General luggage question

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Apr 18, 2022
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Denver CO
My upcoming trip will require us to be on 3 different trains over 3 days: first the Zephyr, then the Capital Limited, and finally the Silver Star. We are staying in a sleeper car but plan on checking most of our luggage. My question is, what happens at each transfer? Do staff move our luggage from the train we were just on to the next train? Or do they give us our luggage and then we "re-check" everything on the next train? If they do it for us, are there ever any issues with lost luggage?
 

zephyr17

Engineer
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Jul 23, 2009
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Washington State
Amtrak will transfer checked baggage between trains and it will be available to you at your final destination.

I have never experienced or heard of lost luggage issues with Amtrak, although, as with anything, mistakes can happen.

Finally note that Amtrak's baggage handling methodology is entirely manual. No coded baggage tags, no automated sorting, no scanning. Baggage handlers read the tags and act appropriately. The best thing you can do is know the 3 letter station code of your destination and check the accepting agent has put on tags with the right code.
 
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Joined
Jul 11, 2008
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In April, I checked my bag in Chicago through to Atlanta. I showed my ticket, which was on the Cardinal, connecting in CVS to the Crescent. I checked the baggage ticket in Chicago, and it said ATL (Atlanta). But this being my first time checking a bag on connecting trains, and being a little paranoid about it, I walked up to the baggage car in CVS and watched them unloading the bags to be sure it was there. It wasn’t. I asked the Amtrak guy in the car to double-check to be sure my bag wasn’t still in the car. It wasn’t.

Woe is me for the next 17 hours until I arrived in Atlanta, when my bag was offloaded from my train.

Turns out, because of the non-computerized baggage handling system referred to By Zephyr 17, my bag went on the Capital Limited, which left earlier from Chicago, and was transferred to my Crescent at, probably, WAS.

As I’m fond of saying, All’s well that end’s well. But I’m wondering why Amtrak hasn’t been able to computerize its baggage handling system.
 

ehbowen

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Mar 22, 2011
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Houston, Texas
Yep, depending on your route your bag may get to your destination before you do. On a 2012 trip from Washington, DC to Houston via New Orleans, my checked baggage wasn't available when the train unloaded. The agent said, "Sorry", but I asked her to check the baggage room. Yep. It had been sent via Chicago and Longview, and arrived at the Houston station a few hours before I did.
 

zephyr17

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Yeah, bags go by the most direct route unless they are specifically marked and the most direct route CHI-ATL is via WAS on the Capitol.

I done that several times, with checked luggage arriving ahead of me because I went the long way around (NYP-CHI-LAX-SEA). The difference is I expected it. Sorry it caused you anxiety. I am also a believer in not asking a question you don't want to know the answer to. Sidewalk supervising the baggage transfer did nothing for you except worry you.

They don't really carry enough checked bags to justify computerizing or automating it. It would be a solution in search of a problem. Besides, if Amtrak IT did it, you can bet lost bags would skyrocket. I'd much rather have a human look at a tag than have Amtrak IT involved.
 
Joined
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I done that several times, with checked luggage arriving ahead of me because I went the long way around (NYP-CHI-LAX-SEA). The difference is I expected it. Sorry it caused you anxiety. I am also a believer in not asking a question you don't want to know the answer to. Sidewalk supervising the baggage transfer did nothing for you except worry you.
Thanks for your sentiments, but I wasn't really worried, just a little woeful, but I had over five hours layover in CVS and drowned my woe in oysters and sancerre at Public Fish and Oyster House, thanks to some previous recommendations on this forum. :p And, had I known what I know now about Amtrak baggage practices, I would have felt fine. Another nice outcome, dinner was still being offered on the Crescent when we departed CVS, so I was able to avail myself of further woe-defeating libation. 😄
 
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s an afterthought, this issue is a prime example of why this Forum is such an excellent source for information about traveling on Amtrak. I have learned and continue to learn from it over the years. And it is one of the most civilized discussion forums I have encountered in terms of politeness, empathy, and consideration for the opinions of others.
 

John Bobinyec

Conductor
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CYN
My upcoming trip will require us to be on 3 different trains over 3 days: first the Zephyr, then the Capital Limited, and finally the Silver Star. We are staying in a sleeper car but plan on checking most of our luggage. My question is, what happens at each transfer? Do staff move our luggage from the train we were just on to the next train? Or do they give us our luggage and then we "re-check" everything on the next train? If they do it for us, are there ever any issues with lost luggage?
Baggage can be checked either way: all the way from the origin to the destination, or to the intermediate connection points with you rechecking the bags. It's up to you.

Sometimes we check some of the bags all the way, but some of them to the connection points because we need to repack them.

jb
 

Shanson

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 17, 2021
Messages
52
Location
Austin TX
I may the only one in this group to have had a problem. We checked two bags in Washington DC, bound for Austin TX. Bags didn't come off the baggage car. We figured they missed the connection. Next day, still no bags. Filed a lost bag report. Finally got a call two weeks later from Chicago. They then shipped them home via FedEx. All intact. The only thing I can imagine is that the Washington employee thought I said Boston rather than Austin. Glad to have the bags regardless.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
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Feb 19, 2016
Messages
785
It is gratifying to read Amtrak's manual, old school method of tracking and transporting baggage is working so well.

If I ever MUST check baggage I would do so with more confidence. But I haven't HAD to in over 150,000 Amtrak and VIA miles since 1976.

Instead, I learned early on the philosophy that Less Is More and ruthlessly trim my carry-on items to fit in a 40 or 50L backpack, the same kind I actually use for backpacking and wilderness foot travel. Sometimes, I also have a small carry-on that can be attached to the main pack with a bungee cord when actually wearing the pack. This all fits nicely in a roomette or bedroom, and overhead in coach. I even made it work in slumbercoaches of past generations -- sleeping accommodations that were a fine example itself of minimalism at its best.

The nice thing about keeping all belongings with me is that when I exit the train at a destination, I'm ready to go. No waiting for luggage, and no worrying if it will be there because I'm wearing it (which if the pack is properly fitted is easier than carrying suitcases). Lastly, I always have everything with me throughout the journey.
 
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