whether the passenger is on the Cap, the Card, or the Lake Shore and a regional.

Just before COVID, I traveled from NYP to SEA via the SW Chief and the Starlight. I checked a bag. It went direct on the Builder and arrived the day before I did (which I expected, BTW).


How is that handled at the destination station when the passenger is ready to claim their bag? I assume for stations where passengers walk up to a "baggage" counter, the passenger just presents the claim check and is given the luggage not even knowing it was on a different train. I'm curious about what happens in someplace like Chicago which uses those conveyer carousels like in the airports- a train comes in and its baggage goes on the carousel. If a bag gets their before the passenger, it would just keep circulating on the carousel (hopefully someone in baggage would eventually grab it and secure it), but its not going to be on the carousel when the customer arrives. (Baggage staff won't know if the bag not claimed was forgotten by the passsenger or if the passenger's train has not arrived yet).
 

StanJazz

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
231
Location
CHI
How is that handled at the destination station when the passenger is ready to claim their bag? I assume for stations where passengers walk up to a "baggage" counter, the passenger just presents the claim check and is given the luggage not even knowing it was on a different train. I'm curious about what happens in someplace like Chicago which uses those conveyer carousels like in the airports- a train comes in and its baggage goes on the carousel. If a bag gets their before the passenger, it would just keep circulating on the carousel (hopefully someone in baggage would eventually grab it and secure it), but its not going to be on the carousel when the customer arrives. (Baggage staff won't know if the bag not claimed was forgotten by the passsenger or if the passenger's train has not arrived yet).
My bag was in the back, and I had to have someone go get it.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,411
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
We've had largely good experiences checking luggage at PHL, PGH, WAS, WFH, NOL, CHI, SEA, DEN, KCY, and OMA. No loss of luggage but one time we arrived in PHL and our baggage came in before we did. It was on a Cardinal trip from CHI on an a connecting SWC. The luggage didn't come out on the conveyer so we asked a redcap if he had seen it. He said it came up from WAS earlier in the day. Apparently the baggage was placed on the Capitol by accident and was sent up on the NER or another train to PHL. We would recommend checking baggage but just make sure that it meets the size requirements.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,910
Location
Washington State
How is that handled at the destination station when the passenger is ready to claim their bag? I assume for stations where passengers walk up to a "baggage" counter, the passenger just presents the claim check and is given the luggage not even knowing it was on a different train. I'm curious about what happens in someplace like Chicago which uses those conveyer carousels like in the airports- a train comes in and its baggage goes on the carousel
They hold it and you ask for it. Just like the airlines, if a bag goes unclaimed on the carousel for those stations that have it, the staff pulls it and stores it.

At Seattle, which has a carousel, when I arrived I knocked on the baggage room door and was asked to wait until they finished handling the bags that came off the Starlight. I did that, so although my bag arrived the day before on the Builder, I was the last person arriving on the Starlight to get their bag.
 
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Joined
Jul 31, 2021
Messages
106
Location
Schaumburg, IL
We've had largely good experiences checking luggage at PHL, PGH, WAS, WFH, NOL, CHI, SEA, DEN, KCY, and OMA. No loss of luggage but one time we arrived in PHL and our baggage came in before we did. It was on a Cardinal trip from CHI on an a connecting SWC. The luggage didn't come out on the conveyer so we asked a redcap if he had seen it. He said it came up from WAS earlier in the day. Apparently the baggage was placed on the Capitol by accident and was sent up on the NER or another train to PHL. We would recommend checking baggage but just make sure that it meets the size requirements.
Glad i restarted this thread.

Great responses from everyone!
 
Joined
Jul 20, 2022
Messages
10
Location
Maine
Please note that there is no checked baggage service available in Boston. The farthest East you can check them is Albany.
I am so confused & now panicking! When I scheduled my Boston South Station to Orlando trip, it said I had 2 free checked bags each. But now it says there is no checked luggage in Boston & our transfer is only 37 min in Washington. What do we do with our luggage & how on Earth are we supposed to get it to be checked in Washington 2 hrs before departure?? It is only me & my 11yr old with a broken arm
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
I am so confused & now panicking! When I scheduled my Boston South Station to Orlando trip, it said I had 2 free checked bags each. But now it says there is no checked luggage in Boston & our transfer is only 37 min in Washington. What do we do with our luggage & how on Earth are we supposed to get it to be checked in Washington 2 hrs before departure?? It is only me & my 11yr old with a broken arm
Well, you can have 2 checked bags for free at stations with checked baggage service. BOS hasn't had checked baggage in at least a couple years with the withdrawal of baggage from 448/449, (which wouldn't apply to you, since you are not going to Chicago), and the suspension of 65/66/67, the overnight Regional and the only one that carried a baggage car.

65/66/67 is back, but I don't think the bag is on it yet. Even if it was, you'd either have to check any luggage a day before, or pick it up the next day in Orlando. It never would have traveled on the same train as you, baggage was never carried on your Regional.

