Portland, OR refused to check bag for thru bus connection to VAC

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Joined
Jan 9, 2022
Messages
2
Location
Vancouver, BC
I purchased a complete Amtrak ticket from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC with a bus connection from Seattle to Vancouver. The layover time is about 90 minutes.

when arrived at Portland Union Station the baggage agent refused to check my bags, both to Vancouver and as a short check to Seattle.

I was traveling with my 5 year old son and had 4 checked bags total. The baggage agent said that “management” told him not to check bags with connections less than 2 hours. This left me in a very difficult situation. The call center transferee me to customer service which was closed on Sunday..

my question is, why is this policy not disclosed to the rider? And who should I complain to at Amtrak ? And If necessary the federal oversight board tasked with Amtrak regulations.
 

tgstubbs1

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
645
I believe I made that connection once. I think the concern is that a late train might make it difficult to retrieve your baggage. I didn't think they checked bags onto the Thruway bus. The driver loads it underneath.
I hope it goes ok.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2022
Messages
2
Location
Vancouver, BC
To clarify, they refused to check any bags either to Seattle or to Vancouver. I ended up having to carry on 4x bags on both the train and bus connection.

my concerns is they are selling tickets with 2 checked bags each and it appear to be at the checkin agents discretion to accept a checked bag or not.

one of the reasons I choose to go by rail instead of flying was the fact check bags are included. My 5 year old obviously likes the train, but I simply find this policy rediculous.
 

tgstubbs1

OBS Chief
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Mar 3, 2020
Messages
645
I don't look at the Amtrak web site very often. It does have this information about checked baggage with the two hour minimum.

" Luggage must be checked at least 45 minutes prior to your train's scheduled train departure. If you will be transferring between stations en-route, plan for at least two hours of scheduled layover time to ensure your luggage is transferred to your new train."
 

trainman74

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Sherman Oaks, CA
" Luggage must be checked at least 45 minutes prior to your train's scheduled train departure. If you will be transferring between stations en-route, plan for at least two hours of scheduled layover time to ensure your luggage is transferred to your new train."

"Transferring between stations"? I don't think anyone with a ticket that includes an official connection would be "transferring between stations." It almost seems like that language is left over from the days when there was Amtrak service to both Grand Central and Penn Station.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The baggage agent said that “management” told him not to check bags with connections less than 2 hours. This left me in a very difficult situation. The call center transferee me to customer service which was closed on Sunday..
one of the reasons I choose to go by rail instead of flying was the fact check bags are included. My 5 year old obviously likes the train, but I simply find this policy rediculous.
Agreed. Amtrak was never great with checked luggage policy but these days it seems to border on absurdity.
 

Barb Stout

Conductor
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Mar 13, 2019
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1,102
Location
Albuquerque, NM
"Transferring between stations"? I don't think anyone with a ticket that includes an official connection would be "transferring between stations." It almost seems like that language is left over from the days when there was Amtrak service to both Grand Central and Penn Station.
When my eyes saw "stations", somehow it got translated to my brain as "trains". Did the author make this same mistake or is it somehow leftover verbiage from long ago when there were multiple stations in 1 city? I'm guessing the former.
 

Northwestern

Service Attendant
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Jan 3, 2022
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191
Location
Santa Rosa
I purchased a complete Amtrak ticket from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC with a bus connection from Seattle to Vancouver. The layover time is about 90 minutes.

when arrived at Portland Union Station the baggage agent refused to check my bags, both to Vancouver and as a short check to Seattle.

I was traveling with my 5 year old son and had 4 checked bags total. The baggage agent said that “management” told him not to check bags with connections less than 2 hours. This left me in a very difficult situation. The call center transferee me to customer service which was closed on Sunday..

my question is, why is this policy not disclosed to the rider? And who should I complain to at Amtrak ? And If necessary the federal oversight board tasked with Amtrak regulations.
************************************************
I booked a trip from Vancouver, Washington to Whitefish, MT this summer. The Amtrak station in Vancouver said I couldn't check my bag at the Vancouver station. Frustrating. Are the Cascade trains now allowing the Seattle to Vancouver, BC run? I hope the run will return by this summer, if Omicron dies out by then. The last time I took a Cascade train to Vancouver, BC, they sat baggage down on the pavement, on each side of the train, upon arrival. It made for a fast baggage pickup, and customs, at Pacific Central Stn. was a breeze to get through.

Richard
 

flitcraft

Conductor
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Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,258
You could fight it. Contact Customer Relations and complain. Demand compensation. If it is insufficient or refused, then file for arbitration against Amtrak since Amtrak says that checked bag service is available.

I'd join me_little_me in suggesting that you contact Customer Relations--not Customer Service--to ask for compensation for the extreme inconvenience of having unexpectedly to wrangle four bags and a five year old. Point out that you had looked online for baggage information and didn't see any information that you wouldn't be able to check your bags, and that, as much as you like traveling Amtrak, you probably would not have taken Amtrak if you had realized that this would be the case.

You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so I would ask rather than demand. Customer Relations has generally been far more generous in giving compensation for problems than most corporations are when they screw things up, so I think you have a real shot at getting something for your inconvenience. Remember that the person on the other end of the line deals all day long with angry people demanding things and even using abusive language to do so ; if you are the rare reasonable person, they may be more willing to exercise their discretion and give you something for your troubles.

And, if they don't come through, I would be loath myself to pursue arbitration. Arbitration almost always favors the corporation over the disappointed customer. Also, I haven't looked into the exact terms of Amtrak's arbitration policy, but most of them require both sides to pay an arbitration fee, and some even require the plaintiff--the person initiating the arbitration--to pay the entire arbitration fee! Arbitration might be worth it if you were forced to arbitrate a high value case--serious personal injury or death caused by Amtrak's arguable negligence. But not here.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
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Jul 23, 2009
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Washington State
In taking it to arbitration, what would be the damages? Arbitration really can only award money, so what would the damages be? They'd have to be actual damages, like a medical bill for a strained back. Punitive damages are not remotely in the picture if arbitration even could go there.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
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Jan 10, 2018
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I would assume that the cause of action would be breach of contract--you promised me a service that I didn't receive--but that means that the damages would be the difference between the value of the services received and those promised. Probably not very much. Again, arbitration is almost always a bad deal for consumers, even when damages are potentially significant, and in a case like this, even winning the case would end up with damages much less than the arbitration fee.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
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I would assume that the cause of action would be breach of contract--you promised me a service that I didn't receive--but that means that the damages would be the difference between the value of the services received and those promised. Probably not very much. Again, arbitration is almost always a bad deal for consumers, even when damages are potentially significant, and in a case like this, even winning the case would end up with damages much less than the arbitration fee.
I don't believe there is an arbitration fee. Do you have something that shows differently?
 

flitcraft

Conductor
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Messages
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I don't believe there is an arbitration fee. Do you have something that shows differently?
On the Amtrak website, it isn't easy to find but they do have the arbitration agreement there (plus a sales pitch for how great arbitration is for consumers). The agreement stipulates that the arbitrations will be done in accordance with the American Arbitration Association's rules for consumer transactions, and the Amtrak's website links to the website for that organization. If you follow that link down the rabbit hole, you will, eventually, get to the special rules for consumer arbitrations, which Amtrak says govern their agreement. And, at the end of that document, you will find the costs for someone to take Amtrak to arbitration. The minimum costs are the filing fee, which is an unrefundable 200 dollars. So, unless you get 200 dollars or more awarded by the arbitrator, the claimant who files the case is in the red on the arbitration.
 
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