[cdt-l] Prohibited items on Amtrak

Bob Bankhead wandering_bob at comcast.net
Tue May 29 18:40:31 CDT 2007

I've traveled with my pack several times on Amtrak. I always keep it with me; I never check it. I've never been questioned about its contents, which routinely included stove fuel (esbit tablets), matches, lighters, and other such things. My hiking poles (with the tips shielded) were visibly strapped to the outside. I've never tried to carry an ice axe aboard. If I needed to, I'd wrap the head in something and strap it to my pack so nothing pointy is visible, or stuff everything in a duffle.

I once asked an Amtrak Conductor why they didn't have security screening procedures similar to airports. His extremely logical reply was "Where would you go with the train if you did hijack it? It can't leave the rails, so everyone knows where you are minute by minute." 

When you make your Amtrak reservation, request LOWER LEVEL COACH - same price as upper level coach, but has its own separate baggage storage inside the lower level compartment. Also more private, no through traffic, quieter (no kids) and close to the bathrooms. It's normally reserved for older (over 60) and/or handicapped passengers who might have trouble negotiating the stairs to the upper level and/or car-to-car travel (to the dining car). Holds about 16 passengers. Has its own dedicated cabin attendant.

Compressed gas fuel canisters, matches, and lighters are not allowed on US airlines, neither in checked or carry-on baggage, so you'll probably still have to get those upon arrival in the USA. Ice axes strapped to packs in checked baggage are OK as long as they are padded or otherwise shielded to protect baggage handlers. Stoves must be empty. Knives and scissors must be in checked baggage; never carried. Wise are they who put their pack inside a cheap duffle bag of some sort, especially before checking it when traveling by air. Out of sight = out of mind = fewer reasons for somebody to complain.

The TSA people are there to follow the procedures outlined in their handbooks; they are not your friend. Most are reasonable folks, but every so often, you meet one on a power trip who interprets the rules his own way.........simply because they can. You can miss your flight "debating" with them, even if you eventually get a TSA Supervisor to agree with you.

Wandering Bob
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