Why Do You Tip on Amtrak? [Poll]

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

What is the Main Reason that you tip on Amtrak?

  • To Reward Exceptional Service

  • To Make an Impression on Staff

  • To Supplement Staff Wages

  • Because it is an Expected Tradition

  • As Thanks for Special Requests

  • I've Never Considered Why

  • I Rarely or Never Tip on Amtrak

  • Other (Explain Below)


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What is the Main Reason that you tip on Amtrak?
 

Gemuser

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Never heard of tipping outside restaurants knew that was a thing in USA, [as stupid as it is] never thought of it on Amtrak until after my last trip.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I'm the "other" vote - at the root of it, it's probably just "expected tradition", but I tip folks who provide a personal service - bring me food, make my bed, cut my hair, tune my piano, that sort of thing.
I was debating between “expected tradition” and Other.
I wasn’t sure if the expected referred to me or the staff.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I draw the tipping line with flexible dining. As badly as I feel for the single staff member working the car - I just can't bring myself to tip for a glorified microwave dinner. Since I don't tip, I clear my own table and throw things out myself.
I don’t tip for the food, on the trains or at restaurants. I tip for the service of having my order taken and having the food bought to me. If the service is bad, I tip less.
 
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I tip for the service of having my order taken and having the food bought to me.
I don't tip the fast food worker taking my order, and I certainly don't feel that asking which microwave meal I would like is service to the level that merits tipping. As for having the food brought to me, I always tip if the person performing the service is being paid low wages, especially the sub-minimum wage that waiters are paid. Amtrak employees are much more highly compensated and I don't see the need to tip when a microwaved plastic bowl is slapped down in front of me with indifference.

But I appreciate that this is subjective. I definitely tip handsomely in other situations on Amtrak. Once I realized that I forgot to tip the SCA when we arrived in Chicago and I walked several car lengths back to rectify my mistake.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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I see no difference in the service provided for whatever food is served to me, be it in a plastic bowl or on china.
I’m inclined to tip more than my usual because these frontline workers are dealing with disgruntled passengers, some which don’t see fit to tip for their service based on the food and not their service.
 
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I see no difference in the service provided for whatever food is served to me, be it in a plastic bowl or on china.
Interesting. I definitely see a difference between a full service, multi-course, dining experience in the regular dining car and a single delivery of a microwaved meal. But perhaps I am missing something.

One attendant didn't even deliver the meal. We had to pick it up at the counter.
 
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tgstubbs1

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"Tipping is a practice that most consumers hate. So do most of the people who depend on tips for a living wage. It makes no economic sense, does little to improve service, and raises all sorts of ethical questions. Yet it’s mandatory in most American restaurants.

Yes, you read that right. It’s mandatory. It may seem voluntary and perhaps it is legally, but in the U.S., a tip of 15% to 20% is necessary and standard. It’s built into the wage and price structure of wherever you dine and if you leave less than that – or don’t tip at all – you are docking your server’s salary. And you have no more right to do that than you have to refuse to pay the check. It’s not that big a stretch to suggest that not leaving a tip, or leaving as little 12%, is akin to stealing from the waitress."
 
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Yes, you read that right. It’s mandatory. It may seem voluntary and perhaps it is legally, but in the U.S., a tip of 15% to 20% is necessary and standard. It’s built into the wage and price structure of wherever you dine and if you leave less than that – or don’t tip at all – you are docking your server’s salary. And you have no more right to do that than you have to refuse to pay the check. It’s not that big a stretch to suggest that not leaving a tip, or leaving as little 12%, is akin to stealing from the waitress."
Interesting read - but there is one very important distinction. Amtrak employees are paid much more than $2.13 per hour - unlike the employees that are the basis for the article that you quoted. I still tip on Amtrak (other than the one instance that I mentioned previously), but there is not nearly the economic necessity for the Amtrak employee compared to a regular restaurant server.

So, no. Tipping on Amtrak is not "mandatory."
 
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jis

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Somewhat facetiously, I had always considered tipping on Amtrak to be a continuation of the old Pullman Porter and Diner Servers tradition (though that terminology is now not PC) rather than extension of the current tipping in restaurants tradition. But that admittedly is splitting a very thin hair, and may be just me. At the end of the day how I choose to part with my money or not really is entirely based on how I feel about it at that moment, and I tend to do some standard tipping out of habit if you will, based on my perception of American tradition - one of the myriads of oddities I learned after moving to this country.
 
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Somewhat facetiously, I had always considered tipping on Amtrak to be a continuation of the old Pullman Porter and Diner Servers tradition (though that terminology is now not PC) rather than extension of the current tipping in restaurants tradition. But that admittedly is splitting a very thin hair, and may be just me.
I definitely agree with you. There is a long tradition of tipping these railroad employees. The difference is that, unlike current Amtrak employees, they were not paid a livable wage and needed to rely on tips to earn enough to make a living.

