Is there a way to tell how full the coaches will be before arriving at the station?

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Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
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Mar 13, 2019
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When taking a LD train I prefer to have access to my suitcase, but when the coach is full, one can't really pull it out to open and get something, so now I'm thinking it's better for me to check my luggage. Is there a way to determine before heading for the station how full the coach class will be? I'm suspecting not, but thought I would ask anyway.

And on that same note, I can't remember how many suitcases and what size would fit in a sleeper, even though I took one last year. I'm getting old and forgetful.
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
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Mar 13, 2019
Messages
284
Oh, and is checking baggage the only time one would need to stop at the Amtrak ticket counter rather than waiting on the platform? Not pertinent for the beginning of the journey, but when changing trains, does one need to stop at the ticket counter?
 

OBS

Conductor
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Nov 9, 2011
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It would help if we knew what train and what type of room to answer your questions...
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
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May 6, 2011
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11,480
You can check your bags to your destination (or the last station you change trains if your destination does not have checked baggage). They will transfer your bag(s) between trains
 

BCL

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Nov 16, 2012
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Oh, and is checking baggage the only time one would need to stop at the Amtrak ticket counter rather than waiting on the platform? Not pertinent for the beginning of the journey, but when changing trains, does one need to stop at the ticket counter?
I can think of reasons why one might go to the ticket window/counter other than to check-in baggage. Assuming that you already have your eTicket (in one of several forms) the same ticket is all you need for your entire trip. I've asked the agent to humor me by reprinting the ticket, although I'll just use Quik-Trak if I don't want the agent to question why I need a reprint when I already have an eTicket in another format. If you have multiple segments and reprint the ticket, the used segments disappear from the ticket. At some stations they use restroom tokens in order to keep random people from using them who aren't passengers or who aren't otherwise doing business with Amtrak.

Some transfers are different, like if you're transferring to the Coast Starlight in Seattle. They require that passengers check-in to get a car assignment before boarding. However, that's not done at the ticket windows but at standalone booths set up in the waiting room.

However, most of the time you just pull out your ticket and follow directions from Amtrak staff on where to board.
 

iliketrains

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
Messages
196
I'm no expert but two things you can try: 1) Play around with the Amtrak booking site. I did. I strategically changed the departure location and the arrival location using the same train and date as my reservation. This gave me an educated guess on how many people where on the train during certain legs of the trip. I looked at how many available seats were left (if indicated). I already knew the consist of the train. It was far from an accurate picture but I could tell my train was getting full. 2) Call Amtrak and ask. I had originally reserved a coach but when I noticed the train was appearing to be filling up and there was only 1 roomette left, I called and ask the agent if she thought I should book the roomette to be more comfortable since I might have to have a seat mate in coach. She said "hold on and let me count". She came back and said the train was quite full in coach with not a lot of seats left.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
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Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
11,480
I'm no expert but two things you can try: 1) Play around with the Amtrak booking site. I did. I strategically changed the departure location and the arrival location using the same train and date as my reservation. This gave me an educated guess on how many people where on the train during certain legs of the trip. I looked at how many available seats were left (if indicated). I already knew the consist of the train. It was far from an accurate picture but I could tell my train was getting full. 2) Call Amtrak and ask. I had originally reserved a coach but when I noticed the train was appearing to be filling up and there was only 1 roomette left, I called and ask the agent if she thought I should book the roomette to be more comfortable since I might have to have a seat mate in coach. She said "hold on and let me count". She came back and said the train was quite full in coach with not a lot of seats left.
Those "seats left" notifications are for "at this price", not how many are available for the train
 

F900ElCapitan

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
367
I'm no expert but two things you can try: 1) Play around with the Amtrak booking site. I did. I strategically changed the departure location and the arrival location using the same train and date as my reservation. This gave me an educated guess on how many people where on the train during certain legs of the trip. I looked at how many available seats were left (if indicated). I already knew the consist of the train. It was far from an accurate picture but I could tell my train was getting full. 2) Call Amtrak and ask. I had originally reserved a coach but when I noticed the train was appearing to be filling up and there was only 1 roomette left, I called and ask the agent if she thought I should book the roomette to be more comfortable since I might have to have a seat mate in coach. She said "hold on and let me count". She came back and said the train was quite full in coach with not a lot of seats left.
Those "seats left" notifications are for "at this price", not how many are available for the train
Agreed. I’ve been playing with the Amtrak site for a while now. It’s not the “seats left” but more of what price bucket they are selling for. Here is what I’ve observed and this is by no means 100% but a good guide. So, first, if you’re looking more than 14 days out, is there “saver” seats available? If so, there are a lot of coach seats available. Next are there “value” seats available? If so, what is the relationship in price to the “flexible” fare? The closer those two are, then the higher the “value” bucket and the fuller the train. If there are no “value” seats available, then the train is quite full. Lastly, if there is only “flexible” seating available and a “seats remaining” then that will be many coach seats are left on the train.

Sleepers are very similar, the lower the bucket, typically the lower the occupancy. So for instance, if you have two people wanting to ride the SWC from LA to CHI in a bedroom, if you see a $2000+ fare and “2 rooms remaining at this price”, then you can pretty well tell that those are the only two bedrooms available. If the fare is less, or even significantly less, then more than likely that there are at least a few bedrooms available but its nearly impossible to tell how many without inside info.

There is also a picture of a graph one of the contributors put together with all the “buckets” for all the trains from endpoint to endpoint. I can’t think of who put it together but they spent a lot of time on it. But the chart will give a good reference of how full the train is from end to end. There can also be differences if you’re traveling less than the trains full distance. There are some intermediate points on most trains that get a lot of turnover.
 
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