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)


Results are only viewable after voting.
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
3,547
Location
Los Angeles
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.


Arbitrary courtesy might be more accurate.


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.
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.


Arbitrary courtesy might be more accurate.


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.

Arbitrary, I hardly think so. I know exactly why I’m tipping.You don’t know me, keep personal opinions to your yourself please.
 
Last edited:

Devil's Advocate

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,226
Location
Texas
Arbitrary, I hardly think so. I know exactly why I’m tipping.You don’t know me, keep personal opinions to your yourself please.
Don't take it personally. It's arbitrary in the sense that our culture of tipping must be memorized because it follows no specific rhyme or reason. I can understand why unlivable service wages are considered a problem but I cannot fathom why a culture of tipping is considered a solution.
 
Last edited:

HenryK

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2015
Messages
293
I believe the IRS expects train service crew to report a certain portion of their income in tips.
 

cassie225

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
381
Location
Louisiana
I tip for good service, especially if I’m in a sleeper, but if the only time I see SCA is when u bring meal and u race past me in a blur, never stopping to ask if I’m ok,but at the end of the trip u start sucking up, no tip for you.
 

tgstubbs1

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
645
I tip for good service, especially if I’m in a sleeper, but if the only time I see SCA is when u bring meal and u race past me in a blur, never stopping to ask if I’m ok,but at the end of the trip u start sucking up, no tip for you.
This is understandable, but part of the reason tipping can be inherently unfair.

Just as a waiter is dependent on the chef delivering good food, the SCA is dependent on a chain of people and so can be stiffed by the organization that employs them.

It must suck being a waitperson in a restaurant with lousy food.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,777
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
This is understandable, but part of the reason tipping can be inherently unfair.

Just as a waiter is dependent on the chef delivering good food, the SCA is dependent on a chain of people and so can be stiffed by the organization that employs them.

It must suck being a waitperson in a restaurant with lousy food.
Nevertheless, an SCA who is present, friendly, and apologetic about a shortcoming is more deserving of a tip than one who is rarely seen, unhelpful, and lies about not being able to satisfy requests.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
3,547
Location
Los Angeles
Don't take it personally. It's arbitrary in the sense that our culture of tipping must be memorized because it follows no specific rhyme or reason. I can understand why unlivable service wages are considered a problem but I cannot fathom why a culture of tipping is considered a solution.

Thanks, I’ll take your advise and stop tipping. Oh, I’ll be sure to tell the would be recipient don’t take it personally. 🤙
 
Last edited:

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
In an earlier discussion thread on the subject of tipping, we mentioned that, whenever we have an SCA who provides us with exceptionally good service, in addition to giving them a tip, we will also contract Amtrak and leave them positive feedback. It is our understanding that this positive feedback will be placed into the SCA’s personnel folder.

For those of “limited financial means” who can only give a modest tip (or none at all), leaving positive feedback for an SCA or other Amtrak employee who does a good job doesn’t cost anything and, in the long run, will probably be worth more to them than the tip itself.

Eric & Pat
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,748
Location
Washington State
My standard tip for an SCA is pretty much $10/night, though on the Starlight I do $20 because it is 2 full days. If the SCA provides decent service, meaning in the car much of the time, responsive, puts the bed up/down at a reasonable time I request, they get that tip. If they are above and beyond, almost always in the car, checks in regularly and is generally great, they'll get $20/night.

If they don't meet my expectations for the $10, especially if they either don't do the berth, or demand it be done on their schedule ("if you want me to put down the be, I'm doing it at 7") they get nothing.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
We try to keep our having to summon our SCAs to a minimum since we know that their workday is a long one and they are only guaranteed 4 hours of sleep every night.

Once our bed is down on the first night, we leave it down for the entire trip. (The top bunk makes an excellent place to store our carryon items.) This does make our bedroom a tad more crowded to move around in but makes it convenient if we both want to stretch out during the day to watch the passing scenery.

For our last few trips, we’ve opted to have all our meals delivered to us in our bedroom. Most of what we would have tipped our waiters in the dining car finds its way onto the tip we give our SCA at the end of our journey. (We never tip in advance since we don’t want that to influence the manner and quality of the service our SCAs provide to us.)

If we’re particularly impressed by the efficiency of our SCAs, we’ll contact Amtrak and leave positive feedback for them, going into some detail as to why we were impressed with them.

Question: When a SCA receives a better than average tip, do they ever write down the name of the person who gave it to them, just in case they ever encounter that person again?

Eric & Pat
 

basketmaker

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 19, 2018
Messages
333
Location
Brighton, CO (DEN but FMG-Preferred)
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.
Yes and no. I tip anyone that provides a service to me i.e. sleeper attendant, dining/lounge car staff, restaurant waiter, hotel/motel maid, valet, etc.. As I know that I can because I was raised on tips as a youngin. Mom was a bartender in the Miami International airport for 25 years. And without the tips the $1.25/hour didn't go far!

And on occasion I was in a position of providing assistance to passengers in my career in the airlines. One blind couple and their seeing-eye dog I helped in boarding a small (single-engine) aircraft offered me a twenty. I was self-consciousness of taking based on their disability and said thank anyway. The husband got terse with me and said never refuse a tip from anyone that offers it to you. He explained that is very offensive to the person offering it. They are thanking you for what you have done for them.

