Amtrak charging for large carry-on baggage

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Yumacool, May 10, 2019.

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  1. May 10, 2019 #1

    Yumacool

    Yumacool

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    My wife and I rode the Coast Starlight a couple weeks ago. When checking into the Metropolitan Lounge in Los Angeles, the attendant told us we needed to check our suitcases because Amtrak was going to begin charging for passengers carrying large baggage on board when traveling between points at which checked baggage service is available. We were traveling between Los Angeles and San Jose, both of which handle checked baggage, so we did it. We have traveled between these points many times in the past, always carrying our luggage on board.

    Has anyone else heard of this new policy? If, true, I can understand it, for the baggage storage area on the lower levels of superliners can become quite packed -- especially with the number of unstaffed stations. However, this was the only person I heard it from ...
     
  2. May 10, 2019 #2

    anumberone

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    I guess the lower storage could get crowded, I've never seen it. It sure makes it convenient to be able to get into your large luggage on a long trip.
     
  3. May 10, 2019 #3

    Just-Thinking-51

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    Conductor have the able to charge fee for extra or large baggage. Does not mean that do. Superliners have much more baggage capacity then the single level fleet. It always possible you might of avoid a charge, but it very much a hit or miss thing. Checking the baggage avoid the issue totally.
     
  4. May 10, 2019 #4

    PVD

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    Amtrak has generally been lax in enforcement of the size limits for carry on bags, which I believe are slightly smaller than the size limits for checked bags. I'm pretty sure the weight is the same. They may be getting complaints about lack of space, or bags in aisles or vestibules, which would constitute a potential safety hazard. I've never heard of anything that forces you to check a bag, but if it is oversized as a carryon, but would be checkable for free they certainly are within their rights to charge you.
     
  5. May 10, 2019 #5

    PaulM

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    So what is large?

    From Amtrak's website:
    What's Allowed?
    2 Carry-On Bags

    Up to 50 lbs. and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each

    That's 64 linear inches, 2 inches more than the so-called airline legal.
    That compares to 75 linear inches for checked baggage.

    No mention on the website about forcing you to check 64 linear inches or less. Sounds like another make it up as you go rule.
     
  6. May 10, 2019 #6

    desertflyer

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    I think I know which woman at the Metropolitan Lounge you're talking about. Did she weigh bags too? I've had 3 "run ins" with her over the last 4 years and she, while not rude, is really unpleasant to deal with if she thinks your bag is overweight by even a single pound. I've also heard her push people into checking their bags. No one on the train has ever been as strict as she is.
     
  7. May 11, 2019 #7

    Thirdrail7

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    There isn't a forced issue. It is quite simple. If you check the luggage, there isn't a charge if you are not exceeding 2 pieces. If you carry on the luggage and it is oversize, you are running the risk of being charged $20 per bag. Station personnel and train crews have been issued little hand scales and they are expecting them to be used.

    The attendant probably though she was trying to help save you money but feel free to carry it on.
     
  8. May 11, 2019 #8

    me_little_me

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    Bigger issue in coach. But it's not just the space required but also the time it takes to load passengers with big bags especially those seniors like us who find it difficult or slow to lift bags int the train into the storage area and up the stairs.
    We always check when possible which is why Amtrak cutting out baggage service at so many stations was awful. They need to come up with an alternative solution like you carry it on and tell them to check it and at next available stop, they move it to baggage car.
     
  9. May 11, 2019 #9

    Ryan

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    No mention in the OP that the luggage in question was less than 64 linear inches. We should get all the facts before casting judgement.
     
  10. May 11, 2019 #10

    JP1822

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    I ran into the same person at the LAX Metro Lounge I believe. And yes, she saw one elderly lady’s bag was “more than 50 pounds.” It was like 65 pounds. She said she could tell it was over 50 pounds just on site and feel. OK, fine, but she was all over this. She made the lady take 15 pounds out of the suitcase - I think she was supplied with something or perhaps had another bag of some sort. She ended carrying the “15 pounds” onboard, and “checked” the remainder to the baggage car, again, not originally planned for. I thought this was a little over the top and ridiculous.

    Granted my suitcase was also “over the limit.” I could have broken it up but I didn’t want to as I was dealing with work items/equipment, clothes, and medical materials. I specifically took the train cause I didn’t want to deal with lugging multiple bags around the airport. Moreover, a recent injury was also putting me back on the train as opposed to hiking it around airport terminals. I knew what I was getting into with the train. Plane travel had some unknowns in capabilities.

    Point being, I also booked a bedroom for travel (the large room) even though it was just me. Considering all, I thought the bigger room would be more comfortable for this trip, and if the luggage did become an issue, it may have been a bargaining chip. Suitcase fit fine on lower level. Backpack came up to the room with me.

    I had no issues. And the lady at the LAX Metro Lounge didn’t bother me cause she was too busy pouncing on this other poor lady at the time.

    Not advocating to take advantage of the rules, but some compromises and a little leniency would be nice when an effort of trying or compromise is being done. Amtrak may also be realizing they have these expensive new baggage cars being tacked to the train consist and perhaps they should make some money on them, as was intended. But better use of resources would have been a baggage/dorm, rather than FULL baggage cars. Amtrak has Superliner Coach Baggage cars that filled the void pretty nicely in the past, and still could.

    Of eight long distance trains I’ve been on this past month, NOT one came close to having a full baggage car. All were very lightly tended to - if at all!
     
  11. May 11, 2019 #11

    basketmaker

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    Straight from the T&C (Terms & Conditions):

    Carry-On Baggage
    Each passenger may bring 2 carry-on bags and 2 personal items free of charge.

