Amtrak's treatment of elderly passengers

276 of 321 Amtrak reviews

Update added by user Dec 17, 2011

Don\'t post complaints to this site as you cannot remove them. There is no way to remove previous posts at all!!!! The company gave us back the cat and this site sucks

Original review posted by user Jan 03, 2011

When my 75 year old grandmother, Alexandra, bought tickets to travel by Amtrak from Washington to Montreal she never thought that this trip would became a nightmare and would cost her her only companion: her cat Mimi. She diligently choose Amtrak over flying as she thought it would turn out as a better experience for her beloved pet. Unfortunately for her, she did not know about Amtrak's "only service animals policy". For an elderly person that speaks only Russian, it is not hard to miss the small print when there are no obvious signs around the train station indicating that pets are not welcome. In fact, she assumed that it was fine to travel with a cat as long as it is caged as she was given reason to believe so during her first part of the trip. Alexandra had boarded the Washington, D.C. to New -York with her pet clearly visible and safely caged. Not only did the staff appear not to object to her having brought a cat, but some even smiled at it thus encouraging the belief that pets were allowed on board. Had some of the staff objected, it would have been possible at this point for her to cancel the ride and find a better method of travel that would not take away her companion away from her by force.

Nevertheless, she had traveled from Washington D. C. to New York without any staff showing objection. However, when she tried to board a train at Penn Station in New-York to continue her trip, she was approached by Penn Station employees who demanded that she her to gave up the cat or she would not be allowed to travel. She was spoken rudely and brought to tears. Abandoning a trip was not an option for her as she was alone in a foreign country and did not know the language. As you can probably imagine, such an experience is traumatic to an elderly person. Perhaps the most outrageous part of this story is that Amtrak provided Alexandra a French translator to "help" her. If you compare French to Russian, you will notice that the two languages are too distinct from one another and that even if Alexandra speaks a work of French, this "help" would have been more detrimental to her case than anything else. Then, to further distress this elderly lady, the staff confiscated the papers showing Alexandra as the legal owner of the cat without her consent. The poor and terrified woman was forced to abandon her cat without having been even given a chance to figure out what action to take. The Amtrak staff didn't even have the courtesy to bother and provide her with a phone to call her English speaking daughter for help. After the traumatic experience occurred, Alexandra had to beg until a kind stranger stranger offer her a phone to call her relatives. She was then able to ask her daughter (who was at the time in Raleigh, North Carolina) to inquire about her cat. After 2 hours on the phone and multiple inquiries the daughter was finally able to talk to the manager, "Anne" who told her that she have to get to New-York within 1 hour or cat would be disposed of. Please tell me if there is a way to get from North Carolina to New York in two hours on such a short notice, for the only way that I can think of is with a private jet. I can assure you, however, that my garage does not have any such jets in it. By the looks of it, I do not think any of my neighbors do either.

Ignoring the fact that the staff was excessively rude and condescending during the whole ordeal, it is obvious that these Amtrak representatives were responsible for the escalation of this event as they led Alexandra board and travel in the first train without incident. Furthermore, not only did they forcefully took away a dear pet from an innocent elderly lady, but neither did they provide a realistic way for the pet to be recuperated by relative. When asked if it would be possible to pick up the cat the next morning (in just enough time for us to travel there), Annie Giminez rudely told us just to forget about the animal and then hung up. When we called again, she said she gave it to animal control, so we called animal control and they confirmed us that they didn't have the cat. Then, a call later, talking through customer representative, the manager said she didn't know where the cat was and where she gave it to.

Alexandra is still in shock about the event and this has caused her health concerns. We spent whole Christmas and New-Year vacation trying to locate Mimi. Unfortunately, we failed.

This is how Amtrak treats its elderly passengers and confiscates private property.

This review is a subjective opinion of a user.
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Monetary loss:
$200
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Anonymous

Oct 24, 2015 #1052988

Oh my goodness! I have never been so shocked or heard of such cruelty to an elderly person in my life! It makes you wonder if some people even have a soul. I'm so sorry that she had to go through that!