On Amtrak I always tip my sleeping car attendant at the beginning and at the end of the trip. Dining car waiter (even though meals are included) for each seating. And the lounge car attendant it is usually leftover change or at least $.50 for a coke. Also, I tip even if service was horrendous. You never know why it was. Today my base is 20% more if above and beyond and a little less if poor service (very rare).
 

Manny T

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
557
Location
Chicago IL
I tip because I absolutely want to reward and encourage service that is either equal to or above my expectations, because I can afford it and want to share, because it brings a smile to those who have crossed my path in life and encountered me, because it makes me feel good, because I am American and Americans tip, because I have never worked in a service capacity but if I did and didn't get tipped I would hate it, because it requires no effort other than taking cash out of my wallet and handing it over, because the sums are inconsequential to both the giver and receiver, and because if I encounter these people again I wouldn't mind being remembered positively.
 
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
4,230
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
I tip partially out of tradition and mostly to show appreciation for the job Amtrak personnel does. I figure if I can afford a sleeper, I surely can afford to give a tip. Regarding the dining car, I have tipped even when being served flex meals. I didn't think most of them were all that bad, and I wanted to reward the server, regardless of what it was they were serving. I tip the sleeping car attendants at the end of the trip, not the beginning, and I'm not above not giving tips if service has been lousy. There have been a couple of SCA's I've had over the years whose tip they deserved was the tip of my shoe to their backsides. The one thing about tipping that confuses me (not that it takes much to confuse me 😅 ) is when people who don't tip start arguing with those who do. I haven't quite figure out why people care how I spend my money as long as it doesn't affect them any. I don't tell them they should tip so I don't know why they would tell me I shouldn't.
 

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,591
Location
Nottingham, England.
The notion of tipping folk for just "doing their job" is hard to accept, but I do understand it allows some businesses to pay staff less for "just doing their job".
To go to work and "do your job" and not get paid in full is not a good situation for workers to be in, which can happen if the tips portion of the expected wage is withheld.
I guess tipping is expected more in societies where unions are not so active?
I tend to tip in America because it is so expected, and treat it like that other American surprise, purchase tax added to the price!
At the end of the day, if we are spending $500+ on a sleeper trip, is an extra $10 or $20 a day "tip tax" such a big deal?
 

cassie225

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
381
Location
Louisiana
I must say when SCA does decent job and it does not have to be exceptional, I do tip,but just because it’s expected and you do nothing, no tip for you. Once my flex meal box stayed outside the door so long I took it to trash as well as others who had trash outside their door, and I heard and saw him walk past the door, I left a tip, a crisp folded one dollar bill, I think he thought it was more. I always had excellent service when traditional dining and went diner, so always tipped. Just my two cents, which I’m ashamed to say was left at a restaurant for a tip once.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
1,311
The notion of tipping folk for just "doing their job" is hard to accept
Especially if you have been to cultures where there is no tipping, such as Japan. The quality of service in Japan is world class, all without tips.

In most jobs, tips are now an expectation rather than a genuine token of appreciation for excellent service. Which really defeats the whole purpose and just makes the overall compensation system needlessly complicated.
 

Devil's Advocate

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,226
Location
Texas
Thanks, I’ll take your advise and stop tipping. Oh, I’ll be sure to tell the would be recipient don’t take it personally. 🤙
I'm not sure where this is coming from but I consider myself to be a reliable tipper outside of Amtrak. Most of the help SCA's offer I can do myself but I still tip on Amtrak when meals are delivered or ice is made available to me. Where I draw the line is tipping for counter service. If I'm walking up to a counter (or driving up to a window) then I'm doing the legwork and see no reason to tip someone who is basically turning around and handing me something.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
956
I was laughing about that aspect of the article, too.
But in the words of a great man, "Forget it, he's rolling."

I think the author doesn't understand the meaning of the word "mandatory".
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,336
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I think the author doesn't understand the meaning of the word "mandatory".
Right. The author does not understand that it is entirely discretionary. He and many other would be even more shocked to learn that the entire gamut of access control on which they depend on their privacy on the internet is discretionary too ;) Only real security geeks understand that. :D
 

chickpea

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Messages
66
Location
East Coast
For our last few trips, we’ve opted to have all our meals delivered to us in our bedroom. Most of what we would have tipped our waiters in the dining car finds its way onto the tip we give our SCA at the end of our journey.

Same. When I rode the CZ recently I did not want to eat in the dining car because COVID... I asked for my meals to be take out but the SCA had to take my order and bring them. At the end of the trip, because of that, I gave a much larger tip than usual.
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,340
Location
Gator Country Florida
Just curious ... how many who tip on Amtrak also tip
  • The garbage collector
  • The meter reader
  • The appliance repairman
  • The irrigation repairman
  • The cashier in Walmart or other stores
  • The greeter in Walmart
  • The usher at the movie theater
  • The crossing guard at school crossings
  • The engineer on Amtrak
I am not saying tipping Amtrak personnel is a bad idea - just wondering if you feel and act the same about others who do their job for the wage they agreed to, and their salary does not rely on tips to meet the "minimum wage"
 
Top