Cardinal Checked Baggage - First-Timer

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by DivMiler, Jun 14, 2019.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jun 14, 2019 #1

    DivMiler

    D

    DivMiler

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    295
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania
    In less than a week, my daughter and I are traveling from Baltimore (BAL) to Chicago (CHI) on the Cardinal in a roomette; after spending one night in Chicago we are traveling to Emeryville (EMY) on the California Zephyr in a bedroom. We'll fly back from San Francisco to Baltimore. We'll be gone about 1.5 weeks. We'll take two suitcases - both would fit in an airplane overhead bin.

    While preparing to pack, I'm noticing that I'm trouble fitting everything in a suitcase for myself. I could use a different (larger) suitcase (dimensions 28in x 18in x 12 in), but then we probably wouldn't be able to put both suitcases in the over-the-corridor storage area I remember on Viewliners.

    I've thought about just using the larger suitcase and therefore checking it on the Cardinal. I've never checked baggage on a train, and I imagine that because there are no connections involved it is less likely that it would be lost or left somewhere by accident. I do worry about the suitcase being mistakenly taken off the train at an intermediate stop. On the California Zephyr I'll just use the downstairs luggage area, and would check the suitcase back to Baltimore on the airplane.

    I guess because this would be my first time checking a suitcase on a train, I feel a little leery. What should I concern myself with? Checking the bag in BAL? Picking it up in CHI? How long after we get off the train in CHI would the checked bags be ready for pickup by passengers? Does Amtrak track checked suitcases electronically (as the airlines do)? Maybe I need some hand-holding here!
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  2. Jun 14, 2019 #2

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    ehbowen

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,883
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    No concerns really to worry about. Yes, checked baggage can sometimes go astray, but (in my experience) much less often on Amtrak than on the airlines. Just make sure that you have enough in your carry-ons (including any medication) to ensure that the trip doesn't turn into a disaster in the unlikely event that you do hit the jackpot. Be sure that the luggage is checked in (and this means that it's actually in the agent's hand, not just you waiting in line) 45 minutes prior to your scheduled departure. You also have the option of going by the train station the day before and checking it in up to 24 hours before your departure (station hours permitting, of course). Baggage claim in Chicago is very much like you would find at a (small) airport; no worries there. Do make sure that you keep your claim check(s) with you; Amtrak is very strict about not releasing luggage until the claim checks are positively matched. So it's highly unlikely that your suitcase will walk out of baggage claim without you. Have a great trip!
     
    Bob Dylan, PVD and Rasputin like this.
  3. Jun 14, 2019 #3

    Dakota 400

    D

    Dakota 400

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2014
    Messages:
    1,083
    I have never used the over-the-corridor storage area in a Viewliner Roomette. I wonder if it is deep enough to hold two pieces of luggage. For me, trying to get luggage into that cubby hole is impossible.

    No worries about checked luggage. I have wondered how luggage is arranged in the Baggage Car, but however Amtrak does it, it works well. A second to the advice offered by ehbowen: keep your checked luggage claim checks readily available. An agent will not let allow a piece of luggage to leave baggage claim without checking the claim check with the tag on the bag.
     
  4. Jun 15, 2019 #4

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Messages:
    562
    Location:
    QB 101
    Don't forget under-seat space. Both of the reclining seats in a roomette can easily hold an airline carryon-sized piece of luggage, as long as it's 9" or less 'thick'. That's where my 4-wheel rolling bag goes every time...Viewliner or Superliner. As I sometimes really stuff mine full and as it easily accommodates my 17" laptop in a separate compartment, I simply remove my hanging clothing and my laptop, and slide the case under the seat after removing anything else I might need before de-boarding. Once the bed is made-down, it's inaccessible without partial bed making-up. I also put my 'large gym bag' from Walmart that has all my daily needed items (bathroom items, snacks, scanner, gaffers tape, wooden shims, etc) on the ledge next to the seat in a Viewliner, or on the top step in a Superliner.

    For what it's worth, I used to use the above-the-hall cubby on Viewliners, but have inadvertently left small items up there multiple times. Never again.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  5. Jun 15, 2019 #5

    drdumont

    drdumont

    drdumont

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2017
    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    The Great (and may I add) Sovereign State of TEXAS
    A GREAT POINT! Wooden shims. What for, you ask? Alas, the sliding doors and sometimes some of the wall panels make noise, or the door open latch will not hold, or just rattles no matter what. I hit upon the idea of a couple of rubber doorstops in my bag, which make wonderful rattle silencers. Also, ISTR ACE hardware sells a little package of wooden wedges. On one trip, I loaned one to my neighbor across the way.
     
  6. Jun 16, 2019 #6

    Chatter163

    Chatter163

    Chatter163

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2002
    Messages:
    583
    I would just check one suitcase from Baltimore to Emeryville. This way you don’t need to retrieve it in Chicago, or worry about it at all. Take what you need aboard the train and for the night in Chicago in the one bag, and pick up the other when you arrive. I’ve done that lots of times when riding two trains with checked baggage.
     
    ehbowen likes this.
  7. Jun 16, 2019 #7

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Messages:
    562
    Location:
    QB 101
    Rubber door stops, if left behind by forgetful folks like me...$3.00 each, give or take. Carpenters wood shims? About $.25 to replace. I've given 'packs' of 5-6 to various sleeping car attendants that were surprised at my using them. One attendant on the Lakeshore Ltd 6-8 months ago, had put a coat hanger in every door in every unoccupied roomette. I think there were 7 or 8 as I recall. I showed him how I use 2 shims at the top of the door when I'm away from my room such as dinner on the Meteor or Crescent. And if I completely forget (and have) that I had two shims at the top of the door when I return, one or both get forced into the wall space when I open the door and disappear forever! Why place them up high? Less obvious to most passers by.

    For what it's worth, when the Viewliners were new in the late '90s, they were terrible 'rattle traps'. Just about everything on them rattled from the sink to the door (open or closed) and even the upper bed regardless of position. It took Amtrak perhaps 8-10 years to solve the rattle problems. If you look at the floor where the door goes into the wall, most of them have a spring-loaded roller mounted there to keep the door from banging back and forth perpendicular to the line of travel. It also helps somewhat to keep the door 'latched' in the open position. Some of them are gone, some of them never needed. I don't know what they did to stop the 'banging' of the upper bunk when there's nobody in it (down or up). Maybe years of use solved the problems. Or maybe some kind of redesign of the 'tracks' for the upper bunk. But every now and then, I end up using a shim or two to jam between the upper bunk and wall to stop it's 'banging'.

    In my experience, Superliner Is and IIs had far fewer rattles when new. These days, the biggest rattles on Superliners is the handicap bedroom door (usually coat-hangered by the attendant) and the 'ramp' for wheel chairs stored in the lower level luggage rack. But...SURPRISE of a lifetime on the Capital Ltd a couple weeks ago! The Superliner I I was riding in had a brand new specially designed wheel chair ramp that had what looked like a fool proof, rattle proof system to attach it to the side wall when stored! No rattles whatsoever. I even tried to rattle it! For what it's worth, I always request #14 on Superliners, especially during the school year...usually no kids in the family room! This trip, I had to settle for #12 both ways.
     

Share This Page



arrow_white