Amtrak institute new boarding procedures for coach passengers at Chicago Union Station last month.
Once passengers have checked in and received a boarding pass, they will be directed to the appropriate boarding area to wait for their train.
In a service advisory, Amtrak said “the earlier you check in, the earlier you’ll be in the boarding process. If you don’t check in, you’ll be among the last to board.”
The check-in procedure will not apply to Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains because they are unreserved.
Boarding will begin about a half-hour before departure and passengers will board with their assigned group much in the same way that Southwest Airlines handles boarding of its planes.
According to the service advisory, general boarding for passengers traveling in coach class will take place in the Great Hall where there will be signs directing passengers to the location of their assigned group.
Passengers may purchase a $20 priority boarding pass for the Legacy Club, making them the first coach class group to board. Uniformed military personnel can enjoy the Legacy Club free of charge.
Seniors age 62 and over, customers with disabilities, families with children 12 and under, and non-uniformed active duty military personnel can board with assistance from the south boarding lounge, ahead of general boarding.
Passengers in sleeping car or business Class, or are a Select Plus or a Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards member will not need a boarding pass. They will board from the Metropolitan Lounge and continue to receive advance boarding.
Amtrak advised that passengers should be at Chicago Union Station no later than 45 minutes before departure and 60 minutes if assistance is needed with ticketing, baggage, pets, bikes or other services. Boarding gates will close five minutes before train departure time.