Your situation really has not changed from the moment you booked the tickets, you just were not aware of it until now.

You will be carrying everything on, pack accordingly. The answer at BOS and WAS is to use Red Caps to help you and your daughter with your bags.

You don't "check in" in Washington (you don't "check in" almost anywhere, it isn't an airline. Conductors will check in passengers before boarding at a few stations, mostly they scan tickets onboard). You just change trains. You probably won't make the 45 minute baggage check cutoff there. I don't know where you got the "2 hours".
 
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saxpower

Train Attendant
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
41
Location
Wilmington, DE
I have. Checked bag in Chicago 7/16. Not on train when I got to destination (Wilmington, DE). Long story short, Amtrak said I needed to fill out a "lost and found" form - the same one I'd fill out if I left it on a bench on Chicago instead of left it at baggage check. I don't have much confidence finding it will be a priority. Have e-mailed Office of Customer Relations, only recieved the "we recieved your e-mail and will get back to you in the order emails are recieved." Tried to call my local station to see if it showed up- only number available is the general 800 number. Putting info together for claim and have letter to congressperson/senators in draft.

Have my bag back. Someone in another thread suggested checking at the station to see if it showed up. Unfortunately, there is no way to call the station (only number I could find was the general Amtrak number) and I had to wait 'til the weekend to avoid parking issues (I come into my office on Saturdays, so I was already in town). Gave them my claim check, got the bag.
One does wonder though- Bag had an Amtrak baggage tag with my e-mail/phone number on it- I'd have think they'd get in touch with me once the bag went unclaimed for a few days. Also you'd think checking the destination station would be high on the list when i reported the issue to Amtrak.
Not sure when it actually showed up- the trains it would likely have gone on without me would have arrived before me.
 
Joined
May 4, 2022
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4
Location
East Coast
I am confused reading this thread. We are taking the silver star, and that's the only train that goes between the two stops. So would they put my luggage on the next silver star? Or is there only an issue if there are train changes?
 

pennyk

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I am confused reading this thread. We are taking the silver star, and that's the only train that goes between the two stops. So would they put my luggage on the next silver star? Or is there only an issue if there are train changes?
Do you plan to check baggage? Between which two stations? Do the stations offer checked baggage?

There is a baggage car on the Silver Star.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
I am confused reading this thread. We are taking the silver star, and that's the only train that goes between the two stops. So would they put my luggage on the next silver star? Or is there only an issue if there are train changes?
You didn't say what is your destination. If it's not the last stop, the most likely of the unlikely situations is that your bag would have been left on the train and discovered at a later stop. They would probably put it on a train going back to your destination, which could be the SS or some other train, depending upon your destination and where the bag ended up. For example, if you got off at WAS and the bag went to NYP, it might come back on the Cardinal.
 
Joined
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
It's Richmond to Orlando, which only has the silver star.
So if your bag was overlooked at Orlando and was discovered at Tampa, for example, it would probably come back to Orlando on that evening's northbound Star.

If it accidentally went to Washington on the return trip, it could come back to Richmond the next day on any of several trains.
 

Widfara

Train Attendant
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Cedar Creek, Texas
Back in 2017 my friend Frank and I took a rather comprehensive 28-day trip. Texas Eagle Austin to Chicago, hotel overnight, California Zephyr Chicago to Sacramento, hotel overnight, California State Railroad Museum, then Amtrak California to Oakland, several days there at Jack London Square, then Coast Starlight to Seattle, several days there, then Empire Builder back to Chicago, hotel overnight, Capitol Limited to DC, NE Regional to Baltimore, hotel overnight, B&O Railway Museum, NE Regional again to Philadelphia, hotel overnight, Battleship New Jersey, NE Regional still again to NY Penn, a few days there, Empire Service to Albany/Rensselaer, hotel overnight, back the next day to NY Penn, NE Regional to Boston, taxi to N Station, Downeaster to Portland ME, hotel two nights, laundry, sightseeing. Then Downeaster (Upwester?) back to Boston, taxi to S Station, Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, hotel overnight, Texas Eagle back to Austin. Whew!
In Seattle, we tried to check our second bags through to Washington DC, but the guy there wouldn't do it because of our overnight hotel stop. Said we had to be on the same train as our bags. So, we kept them with us, wrestled them back to and from the hotel, and made it work. Still.
In Boston, we decided to try to check our bags to Austin, so we found the baggage room and asked, and a good ole railroad guy said, "Sure, why not?", got the AUS tags, and we just had our backpacks for the two days.
Got to Austin, they didn't come off the train, but the stationmaster saw our interest, and asked if we were the Boston to Austin bag people, and went and got them for us. They came down the day before.
Policy seemed to be made up on the spot, up to the person on the scene.
 

