Another Q and A about Amtrak Travel.

Q. How much should I tip my sleeping car attendant?

A. There are a lot of factors that go into the answer: How many nights is your journey? Will you ask for any meals to be brought to your accommodations? Is he friendly and courteous?

My personal rule-of-thumb is to start at $20 or $25 per night and add to that amount for exceptional service and subtract for poor service and/or a poor attitude.

(If you choose to dine in your accommodations, please remember that your car attendant wii have to make three trips to the dining car for every one of  your meals: the first trip to take your oder to the dining car staff; the second to pick up your meal and bring it back to your accommodations; and the third time to return your dirty dishes to the dining car.)

On trains with a snack bar, tip the attendant each time you make a purchase. It doesn’t have to be a specific percentage of your purchase amount, but some spare change is appropriate. Bear in mind that the attendant in a Sightseer Lounge car puts in 14 or 15-hour days, with 40-45 minute meal breaks. A 25 to 50-cent tip on a few snack purchases during a long day is really appropriate.

Q. On a recent trip, a man in the roomette across the hall kept hitting on me. What should I do if that happens on a future trip? 

A. Ignore the pest, but immediately inform a conductor.  You will find one or both of them either in the lounge area of the Business Class car on an eastern train or in the lower level of the Sightseer Lounge car on one of the western trains. That behavior is not tolerated and the conductor will so inform the male passenger. If he continues to bother you after a warning, inform the conductor and the individual will probably be put off the train at the very next stop. 

Q. I’ve been assigned to a roomette in what the reservations agent  described as “the dorm car”. What does that mean?

A. The dorm car, also referred to as the “transition sleeper”, is a special Superliner sleeping car located at the front of the train, usually right behind the baggage car. It has individual roomettes for use by  the train’s on board crew—the car attendants, the chef, his assistant, the dining car staff, and the lounge car attendant. These folks work long hours, so once off duty and in their dorm rooms, you won’t hear a peep from any of them. 

It also includes offices and work space where the conductors can relax and deal with their paperwork. 

(More to come. Email questions.)

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