    • Carry-on Bags not to exceed 50 lbs. (23 kg) and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each. On Pacific Surfliner trains not to exceed 28 x 22 x 11 inches.
    • Personal items not to exceed 25 lbs. (12 kg) and 14 x 11 x 7 inches each.
    • Excess bags: A $20 excess baggage fee will be charged for each carry-on and personal item above the quantity and size limits.
    • Passengers traveling with infants under the age of two may bring an additional infant item onboard (stroller, diaper bag), which does not count toward the carry-on baggage or personal item limit.
    • Carry-on and personal items must be kept with you, stored in overhead racks, under seats or designated baggage areas. Do not store items in empty seats, aisles, vestibules or other areas where they may cause annoyance to other passengers or present a safety hazard.
    Checked Baggage
    Each passenger can check two bags free of charge. Not all trains or locations are equipped to handle checked baggage.

    • Checked bags not to exceed 50 lbs. (23 kg) and 75 linear inches each.
    • 2 additional checked bags are allowed: $20 each
    • Oversized baggage (76-100 linear inches): $20 each
    • Overweight bags must be repacked to under 50 lbs.
    Linear inches = length + width + height
     
  12. May 11, 2019 #12

    PaulM

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    I have no idea what the op's definition of large is. That is why I asked. My thinking is that airline legal is large, but still Amtrak legal as a carry on.

    The quote in question was a statement, just that. It was intended to answer the OP's question. No violation of the 11th commandment.
     
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  13. May 11, 2019 #13

    Ryan

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    We have to decide if we want Amtrak employees to follow the rules, or be able to make them up on the spot.

    Personally, I fall on the side of preferring to having a clear, well though out policy that I can depend on over having to depend on the generosity of random employees.

    You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, Amtrak has drawn the line in a pretty generous place, and I have no problem with the rules as written being enforced.
     
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  14. May 11, 2019 #14

    PVD

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    I agree with Ryan. Amtrak has a very generous baggage policy, especially compared to airlines, where luggage fees are a profit center.
     
  15. May 12, 2019 #15

    Sauve850

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    I too have no problem with the rules or following them.
     
  16. May 12, 2019 #16

    OlympianHiawatha

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    I firmly believe Amtrak needs to start cracking down on what people haul on board with them. If checked baggage is available, then there is absolutely no reason to bring anything other than your onboard essential into the Sleepers or Coaches. I have seen people haul steamer trunks and often more bags than they can carry with them. If you have to haul that much, SHIP IT!
     
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  17. May 12, 2019 #17

    jhillm

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    One year ago on the SWC westbound from ABQ - the SCA told us at the door we'd have to check the luggage. I said we would not. We were 4 adults and 2 toddlers in 3 roomettes (lower level). We had one backpack size carryon each. One grocery bag of snacks. One stroller. And four suitcases (less than one apiece) only one of which was a 28" bag - the other were airline carryon size. With small children it was important to have luggage access. SHE (the SCA) refused to help load anything (2 of us a more than sixty, and one other obviously pregnant. None the less there was not that much to load and easily accomplished (and ABQ is a service stop so there was 40 minutes to do it). Upon boarding - we noted that MORE than half of the baggage storage area was filled with linen, laundry, trash, and other things not resembling luggage.
    Overall, in the last five years on the SWC the service has been 60% poor, 15% non existent, 17% acceptable and 8% stellar. Love the train. Miss the days.......
     
  18. May 12, 2019 #18

    Devil's Advocate

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    Usually when I want to help a stranger I explain my motives and rationale and then leave them to either follow my advice or ignore it. I figured that's how unsolicited assistance is supposed to work. Bossing them around about rules and restrictions while hoping they eventually realize I'm secretly trying to help them never occurred to me.


    Amtrak is extremely generous compared to airlines but highly restrictive compared a train's actual carrying capacity.


    There are numerous reasons to bring more than a small essentials bag. Some of us work on the train, some turn their berth into a media room, some need various medical equipment, and others need specialized meals. Shipping larger luggage can cost hundreds of dollars per piece each way.


    That's been my experience as well. Not just on Amtrak but with taxis, buses, and ride sharing vehicles. I can think of other examples but this is one of those topics where telling the truth can get you in more trouble than lying.
     
  19. May 12, 2019 #19

    Thirdrail7

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    Well, since we weren't there, we don't know if they were bossed or if anything was "unsolicited." I can believe the part about something not occurring to you though.

    I'm not sure it was that well thought out.

    A side effect of eliminating station staff which in turn eliminates checked baggage at certain stations that lack train side check in, parcel and express services.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  20. May 12, 2019 #20

    Yumacool

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    Interesting discussion about baggage handling. For the record, by "large" luggage I meant suitcases such as those passengers have to check on airlines. Not steamer trunks or anything like that.

    My wife and I have traveled Amtrak long distance trains quite a bit. I feel attendants should ALWAYS help passengers lift baggage aboard the train as part of the boarding process. I have seen attendants ignore folks who obviously need help. It happens both on coach cars and sleepers. I feel the matter of courtesy is fundamental and not to be ignored. That said, I often board the Sunset/Texas Eagle in the middle of the night in Yuma, Arizona, and the crew is always both friendly and helpful with baggage. I wish this service standard occurred everywhere.
     
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  21. May 13, 2019 #21

    mitako

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    On recent trip aboard Sunset Ltd/Texas Eagle, there were quite a few lengthy stretches where the luggage rack in our sleeping car was so full, luggage was overflowing onto the floor. The SCA also appeared to be storing bottled water and other goods on the luggage racks, which of course reduced available space even further. I don't check my luggage on the train; typically, hubby and I each have a carry-on size rolling bag, a small toiletry bag, and a small duffel. We leave the rolling bags on the sleeper rack and bring the duffels and toiletry bags into roomette.
     
  22. May 13, 2019 #22

    PRR 60

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