Tipping on Amtrak Trains.

Quite a few of the people traveling in sleeping cars on Amtrak’s long-distance trains don’t tip at all. Not the service people in the dining car. Not the attendant in the lounge car. Not even the attendant in their sleeping car. Some those are first-time Amtrak travelers who don’t even think about the tipping issue until it’s time to get off. Not knowing what to do, they do nothing.
Then there are the passengers like the cantankerous individual who told me he wasn’t going to tip our car attendant because, he said, “those guys make more money than I do!”
I can only speak for myself, but I do tip my sleeping car attendants, assuming they perform pretty much according to my list as outlined in the previous post. I tip them for two reasons: first, because it’s a damn tough job—six days in a row away from home and often with very little sleep. I feel good rewarding those who do it right. Second, I tip because, like it or not, that’s the system.
For what it’s worth, here’s how I tip on an Amtrak long-distance train:
Dining car crew: I compute 15 percent of the published menu price and round up to the nearest whole number. I add a couple of bucks to that if the server is efficient and genuinely friendly.
Lounge Car Attendant: I’m not there very often, but I leave some spare change if I’m getting just a soft drink and a bag of chips, or a dollar or two if I’m having a glass of scotch to finish off my day.
Sleeping Car Attendant: Anyone who under-performs on the basic duties or is unfriendly gets nothing (but that’s very rare). Those who provide the minimum required get $5.00 per night per person, meaning when I’m traveling with my wife. I tip $10 per night, per person, to those who meet my personal criteria (see previous post), are genuinely friendly and obviously good at their job. I never, ever have meals brought to my accommodations, but I would suggest $5.00 per person, per meal, should you choose to have a meal or two in your roomette or bedroom.
OK, now you’re on your own.