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Connection and Baggage Questions


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#1 Guest_Robert_*

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 08:25 PM

Hello, everybody...my family and I will be taking our first trip on Amtrak soon, and I have a couple of questions about our connection and baggage. I was thankful to find this forum and appreciate any information or advice you experts can provide.

We are taking the Southwest Chief from Kansas City to LA (2 roomettes) and then transferring to the Pacific Surfliner (business class) for the short trip to Anaheim. The connection time in LA is 1 hour and 40 minutes. I have read that the long haul trains end up running behind schedule fairly frequently, and I wonder what are options are if the SWC is behind schedule and we miss the next train. Is it a matter of waiting around for the next train that is going that way and has enough open seats? Does Amtrak make other transportation options available (bus, etc)?

Concerning luggage, I am trying to decide whether it is wiser to check our suitcases (each of us will likely have one medium to large-size suitcase) or carry them on. I have read the carry-on size and weight restrictions, and we can easily stay within those parameters. I read (on the Amtrak site, I believe) that it is best to have a 2 hour connection time for checked bags to make the switch between trains, and we are short of that. It could be even tighter if the SWC is running late. On the other hand, it seems that there would not be enough space in the roomettes for suitcases, and it looks like in-car luggage storage is fairly limited. For the itinerary that we are on, what would you recommend? Check or carry-on the luggage? What happens if you get to your sleeper car and there is not adequate space for your larger carry-on luggage?

I'm really looking forward to the trip, and my kids are really eager to get to experience train travel. I'm just trying to do as much due diligence beforehand to give us the best chance of all going smoothly. Thanks for any help you can give me.

#2 jebr

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 10:28 PM

With how frequently the Pacific Surfliner runs (every couple of hours) Amtrak would almost certainly just rebook you on the next available train. It runs every couple of hours, and if you didn't need business class they'd likely be willing to convert your ticket to coach class for that short segment.

 

As for luggage, that's really up to personal preference. There's a large rack on the lower level that luggage can generally fit on, so if you'd rather keep it on with you, there'll almost certainly be room. If it's completely full (I've never seen it happen, but it's possible) the attendant at your car will either find another place to put it, ask to keep it in your room, or have you move it to another car. However, one bag per person is plenty reasonable. If you'd like to check it, that's also an option (and included with your fare.)

 

If you check your bag, Amtrak will move it between trains in Los Angeles. With a family, it may be easier to only have to worry about taking personal belongings if the connection is tight. Note that any checked luggage will not be available for the entirety of your journey, as it's stored in a different car of the train that's not accessible during the trip. Thus, anything you'll need during the trip should be stashed in a personal bag that you bring on with you. If the train is running really late, the luggage may not make it on the same train as you. If that's the case, you'll have to swing by the station after the next train with checked baggage arrives or give Amtrak a call and see when it'll arrive.

 

Personally, I tend not to check my bags for the most part. There's enough room on the luggage rack for my bags, and it's nice to be able to just walk off the train and head to my destination without having to wait for the checked bags to be unloaded. However, with a tight transfer there's the benefit of not having to worry about carrying lots of luggage when you might be trying to rush between trains. With kids, I might lean a bit more towards checking bags, especially if Anaheim is "home" or it'd be easy to deal with late checked luggage.



#3 the_traveler

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 08:47 AM

Another option if you have coach tickets on the Surfliners and the SWC is running late, is to get off at Fullerton (the last stop before LA) and connect there. Both trains serve Fullerton and because the SWC goes from there to LA, and the Surfliners go from LA to there on the same tracks, you will save 30 minutes plus EACH WAY!
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#4 Johanna

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 10:01 AM

In fact, Fullerton and Anaheim are so close together that, depending on where exactly you're going in Anaheim, it might make sense to just get off the train in Fullerton and go straight to your destination.



#5 Bob Dylan

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 10:21 AM

In fact, Fullerton and Anaheim are so close together that, depending on where exactly you're going in Anaheim, it might make sense to just get off the train in Fullerton and go straight to your destination.

This.


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#6 ehbowen

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 01:24 PM

In fact, Fullerton and Anaheim are so close together that, depending on where exactly you're going in Anaheim, it might make sense to just get off the train in Fullerton and go straight to your destination.

Especially if you're renting a car. The stations are only a couple miles apart, so even taxi fare is likely to be reasonable.