Amtrak employees are fortunate that their wages went up but the tipping tradition stayed.

Again, I am all for tipping Amtrak employees (and I personally do) - but given that they are paid a living wage and Amtrak does not require tipping, I think that it is pretty crass to shame people who choose not to tip. It's a genuinely personal decision in the context of Amtrak.
 
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joelkfla

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"Tipping is a practice that most consumers hate. So do most of the people who depend on tips for a living wage. It makes no economic sense, does little to improve service, and raises all sorts of ethical questions. Yet it’s mandatory in most American restaurants.

Yes, you read that right. It’s mandatory. It may seem voluntary and perhaps it is legally, but in the U.S., a tip of 15% to 20% is necessary and standard. It’s built into the wage and price structure of wherever you dine and if you leave less than that – or don’t tip at all – you are docking your server’s salary. And you have no more right to do that than you have to refuse to pay the check. It’s not that big a stretch to suggest that not leaving a tip, or leaving as little 12%, is akin to stealing from the waitress."
I think the author doesn't understand the meaning of the word "mandatory".
 
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jis

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Again, I am all for tipping Amtrak employees (and I personally do) - but given that they are paid a living wage and Amtrak does not require tipping, I think that it is pretty crass to shame people who choose not to tip. It's a genuinely personal decision in the context of Amtrak.
I agree. Unfortunately I have come across several Amtrak employees who appear to believe that the tip is an entitlement, and there are others among railfans who loudly sing that tune. In various internet fora there have been times that I have received really nasty responses from some Amtrak employees and their railfan supporters, indeed some even on AU, upon presenting my considered opinion on this matter. All I can say is, like many other things these day, it is what it is I guess.

Meanwhile I carry on the tradition in most cases, but somehow Acela First Class looks too much like an airplane, so I apply the same standards as I apply to airline cabin crew in First Class. Admittedly, these days with the semi-private pods on intercontinental upper class, the case for Sleeper attendants is becoming weaker and weaker day by day too. But as they sing in Fiddler on the Roof ... "Tradition!" :D
 
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Tipping can also be looked upon as a powerful affirmation that you are financially prosperous and can afford to share your prosperity with those who provide you with a service that is appreciated.
Or it can be seen as a sign that you are financially prosperous and that you want better service than those who are less financially well off. This is especially true if you can afford to tip handsomely at the beginning of the trip, which is one reason that I always tip at the end.

This also only makes sense if tipping is truly optional. When it is an expectation, it impacts those who are less financially well off disproportionately. Knowing that Amtrak pays a genuine living wage, I would never begrudge someone of modest means who scrapes up enough money to afford a roomette if they decide not to tip, or to tip a very small amount. It really should be a personal decision when it comes to Amtrak, with no right or wrong answer.
 
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My reasons for tipping are several. I want to recognize personal service to me. If that service is truly exemplary, the gratuity increases. Tipping is historically the proper thing to do when traveling by train. Tipping encourages staff to do a good job. (Everyone likes a bit more money in addition to what is in their pay check.) And, if an employee is having a difficult, boring day (as I have observed on Amtrak when a Cafe attendant had customer after customer put nothing in his tip jar), my tip caused a change in his demeanor. A smile and a thank you from him and I felt good about what I had done because I had brightened his day.
 

Eric in East County

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Or it can be seen as a sign that you are financially prosperous and that you want better service than those who are less financially well off. This is especially true if you can afford to tip handsomely at the beginning of the trip, which is one reason that I always tip at the end.

This also only makes sense if tipping is truly optional. When it is an expectation, it impacts those who are less financially well off disproportionately. Knowing that Amtrak pays a genuine living wage, I would never begrudge someone of modest means who scrapes up enough money to afford a roomette if they decide not to tip, or to tip a very small amount. It really should be a personal decision when it comes to Amtrak, with no right or wrong answer.
We always tip at the end of our trips, and would NEVER consider using a tip as a means of obtaining better service.

Eric & Pat
 

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I was debating between “expected tradition” and Other.
I wasn’t sure if the expected referred to me or the staff.
It's both essentially. At one point I had a slash between them but seeing the results it looks like I should have separated them into different options.

Common courtesy.
Arbitrary courtesy might be more accurate.

It’s a generous thing to do, and kindness and generosity go a long way! It could make someone’s week and cause them to believe in their job, therefore causing them to want to work harder!
When I was a kid working minimum wage jobs a nice tip did make my week. By the time I was making OBS money I had no need for tips and would be embarrassed to accept a tip from anyone making less than me.
 
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