Amtrak Red cap
Amtrak Red cap

Amtrak Red Caps: What You Need To Know

Some Amtrak stations offer a unique service for passengers to help move them and their belongings to or from a lounge or a waiting area between trains. Amtrak Red Caps are a group of Amtrak employees whose job is to do just this!

If you want to learn more about this service, this article is for you! Find out if red cap service is available at a station in your future or if this service is suitable for your next Amtrak adventure.

Who Are Amtral Red Caps & What Do They Do?

As I said in the intro, Amtrak Red Caps are a group of Amtrak employees whose job is to move passengers who need help and their belongings around the station.

Amtrak Red Caps helping passengers

You have an idea of what Red Caps do from the last section, but let’s expand on that idea.

They help get you from your train or bus (at some stations) to the waiting areas and lounges. They can help tell you where bathrooms and food are around the station.

When it is time for you to leave, they take you to your next train and, in some cases, bus services.

Remember that red caps are there to help you, but their job is to help you with your transportation. They are not station chauffeurs who take you around the station for non-transportation needs like getting food and whatnot.

Is There A Fee For Red Cap Services?

The red caps service is free for those who need it. While the service is free, you can give them tips, but they are not mandatory.

How To Identify Amtrak Red Caps At The Station

One of Amtrak's Red Caps at Chicago Union Station
One of Amtrak’s Red Caps at Chicago Union Station

As you can guess, these hard workers wear red caps or hats, and this job pre-dates Amtrak.

Besides the red caps, they may also wear red shirts with blue pants so you can spot them, although this could be very. They also have Amtrak badges, so you know they are the real deal.

Often, red caps are trainside when a train comes into the station, but when not working, they are found near lounges when it is time to board your train. Depending on where they are needed.

Red caps “home base” is often near baggage areas. Often their electric cars are nearby, so if you see one of those, they are probably nearby.

If you have questions, ask the lounge agent or other Amtrak staff, and they can connect you with a red cap.

As you walk through the station, watch for them so you can get out of their way!

Amtrak Red Caps And Baggage

Amtrak Red Cap Service in Washington DC
Amtrak Red Cap Service in Washington DC

Red Caps will help you get to and from the train with your baggage, but make sure your luggage fits Amtrak’s regulations.

Before you leave home, ensure your bag is ready and within regulation for size and weight also that it is in good shape. The handles are secure, and the wheels are round and go around.

These points are essential regardless of whether you use red caps.

Amtrak Baggage Allowance

You are allowed two personal items and two carry-ons. If checked baggage service is available for your trip, you can check in two bags or more for a fee.

All luggage must be under 50 pounds, with personal items under 25 pounds.

This rule is for their and your safety. Familiarize yourself with the Amtrak baggage and check bag services.

If you need to check something, they can help, including taking you to the location.

What About Checked Bag Service?

All these stations with red caps have check-bag services, but not all destinations do. You cannot check bags if your destination does not have a check-bag service.

It is essential to check this before you leave for your trip if you plan on checking bags.

You May Have To Wait For Red Caps

You must be patient if you want help!

It takes time to move people, so you may need to wait. The red caps often make several trips from the train to the lounge or other areas to get passengers.

30th street station PHL
30th Street Station PHL

Sometimes a late train may arrive at the station at the same time your train is boarding, so now red caps are trying to de-board one train while boarding yours. They will do their best to help everyone.

I hate to mention this, but some people need a reminder that red caps are for all passengers, not just you. They are there to help you and not your servants.

Additionally, you may need to ride to or from your train with other passengers that you may not know.

You do not need to use the red cap service for your station experience. For example, if you come into Chicago on the Hiawatha and leave on the Cardinal, you could walk to the lounge from the Hiawatha and take the red cap to the Cardinal.

Is Amtrak Red Caps Only For Sleepers, Bussiness Class, and First Class Passengers?

No, Amtrak red caps are there to help all passengers.

Because each station is different, how the red caps assist coach passengers can vary.

Mackenzie and her travel alligator took the Amtrak Red Cap to the California Zephyr.

If you are in coach, look for signs or talk to station staff to see where you need to go for the red cap’s to find you and help you.

Sometimes they have a waiting area for those who need some help.

If you are on the train, let the conductors know if you need this service as you get close to your station.

On some trains, like the Hiawatha, the conductors are with you the whole route, so telling the conductor earlier may work. You will get a few sets of conductors on trains like the Capitol Limited and other long-distance trains. In this case, telling the Chicago conductor you need a red cap in DC may not be helpful. That information could get lost, but if you inform the conductor closer to the DC, they can notify the station.

Smaller Station Offer A Similar Service

Some staffed stations may offer a similar service to red caps, but not with a dedicated red cap staff. Due to limited staff and equipment, this service may vary,

In this case, everything I said is similar, but the staff focuses on getting new passengers out first and then bringing passengers who got off the train.

Some staff may also be working on baggage service, so it could take a few minutes before you get to the station.

The Cardinal's bus transfer in Charlottesville, VA (CVS). The cart helps to move luggage from the train to the bus.
The Cardinal’s bus transfer in Charlottesville, VA (CVS). The cart helps to move luggage from the train to the bus.

The process does not take a long time but does take some time. Carts may not be available at all staffed stations; staff may use wheeled chairs and other devices.

Amtrak Red Caps Wrap-Up

Red Caps are a helpful group of folks who can help you on and off the trains and sometimes, like in Los Angeles, take you to the buses waiting for your next adventure. In Chicago and other stations, they will help navigate those stations and get you where you need to go.

The red caps may take a little while to help everyone, but they will do their best. You may come in on a train full of passengers; there are only a few of them, so it takes time. Also, red caps may be trying to get people off your train; they are trying to get others onto their trains the other way around.

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Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them with support and information. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

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