Headed west for Thanksgiving and steeling yourself for the car or plane ride? Amtrak could be your solution.
It is adding more trains and more cars on several routes in the Midwest. Amtrak will operate every available passenger railcar in its fleet and extra trains will run to and from Michigan and downstate Illinois.
Tickets sell out quickly so get yours now. Click here for information.
To make travel easier the railroad has made improvements to the boarding process at Chicago Union Station in time for Thanksgiving travel.
- Business class travelers have a new Metropolitan Lounge, located near the station’s historic Great Hall and next to a new ticket area for those who are making cash transactions. These customers, along with Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive Members, board ahead of coach customers.
- Customers traveling in coach class on reserved trains can receive priority boarding by buying Legacy Club access. Other coach customers will board in the order they check in. They can receive a same-day boarding pass at the new service center in the Great Hall, and at other locations in the station.
- The South Boarding Lounge in the station’s Concourse level is for the assisted boarding of customers 62 and over, those with disabilities, families traveling with children 12 and under, and active duty military personnel.
Amtrak suggests the following for a smooth trip:
- Purchase tickets: eTicketing is available on every train route throughout the nation. Travelers may purchase tickets early using Amtrak.com, Quik-TrakSM or ticket windows at staffed stations (where available), Amtrak mobile apps, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.
- 2+2 = free: Passengers can bring two bags and two carry-ons, up to 150 pounds collectively, for free. If you’re carrying multiple bags use the elevator whenever possible for safety and convenience.
- Avoid the rush: The busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. Other than on 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 – at least 45 minutes beforehand if picking up tickets. Arrange for pre-boarding if you need extra time or assistance, and use Amtrak Red Cap agents to help you with your baggage.
- Check train schedules: Make sure to check holiday train schedules prior to arriving at the station with the online-only timetable provided by Amtrak.
- Carry photo ID: Passengers are required to show valid photo identification when purchasing tickets. Make sure to carry valid photo ID at all times. 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.
A train ride keeps the stress down, lets you see some beautiful scenery and gets you there in plenty of time to enjoy the turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie and, best of all, your family.
– Lead photo by Dwight Burdette
Here are the schedules: