In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, America’s Railroad® is prepared to accommodate the surge of holiday travelers with additional capacity on several routes in the Midwest. Extra trains will operate to and from downstate Illinois and Michigan and Amtrak will also operate every available passenger railcar in its fleet.
Tickets sell out quickly so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early for availability and pricing. Amtrak Lincoln Service and Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg trains are operated under a contract with the Illinois Department of Transportation and all Amtrak services in Michigan are under a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation. Schedules for the extra trains are attached.
Amtrak is working to provide a hassle-free travel experience while connecting customers with friends and family. Improvements to the boarding process have been made at Chicago Union Station in time for Thanksgiving travel, including:
- Business class travelers on these trains 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, 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.
These additional tips will help to ensure a smooth trip:
Purchasing 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: Amtrak has the friendliest baggage policy in the travel industry. Passengers can bring two bags and two carry-ons, up to 150 pounds collectively, for free! We encourage customers who are carrying multiple bags to 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: 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 a helpful, 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.