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Tipping on Amtrak

Tipping on Amtrak Trains: What you need to know

Are you wondering about tipping on Amtrak trains? Maybe you heard you need to but don’t know who gets one or how much to give them.

Alpine Texas
Amtrak Superliner Sleeper car on the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited stopped in Alpine. Texas.

If those questions crossed your mind, this article guides you through this part of your Amtrak adventure.

Tipping is often a hot topic on social media, and I noticed some bitterness, misunderstanding, and bad advice.

This article gives realistic tips and advice based on years of Amtrak travel.

Grab your favorite beverage or snack, and let’s walk you through the thought of tipping on Amtrak.

Listen to the Travels with Kev Podcast

This episode is an overview of this article.

Is it necessary to tip on Amtrak?

The technical answer is no.

Before we go too far, you should know tipping does not have a set protocol among Amtrak passengers.

Some passengers feel it is unnecessary, while others can’t think of a better gesture. I often tip, but not always; further down, you will find out my when, where, and why.

Unlike many US service industry workers, Amtrak employees do not depend on tips for their income. But tipping on Amtrak is a great way to thank you and show that you appreciate their efforts.

If you are financially unable to tip, a sincere thank you and letting Amtrak know what a great job they did is appreciated. At the bottom of the article is a link to contact Amtrak to praise the Amtrak employee.

While tips are not essential, if you require extra attention, tipping is a grand gesture to say thanks for the extra running around. Remember that attendants are there for the whole car, not personal servants. Be patient and understanding with their time.

Who and when would be tipped along your journey?

When and who you should tip is up to you, but these employees tend to receive tips and when to tip them.

Amtrak’s Acela First Class

If you have a ticket for first class on Acela, an attendant will bring you your complimentary food and beverages. These people work hard to give you a good experience and help you along the way. Giving them a tip is a great thank you.

Lawrence is an Amtrak sleeping car attendant on the Texas Eagle.

Car attendants (Coach or Sleeper)

Some people like to tip their attendants at the beginning of their adventure. I am not one of those.

My belief is tipping needs to be earned and not given. Looking at what other passengers say, they feel that tipping at the beginning is bribing the attendant for better service. I tend to agree.

Usually, I tip when the attendant comes around, alerting me of a stop or during one of the sweeps they do before coming into the last city. Or as I leave the car at my destination.

The typical tipping range for car attendants is $5-20 a day based on the level of service and your budget.

Foodservice employees

I often tip at the end of the transaction, for example, after meals or completing your transaction in the cafe. On occasion, I had the same dinner attended for the day; in that case, I tip at that day’s last meal.

Often the stander food service rates of 10% – 20% are typical; if there are no prices, tip what you feel is appropriate.

Station Staff

Some stations have red caps or agents to help you get to or from the train. You are free to tip them a few dollars per bag.

Information to consider about Amtrak staff.

NYP Loading
Passengers are getting ready to board the Lake Shore Limited at New York Penn Station.

Coach class, sleeping car attendants, and food staff stay with you for the whole train route. The exception is the Texas Eagle, where all staff changes in San Antonio.

Amtrak employees are often away from home and family for four to six days or more.

For example, the California Zephyr crews are based out of Chicago, travel with you to Emeryville, CA, spend the night and then return home working the next train.

These employees work behind the scenes to make the trip the best they can for you and your fellow passengers.

For example, sleeping car attendants help you along your journey. They make your beds and put them away, assist with getting you off the train, help with meal reservations, give you the information you may need along your journey, and more. They also run and grab meals for some passengers and clean the car.

Conductors and engineers change throughout the trip. The FRA sets the amount of time these employees can work. When the “smoke” or “fresh air breaks along the route, crew changes occur.

When tipping on Amtrak is not recommended.

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Hallway
Looking down the hallway of roomettes on a Viewliner Sleeper Car

Not everyone will agree with me on this point, which is fine, and do what you feel is right. Like all my articles, these are the guides I follow.

For the record, I tend to follow the motto, assume positive intent, and, when in doubt, try to improve someone’s day. But a few times over my travels, I received inadequate service, to the point I would not tip.

With this section, remember to keep your expectations in check. If you expect the car attendant to be a personal attendant, you will be disappointed because they have a whole car to maintain.

It does take time for one person to make up twenty rooms if a Superliner car is full of passengers.

Over my many Amtrak trips, I only had a few poor attendants who refused to tip.

For example, once I hit the call button, the car attendant came to my room, looked at me, and walked away, so I ended up putting my bed down. The other time, the attendant ignored me for most of my journey. Both times I did report them to Amtrak. If they do well or poorly, I let Amtrak know. I tend to let things go in the middle of the road service.

A wrap-up about tipping on Amtrak

Viewliner Dining Car
An inside view of a Viewliner Amtrak dining car

It is your choice to tip or not.

Tipping is fantastic to thank someone who made your Amtrak adventure better. While attendants do not expect it, it is a pleasant gift.

Don’t worry about it if you can’t afford to tip, but try to let Amtrak know what excellent service you had.

If you want to let Amtrak know about the excellent service, there is a way, with the yellow button below. I had a conversation with someone in Amtrak management, and they told me the comments go to the managers who share them with the employees.

Safe Travels!


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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.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. TheFullIt

    This is a thorough and thoughtful article based on experience with Amtrak and tipping. I’ll be reading more with Kev.

  2. Thomas Gallegly

    I have over 186,000 miles of rest, relaxation & rejuvenation on Amtrak. Coast to coast. Border to border. Your article is right on.

    1. Kev

      Awesome! Amtrak is a great way to travel and see the country! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Kevin

    Thanks for the information, Kev… from a fellow Kev. I will be taking an Amtrak Sleepette on a one night journey from NYC to Libby, MT. I may choose to eat at least a couple meals in my sleeper car. I know that during covid, it was fairly standard to have food delivered to your car. How about now? If I am able to do that, how much should I tip for each meal delivered to my sleepette?

    1. Kev

      Hi Kev! Haha

      You can still have your meals in your rooms. You could either tip a few dollars right away or tip them extra in the end.

      If they got swamped when they got a meal. I might give the attendant a little extra right away to acknowledge their hard work.

      There is no right or wrong, and it depends on your budget. Maybe $10 a day above what you would tip for bringing your meals, and you could even give that each day. I would base the amount on the service you receive.

      It would also be nice to get their name and send Amtrak a note of praise; there is a link in the article.

      I hope this helps, and safe travels!

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