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#7 Guest_Robert_*

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 01:45 PM

I appreciate the input, everybody.  Yeah, the way I booked the tickets had everything to do with me not being fully aware of the layout and geography of the Los Angeles area or the way the train routes run.  We're going to Disneyland, actually, so I just figured that I would need to go to LA and then on to Anaheim.  Now I see (as you all have stated) that the Fullerton station is almost the same distance from Disneyland as the Anaheim station is.  Didn't have to book with the connection in LA at all.  I didn't do the level of research I should have done prior to buying the tickets.  Unfortunately, I now have non-refundable tickets that take me through LA, so I guess the question is whether it is better to just carry on our bags and jump off at Fullerton or go ahead and take the ride into LA and back out again just for the experience (understanding that, should we miss our connection and end up sitting around the train station for a couple of hours, the experience may be kind of crappy).  One thing that confuses me a little bit.  The SWC schedule that I am seeing shows the Fullerton time as 6:44 AM and the LA arrival time as 8:15 AM.  It doesn't seem like it should be an hour and a half between those two stations.  Am I reading the schedule wrong?  Or is there a long stop at the Fullerton station?  I think that I would be inclined to go ahead and take the ride into LA if it looks like we will easily make our connection there, and maybe get off in Fullerton if it looks like we are running late and might miss our connection.  Thanks again for all of the advice.



#8 Ryan

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 02:17 PM

You’re seeing the end of the run padding, if you look at a LA to Fullerton schedule you will see what the true run time is between the stations. You can leave Fullerton late, and still end up arriving in LA on time or even earlier.
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#9 me_little_me

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 03:01 PM

You might call Amtrak and see what it would cost to MODIFY (not cancel and rebook) the SWC to get off at Fullerton and cancel the Surfliner. You might get voucher or cash back depending on how they do it, how far before your outgoing trip and how far until your return.

 

In the future, if you did not do it this time, book outgoing and return trips on separate reservations for a number of reasons:

 

If you keep booking as is, get off in Fullerton and no-show for surfliner,the rest of your reservation will be canceled so you can lose return reservations if on the same reservation and the change is not official.

 

Your return, being a separate reservation will be further out than your outgoing journey and so may, depending on change/cancel date, get you better refund. So if your outgoing is in 8 days and return is in 15, you are beyond the 2 week limit for return which gets you more back.



#10 Johanna

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 03:04 PM

Even if you end up having to kill a couple of hours in LA Union Station, it need not be a crappy experience.  It's a beautiful building, first of all.  Since you're arriving in a sleeper, you have access to the Metropolitan Lounge, which is less beautiful than the rest of the building but has free snacks.  And you're a short walk from Olvera Street (LA's "old town"), which has a bunch of kitschy but fun Mexican street vendors.

 

I was on a Southwest Chief a couple of years ago that was running 2-3 hours late into LA.  The crew was very helpful in getting everyone the information they needed for all their different connections, and there were a lot of people connecting to the southbound Surfliner (they were all told to get off at Fullerton).  There will be plenty of people to help you get where you need to go.


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#11 JRR

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 03:26 PM

El Pueblo (Olivera Street referred to above), is a fun place and just across the street from the station. A great place to get a good Mexican food after you have enjoyed wandering around Union Station.


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#12 zephyr17

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 03:34 PM

Unless you are in Business Class (or it is a special season like the Del Mar races), Pacific Surfliners are unreserved and your tickets are good on any train,  Also, the Anaheim station is closer to Disneyland than Fullerton, and many of the hotels have shuttles that will pick you up at the Anaheim station.


Edited by zephyr17, 14 March 2018 - 03:36 PM.

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#13 Guest_Robert_*

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 04:34 PM

Fantastic, everybody, and thanks for all of the info.  I had wondered whether we would have access to the Metropolitan Lounge if we had to layover a bit in LA, and Johanna answered that...thank you. It sounds like the LA station and surrounding area might be fun to see.  If we get off at Fullerton so early in the morning, we'll be getting to our hotel WAY before we could possibly check in, so we may as well take the scenic route and go on into LA.  I appreciate all the quick feedback.



#14 ehbowen

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 09:34 PM

Well, while you can't actually check into your room that early in the morning, you can usually drop your luggage at the front desk and come back in the afternoon if you want to head straight to the park and "Disney till you drop!"

 

The best course of action will depend upon how much time you have. When I visited in 2015, by myself, I only had two nights and a three-day park hopper ticket so I ran right out and started sightseeing. Of course, by that third day I was approaching burnout and basically just had breakfast and walked around a bit....


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