Checking Firearms on Amtrak - First Experience
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Thread: Checking Firearms on Amtrak - First Experience

  1. Checking Firearms on Amtrak - First Experience

    I had a business trip to Arlington VA, so I decided to try Amtrak's new checked firearms policy. Checking the schedules on line, I found there is checked baggage service between Philadelphia and Alexandria VA on train 79 southbound and 80 northbound.

    I reserved tickets on line and then followed the instructions on the firearms policy page, which requires one to make a reservation for checking the firearm at least 24 hours in advance. I was able to make a firearms checking reservation on line and received a call back from Amtrak within an hour.

    After about ten minutes on hold, I was told I needed to tell them exactly how many firearms I would be checking and if I would be checking ammunition. I was given individual reservation numbers for one handgun and the ammo. The rep also gave me a canned speech about packing ammo, knowing the laws, etc and said I needed to check in at least 30 minutes prior to train departure. I decided to check in an hour early, which turned out to be a good decision.

    When I got to 30th St Station in Philly, the baggage clerk said "You needed to check your firarm 24 hours in advance." I told him that was not what it said on the web site nor was that what I was told by the Amtrak rep on the phone. He phoned his supervisor and his supervisor confirmed that the firearm needed to be checked 24 hours in advance. Getting angry, I said "That makes no sense. Let me speak with the supervisor."

    I was directed to Customer Service and being pretty steamed, got off on the worng foot with the supervisor. However, after several minutes of him looking things up on the computer, he agreed that I did not need to check it 24 hours in advance, only make a reservation for it 24 hours in advance. Both the baggage clerk and customer service rep were apologetic and said they had not done this before, since the policy only went into effect in December 2010. They had received a "crash course" in how to deal with checked firearms. Obviously the training left something to be desired.

    The customer service rep then conferred with the baggage clerk and after about 15 minutes during which the baggage clerk went back to the ticket counter, I received two no-cost tickets, one for my handgun and one for the ammo.

    A second baggage clerk produced a declaration form like the ones used by the airlilnes, which I filled out. After unlocking the case to demonstrate that it was indeed unloaded, the clerk looked at my Sig P229 which had the slide retracted and no magazine in it, and said he knew nothing about guns so he had no idea whether he was looking at a loaded or unloaded gun.

    Nevertheless, I locked it up in the case and checked the bag through.
    Picking up the gun and ammo at Alexandria was no problem, but anticipating a similar drill on the return trip, I checked with the ticket office where I was told I needed to check in an hour in advance to fill out the paper work.

    When I did check in a couple of days later, filling out the paper work at Alexandria inviolved about 15 minutes of waiting while the clerks conferred and spent time figuring out how to enter the request into the computer. The train was about an hour late, so I had to spend two hours in the station.

    The moral of the story is: if you plan to check firearms on Amtrak, be prepared for confusion on the part of baggage staff and ticket clerks, and allow plenty of extra time.

  2.   
  3. #2
    That's what you get from a gov't subsidized 'business.' @@

  4. #3
    Why oh why do the feds pay for trains? If people need it they will pay for it. If not, they don't really need it.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    SE FL and SE OH
    Posts
    5,677
    Quote Originally Posted by r0cknu View Post
    Why oh why do the feds pay for trains? If people need it they will pay for it. If not, they don't really need it.
    I can say the same about airlines. And not everyone can get to places by air.

  6. #5
    You know, it is cheaper to fly.... and easier to check firearms. Of course, you may get strip searched, so I suppose that is one trade off.
    Anyone who says, "I support the 2nd amendment, BUT"... doesn't. Element of Surprise: a mythical element that many believe has the same affect upon criminals that Kryptonite has upon Superman.

  7. #6

    Thumbs down Flying is for the birds.

    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLT View Post
    You know, it is cheaper to fly.... and easier to check firearms. Of course, you may get strip searched, so I suppose that is one trade off.
    Yeah, but my CCW Badge sets off the metal detectors.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    washington state
    Posts
    817
    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLT View Post
    You know, it is cheaper to fly.... and easier to check firearms. Of course, you may get strip searched, so I suppose that is one trade off.
    Thats why I do not fly anymore. Sometimes AMTRAK coach seats are cheaper but if you get a bedroom hang on to your wallet. By the way I have traveled on AMTRAK in 37 states for about 175,000 miles in the past 35 years. I have also traveled by air extensively however Im not sure of the miles but Ive flown out of 18 different airports. And yes the government doesnt know how to run a railroad, among other things.

