Life Pro Tip: How To Skip The Infamous Penn Station Amtrak Line

When it comes to NYC, I have a 36 hour rule that I strictly abide to, since we all know what happens when I don’t. I went to the city this morning for a few meetings and a quick reminder as to why Upstate is superior, for example:

Anyways, I can’t say it was entirely an unproductive trip. I got some good work done, ate a delicious lunch, and best of all, learned how to skip the Amtrak line at Penn Station. 

Yep! I go to and fro New York City multiple times per month, almost always via Amtrak. Apart from the non-existing cupholders and my porn-watching seatmates, it’s usually a pleasant experience. However one thing that always rocks my boat is the 100+ person line that compiles inside of Penn Station before boarding the northbound train to Albany. Sometimes I just grab a tallboy and enjoy it, or sushi to guarantee nobody will sit next to me. However, today I received a LPT from an inside source that has completely changed the game, how to skip the line entirely.†

Of course there is fast pass and Amtrak credit cards and other ways to finagle yourself to the front of the line, but that requires preparation along with showing up early, which is not how I roll. I don’t think I’ve ever shown up more than 10 minutes before my train’s departure, it’s just not in my DNA. It’s also the reason I always get stiffed by the line resulting in a terrible choice of seating. But not any longer.

My inside source pointed out something that has been in plain sight the whole time. You know that giant display screen in front of the ticket booth that draws a crowd of tourists waiting for their train’s track announcement?

Yeah, that one, closer to the micro Dunkin. Underneath that screen is a lonely little elevator that I’ve never seen operated. Suspiciously mundane as if it’s a passage to Diagon Alley. I always assumed it was for handicap or employees and never gave it much thought.

I was told to disregard the line and take that elevator. I did so with some hesitation as I peered back at 100 people waiting to take the escalator down to board their way north. As I descended down I grew slightly nervous with just 9 minutes until my train’s departure, I didn’t have much room for error. I found myself on a new floor that I have never seen before, occupied by myself and about three other people. I thought for sure I was lost, but nope, I saw familiar signs. It’s simply another level with access to every platform at Amtrak. I strolled right on over to Track 5, took my own private escalator down one flight as I merged with what was the beginning of the schmuck line from upstairs. 

There I was on a fresh Amtrak car, with all the seating possibilities in the palm of my slightly sweaty hand. No sushi needed to get what I want (river side window seat). 

So if you’re like me and you chronically show up to your Amtrak rides last minute, give this LPT a shot. But make sure you know what track your train is on before you descend, or else your guess is as good as mine.†



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