More Questions from Readers.
Q: I’m going to visit relatives in Chicago in six weeks and I’ve booked a roomette on the Southwest Chief. However, I can’t get over being nervous about leaving my bags in the luggage rack on the lower level.
A: I have never used the luggage rack, so I’m afraid I can’t give you any first-hand advice. When I travel solo—and that’s almost all the time–I only have a small suitcase and a very small tote bag. Both fit quite nicely on a shelf in the roomette that’s actually a step to be used by someone climbing into the upper berth.
It’s my impression that there are very few incidents of theft on the long-distance trains. Thinking back over the years, the only incident I can recall involved the alleged loss of a small bag belonging to a young woman who claimed that someone had stolen it when she had dozed off in her coach seat. That meant she had no money to pay for food, either from the lounge car attendant or in the dining car.
Something about her didn’t ring true and it was clear that the conductor had the same impression. At any rate, since a scam couldn’t be proved, arrangements were made for her to be fed in the dining car for the rest of the trip.
Q: I’m a fairly heavy smoker. I’m traveling on the Empire Builder to Seattle this weekend. Will they really kick me off the train if I’m caught smoking by one of the conductors. Won’t they give me a warning?
A. I doubt it. As soon as they finish their welcome aboard announcement, Amtrak conductors remind passengers that smoking is forbidden everywhere on the train and they are usually very specific in saying if caught smoking, you will be removed from the train. So–trust me on this–if you’re caught, the very next stop will almost certainly be yours. Not to worry, though. You’ll love Cut Bank, Montana, in January!
Is Amtrak affected by the Government Shutdown?
Not that I’m aware of.
I have used the baggage rack several times without any problem. I would recommend using either a distinctive bag or marking. This would help prevent someone from grabbing the wrong bag by mistake. Unfortunately the station closings have limited the use of baggage services. Your car sttandent can be a help getting the bag stowed properly in the luggage rack so it is out of the way until you need it.
Sage advice from . . . well . . . from a sage.