Amtrak imposing excess bag fees

Amtrak imposing excess bag fees

Move over airlines: Amtrak is going to start charging passengers for excessive baggage too, beginning on Oct. 1.  

The company says passengers will still be able to check up to two bags for free, but they will now have to pay $20 per bag for each additional piece of luggage.  

Amtrak has moved to differentiate itself from airlines, who - with the exception of Southwest Airlines - charge passengers for even one piece of checked luggage. 

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"Amtrak has one of largest allowances for free carry-on and checked baggage in the travel industry." the company said in a fact sheet that was provided to The Hill. "That is unchanged." 

The company said it is implementing the excess baggage fee because ridership is increasing on its trains. 

"In 2014, 31 million passengers traveled across a 21,000-mile national network," Amtrak said. "This growing business means the amount of space available for luggage on Amtrak trains is limited." 

Passenger advocacy groups cast a weary eye on the announcement, arguing that the ability to check bags for free is one of the things that makes train travel appealing to people who are unhappy with airline charges. 

"This week, Amtrak announced a new baggage policy for rail passengers at a time when travelers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the rising costs of excessive and burdensome airline fees," Travelers Voice said in a statement. 

"Providing safe haven from the airlines' lack of customer concerns has always made Amtrak an appealing option for travelers," the statement continued. "We hope that Amtrak will put travelers first when considering any additional changes in their carriage policies, while maintaining an honest and transparent baggage policy with customers going forward."