Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

Discounts

Do you offer senior citizen, Alaska resident, or U.S. military discounts?
Yes. We offer discounts for Alaskans and have occasional special offers throughout the year. The U.S. military are eligible for special offers for the locals during the spring and fall shoulder season. Check out our "deals for Alaskans" page. Senior citizens (age 65+) may travel at discounted rates on the winter Aurora train.

Do you offer special incentives for Travel Agents?
Yes, we offer 10% commission on rails, hotels, and tours booked with us. If you are not already set up in our system to book, call 800-544-0552 and any reservation agent can assist you with getting set up to book. Our webinar in the travel trade section has more information.

Do you offer special rates for Groups traveling together?
Yes, please visit our Groups page for more information.

Purchasing Tickets

Does seating in the dome cost more?
Seating in the GoldStar luxury dome cars ranges from $85 - $110 more than than the Adventure Class seating. The seating in the Vista dome cars is unassigned, open to all Adventure Class passengers, and is not pre-sold.

Can I call to book and hold a reservation and then come to the depot or wait until date of travel to pay?
If booking 36 or more days prior to travel, passengers have 72 hours to make full payment. If booking 35 or less days prior to travel, passengers must pay for the reservation in full at the time of booking.

What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. For bookings made more than five weeks in advance, we also accept checks received within 72 hours of booking. Of course, you can also pay by cash at any of our staffed ticket windows in our depots.

I have an 11 month old baby. Will she be charged for the train ride?
Children under two years old ride for free if traveling on an adult's lap. If you wish to have a seat for them, you will need to purchase a seat at the child rate. Car seats are not required onboard our trains.

Note: For online booking, to enter a lap-child you do not enter the child as a passenger, but use the special options on the passenger names screen to list the child's information.

I've noticed that there's a dome car on the Coastal Classic Train to Seward, can I reserve a seat on the dome car for the train ride?
Yes, you can reserve a seat in the new double-deck dome car, featuring GoldStar Service. The Coastal Classic train also has an older vista dome car that is shared by all passengers on the train. Passengers cannot reserve a seat in the vista dome, but are welcome to use it as a viewing area for about 20 minutes at a time. Our onboard tour guides help to ensure all interested passengers have a chance to sit in the dome at some point. There is quite a difference between the older vista dome car and the new double-deck dome car. The GoldStar cars are definitely the best cars on the railroad.

Checking In

After booking a reservation online or over the phone, what do I need to bring to the depot at time of check in?
It is best to bring your online confirmation printout or the itinerary if you booked over the phone. If you do not have either, bring your booking confirmation number. Those 18 and older also need a government-issued photo ID at check in.

If we received tickets by mail, or picked them up at the depot ahead of time, do we still need to check in?
Yes. Passengers still need to check in for their train trip at least an hour prior to departure. We need to check the identification of everyone over 18 years and issue boarding passes.

Is it really necessary to check-in for the train an hour early?
Yes. Just like the airlines, we are regulated by the TSA. Passengers are required to check-in at the ticket window and show a government issued photo ID (for those age 18 and older) to receive boarding passes. If you have luggage, it must be checked through to your destination.

We require passengers to check-in at the ticket counter no later than one hour early at the Anchorage and Fairbanks depots, and 30-45 minutes at Talkeetna, Seward or Denali. At depots, boarding for all trains occurs 20-30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.

If departing from a location with no ticket window (Portage, Whittier, Girdwood, Wasilla), passengers are required to be there 15 minutes prior to departure to wait for the train to pull up. At these depots the check-in will be with the conductor on the train. Reservations and seat assignments may be altered if passengers and baggage are not checked in 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

How much luggage can I bring?
Each passenger may check two pieces of luggage, no more than 50 pounds each, and may carry one additional piece on board. Up to two additional bags per passenger may be checked for an extra fee. Bags of an odd shape, bicycles, strollers and pet kennels can be checked for an additional fee as well. Read more on our baggage policy >>.

What happens to my luggage when I'm traveling on a multi-day package?
Passengers that have booked a package with us can expect to have their luggage transferred to and from the rail depots and hotels whenever the hotel provides a shuttle service. Even if you are scheduled to take a tour upon arrival to a depot, the hotel will usually meet the train to transfer your luggage to the hotel while you go on the tour. There are definitely exceptions, especially with hotels that do not offer a shuttle service, so please inquire at the time of booking.

Inside the Train

What types of cars will we be seated in?
Our passenger cars have comfortable, forward-facing, semi-reclining seats with large picture windows.

