Can I bring a Leatherman on an Amtrak?
April 24, 2008 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Will I be able to take a pocketknife/Leatherman-style pocket tool on an Amtrak train, or will it be considered a weapon?
posted by box to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: it depends on whether security theater show is running at your station.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 11:55 AM on April 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'd guess you'll be able to do it as well. I've taken Amtrak from NY to DC a few times and even though there are signs up about their right to search your bag, etc I've never seen them actually search anyones.

Of course YMMV.
posted by jourman2 at 12:02 PM on April 24, 2008

I've done DC to NY Penn/NY Penn to DC at least 2 dozen times and have never seen any sort of bag search.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:03 PM on April 24, 2008

I've done the entire northeast corridor except Boston on Amtrak more times than I care to recollect, and I have never seen even so much as a question asked about a bag. People I have traveled with have carried Leathermans, box cutters and other tools and there's never been a problem. I've seen kids cut with scissors on the train. Amtrak pretty much doesn't care what you bring.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:26 PM on April 24, 2008

I've seen them carried on by passengers numerous times, with no security issues whatsoever. In fact, on a Seattle - Chicago train, when one conductor found a Leatherman on a seat, he just shrugged and pocketed it to take to Lost and Found.

However, the great exception are trains into Canada. There, you go through Customs, and at least out of Vancouver BC, your bags get screened by a metal detector. People have had their Leathermans 'confiscated' for the duration of their trip when they took Amtrak out of Vancouver, BC.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:28 PM on April 24, 2008

have a buddy that's a NJ state trooper and he once said Amtrak and the Greyhound are popular modes of transportation for folks running small amounts of drugs and/or guns because there is almost no baggage checks and you won't get searched as a result of being pulled over for speeding or running a stop sign
posted by Mr_Chips at 12:45 PM on April 24, 2008

I have never, ever been searched, metal-detected or even looked at with any degree of security screening at any Amtrak station on the west coast. I would doubt that there's extensive baggage screening either (I never check bags).
posted by pdb at 12:59 PM on April 24, 2008

That's pretty much what I figured, but it's great to see it confirmed. Thanks, everybody.

(And a very special thanks to Mr. Chips--maybe I'll bring those guns and drugs after all.)
posted by box at 4:05 PM on April 24, 2008

Totally off-topic, but I once experienced a "TSA pilot program" at the greyhound station in DC. Yup, TSA goons in full airport mode (well, minus the metal detector) bag searching ever single person on the bus to NY. I really, really hope that doesn't catch on.
posted by meta_eli at 4:23 PM on April 24, 2008

Milwaukee - Chicago route here (Hiawatha). What everyone else said - no bag searches. Hell, I keep a Leatherman mini in my purse.
posted by desjardins at 7:31 PM on April 24, 2008

I travel Amtrak pretty frequently on the NE Corridor and there are a lot of rumors going around about the TSA possibly starting to screen luggage at DC -- the full on airport-gestapo thing -- apparently because … well, nobody knows. (What, are you going to hijack a train? I saw that movie and it sucked.) But at least as of right now, well last week anyway, there wasn't anything.

They have always been pretty lassiez-faire; it'd be sad if that changed. Enjoy it while the sanity lasts. It'll just be the Chinatown/discount buses after Amtrak, if Greyhound has already sold out.

Re Mr_Chips' comment: An old SNL skit once called Amtrak "The only way to travel ... with weed" which makes me think this isn't totally uncommon.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:40 PM on April 24, 2008

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