Amtrak to charge baggage fees, but it’s not as bad as you think


Amtrak will begin charging $20 for excess baggage starting Thursday, but the allowed luggage -- two 50-pound bags, two 24-pound carryon bags -- is pretty generous.

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Et tu, Amtrak?

The passenger rail service is cracking down on passengers who carry too much stuff. You can take two 50-pound bags and two 25-pound carry-ons, which is a whole lot more generous than the airlines.

Exceed that and you’ll pay the price. Starting Thursday, Amtrak will charge a $20 excess baggage fee for every bag over that limit.

By packing smarter, you still can avoid fees on Amtrak.


There are other ways to avoid bag fees when you travel on other modes. Airlines are especially hungry for those fees, which totaled $3.4 billion in 2014.

-- Fly Southwest Airlines. Bless its heart, it still doesn’t charge for baggage. You still get two bags free (they also need to be less than 50 pounds each).

-- Fly another carrier and book your ticket using its branded credit card, which usually gets you at least one bag free.

-- Take Greyhound. Your first checked bag is free. Besides its recent improvements (free wi-fi and leather seats), it’s a whole lot cheaper than flying. If you wanted to book a round-trip ticket from LAX to San Francisco for tomorrow, you’d pay at least $451 to fly. On Greyhound, you’d pay $74. Yes, it takes longer, but you can do a lot of reading/texting/pinning/tweeting in that time.


-- Drive. If you were a family of four flying from LAX to Phoenix and each of you had a bag, you’d pay $200 in baggage fees. According to the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator, if you were driving a 2014 Honda Accord, your fuel cost would be about $40, round-trip.

Like the bus, it would take longer, but who doesn’t love “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” sung off key for the about 750 miles?

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