Leaving luggage overnight at Portland (OR) station?

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My family and I are about to embark on a long train trip -- hooray!

The first leg of our trip is from our home in Oakland to Portland on the Coast Starlight. We'll be staying overnight in Portland and visiting friends, before leaving on the next day's Empire Builder.

Given that we won't be in Portland for long, and that getting to our hotel will require some walking or light rail plus a bus, we'd love to be able to leave some of it at the station and take just what we need overnight. (In particular, we'll have my 3-year-old daughter's car seat, which won't be needed in Portland but which will be needed later in the trip. That thing is a real pain to carry around.)

I've seen references to the Metropolitan Lounge being able to hold luggage -- and we'll be in the sleeper and eligible to use it -- but can they hold something overnight? Or are there other options for leaving luggage overnight at the station?

Thanks for any ideas or info you can give.

By the way, the rest of the trip is the Empire Builder to Columbus WI, we'll be staying for a few days in Madison visiting friends. Then a bus to Chicago connecting to the California Zephyr, to Denver to visit family for a few days. And then the Zephyr back home to Oakland (well, Emeryville). We can't wait -- we've all taken overnight train trips before (even the 3-year-old) but never something this long.
 

AlanB

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Jenizie,

If you can setup things so that you're carrying on everything you need for riding both trains and the night in Portland; then you can check all your other bags including the car seat to Portland. Don't claim the bags when you arrive and they'll just store them for the night. Then the next morning, claim the bags and immediately recheck them to Columbus. Get a nice agent in Oakland and he might even check everything all the way to Columbus for you if you show him all your tickets.

If that's not possible to pack that way, then carryon what you need for the first night and check the rest. Upon arriving into Portland, go to the baggage claim area. Take the bags that you need for that night in Portland, and then immediately check the remaining bags to Columbus. Then the next morning, if you can't or don't want to carry everything onto the train, head back to the baggage area and check your additional bags.

The Metropolitan lounge is not an option, they can only hold bags for the day; not overnight. However, be sure to take advantage of the lounge the next day to wait for the Empire Builder as you get priority boarding ahead of the crowd. Something that can always come in handy with a 3 year old!
 
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Ok, thanks! One of those options should work fine. I somehow had gotten it into my head that Columbus didn't have baggage service, but I see that I was wrong. (We actually haven't checked baggage on any of our previous Amtrak trips, since we've often been going to or from stations where that's not possible.)
 
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Yeah, I can see that the logistics of being able to check things all the way to Columbus could potentially make our lives a lot easier -- we just have to adapt our packing to make it work. I think we'll probably give it a try.

With the one-day stop in Portland, would bags checked all the way through be on the same train as us, or would they go on the previous day's train (assuming the 14-28 connection works that day)? And would really it matter if they did? My first instinct is to want my bags on the same train that I am, as though that increases the chances that we'll reconnect when and where we're supposed to. But really, that may be more about psychology than about Amtrak's ability to get my bags where they need to go.
 

Mackensen

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Yeah, I can see that the logistics of being able to check things all the way to Columbus could potentially make our lives a lot easier -- we just have to adapt our packing to make it work. I think we'll probably give it a try.

With the one-day stop in Portland, would bags checked all the way through be on the same train as us, or would they go on the previous day's train (assuming the 14-28 connection works that day)? And would really it matter if they did? My first instinct is to want my bags on the same train that I am, as though that increases the chances that we'll reconnect when and where we're supposed to. But really, that may be more about psychology than about Amtrak's ability to get my bags where they need to go.
Previous day. What's really neat (or scary, depending on your point of view) is that Amtrak will send your bags by the best routing available. Last week when I traveled Chicago-Los Angeles-Seattle, my bags went straight through on the Empire Builder and arrived two days ahead of me. I just presented by check tag in Seattle and the baggage handler retrieved it. No hassle at all.
 

AlanB

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Yeah, I can see that the logistics of being able to check things all the way to Columbus could potentially make our lives a lot easier -- we just have to adapt our packing to make it work. I think we'll probably give it a try.
Don't make yourself crazy trying to make that happen. If it works, great. If not, not a big deal.

First, start by ensuring that only one checked bag only will be needed in Portland, wiht all the rest ready to go all the way. Carryon's of course don't count in this. Now you still have two options.

Now when you get to the station in Cali, if the agent is nice, have him check the 1 bag to Portland, and the rest to Columbus. If the agent says no, check all of them to Portland but be sure to note which tag # gets placed on the bag you need while in Portland. When you reach Portland, only claim the bag you need for that night, leaving all the other's behind. The next morning, reclaim the remaining bags, and then check all bags to Columbus.

With the one-day stop in Portland, would bags checked all the way through be on the same train as us, or would they go on the previous day's train (assuming the 14-28 connection works that day)? And would really it matter if they did? My first instinct is to want my bags on the same train that I am, as though that increases the chances that we'll reconnect when and where we're supposed to. But really, that may be more about psychology than about Amtrak's ability to get my bags where they need to go.
As noted by other's, any bags checked to Columbus will go out on the same day you arrive in Portland to Columbus. Not to worry, Amtrak is pretty good with checked bags. I'm not saying that they've never lost a bag, but compared to the airlines they're record at getting bags where they need to be is impressive. Of course in all fairness to the airlines, Amtrak moves far less luggage and they have far fewer trains than the airlines have planes.
 

AlanB

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I think that you have 3 days to get your bags after they arrive.
Correct, although to be clear, it's 3 days before Amtrak starts charging for storage. We don't wnat people thinking that Amtrak will throw the bags out in the trash after 3 days. :eek:
 

PaulM

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This thread makes it appears that Amtrak has two different classifications of station agents, nice and not-so-nice. This leads to two questions.

1. Do timetables list which stations have nice, not-so-nice, and no agents?

2 How does one apply for a job as a not-so-nice agent?
 

DET63

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If bags are checked all the way from Oakland to Columbus, but a bus connection is required due to delays on train #14 for passengers continuing east the same day on the Builder, will the baggage be sent on the bus even if the passengers who checked it are going east the next day?
 

AlanB

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If bags are checked all the way from Oakland to Columbus, but a bus connection is required due to delays on train #14 for passengers continuing east the same day on the Builder, will the baggage be sent on the bus even if the passengers who checked it are going east the next day?
Yes. The checked baggage tags on the luggage don't indicate the passenger's travel schedule, only the routing needed to get the bags where they belong.
 
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Just to follow up, we're now back from our trip. Thanks for everyone's advice on dealing with luggage -- we were indeed able to spend our day in Portland without hauling our stuff around. Here's what we ended up doing, in case it's useful for anyone else's planning: we checked one bag (plus the carseat) all the way to Columbus, checked one bag to Portland, and carried one bag on the train (along with our backpacks). This last bag had what we needed both on the train and getting up in the morning in Portland.

When we arrived in Portland, we didn't claim the checked bag, but just took our carryon bag to the hotel. The next morning, we stopped by the station, checked the remaining bag to Columbus, and left our backpacks in the Metropolitan lounge for the day. (We then went to the Portland children's museum -- an easy trip on the TriMet light-rail, and perfect heaven for a 3-year-old.) When we returned to the station, we claimed the bag that had been checked to Portland to carry on the train, and retrieved our backpacks from the Metropolitan lounge.

If bags are checked all the way from Oakland to Columbus, but a bus connection is required due to delays on train #14 for passengers continuing east the same day on the Builder, will the baggage be sent on the bus even if the passengers who checked it are going east the next day?
This is in fact what happened to the bags we checked all the way through -- train 14 was running a couple hours late the day we were on it, so connecting passengers were bustituted from Eugene to Portland. Our bags must have been also, since they were waiting for us in the Columbus station (as opposed to the third bag which was on the baggage cart). Hey, better my bags get bustituted than I do!
 
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