Amtrak braces for its busiest travel week of the year

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HARRISBURG, Pa. --- Philadelphia resident Juanita Outlaw’s preferred method of travel is on the tracks.

She said an airplane at 30,000 is out of her element.

“I wouldn’t be caught dead in the airport, are you kidding me? Sitting there, trapped in a metal tube? No, no. At least here, I can escape, I can get out, I can jump off somewhere,” said Outlaw.

For 15 years, she said she has traveled Amtrak on business trips to Harrisburg from Philly.

Every year, she said she has the same trip during the week of Thanksgiving.

“Any other time, it’s pretty cool, Amtrak is great but this time of year...I’ve done some bad things in a previous life, obviously, so this is payback,” said Outlaw.

Christina Leeds, a spokesperson for Amtrak, said Thanksgiving week is the railway’s busiest time of the year.

Last year, she said roughly 770,000 passengers took Amtrak during this week, including 10,000 from the Harrisburg station, and they expect more of the same this year.

She said it’s a time they prepare for months in advance.

“We are making sure that we have all of our stations prepared and ready, our trains ready to go, we’ve added extra cars where we can, [more] capacity,” said Leeds.

The best advice: get to the train early as Leed said Amtrak recommends at least 45 minutes before departure.

“That way it gives you time to check in, make sure your tickets ok and that there’s no issues here,” said Leeds.

As for Outlaw, she says passengers should get to the station two hours early to spare yourself from potential pain.

“Son’t do it to yourself. You don’t want to be stressed, you don’t want to stand in that long, ungodly line just to get a seat. I pray for those in coach. Those in business ain’t much better,” said Outlaw.

Leeds said Amtrak has added one extra car to the Pennsylvanian, giving it a two total extra cars this week, which is approximately 150 extra seats.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Leeds said, is the single busiest day of the year for Amtrak.

She said there are still tickets available but should be purchased as soon as possible.

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