Jump to content




Booking from overseas


24 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Carmy_*

Guest_Carmy_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 March 2017 - 04:08 PM

Hi,

 

I am wanting to travel from San Francisco to Boston then down to Washington, Philadelphia and ending in NYC.

 

My question is I can buy a rail pass, however, I live overseas and it says you need to book all your tickets separately. Should you call or can you email someone? 

 

Thanks in advance :).



#2 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 12 March 2017 - 09:32 PM

You should be able to do all that.  They only issue is that you will be required to pick up your tickets at a staffed Amtrak ticket/baggage office, and not all stations have them.  The one in San Francisco (SFC - the Temporary Transbay Terminal) is actually a bus station, but one with a ticket office and baggage service.  Amtrak doesn't have any actual train service in San Francisco, but has buses that will connect between the train stations in Emeryville or Oakland to the bus station in San Francisco.  There might also be a few other Amtrak buses that go through San Francisco, such as one to/from Santa Barbara.  If you meant Emeryville or Oakland as your starting point, then both have ticket/baggage windows.

 

The USA Rail Pass and the California Rail Pass may be some of the last of Amtrak's "live" tickets that can't be replaced.  Most travel on Amtrak these days is through electronic ticketing.  I have literally had four different forms of the same eTicket ready, and even then I could have theoretically just given a conductor my name to look up my reservation.  The tickets you get via a USA Rail Pass have to be presented and I don't think it's possible to replace them.  It might be possible to get a refund minus service fees if you lose them, but you would need to know the ticket number.

 

https://www.amtrak.com/about-tickets



#3 ScouseAndy

ScouseAndy

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 246 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Liverpool- UK

Posted 13 March 2017 - 12:28 AM

Hi

I booked a US rail pass thru a specialist travel agency based in the U.K. they also reserved all the trains for me, no mark up was applied to the ticket prices (although the exchange rate they used was slightly worse then the rate my bank would have used if I had booked direct via phone

#4 caravanman

caravanman

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,770 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nottingham, England.
  • Interests:Open minded travel, in which the journey is often as interesting as the destination...

Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:56 AM

Hi,

 

You buy your pass online, and state which staffed station you will pick it up from.

You will recieve an email with the railpass reference number.

You can book the individual train tickets via email, quoting the pass number : inat5@sales.amtrak.com

 

I think the tickets are either collected with the pass, or maybe these days they can be sent by email.

 

I found the "International email" folk to be very good, rail passes seem to be their area of expertise.

 

Do remember that each time you change trains or bus connections, it uses up a whole segment of the pass...

 

You can phone amtrak from abroad too, but I think an email makes for less accent problems. :D

 

Make Reservations: For travelers outside of the United States, send your name, desired travel date(s), your USA Rail Pass Confirmation Number and the train(s) on which you want to travel to inat5@sales.amtrak.com prior to arriving in the United States, or call (001) 215-856-7953 during regular business hours (Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm ET).

 

Ed.


Edited by caravanman, 13 March 2017 - 06:02 AM.


#5 Devil's Advocate

Devil's Advocate

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,517 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:SAS
  • Interests:Mechanized Travel

Posted 13 March 2017 - 08:19 AM

Hi,

 

You buy your pass online, and state which staffed station you will pick it up from.

You will recieve an email with the railpass reference number.

You can book the individual train tickets via email, quoting the pass number : inat5@sales.amtrak.com

 

I think the tickets are either collected with the pass, or maybe these days they can be sent by email.

 

I found the "International email" folk to be very good, rail passes seem to be their area of expertise.

 

Do remember that each time you change trains or bus connections, it uses up a whole segment of the pass...

 

You can phone amtrak from abroad too, but I think an email makes for less accent problems. :D

 

Make Reservations: For travelers outside of the United States, send your name, desired travel date(s), your USA Rail Pass Confirmation Number and the train(s) on which you want to travel to inat5@sales.amtrak.com prior to arriving in the United States, or call (001) 215-856-7953 during regular business hours (Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm ET).

 

Ed.

 

Top quality post there Ed. Thank you for your contribution.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 13 March 2017 - 08:20 AM.

I'd rather be a glass half empty than a glass half fool.