zephyr17

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Back in 2017 my friend Frank and I took a rather comprehensive 28-day trip. Texas Eagle Austin to Chicago, hotel overnight, California Zephyr Chicago to Sacramento, hotel overnight, California State Railroad Museum, then Amtrak California to Oakland, several days there at Jack London Square, then Coast Starlight to Seattle, several days there, then Empire Builder back to Chicago, hotel overnight, Capitol Limited to DC, NE Regional to Baltimore, hotel overnight, B&O Railway Museum, NE Regional again to Philadelphia, hotel overnight, Battleship New Jersey, NE Regional still again to NY Penn, a few days there, Empire Service to Albany/Rensselaer, hotel overnight, back the next day to NY Penn, NE Regional to Boston, taxi to N Station, Downeaster to Portland ME, hotel two nights, laundry, sightseeing. Then Downeaster (Upwester?) back to Boston, taxi to S Station, Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, hotel overnight, Texas Eagle back to Austin. Whew!
In Seattle, we tried to check our second bags through to Washington DC, but the guy there wouldn't do it because of our overnight hotel stop. Said we had to be on the same train as our bags. So, we kept them with us, wrestled them back to and from the hotel, and made it work. Still.
In Boston, we decided to try to check our bags to Austin, so we found the baggage room and asked, and a good ole railroad guy said, "Sure, why not?", got the AUS tags, and we just had our backpacks for the two days.
Got to Austin, they didn't come off the train, but the stationmaster saw our interest, and asked if we were the Boston to Austin bag people, and went and got them for us. They came down the day before.
Policy seemed to be made up on the spot, up to the person on the scene.
Also, in 2017, I checked a bag NYP-SEA when I was going NYP-CHI-LAX-SEA. Baggage guy at Penn Station had no problem with it, and it arrived in Seattle the day before I did. Reading your post, I wonder if that upset the Seattle baggage agent.

It's Amtrak, and, yes, that is pretty much how it all operates.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Denver
Also, in 2017, I checked a bag NYP-SEA when I was going NYP-CHI-LAX-SEA. Baggage guy at Penn Station had no problem with it, and it arrived in Seattle the day before I did. Reading your post, I wonder if that upset the Seattle baggage agent.

It's Amtrak, and, yes, that is pretty much how it all operates.
The same inconsistency applied prior to Amtrak. Sometimes a bag took the shortest route. However, when I rode from St. Louis to Portland via Edmonton in 1967 my suitcase of dirty laundry followed me through Canada. When I picked it up in Portland the next day I had to arrange for a customs agent to walk over to Union Station and inspect it. Luckily I only lived a couple of miles from the station, on the direct Broadway bus. Had I and my baggage been going to a smaller city it could have been a miserable experience.

Amtrak and VIA Rail solve this by not having interline checked baggage service.
 
Joined
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733
Last year I was taking a circuitous route from NYP to ATL, which included an overnight stop in Utica, before going on to Chicago and DC before ATL. ATL had a problem with their freight elevator, and had temporarily stopped checking baggage. Since one of my transfers was in DC, I wanted to check my bag there, but the NYP attendant wouldn’t, citing the same bag must travel with the passenger policy, even though I had done so previously.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Austin Texas
Last year I was taking a circuitous route from NYP to ATL, which included an overnight stop in Utica, before going on to Chicago and DC before ATL. ATL had a problem with their freight elevator, and had temporarily stopped checking baggage. Since one of my transfers was in DC, I wanted to check my bag there, but the NYP attendant wouldn’t, citing the same bag must travel with the passenger policy, even though I had done so previously.
I've quit checking Baggage on Amtrak, but was never refused before( except for Canada) when checking a Bag for a Multi Train Journey in my 50+ Years of riding the Pointless Arrow.
 

daybeers

Conductor
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NHV
I'm thinking of taking a new e-bike I got from New Haven to Wilmington. Frustrating 65/66/67 no longer has a baggage car. I can't get down for the 6:02 Palmetto before the 45 minute cutoff without driving to the end of the subway, and I guess the Carolinian uses the crappy amfleet racks for bikes instead of the baggage car. The e-bike is heavy and I cannot lift it up and into that bad rack. Don't trust it there anyway and the disc brakes make it difficult to take the front wheel on and off.

What should I do? Is there a way to request they use the baggage car? Trying to connect with DART 301. NJT & SEPTA is an option but takes forever and the connection to Wilmington is bad.

Edit: bike is about 55 pounds, over the 50 lb limit and the tires are 2.3" instead of the 2" limit. Will that be an issue?
 
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saxpower

Train Attendant
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May 26, 2022
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41
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Wilmington, DE
If your reference to DART 301 is to the bus operated by the Delaware Transit Authority between Wilmington and Dover, you may want to double check with them. DART busses have exterior racks for bikes mounted on the front of busses. There is only room for two bikes. Riders are responsible for getting their bike on the rack, so any lifting issues will still be present. The other question is whether the weight/tire size will fit on the rack (you mentioned they are beyond Amtrak's limit).

Here are two links to DART's website regarding bike racks and the directions for putting bikes on them



As to the effect of the bike being larger than Amtrak guidelines upon being able to Amtrak bike racks, the question is whether the guidelines reflect the physical capabilities of the racks.
 
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