Why Amtrak makes it hard to travel with children?

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fhussain44

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 28, 2013
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75
I want to take the train from NYC to Washington DC with my 5 year old. But there are two problems that make this rather annoying and stressful for me:

1) There is no preboarding for families at Moynihan station. I can just try and walk up to the front, but they often don't announce which gate it is till boarding time

2) On board there are no designated seats for families ( except for the larger group size seats ). The cars quickly fill up and I have to resort to asking someone if they can move.

The workaround is to go business class with assigned seating or use the red cap service. But I am not really sure how red cap service works and how reliable it is.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
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Well you do understand the issues, and have knowledge of the work around.

Red Cap service is reliable, but there are expected a tip.

That said I personally move seats on a regular basis if I see a couple that had just got on. I am not afraid to ask people to move if my group needs the space. On the NEC trains there is limited staff available, but you can seek out there help too.

I know some people get very nervous talking to strangers, but most people are going to help you. Of course it’s easy to spot the ones who are not going to.
 

Cal

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Jan 23, 2021
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Well you do understand the issues, and have knowledge of the work around.

Red Cap service is reliable, but there are expected a tip.

That said I personally move seats on a regular basis if I see a couple that had just got on. I am not afraid to ask people to move if my group needs the space. On the NEC trains there is limited staff available, but you can seek out there help too.

I know some people get very nervous talking to strangers, but most people are going to help you. Of course it’s easy to spot the ones who are not going to.
Especially with a young child im sure somebody would be kind enough to move.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
4,337
For this particular route, I would get business class.

You get to pick your seats on the seating chart when you book (you don’t have to just accept the ones the computer shoves you into—choose the “view and change seats” option when you get your ticket).

So the first plus is that you can choose your seats in NEC business class and don’t have to rush to find empty ones.

The second plus of BC is that any regional will be crowded between NYC and Philadelphia, and it is almost impossible for even one person to get a seat, let alone two, in coach. Going south, lots of people get off at Philly, so you can find seats then. But that’s a long time to stand from New York.

I regularly have to board in central New Jersey, and coach is a nightmare going north til you get past New York City and only slightly better going south til Philadelphia.

I have never expected anyone on the NEC between NYC and Philadelphia to be polite or helpful. However, I was using a cane on my last trip (and did coach from Trenton to Kingston) and was absolutely amazed at how many people helped me. So maybe with a child they would be nice, too.

The only downside I can see is that you might get that one loud person talking meaningless drivel (which they consider “important work”) on the phone. But you will most likely be having an intelligent conversation with your 5-year-old as you both look for trains and scenery outside the window, so maybe you won’t notice that annoying phone person.

If you are coming back by train from Washington to NYC, coach would be easy. I would get a Red Cap (not sure how it works there, but it has to be less hectic than New York, and any station or Amtrak staff will direct you to the Red Cap station).

They will take you on a cart and take your luggage up into the train for you, and find you two seats together.

Many of them missed their vocation as race car drivers—your 5-year-old may enjoy the fast ride on the cart along the platform!😊
 
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