#6 Guest_Carmy_*

Guest_Carmy_*
  • Guests

Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:32 PM

Thanks everyone! I did see when you booked from San Francisco you had to take a bus to another stop which is okay.

 

However, when doing some investigation although it might be slightly more expensive I might just buy the tickets individually because it will take me more than 15 days with me getting off the train to do site seeing in different places. I'm heading over in April next year so will have buy them as soon as they become available so I can get the discounted prices.

 

Once you've booked your tickets I'm guessing you have to pick them up in person? 

 

I live in NZ and there is one travel agent / group that will book everything for you but at a cost of maybe $200 more then if you did it yourself! 



#7 caravanman

caravanman

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,770 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nottingham, England.
  • Interests:Open minded travel, in which the journey is often as interesting as the destination...

Posted 13 March 2017 - 03:53 PM

If you buy your tickets on amtrak.com, you can just print out the ticket at home.

 

I did use the railpass some years ago myself, but find the individual tickets to be more convenient nowadays.

 

You may find that by travelling on certain days, the fare will be cheaper, compared to next day... Amsnag is a site which allows you to compare fares over several days, but you can't book through them, it is just for information, you book at amtrak.com

 

Please feel free to ask anything if you need to know more.

 

Ed.



#8 Guest_Carmy_*

Guest_Carmy_*
  • Guests

Posted 13 March 2017 - 04:15 PM

If you buy your tickets on amtrak.com, you can just print out the ticket at home.

 

I did use the railpass some years ago myself, but find the individual tickets to be more convenient nowadays.

 

You may find that by travelling on certain days, the fare will be cheaper, compared to next day... Amsnag is a site which allows you to compare fares over several days, but you can't book through them, it is just for information, you book at amtrak.com

 

Please feel free to ask anything if you need to know more.

 

Ed.

 

Oh brilliant thanks :) I am travelling in April next year and looks like the plane tickets are bookable 11 months ahead like the train tickets so at least I can book all at the same time.

 

I've always wanted to go across country but it seems a lot more easy and relaxing by train!



#9 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:57 PM

Thanks everyone! I did see when you booked from San Francisco you had to take a bus to another stop which is okay.

 

However, when doing some investigation although it might be slightly more expensive I might just buy the tickets individually because it will take me more than 15 days with me getting off the train to do site seeing in different places. I'm heading over in April next year so will have buy them as soon as they become available so I can get the discounted prices.

 

Once you've booked your tickets I'm guessing you have to pick them up in person? 

 

I live in NZ and there is one travel agent / group that will book everything for you but at a cost of maybe $200 more then if you did it yourself! 

 

OK.  I know sometimes there's a tendency to refer to the entire San Francisco Bay Area as "San Francisco".  I tend to avoid saying the place I actually live because few people will have heard of it; I say I live "near San Francisco".  There was a big event last year (the Super Bowl) that was actually in Santa Clara, California, but common references to the event were that it was "in San Francisco".  I make no assumptions about how a travel agent might book your flight "to San Francisco".  There are three major airports in the area, and it wouldn't be unusual to take a flight to Los Angeles followed by a connecting flight to SFO (which isn't actually in San Francisco), Oakland, or San Jose.  Sometimes the fares are less with a connection vs nonstop.

 

The Rail Pass is more complex because the value is based on transportation segments and not an individual ticket value.  If you need a connecting bus, that bus ride counts as one segment regardless of what its cash value is.  The bus ride from any of Amtrak's San Francisco bus stops to Emeryville or Oakland is worth $6 for some routes, but typically adds $1 to a long-distance train fare.  I did a sample booking of San Francisco to Chicago for tomorrow - $216.  I then tried Emeryville to Chicago and got $215.  However, there's a quirk in California law (California subsidizes the bus service) that doesn't allow booking of the Amtrak bus trips without a corresponding rail segment, so you won't be able to book the bus segment separately.



#10 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 13 March 2017 - 06:05 PM

 

If you buy your tickets on amtrak.com, you can just print out the ticket at home.

 

I did use the railpass some years ago myself, but find the individual tickets to be more convenient nowadays.

 

You may find that by travelling on certain days, the fare will be cheaper, compared to next day... Amsnag is a site which allows you to compare fares over several days, but you can't book through them, it is just for information, you book at amtrak.com

 

Please feel free to ask anything if you need to know more.

