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.

SarahZ

Quality Control
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,404
Location
KAL
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"
Some of those are not allowed to accept tips, though. A Walmart employee once helped me bring a bookcase out to my car and load it. When I tried to offer him a tip, he said they weren't allowed to accept them.

I do give my mailman and garbage man a Christmas gift.

Meter readers are not taking care of me for a lengthy amount of time.

This is more like tipping a housekeeper in a hotel at the end of a stay, or tipping my hair stylist because she spent two hours making my hair look nice. That's my personal bar for tipping.
 

truncated

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
35
Location
Boston, MA
I was traveling on a very full Zephyr over the holidays, and since I was by myself I was paired with other solo passengers (who were surprisingly all in their 20s / 30s as well) for every meal in the diner. But for every meal I was the only person who came prepared with cash to leave for tips, so it seems like younger travelers aren't really aware of the tradition/expectation for tipping in the diner? (Which is the only reason why I do it)

(And their credit one guy borrowed some singles off me so he could leave a tip when he saw me leaving cash as well, and another person ordered more alcohol so they could tip with their credit card)
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
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Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,336
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Meter readers are not taking care of me for a lengthy amount of time.
Attempting to tip the Meter Reader resulted in a distinct lack of success because that computer program apparently does not have an API for such. 😬 It picks up the reading over a wireless link. 🤷‍♂️

The last time anyone came out here from the power company was to replace the standard meter by a netmeter when my Solar power system was installed.
 
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SarahZ

Quality Control
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,404
Location
KAL
Attempting to tip the Meter Reader failed with a distinct lack of success because that computer program apparently does not have an API for such. 😬 It picks up the reading over a wireless link. 🤷‍♂️
I completely forgot mine had switched over. My electric, gas, and water are all uploaded to their respective servers rather than someone coming out.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,777
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
I remember my parents giving the merry mailman a Christmas tip back in the days when mail was delivered with care to the front door. Sometimes he was offered a cup of water or iced tea on a hot day.

I have occasionally tipped a repairman or delivery person when they were particularly helpful.
 

Maglev

Conductor
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
1,286
Location
Orcas Island, Washington
Once on the Capitol Limited, I met a minister who said he routinely tipped his SCA 20% of the total fare.

I usually tip my SCA about $10 per night per person; in the dining car, $5 for each breakfast and lunch and $10 for dinner; and a couple bucks for a burger in the lounge.

If I use a clean public restroom and see the custodian, I'll give them $5 for doing a good job. I gave the tow truck driver $50 for taking us to our hotel when somebody ran into my truck. I've tipped SCA's $50 for great service, and gave the guy who pumped my septic tank $20.

In the old days in Hawaii, it was traditional to leave a case of beer for your trash collectors at Christmastime.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
177
I remember my parents giving the merry mailman a Christmas tip back in the days when mail was delivered with care to the front door. Sometimes he was offered a cup of water or iced tea on a hot day.

I have occasionally tipped a repairman or delivery person when they were particularly helpful.
The older I've gotten the more willing I have become to tip delivery people who do a good job. It is harder now to lift heavy objects and a good delivery person is a godsend. The same for a good repairman or any other tradesman who gives good service.
 

TheCrescent

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
347
I always tip on Amtrak unless the Sleeping Car Attendant was hostile (which unfortunately happens from time to time on Amtrak).
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
Before we were married, Pat worked part-time as a waitress to help make ends meet. Back then, tips were very important to her and today she is very pro active re: tipping the people who provide appreciated services to us. The lady who cuts our hair is self-employed and had a particularly hard time these last two years when the pandemic seriously affected her business. She provides us with outstanding service, and we always are generous with our tips to her, especially around the holiday season. We don’t dine out too often, but when we do, we like to go to a little Japanese restaurant in San Diego that is a family-run business. They, too, had a hard time during the pandemic but survived. Their prices are so low that we can well afford to leave them a more than generous tip and still not feel that we paid too much for dining out.

Someone made a good point earlier about how sometimes a generous tip to a SCA (or other Amtrak employee) can help to brighten their day, particularly if they’ve had to put up with more than their share of annoying situations. Sometimes just knowing that someone appreciates your efforts can help to balance out the negatives of the job and make it worth doing.
 
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Rambling Robert

Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2021
Messages
157
Location
Boston
I tip on the situation.

The crazy time that the Café gal - working both coach and sleeper - I really felt for her so I had no problem at all tipping sixty percent for my long awaited sprite and chips” additional three dollars in cash •for the tip jar”. Her misery turned into a momentary smile. And thank you!

I like-to carry $10 or $15 in singles in my pocket for the red cap, cafe or bus driver. I gave an Amtrak security a few for calling red cap at LA. In Chicago the lounge usually gets a few dollars.

During Covid19 days I tip 30% to 60% - Amtrak and where I live as well.
 
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Railspike

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
65
Location
Houston
We, as most, have encountered the good, the bad and the ugly SCAs on our trips. Pre-pandemic, we encountered one on the SL who was months from retiring, only this person should have retired sooner rather than later. We enjoy dining in our bedroom (and equally so in the dining car) and chose to have meals brought to the room on this trip. After ordering our last meal of the trip and having it brought to the room, this person stated bluntly to us "you are running me ragged". What???? Is this not part of the job?

