Tipping

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Clearwater, FL
With my first trip on Amtrak where I’ll spend nights on the train (CZ) what are the appropriate amounts to tip in the dining car and to the SCA if I’m in a roomette???
 

JayPea

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
4,117
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
What I do is tip $10/night for the SCA for good service, and varying amounts for lesser. I have on occasion not given any for lousy to non-existant service. In the dining car, I usually try to give tips based on the menu prices like in a restaurant, that being 20% of the price, which usually runs anywhere between $2-$5.

That is how I do it. Others may have a totally different set of criteria on how to tip. And remember tipping is optional, not mandatory. Bottom line there are no right or wrong answers on the subject of tipping. You do what's best suited for you.🙂 And have fun!! The CZ is a beautiful ride!!
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
4,423
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
Here's my general thoughts on tipping on Amtrak:

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.

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.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,651
Location
Socal
Here's my general thoughts on tipping on Amtrak:

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.

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 think this is a great explanation.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
285
Location
East San Diego County
Jebr sums it up very nicely: a tip should be considered as a token of appreciation for quality service. We look upon tipping as a very powerful affirmation that we have more than enough income to meet all our needs and therefore can well afford to reward those who provide us with an appreciated service.

Eric & Pat
 

me_little_me

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,369
As a reminder, with flex meals in effect, food service is minimal. Some staff made us walk up to the counter to order and pick up our meals then bus our own tables. That is ZERO SERVICE and I do not tip when there is no service. Others did far more but none did what was typically done at restaurants and with traditional meals aboard Amtrak i.e. taking one's order, bringing drinks, bringing food, busing the table afterwards. In restaurants that usually means refilling coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks but on Amtrak, that is rare, partly because they want to turn the tables quickly because of the comparatively small size of diner and need to serve all sleeper passengers (and some coach ones) an, d partially because Amtrak discourages those "seconds". On the other hand, since dessert was included, some servers would offer to box it up for later in one's own compartment, a nice touch. Also, some Amtrak servers should not be in the service business at all and have poor attitudes and take it out on customers.

So, think of it like a restaurant with a couple of modifications - server salary, quality ond quantity of the service, extras by the server, and attitude.
 

Dakota 400

Engineer
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
3,073
With my first trip on Amtrak where I’ll spend nights on the train (CZ) what are the appropriate amounts to tip in the dining car and to the SCA if I’m in a roomette???
Welcome to AU!
I tip the same way as JayPea and jebr stated. I estimate what my meal in the dining car ought to cost and tip on that basis. My usual trip for the SCA is $10/night. Once in awhile the service will be so guest friendly/oriented that I would increase it to somewhere between $10-$20/night.
 

coventry801

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
52
Normally $5-$10 per night depends on if I like the attendant and/or service provided.

There was one time on Auto Train, we felt being ignored and managed to put off the bedding and reset the seating in bedroom by ourself so gave zero tip.

If I see our attendant frequently clean restrooms downstairs, I would add that in tipping consideration as well.
 

Bigpaw

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 22, 2021
Messages
18
Location
Richmond, VA
How do you tip the attendant when departing the train, do you leave it in the sleeper or give it to them when stepping off the train?
 

Lonestar648

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
May 17, 2015
Messages
2,803
I tip the SCA per night and per person and always at the end of the trip unless there is a crew change like on 421/422. The tip is strictly for for SCA who have gone out of their way to make my/our trip enjoyable. Like the time my 7 year old granddaughter traveled with me on her first trip, the SCA saw she was being shy and wouldn't speak to him, so he made her dog out of a hand towel. She smiled and the two were friends for the next two days.

In the Dining Car, I always tip the first meal, if a long trip. I found that the staff will remember and though they shouldn't, they have made sure those who tip are taken care of.
 

Dakota 400

Engineer
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
3,073
In the Dining Car, I always tip the first meal, if a long trip. I found that the staff will remember and though they shouldn't, they have made sure those who tip are taken care of.
Not on Amtrak, but if one is a frequent patron of a restaurant, the servers have good memories in most instances. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion.
 

anumberone

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
2,952
Location
Los Angeles
I consider a tip pretty much mandatory when dining and traveling by train. Although at times I’d like to give them a tip by suggesting they do a better job in lieu of passing out the cash. I’m wondering if anyone ever tipped or heard of someone tipping a Airline Stewardess / Flight Attendants for services while flying. I haven’t.
 
