Gratuities on LD trips

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Hi -

I am taking an epic adventure soon -

Lake Shore Limited NY to Chicago
Empire Builder Chicago to Seattle
Coast Starlight Seattle to LA
Southwest Chief LA to Chicago
Cardinal Chicago to NY
(spending a few days in Seattle and LA to break things up)

What are the expected / customary gratuities for sleeper car stewards on these trips? It is usually the same steward for the entire leg, or do they change during the leg?

Thanks
 

jebr

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You'll keep the same sleeping car attendant (Amtrak's name for a sleeper car steward - it's also often abbreviated as SCA) throughout each leg - they don't change during that leg of the trip. Opinions vary wildly on what's an acceptable tip, although the most common figures I've seen range between $5-$10/night for quality service, up to about $20/night for exceptional service. That said, Amtrak staff are paid a standard wage (not a minimal "tipped wage" as is common in restaurants) so a gratuity should not be seen as an obligation, but rather a token of appreciation for quality service.

EDIT TO ADD: Many people also tip when using the dining car or having meals delivered to their room. In these cases, two common ways people tip is by doing a set tip for each meal (often $2 for breakfast, $3 for lunch, and $5 for dinner) or tipping as they would at a restaurant. If you have meals delivered to your room and wish to tip, you'd typically tip your SCA when they deliver the meal. That said, the dining car staff is also paid a standard wage, not a "tipped wage," and these should similarly be seen as a token of appreciation for quality service rather than an obligation.
 
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zephyr17

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You'll keep the same sleeping car attendant (Amtrak's name for a sleeper car steward - it's also often abbreviated as SCA) throughout each leg - they don't change during that leg of the trip. Opinions vary wildly on what's an acceptable tip, although the most common figures I've seen range between $5-$10/night for quality service, up to about $20/night for exceptional service. That said, Amtrak staff are paid a standard wage (not a minimal "tipped wage" as is common in restaurants) so a gratuity should not be seen as an obligation, but rather a token of appreciation for quality service.

EDIT TO ADD: Many people also tip when using the dining car or having meals delivered to their room. In these cases, two common ways people tip is by doing a set tip for each meal (often $2 for breakfast, $3 for lunch, and $5 for dinner) or tipping as they would at a restaurant. If you have meals delivered to your room and wish to tip, you'd typically tip your SCA when they deliver the meal. That said, the dining car staff is also paid a standard wage, not a "tipped wage," and these should similarly be seen as a token of appreciation for quality service rather than an obligation.
I do the exact same thing as jebr.

The only thing I can add is I do not "pre-tip", aka "bribe" the SCA soon after boarding as some advocate. I tip at the end of the journey with that attendant. My standards for minimum service meriting at tip is putting down the berth at the time I request, within reason (10 or before), putting up the berth usually while I am at breakfast, being reasonably present in the car.

I am not afraid to stiff a bad SCA, that includes not putting down berths at all, commanding the time that they will put down berths ("if you want me to put down the bed, I am doing it at 7"), never being in the car.
 

Dakota 400

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What are the expected / customary gratuities for sleeper car stewards
jebr's suggest gratuity amounts for Sleeping Car Attendants are what I offer. More often $10/night than $20. Never $5/night. My service was not that disappointing that I tipped that amount.

For at table service in the dining car (I have not traveled on Amtrak, other than on the Auto Train, since the "new flex meals" concept began), I tip as I would do at a restaurant depending upon the quality of service. I usually try to leave a small gratuity for the Lounge/Cafe car attendant. Maybe a $1/drink; more if I buy a bottle of wine.
 
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