TripBadger Tip: Amtrak Red Cap Service

by Brian on May 6, 2013

in Amtrak, Amtrak Guest Rewards, Tips

Amtrak Acela Express

Last weekend while traveling from Washington, DC to New York City on Amtrak’s Acela train service, I discovered an amazing Amtrak secret. Amtrak offers free priority boarding and baggage assistance for all customers at 12 stations across the United States called Red Cap service. Dedicated red shirt-clad Amtrak employees are there to help anyone who requests assistance with the boarding process. Unlike the airlines, which charge extra fees for similar boarding and baggage services, the only cost associated with the Red Cap service is a tip for the person who helps you.

Using Red Cap is Very Simple

All you have to do is locate the Red Cap stand in one of the 12 stations and ask for help. The Red Cap porters will take your bags and hold them until 15-20 minutes before boarding your train. This relieves you to wonder the station’s restaurants and shops without your bag in tow. At the agreed upon 15-20 minutes before the departure time, the Red Cap escorts you with your bags to the train before general boarding begins. If you board at an originating station like I did in Washington, DC, you have the first pick of any seat on the train in your ticketed class. The Red Cap attendant will help you find the best seat based on your preferences (near the dining car, in the quiet car, etc). I tipped the Red Cap $20 ($5 for each of the four of us traveling together). It was well worth it to be first on the train and avoid the mad rush of passengers fighting for seats.

Amtrak Stations that Offer Red Cap Service

  • Baltimore, MD
  • Boston, MA (South Station)
  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New Haven, CT
  • New York, NY
  • Newark, NJ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Wilmington, DE

TripBadger Recommendation

If you’re traveling from one of the 12 stations that offers Red Cap assistance, it’s definietly worth the cost of tipping the Amtrak porter. It’s really hard to believe more people don’t use the service to enjoy free help with baggage and the first choice of seats on the train. Also, if you’re traveling before May 18, don’t forget to register for the double Guest Rewards promotion and earn extra points for Amtrak travel across the country! TripBadger highlighted this bonus last week.


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