Time For a Few Questions.
I’m happy to take your questions about train travel in North America. Just post your question as a comment on the blog or send me an email at Jim@trainsandtravel.com. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll know someone who does.
Q: I was told that I should leave my small suitcase on a luggage rack on the lower level of the sleeping car because there’s no room for it in my roomette. I’m worried that it will be stolen.
A: Having items stolen in an Amtrak sleeping car is extremely rare. But you mentioned that your suitcase is small. How small? There’s a small step on the wall of the roomette to help you climb into the upper berth (at left in photo), but it serves quite nicely as a shelf for my modest-sized suitcase and I can even stack my small carry-on bag on top of that.
Q: Am I supposed to tip the car attendant in an Amtrak sleeping car? And, if so, how much?
A: Tipping is a matter of choice, of course but, like it or not, it’s also the custom. For car attendants on Amtrak long-distance trains, I recommend a minimum of $5 per person per night. If you take your meals in your room, I would tip another five bucks per meal per person.
Q: I’ve heard some horror stories about traveling overnight in coach. If—God forbid—I get a problem passenger sitting near me or even next to me, what should I do?
A: I guess it depends on how much of a problem the other passenger really is. For minor issues like someone chatting to loud on their cel phone, say something to the car attendant. For something more serious—someone who’s been drinking or is being aggressive—ask one of the conductors for help. If they’re not actually “walking the train”, you can probably find them doing their paperwork at one of the empty tables in the dining car or, on one of the western trains, on the lower level of the Sightseer Lounge Car.
Q: I’m a senior and always take advantage of the 15% discount. Rumor has it that Amtrak is going to do away with all of the discounts they have offered for many years. Do you have any solid information on that?
A: No I don’t. Not yet, anyway. The only recent change I know of is with the senior discount, which now applies at age 65, instead of 62. There’s lots of speculation, though. I’ll report it here as soon as I’m sure it’s official.