Do you have a glass top car?
Since 2005, the Alaska Railroad has new, luxurious dome cars on the Denali Star train. Denali Star guests may opt to upgrade to the first-class GoldStar Service. The upper level seating in the luxury dome is exclusive for those who pay for the upgrade. For the standard class seating, there are vista dome cars on the Coastal Classic and Denali Star. The upper level seating in the vista domes is unassigned and is open to all passengers on the train. We encourage everyone to take turns in the dome so that everyone has an opportunity to spend some time there.

What is the difference between the Adventure and GoldStar service?
Adventure class passengers are seated on the first level of the train. They have access to a vista dome car, but there is no assigned seating in that dome. Passengers may visit the vista dome car for about 20 minutes at a time, to allow other passengers to sit in the dome. Adventure class passengers may walk through all of the Adventure cars, but may not enter the GoldStar dome.
 
Passengers that purchase the GoldStar upgrade receive priority check-in at select depots and are seated on the second level of our two-story fully-domed car. GoldStar passengers will ride in the newest and most luxurious, double-decked dome cars on the train. These cars are positioned near the front of the train with the best views from the upper level outdoor viewing platform.

This is the only railcar ever built with an upper level outdoor deck. GoldStar passengers receive complimentary non-alcoholic beverages throughout the trip, and may purchase beer, wine and spirits at the private bar located on the upper level of the GoldStar car. GoldStar passengers also have access to an open air, glass-roofed, viewing deck on the upper level to the rear of the car, and have priority seating in the dining car which is located directly below them on the first level. GoldStar passengers may walk through all of the Alaska Railroad cars and have access to the Adventure class dining area.
Learn more about GoldStar >>

Is there a car on the train that's reserved for the kids to take a nap while onboard?
No, there is no designated napping area on our trains; however, our seats do recline enough to accommodate relaxation.

I'm going to Seward to take a day cruise. Can I bring a stroller for my child on the train and on the day cruise?
Yes, you may bring a stroller on the train, however, it must fold up if it is your carry-on, or it needs to be checked as luggage. For safety, strollers may not be used while onboard the train or onboard a day cruise boat.

Are the trains wheelchair accessible?
We are pleased to provide wheelchair lifts at all stations. Accessibility on other connecting modes of transport can vary, so please check with an agent for details. Alaska Railroad’s passenger trains are wheelchair accessible and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Service animals are welcome aboard.

Can I bring my dog or cat with me?
Yes, however pets are only permitted onboard in the baggage car, and must be in an airline-approved kennel.

At Spencer, kennels may be left next to the train upon disembarkation and picked up upon your return.

Please note that some hotels throughout Alaska do not accept pets.

At the Depots

Do you hold luggage or are there lockers at the depots for luggage storage?
No. We are unable to hold luggage for passengers, either overnight or for just a few hours. We do not have lockers at any of our depots. Passengers may check their luggage only after checking in at a ticket counter. Passengers disembarking from a cruise ship, and departing on the train from Seward later in the day, may check luggage in early at the Seward depot.

Is there a smoking area, or designated smoking car, onboard the train?
No. Smoking is not permitted on any Alaska Railroad train. Passengers may smoke in designated smoking areas outside the depots prior to boarding the train. Passengers traveling on board the Denali Star may disembark for a few minutes at the Talkeetna and/or Denali depots while we board new passengers. There are no such stops on the Coastal Classic or Glacier Discovery trains.

Can I park my car at the depots?
Yes. There are public parking lots, which charge various fees, in Anchorage across the street from our depot, in Seward near the small boat harbor, in Whittier near where our train departs, and in downtown Talkeetna. Parking is available for no additional charge at our Fairbanks and Girdwood depots, at Portage, and in Denali at the National Park Service Visitor Access Center.

Getting to/from Depots

Do you provide transfers to and from the train depots?
No, the Alaska Railroad does not provide any transfers. Taxis are available in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and the majority of hotels we book do provide transfers to and from the depot and sometimes the airport as well. Onboard staff will call ahead for you to notify your hotels that you are arriving by train and to send a shuttle if possible. However, you should not rely 100% on hotel shuttles as they are limited in supply and there can be delays during busy times of the day. Taxis are readily available and may be your fastest option.

How far is the airport from the train station in Anchorage?

15-20 minutes

Can I take a train from the Downtown Anchorage Depot to the Airport Depot?
No, at this time, there is no scheduled train service connecting the Depot in downtown Anchorage to the Anchorage Airport Depot.
Taxis are readily available and can take you to the airport. You might also check with your hotel to see if they offer a shuttle service.

In Fairbanks is there taxi service?
Yes

Can I rent a car at your stations?

No, there are no car rental facilities at the depots. If you are renting a car - you might check to see if they have a shuttle available.

How far is the cruise ship dock from the train station in Seward?

Approximately 1 mile and no more than a 5 minute drive

How far is it from the train depot to the cruise ship dock in Whittier? In Seward?
There is no actual depot building in Whittier; the Glacier Discovery stops just across the street from the large cruise ship dock in Whittier, and a 5-minute level walk from the small boat harbor. The Coastal Classic stops at our Seward depot, which is a 1/2 mile short taxi ride to the large cruise ship dock, with a curbed and guttered sidewalk available should you decide to walk, and a short walk to the small boat harbor.

Riding the Rails

Where does the Alaska Railroad travel?
Our track covers over 500 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Anchorage to Seward and Anchorage to Whittier.

When will I see animals from the train?
The types of animals you might see will vary depending on which train you ride. Your onboard tour guide will be able to tell you the best places to watch for wildlife.

What kind of clothing should we bring?
Dressing in layers will help you prepare for Alaska's weather changes. Temperatures average around 65 degrees during the summer months.

Are there electrical outlets on board for passenger use?
Yes, we do have outlets available at a few seats for medical use only. Please request such seating at the time of booking.

Can I get off and on the train along the way whenever I want to?
No. Like traveling on an airline, when you purchase a train ticket, it is for a specific date and route. For example, you may not get off the train in Denali if you have purchased a ticket from Anchorage to Fairbanks. You would need to purchase a ticket for Anchorage to Denali, then a second ticket for Denali to Fairbanks. Specifically, our trains only stop at depots long enough to board and alight passengers, so you would need to spend one or more nights at that location and re-board the train a different day.

On the Aurora Winter Train, does the train go to Chena Hot Springs Resort?

No, the Aurora winter train concludes travel at our depot in Fairbanks. The Chena Hot Springs Resort does offer a shuttle to their property 60 miles to the north.

Which train route is more scenic, the Coastal Classic, Glacier Discovery or Denali Star?
All of our trains are scenic trains, traveling at a speed that allows for picture-taking, dining at leisure and strolling amongst the train cars. Many consider the Costal Classical train as the most scenic. It travels along Turnagain Arm, through the Chugach National Forest past glaciers, mountain lakes, rivers, canyons and through prime black bear and moose habitat.

The Glacier Discovery also travels along Turnagain Arm, and those traveling onto Grandview will also travel through some of the same rail as the Coastal Classic. If you are short on time and want to see the best scenery of the entire railbelt, try the tour to Grandview on the Glacier Discovery Train.

For those wanting to view Denali and the Alaska Range, the Denali Star is the train to ride. It also travels through varied habitats and landscapes from the coastal regions of South Central to the Interior and its permafrost and Black spruce forests.

What is there to do in Whittier while waiting for the Glacier Discovery train to depart at 6:45pm?
We can book a variety of day cruises for you that depart Whittier and travel through Prince William Sound to view tidewater glaciers. You will depart around lunch time (lunch provided on the cruise), and return just before the train departs for Anchorage at 6:45pm.

Passengers can also ride the scenic Glacier Discovery train to Grandview, leaving Whittier at 12:20pm and arriving in Anchorage at 6:45pm. You will traverse the most scenic part of our rail through the Chugach National Forest by glaciers, mountain lakes and canyons.

Upon return from Grandview, passengers transfer to a luxury motorcoach at Portage for a scenic ride along Turnagain Arm to Anchorage, arriving at the downtown depot at 6:45PM.

Is there an earlier train from Whittier or Seward to Anchorage? Is there a later train to Seward?
No. Both the Glacier Discovery and Coastal Classic trains make one round trip daily from Anchorage. Their schedules accommodate passengers booked onto a day cruise in either Prince William Sound to see glaciers, or Resurrection Bay to view wildlife. Passengers disembarking from a cruise ship or the Alaska Marine Highway in either port can also book the day cruises or other tours with us when booking their rail.

Can I get from Whittier to Seward, or Seward to Whittier, directly?

No. Travel between Whittier and Seward or Seward and Whittier occurs on two different trains. To do so you need to connect to the other train by spending a night in either Girdwood or Anchorage. Our Passenger Service Agents can book a hotel for you when you book the rail.

Can I take a train from Seattle or Vancouver to Alaska?
No. At this time there is no connecting rail between Canada or the Lower 48 and Alaska. The Alaska Railroad travels between Fairbanks and Anchorage, Seward and Anchorage, and Whittier and Anchorage. Passengers wishing to connect to our rail in Whittier or Seward should contact the Alaska Marine Highway for ferry service from Bellingham, WA or Prince Rupert, BC. Those wishing to connect to our rail in Anchorage or Fairbanks should contact an airline.