Last edited:

EchoSierra

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
46
I’m wondering if anyone ever tipped or heard of someone tipping a Airline Stewardess / Flight Attendants for services while flying. I haven’t.
People tip on trains because that's the historical/cultural tradition. Air travel came later, and has nautical roots instead of railroading roots, so the there's no tradition/culture of tipping there. But, there are those who will bring the flight attendants gifts such as chocolates in hopes of getting better service or comped alcohol on board.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,735
Location
x
People tip on trains because that's the historical/cultural tradition. Air travel came later, and has nautical roots instead of railroading roots, so the there's no tradition/culture of tipping there. But, there are those who will bring the flight attendants gifts such as chocolates in hopes of getting better service or comped alcohol on board.
Agree with your historical/cultural tradition explanation for railroad, but air travel from nautical? Have you taken a cruise? 🤔
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,735
Location
x
Bus travel goes two ways. Rarely, if ever, do driver's on scheduled line runs receive a tip. OTOH, driver's on charter's and tours almost always do.
 

jis

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
29,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Agree with your historical/cultural tradition explanation for railroad, but air travel from nautical? Have you taken a cruise? 🤔
I think the situation in cruises should be compared with what happens on rail cruises, maybe like Rocky Mountaineer and not on what happens on common carriers, The common carriers are more like coastal steamer and ferry services which provide transportation, and not an "experience".

On the matter of nautical basis for aviation, specially on the operations side that is very true I think. The laws of the sea have basically been adapted to become laws of the air, including things like the Freedoms of the Air, and also a lot of the navigation, route management, ranks of crew etc.

I am not quite sure how the tipping practices map between sea and air very well though, since I know next to nothing about tipping practices in nautical travel, except in Europe, where we certainly did not tip anyone on the several hour trip on the Norwegian Coastal Steamer Service (runs from Bergen to Nordkapp and Kirkenes and back), which was like a bus. You got on the boat, baught a ticket at a little ticket window at the end of the ramp and then got off wherever you were going to. In my case the trip was from Bodo to Stamsund on the Lofoten Islands and back. The boat did have upper class cabins and perhaps there was tipping involved there, I would not know.

I have not taken equivalent transportation trips on coastal steamers in the US such as there may be. Only water borne trips have been on ferries at various places, and AFAIR did not tip anyone on those.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

FrensicPic

Engineer
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
3,261
Location
LAX
I always hand the tip when stepping off the train or in the hallway just prior to my stop.
I have gotten in the habit tipping my SCA before my stop (before everyone is occupied with de-training).
A couple of times I forgot to tip because I was engaged in the getting me and my stuff off the train.
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,509
Location
Baltimore. MD
I have not taken equivalent transportation trips on coastal steamers in the US such as there may be.
The closest thing I can think of are various ferry crossings. None are more than an hour or two, and there's really no service involved. Whatever food service is usually fast food style. The only other crew you're dealing with are the people handling the loading/unloading ramp or gangplank, and I've never tipped them. I would consider them to be operating crew, not service crew.

Now the Alaska ferry from Washington State may be another thing entirely. I have no experience on that. And while some people may get cabins for that, I've also heard that others just pitch a tent on the deck. There are also a couple of Canadian ferries, like the ones to Newfoundland, that have longer crossings. Not sure what the tipping practices are there. Again, you can get a cabin or just sit in airline-style seats.

I've always wondered whether there might be a market for a coastal ferry on the East coast, at least, That might compete with the Auto Train for folks who want to avoid I-95 traffic jams. It could also serve truckers, in fact if they had a deal where the truckers would just drop their rigs on the ship, have them sail unaccompanied, and get picked up by different drivers at the other end, that could save trucking companies considerable labor and fuel cost. A Port Newark (NJ) to Savannah service might work nicely with good road access to I-95 and the avoidance of all the traffic congestion in between.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

EchoSierra

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
46
Agree with your historical/cultural tradition explanation for railroad, but air travel from nautical? Have you taken a cruise? 🤔
Cruises are a modern thing and are nothing like the time when people crossed oceans as a form of point to point transportation. Modern cruises did not exist at the time when aviation and navigation diverged.

Here's some examples of the nautical roots of aviation:
- Airplanes were called "ships" and some airlines and/or maintenance crews still do (dispatching will use the tail (registration) number, maintenance will use the fleet number, aka ship number, which sometimes matches the tail number, but due to mergers mixing fleets, they may not match).
- Copilot's position is called First Officer
- Flight deck crew wear epaulettes and hats with clear nautical roots
- Commercial aircraft have their main boarding doors on the left (port) side as did ocean liners
- Left and right are called port and starboard
- Vertical walls are called bulkheads
- The place where passengers sit is called a cabin
- Cockpit is called a flight deck
- Various uses of the word "flagship"
- The place where the food is stored, and where the flight attendants prepare meals is called the galley.
- Lead flight attendant/flight attendant in charge is called the purser
- Flight attendants were formerly called stewards and stewardesses (which has fallen out of fashion).
 
Top