0 0 Reply
Zob

Jan 01, 2013 #588089 Woburn, Massachusetts, United States

Why is it that some people just plain do not want to accept personal responsibility for their ownstupid actions? For someone to take an animal on a train without checking first -- assuming that this is true -- is just plain irresponsible and ***, I don't care how old or young they are. Amtrak personnel can't be responsible for any diseases that animals might carry to other passengers, or allergies that they might cause to others on the train. This is idiotic. And I say this as both a regular train passenger AND as a cat lover.

7 4 Reply
Annienonymous

Nov 23, 2012 #572982

Actually, any business can ask if a dog is indeed a service dog and what it is trained to do for its disabled partner. They are not allowed to ask about the person's disability or for any paperwork or certification etc.

Only dogs can be service animals - new ADA regulations.

As for Amtrak, I have found the reservation people to be rude and obnoxious and very ignorant about service animals.

Whenever we travel Amtrak, they ask for information they are not entitled to and make a fuss about whether or not the dog is "really" a service animal. The service personnel on the trains have always been super however. It the reservationists I take issue with. They need a LOT of training in how to work with disabled customers and how to have a civil conversation. If it weren't so pathetic, their arrogance would be funny. Most reservationists, I have dealt with are completely clueless about service animals.

2 0 Reply
Ali Alfares

Nov 28, 2011 #382070

Amazing story...and your reaction to bring the cat back to your grandmother was beyond of imagination and genius..
you didn`t only get the cat back.. but you brought happiness and joy to your family with your thought and your ideas.
All the credit for you..

0 0 Reply
Jacob Connorsworth

Jun 27, 2011 #305134

This review is obviously fake because i went through a similar thing with my cat, Jackie. I went from Atlanta to Chicago on the Crescent, then the Capitol Limited. In Atlanta, i was informed that pets cannot travel in passenger spaces, I then asked if Jackie could travel in the luggage hold. "Sure, why not"? i was told. In Washington D.C. I tried to board the Capitol limited, I had a coach seat again, i was told that pets can not travel in passenger spaces. I, after doing a small amount of research already knew that the Superliner cars had a separate baggage rack for carry-ons. I asked if I could put Jackie there and was told yes. This story is obviously an outright fabrication

0 0 Reply
Fired from amtrak for reportin

Jun 10, 2011 #296782

Um,
one: Ive had customers that speak no english at all
two: Ive had manager, coworkers, and family of coworkers all come onboard with pets
three: they do kick people/pets off the train
four: I asked for a spanish translator ON the train!! for a group once, and was told by the only girl fluent in spanish that she was off the clock in 5 minutes and didnt feel like getting involved. Um, hello, where was she gonna go, to her seat? you couldnt just stay and translate something real quick?


My coworkers were glorious enough once to call the cops on a woman passed out in the dining car. turns out she wasnt drunk, she was in diabetic shock and had been trying to get food in her system! they tried to have her arrested for disorderly conduct! Amtrak maybe have SOME good employees, but the track record for treatment of customers (AND EMPLOYEES) sucks


Dawn and jess, you are taking things a bit far, some of the employees there are GOOD CARING PEOPLE
we just tend to get fired for doing the right thing

0 0 Reply
Amtrak Employee

Apr 14, 2011 #273853

I read and responded to this complaint, but was curious as to the outcome, and have since done some followup research on same.
This cat was in fact given to a private citizen who took it home to Long island where it was cared for.
The cat was in fact enventually reunited with the owner several months ago, by our own *** Amtrak spokesman in a small ceremony in penn station. Amtrak has not no will not apologize for the incident for a number of reasons (shared blame,poor behavour by member of management, fear of litigation, etc.)
But ultimately it was a happy ending for the cat and the owner.
Not whithstanding the facts that the whole thing could have been avoided had the passenger followed the posted rules, that the initial employees upon first boarding had made the above clear to the passenger, and the manager that behaved in a shamefull manner in NYP had been better at resolving the issue.
I might add, that yes, this incident has been well covered by the media, and is very easily confirmed. Shame on EVERYONE concerned, except the unknowing innocent cat.

