Amtrak Preparing for Thanksgiving Rush with Expanded Schedules, More Seats

Published on : Saturday, November 5, 2016

Amtrak logoIn anticipation of the busiest travel period of the year, Amtrak is preparing to accommodate the expected surge of holiday travelers with additional trains and extra seats on several routes in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. Amtrak will operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet but tickets sell out quickly so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book early for best availability and pricing.


On the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional services will operate full and extended schedules with additional frequencies and added capacity between Washington, D.C. and Boston.  In response to customer demand, Amtrak will operate additional trains on both the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22 and 23, as well as the Sunday after, Nov. 27. Amtrak will also run “Holiday Extra” trains between New York and Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Nov. 27 using equipment leased from our commuter partners.  Regular Amtrak booking and ticketing procedures apply. 


With the friendliest baggage policy in the travel industry, free Wi-Fi for 90% of Amtrak travelers, no “middle seats” and a nationwide network serving over 500 destinations, customers throughout the country find Amtrak to be the smarter way to travel to be with family and friends for the holidays.


“In the past decade, demand for passenger rail service during the Thanksgiving holiday period has grown steadily,” said Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman.  “We continue to focus on providing innovative and convenient travel options for our customers, and the Thanksgiving travel period is a great opportunity to put our best foot forward. Across our nationwide network, Amtrak employees are gearing up to provide the kind of superior service our customers deserve as they travel to connect with friends and family for the holiday.” 


In the Midwest, extra trains will operate between Chicago and downstate Illinois and Michigan. At Chicago Union Station, Sleeping Car and Business Class customers as well as top tier Amtrak Guest Rewards members can enjoy the new Metropolitan Lounge and pre-board their trains. Coach customers can purchase a pass to the Legacy Club to access similar amenities and priority boarding. 


On the West Coast, Amtrak is adding capacity to several services including Capitol Corridor (Auburn-San Jose) and San Joaquins (Oakland/Sacramento – Bakersfield), as well as additional seating on Pacific Surfliner (Los Angeles-San Diego) with one additional round trip operating between Los Angeles-San Diego during the busiest travel days.  During the holiday, Pacific Surfliner service will require reservations. In the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak is adding two additional round trips between Seattle and Portland on the Amtrak Cascades service.


In 2015, more than 751,000 customers traveled to and from holiday gatherings by way of America’s Railroad® and similar demand is expected this year. The following tips will help ensure customers have a hassle-free experience:                             


• Book Early! Tickets sell out quickly so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early for best availability and pricing. 


• 2+2 = Free: Amtrak has the friendliest baggage allowance in the travel industry. Customers can bring two bags and two carry-ons, collectively weighing up to 150 pounds, for free.


• Avoid the Rush: The busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. Other than Thanksgiving Day, morning trains typically have more available seats than those in the afternoon or evening.


• Arrive Early: Allow plenty of time at stations prior to departure. Arrange for pre-boarding if you need extra time or assistance and use Amtrak Red Cap personnel to help with your baggage.


• Check Train Schedules: Make sure to check holiday train schedules prior to arriving at the station with a helpful, online-only timetable provided by Amtrak.


• Carry Photo ID: Make sure to carry valid photo ID at all times, as it may be requested aboard trains.


• Be Safe: Be aware of your surroundings, stand back from the edge of the platform, do not leave your bags unattended and watch your step when boarding or leaving the train or when walking between cars when the train is in motion. Additionally, if you see something, say something.

• All Aboard Pets: Bring Fluffy and Fido to the Thanksgiving festivities. Amtrak welcomes cats and dogs weighing 20 pounds or less for only $25. Make sure to bring the appropriate carrier. Some restrictions apply.


• Bring your Bike: Some places are meant to be explored on two wheels. When you travel, reserve a space for your bike on select Amtrak routes.


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