We did tip in spite of the surly attitude, because this person did bring our meals to our room. But you can bet I fired off an email to Amtrak about the incident. IMO the best way to improve service on Amtrak is to let customer relations know when an SCA has done a good job, or a bad job. I always review my trips to Amtrak because they can't fix what they don't know. Not that they'll fix it anyway, but they need to know who's doing a good job and who isn't.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
553
Location
Arlington, MA (near Boston)
My father was a businessman that often travelled to NYC. Properly suited, of course, he showed me how he put a few ones in one pocket, a five in another, and a twenty in another. That way he was always ready. It is very uncool to be at the maitre d stand and fish through your wallet and ask for change. Using his training, I've scored some pretty amazing seats in restaurants and clubs.

I also tip the mailperson and the garbage folks pretty well at Christmas. And I give my favorite gas station guy a bottle of loaded eggnog.

On Amtrak, I almost always tip a twenty for a room. I've had pretty good luck with SCA's overall.

Oh, and don't forget the $5 or $10 for redcap service in major stations. Gets me on the train five minutes ahead of the crowd. For a while I had a regular guy at Boston, and would joke that my tiny duffle was really heavy today, and would he help me get it out to my coach.
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,340
Location
Gator Country Florida
I also tip the mailperson and the garbage folks pretty well at Christmas. And I give my favorite gas station guy a bottle of loaded eggnog.

Just curious, if you rode Amtrak twice a month, especially if it was the same train, would you wait until the end of the year and tip the SCA (or whoever) by giving them something for Christmas?

After all, the mailman comes daily and the garbageman weekly - why only tip them once a year with a token gift?

I'm not saying we should not tip those who give us help on Amtrak - just trying to understand how tipping a person who makes a living wage each time we ride the train somehow equates to giving someone else who makes a living wage a token yearly gift ...
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
My father was a businessman that often travelled to NYC. Properly suited, of course, he showed me how he put a few ones in one pocket, a five in another, and a twenty in another. That way he was always ready. It is very uncool to be at the maitre d stand and fish through your wallet and ask for change. Using his training, I've scored some pretty amazing seats in restaurants and clubs.

I also tip the mailperson and the garbage folks pretty well at Christmas. And I give my favorite gas station guy a bottle of loaded eggnog.

On Amtrak, I almost always tip a twenty for a room. I've had pretty good luck with SCA's overall.

Oh, and don't forget the $5 or $10 for redcap service in major stations. Gets me on the train five minutes ahead of the crowd. For a while I had a regular guy at Boston, and would joke that my tiny duffle was really heavy today, and would he help me get it out to my coach.
Our standard tip for a Red Cap cart driver is $5.00 and well worth it. Particularly in Chicago where the walk from the Metropolitan Lounge to where the Southwest Chief sleepers are spotted is a rather long one.

Eric & Pat
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,340
Location
Gator Country Florida
Back in 2011 I had a Redcap at NWK refuse my tip - My daughter and I had were on a trip to NYC (and other places) and had several small bags with us. He had us ride with someone else from the train to baggage claim - the other person had several bags and had ridden in a sleeper while we had ridden in coach from Florida. He told me the other person had tipped enough for both of us.

In 2015, on another trip to NY from Florida I checked my baggage for the return trip NWK and the Redcap on duty let me leave my carry-on bag while I took the PATH to NYC and back (I was very early for my train home) and did not charge me for leaving it there - again, he refused a tip. Said he was about to go off shift and had "had a good day".
 

Amtrak709

Service Attendant
Joined
May 6, 2021
Messages
123
Location
Columbus, GA
Once on the Capitol Limited, I met a minister who said he routinely tipped his SCA 20% of the total fare.

I usually tip my SCA about $10 per night per person; in the dining car, $5 for each breakfast and lunch and $10 for dinner; and a couple bucks for a burger in the lounge.

If I use a clean public restroom and see the custodian, I'll give them $5 for doing a good job. I gave the tow truck driver $50 for taking us to our hotel when somebody ran into my truck. I've tipped SCA's $50 for great service, and gave the guy who pumped my septic tank $20.

In the old days in Hawaii, it was traditional to leave a case of beer for your trash collectors at Christmastime.

I suspect any SCA would be happy with a 20% fare tip. Can you imagine this CHI-LAX high bucket bedroom fares recently at in excess of $2000?
Even I (stupid) paid $1100+ for a bedroom ATN-NYP.
 

UserNameRequired

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 10, 2021
Messages
84
Location
USA
Are Amtrak employee enough of a government employee that they run afoul of tipping limits?

There are tipping/gifting limits at the state and federal level. We have had tips/gifts over ~$20 returned by USPS people with this stated as the reason. There are state governments that don't want their employees accepting over $3. I don't agree or disagree with these limits, I just want to be aware of the limits as we tip Amtrak employees so we don't cause them more hassle.
 

Joe from PA

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 24, 2022
Messages
130
Location
Philadelphia
I tip $20. for each roomette, so $40. total. One trip we had to get off at West Palm Beach due to a accident up the line. Our room attendant got off to help us find our Uber driver (the dope showed up with his son in the front seat). Gave him an extra $20.
 

PeeweeTM

Service Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
151
I usually don't tip the car attendant, as I make my bed myself and normally don't have to interact with the behind-a-curtain-in-room-1-person, just a hello every now and then.
But if I would ask extra things I would pay extra, no problem with that, just hasn't happen yet.(Though I leave a couple of dollars and a Thank-You-note in a hotel if everything was okay.)

In the diner car I tip if I think of it, had a nice chat, see other people tip.
Or not. I sometimes am consistent in not being consistent.
(But I do tip the food delivery guy at home every time (about twice a month), also because we live at the edge of their territory.)

I guess just tipping a person when there's no other financial transaction feels strange for me, from the Netherlands.
 
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