1 0 Reply
Amtrak employee

Apr 10, 2011 #272252

Sorry to admit this, but I am aware of the incident, as a midlevel manager on the NEC I can assure you that at least part of this story is correct.
But the greater blame in fact does remain with the passenger and her family for not doing the proper research before travel.
It is a fact that the cat was on board until the change to #68/69 at Penn station, and the cat was some how 'lost' in the process. it would have been confiscated at the border in any case, and likely the owner removed from the train as well, which in hind sight may have saved the cats' life, But, I cannot confirm that portion of the story that relates to the actions or conversations of the NY Penn employees. A one or two hour window offered to pick up the cat by relatives makes this portion of the story suspect. Admittedly we do have some pretty *** poor employees, but I know of none that would intentionally doom a pet in that manner.Had I known about it as it was taking place, I personally would have gone to NYP to retreive this pet and taken back to the originating station for pick up by family. so my guess is the context is accurate, but details of the story have been changed or embelished. Either way....one lost/dead cat.

0 0 Reply
BadIronBob!!!

Mar 04, 2011 #256727

Sorry, doesn't pass the smell test...Dawn, hot flash for you, oh never mind, I don't have the time and you, well, sadly, you obviously don't a mind. 8)

0 1 Reply
Anonymous

Oct 24, 2015 #1052991

Bad Iron Bob.......I'm sorry to hear that you can't smell.

1 0 Reply
yeahOK

Feb 17, 2011 #250280

This story is a total fabrication. Amtrak is all about customer service, and would not treat any passenger this way. The old lady should have done some research before traveling, or at least the family should have, if the lady could not read or speak english. Amtrak does not allow PETS, But will allow service animals. It is against the law for an employee to ask a customer if the animal is a service animal. They can however ask if it is a pet, smile and answer NO and you and your beloved animal companion are on your way, NO PROBLEM.

0 0 Reply
Anon

Feb 14, 2013 #609129

They CAN ask what service the animal provides you. The ADA laws does permit someone to verify the service of the animal in question. And honestly, even if you do *** your way on the train with a pet, do you really want to be faced with being put off mid-way because your mutt can't stop barking (Amtrak does have the right to put unbehaving service animals off the train.)

0 1 Reply
Not Believable

Jan 24, 2011 #239625

The story about the 75 year old lady is just not believable. No one in their right mind would put a unilingual Russian senior on a train without any support system e.g. a cell phone. Also, if the make believe cat was so important then any decent child of the senior would check and make sure all is okay to carry a cat. Lastly, the pretend cat would not have been allowed into Canada without a lot of paperwork. Someone, somewhere has way to much time on their hands to make up such a story.

0 0 Reply
Picabo

Jan 13, 2011 #235625

Why would someone let their 75yr old grandmother travel by herself without being able to speak English and without even a phone. This story sounds completely fake. Amtrak isn't going to kill someone's cat.

My husband and I just used Amtrak and had a great experience and we will do it again.

0 0 Reply
nerdlinger

Jan 03, 2011 #231464 Kholargos, Attica, Greece

Jessica/Dawn... how do you know that this rant is genuine, and not fake bogus??
Story is too full of nonsense i.e. outright lies/
The one 100% to blame is the **75 year old grandmother who speaks only Russian and NO ENGLISH!!!lol!!!!!100% fake/ bogus complaint by more than likelt ex-employee who got fired!!!!

0 1 Reply
Jessica

Jan 03, 2011 #231347

This literally made me cry, reading this!
This is absolutely the most horrid thing I have read!

F*** you, Amtrak. Even though I have never traveled with you, I will never, ever use you after reading this. :(

Anyone wants to know about Amtrak, I'll tell them this. That is *** and they should all lose their jobs.

1 0 Reply
Dawn

Jan 03, 2011 #231255

This is ***. Amtrak sucks. Pets are children to people with pets. Some pets have been with families for longer than some of our children. This is no different from Amtrak killing a family member, if Mimi is not found. What a gross display of no regard for human or animal life. I will NEVER use Amtrak, as well as my family. From this moment on I will be an advocate against using Amtrak. Consider me a walling talking billboard against you.

1 0 Reply
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