  9. #8

    Amtrak experience

    Quote Originally Posted by jlutin View Post
    I had a business trip to Arlington VA, so I decided to try Amtrak's new checked firearms policy. Checking the schedules on line, I found there is checked baggage service between Philadelphia and Alexandria VA on train 79 southbound and 80 northbound.

    I reserved tickets on line and then followed the instructions on the firearms policy page, which requires one to make a reservation for checking the firearm at least 24 hours in advance. I was able to make a firearms checking reservation on line and received a call back from Amtrak within an hour.

    After about ten minutes on hold, I was told I needed to tell them exactly how many firearms I would be checking and if I would be checking ammunition. I was given individual reservation numbers for one handgun and the ammo. The rep also gave me a canned speech about packing ammo, knowing the laws, etc and said I needed to check in at least 30 minutes prior to train departure. I decided to check in an hour early, which turned out to be a good decision.

    When I got to 30th St Station in Philly, the baggage clerk said "You needed to check your firarm 24 hours in advance." I told him that was not what it said on the web site nor was that what I was told by the Amtrak rep on the phone. He phoned his supervisor and his supervisor confirmed that the firearm needed to be checked 24 hours in advance. Getting angry, I said "That makes no sense. Let me speak with the supervisor."

    I was directed to Customer Service and being pretty steamed, got off on the worng foot with the supervisor. However, after several minutes of him looking things up on the computer, he agreed that I did not need to check it 24 hours in advance, only make a reservation for it 24 hours in advance. Both the baggage clerk and customer service rep were apologetic and said they had not done this before, since the policy only went into effect in December 2010. They had received a "crash course" in how to deal with checked firearms. Obviously the training left something to be desired.

    The customer service rep then conferred with the baggage clerk and after about 15 minutes during which the baggage clerk went back to the ticket counter, I received two no-cost tickets, one for my handgun and one for the ammo.

    A second baggage clerk produced a declaration form like the ones used by the airlilnes, which I filled out. After unlocking the case to demonstrate that it was indeed unloaded, the clerk looked at my Sig P229 which had the slide retracted and no magazine in it, and said he knew nothing about guns so he had no idea whether he was looking at a loaded or unloaded gun.

    Nevertheless, I locked it up in the case and checked the bag through.
    Picking up the gun and ammo at Alexandria was no problem, but anticipating a similar drill on the return trip, I checked with the ticket office where I was told I needed to check in an hour in advance to fill out the paper work.

    When I did check in a couple of days later, filling out the paper work at Alexandria inviolved about 15 minutes of waiting while the clerks conferred and spent time figuring out how to enter the request into the computer. The train was about an hour late, so I had to spend two hours in the station.

    The moral of the story is: if you plan to check firearms on Amtrak, be prepared for confusion on the part of baggage staff and ticket clerks, and allow plenty of extra time.
    Thank you for posting your experience so the rest of us know what to expect and how to combat potential pitfalls.

    I think if I fly or take Amtrak, I am going to PRINT the company policy on firearms and take it with me to the checkout desk in case the clerk that I get only took the "crash course" version of training.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by eaccents View Post
    Thank you for posting your experience so the rest of us know what to expect and how to combat potential pitfalls.

    I think if I fly or take Amtrak, I am going to PRINT the company policy on firearms and take it with me to the checkout desk in case the clerk that I get only took the "crash course" version of training.
    You might also want to print the regulations. TSA is governed by Federal regulation, not by company policy.
    Anyone who says, "I support the 2nd amendment, BUT"... doesn't. Element of Surprise: a mythical element that many believe has the same affect upon criminals that Kryptonite has upon Superman.

  11. CCW on amtrak?

    If I have a LTCF for the states I'm traveling through, can I carry concealed on an Amtrak passenger train?

    Thanks, Gonzo
    Harrisburg PA

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