The worst part of a holiday homecoming? Getting there, according to a large majority of travelers who report that holiday travel is often full of headaches and hassles. Having a good sense of humor about it all helps.
The 1987 parody Planes, Trains, and Automobiles extols the troubles of travel, reminding us that no matter how bad our travel experiences may be, they could be worse.
Thankfully, getting there may not be as difficult this year.
Amtrak announced that it plans to ease travel with a higher capacity and more trains.
It is adding more cars for travel in the Midwest including rail routes between Michigan and Illinois. In fact, it will operate every available passenger railcar in its fleet to make sure the most people possible will be able to travel between the two largest metropolitan areas in the Midwest and arrive in time for turkey.
Tickets will go quickly. To make sure you get yours book early. Click here to get your ticket.
To try and keep travel less hectic, Chicago Union Station has updated its boarding process. Updates include:
- A new Metropolitan Lounge for business travelers. It’s 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.
- Coach class customers on reserved trains can receive priority boarding by buying Legacy Club access. Other coach customers, who will be boarded in the order they check in, 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 set aside for the assisted boarding of customers age 62 and over, those with disabilities, families traveling with children 12 and under, and active duty military personnel.
Here are so tips to make your enjoyable:
- Purchasing tickets: eTicketing is available on every train route throughout the nation. Travelers may purchase tickets early using 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. Customers carrying multiple bags should use the elevator whenever possible for safety and convenience during the holiday rush.
- 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: Get there at least 45 minutes if you are 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, as 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 fast(er) track to turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy can help keep the holiday stress down and give everyone time for another slice of pie.