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Checked Baggage (Cleveland to Portland and return: Capitol Ltd, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, CZ, CL)?

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cnpeters

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
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28
Location
Akron, Ohio
Hi!

I have a trip coming up this week where we are taking the Capitol Limited to Empire Builder to Portland, and then the Cost Starlight to California Zephyr to Capitol Limited home, bedrooms the whole way. Our home terminal is Cleveland, the layovers are in Chicago and Sacramento, and the Destination is Portland Union Station. All of these stations have checked bag service, and when I called Amtrak two weeks ago they said we should have checked bag service but they weren't certain - but the tickets all say "No Checked Baggage"

My wife and I are operating under the assumption that we will not have checked bag service - but I guess I was hoping someone here had some idea what we might reasonably expect. We'll have one extra bag with stuff we won't need on the train, and checking would be easiest if possible.... if it's not, well, maybe we'll bring smaller bags for easier stowing away in the room or on that shelf inside the door?

Thanks! Sorry if this all seems basic. We've never ridden a train bigger than a 2 hour GO trip in Canada.

Chris
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
222
It might be the connections between the different trains generating the message. You would have to transfer the checked bag yourself.

I bet you will be able to at least stash that extra bag in a baggage rack if you ask.
 

Lonestar648

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I am sure you would be able to store your bag(s) on the lower level shelves. When you change trains you would have to change the bag from one train to the next train. To make sure all goes with you plan to wheel/carry your bags. One agent might say you can check but if connection station doesn’t then your bag might not be off loaded and put on your train. With the craziness of this 3x weekly service better to plan presuming a problem.
 

saxman

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Are you staying more than one day in Portland? There is checked bag service on all your trains, so you can check your bags in Cleveland and claim it in Portland. Then check them again in Portland and they will be transferred in Sacramento to the Zephyr.
 

daybeers

OBS Chief
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Are you staying more than one day in Portland? There is checked bag service on all your trains, so you can check your bags in Cleveland and claim it in Portland. Then check them again in Portland and they will be transferred in Sacramento to the Zephyr.
This is how it should work! Confirm with a staff member in Cleveland when you check the bags that they'll be transferred to the Empire Builder in Chicago, and ask the same in Portland about Sacramento, just to be sure.

Sounds like a nice trip, enjoy!
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
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This is how it should work! Confirm with a staff member in Cleveland when you check the bags that they'll be transferred to the Empire Builder in Chicago, and ask the same in Portland about Sacramento, just to be sure.

Sounds like a nice trip, enjoy!
And make sure the destination name is correct. My bags in Portland were tagged for a trip to Albuquerque with ALB (Albany) instead of ABQ.
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
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Mar 3, 2020
Messages
222
Our home terminal is Cleveland, the layovers are in Chicago and Sacramento, and the Destination is Portland Union Station.
All of these stations have checked bag service, and when I called Amtrak two weeks ago they said we should have checked bag service but they weren't certain - but the tickets all say "No Checked Baggage"

.

Chris
I wonder if the message has anything to do with reduced service, along with 3 trains a week and all that?
 

cnpeters

Train Attendant
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Oct 15, 2020
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Location
Akron, Ohio
I wonder if the message has anything to do with reduced service, along with 3 trains a week and all that?
That is kinda what I was wondering - if maybe there was no baggage car, or if the baggage car went to Seattle instead of Portland.
 

cnpeters

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Akron, Ohio
Are you going to post pictures when you get back?
Sure! I'm new to this whole train thing, so they may seem pretty simplistic compared to some of you who've done this for years. I see people here with tens of thousands (and many more!) miles, whereas I'm forty two, and my whole experience is that I took a train from Niagara Falls to Toronto once.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
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Feb 11, 2015
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Does the fact that the Cnpeters has a layover in CHI prior to arriving at the PDX destination and then a layover in SAC on way back to CLE have any bearing on this checked baggage business - even though each of the trains and transfer stations has checked baggage?
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
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Feb 19, 2016
Messages
751
I would not assume Amtrak will take good care of your extra baggage flawlessly on an itinerary like this. It would be wiser to handle it yourself, storing on the luggage rack of the car you're assigned to during each segment. If you need assistance managing the baggage while boarding or de-training, ask for help.

In over 100,000 miles of rail travel starting in 1976, I have never checked one piece of baggage and never "lost" one piece of baggage. In fact for the past 15+ years of travel I have substituted a 40L or 55L backpack for suitcase(s) which fits OK in both coach and sleeper accommodations, and is "wearable."
 

tgstubbs1

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Sure! I'm new to this whole train thing, so they may seem pretty simplistic compared to some of you who've done this for years. I see people here with tens of thousands (and many more!) miles, whereas I'm forty two, and my whole experience is that I took a train from Niagara Falls to Toronto once.
Well, I've never done that. I did use a rail pass to criss cross the states a couple of times. Tons of fun generally and unlike any other form of travel. I hope you don't encounter trouble or delays. Those things can definitely sour the experience but if you are somehow prepared and you can adapt you should be ok. There are lots of trip reports you can read here for tips on how to cope.
 

cnpeters

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Well, I've never done that. I did use a rail pass to criss cross the states a couple of times. Tons of fun generally and unlike any other form of travel. I hope you don't encounter trouble or delays. Those things can definitely sour the experience but if you are somehow prepared and you can adapt you should be ok. There are lots of trip reports you can read here for tips on how to cope.
Yeah - we're diving in the deep end with this. We're pretty equipped for the slowness, stops and delays. Looking forward to sitting with a book, a glass of wine (or beer?) watching the world roll by at speeds where you can take in the surroundings... as well as travelling through places we've never been (and likely never otherwise to go!).

Plus, with the current COVID climate, to be able to do this in essentially a rolling bedroom, is quite the fun little safety luxury... although I'm fully aware there's a limit to how much luxury can be experienced in fifty square feet. :)
 

Lonestar648

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I always have a backpack I wear, plus I have an airline size roller with a smaller bag that attaches to the pull up handle if I am traveling for 2-3 weeks. This has worked well since usually it is the roller and the backpack. plus I make sure anyone traveling with me does the same. I have not checked a bag in all my trips on Amtrak. Being a road warrior for decades, I have had the opportunity to travel almost every LD route and covered close to 250K actual miles sine the 1980’s.
 

Qapla

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Gator Country Florida
I have taken trips with and without checked baggage - but then, I wasn't changing trains.

If I were having to change trains I would most likely figure a way to carry with me all the baggage I would need and not "leave my bags to fate Amtrak" to get them to the same place at the same time I am going.
 

zephyr17

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That is kinda what I was wondering - if maybe there was no baggage car, or if the baggage car went to Seattle instead of Portland.
One section has a full baggage car, the other has a coach-baggage where there is a locked baggage compartment instead of downstairs seating.

Typically Seattle had the full baggage, Portland had the coach-bag. I understand that flipped for awhile this year, although it may have flipped back. In any case, both sections have always had and continue to have checked baggage service.
 

MARC Rider

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In the past, I have been able to check baggage through, even though I scheduled a one-night layover in Chicago. On the outbound trip, I usually check the baggage a couple of days ahead of my trip to make sure it's there when I arrive. However, my itineraries have been simpler -- Baltimore to Lamy, Baltimore to Havre, Havre to Baltimore, and Denver to Baltimore -- just three trains and one layover. And on my Baltimore to Lamy trip, there was a service disruption between Baltimore and Chicago due to snow, so they told me to rec-check my bag in Chicago. (Actually on that trip, the bags went out on the Cardinal, so they didn't have to change the baggage at Washington.)

Now, with the reduced Covid service and such, who knows what the policy is.
 

WWW

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Fortunate that your PDX (Portland Oregon) luggage is not checked to POR (the other Portland Maine).
It is increasingly more difficult for the airlines to mis-check luggage with the computer bar codes.
I don't know about the Amtrak system that is to note that I don't see a Baggage Agent with a hand
held bar scanner loading and unloading luggage trackside like is done at the airports airside.
Consolation if the airline screws your luggage you don't have to wait for 2-3 days for the next train
to correct the problem reuniting your luggage.
The checked luggage is not an issue with the NEC trains but now with the LD western USA trains 3x
weekly woe be if your luggage is mishandled !
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
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Mar 3, 2020
Messages
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Apparently transferring bags across different aircraft is enough of a challenge that people have issues on occasion. Even with scanners

I've always felt Amtrak staff were diligent and do the best they can but I always consider the circumstances and do my part to make things 'stay on track'.
 

Willbridge

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Things might have changed, but ever since the PDX>DEN direct Pioneer was axed I have found the Portland baggage room has had special transfer tags for the Sacramento transfer.
 

saxman

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Fortunate that your PDX (Portland Oregon) luggage is not checked to POR (the other Portland Maine).
It is increasingly more difficult for the airlines to mis-check luggage with the computer bar codes.
Well Portland, Maine doesn't offer checked bag service at all, so this shouldn't be a problem at all.

I just never leave the area until I see that my luggage is tagged correctly, flying or taking the train.
 

cnpeters

Train Attendant
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Oct 15, 2020
Messages
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Location
Akron, Ohio
Lol - as I sit in the Cleveland station awaiting my train, you have all thoroughly discouraged me from checking a bag.
 
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