 

Ed.

 

Oh brilliant thanks :) I am travelling in April next year and looks like the plane tickets are bookable 11 months ahead like the train tickets so at least I can book all at the same time.

 

I've always wanted to go across country but it seems a lot more easy and relaxing by train!

 

There are quirks to train travel, especially with Amtrak.  It might not be that relaxing, especially if you're considering sleeping in coach.  It's a big seat with tremendous legroom, but it's still sleeping in a seat and not a bed.  Sometimes the people around you can be annoying, but that's rare.  You can also freely move around the train - at least up to the dining car.  Occasionally bad things happen, such as "trespasser incidents" (a person or vehicle got run over by the train) and the train will be held up for an investigation.  More mundane delays arise because freight rail uses the same tracks (freight railroads own most of the tracks that Amtrak uses) and the freight railroads control the dispatch of trains.  The condition of Amtrak equipment may not necessarily be the best.

 

However, we love Amtrak despite all these issues.



#11 Guest_Carmy_*

Guest_Carmy_*
  • Guests

Posted 14 March 2017 - 02:55 PM

 

Thanks everyone! I did see when you booked from San Francisco you had to take a bus to another stop which is okay.

 

However, when doing some investigation although it might be slightly more expensive I might just buy the tickets individually because it will take me more than 15 days with me getting off the train to do site seeing in different places. I'm heading over in April next year so will have buy them as soon as they become available so I can get the discounted prices.

 

Once you've booked your tickets I'm guessing you have to pick them up in person? 

 

I live in NZ and there is one travel agent / group that will book everything for you but at a cost of maybe $200 more then if you did it yourself! 

 

OK.  I know sometimes there's a tendency to refer to the entire San Francisco Bay Area as "San Francisco".  I tend to avoid saying the place I actually live because few people will have heard of it; I say I live "near San Francisco".  There was a big event last year (the Super Bowl) that was actually in Santa Clara, California, but common references to the event were that it was "in San Francisco".  I make no assumptions about how a travel agent might book your flight "to San Francisco".  There are three major airports in the area, and it wouldn't be unusual to take a flight to Los Angeles followed by a connecting flight to SFO (which isn't actually in San Francisco), Oakland, or San Jose.  Sometimes the fares are less with a connection vs nonstop.

 

The Rail Pass is more complex because the value is based on transportation segments and not an individual ticket value.  If you need a connecting bus, that bus ride counts as one segment regardless of what its cash value is.  The bus ride from any of Amtrak's San Francisco bus stops to Emeryville or Oakland is worth $6 for some routes, but typically adds $1 to a long-distance train fare.  I did a sample booking of San Francisco to Chicago for tomorrow - $216.  I then tried Emeryville to Chicago and got $215.  However, there's a quirk in California law (California subsidizes the bus service) that doesn't allow booking of the Amtrak bus trips without a corresponding rail segment, so you won't be able to book the bus segment separately.

 

 

When booking air travel from NZ it's always the international airports if flying directly to San Francisco. Some of the cheaper flights you have to go via LA but I'm not sure what airport you would then fly into.

 

Anyway, about prices I'm guessing its best to book in advance as soon as the tickets are available? Which is what I was intending to do. You can buy for mid Feb 2018 now so I'm guessing I wait 6-8 weeks I can book the tickets then for April? It's the same for my flights it's about a week behind the airlines in terms of booking times.



#12 Tennessee Traveler

Tennessee Traveler

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 903 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Franklin, TN

Posted 14 March 2017 - 04:21 PM

If you are booking sleeper fares be aware that sometimes Amtrak starts with higher cost in the beginning and then reduces the sleeper costs after a month or so depending of reservations.  Using Amsnag, I usually book most of my tickets 6-9 months in advance and not 11 months.



#13 Devil's Advocate

Devil's Advocate

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,517 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:SAS
  • Interests:Mechanized Travel

Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:45 PM

When booking air travel from NZ it's always the international airports if flying directly to San Francisco. Some of the cheaper flights you have to go via LA but I'm not sure what airport you would then fly into.


SFO, OAK, and SJC are all international airports and any of them would work fine on their own or via LAX.

 

Anyway, about prices I'm guessing its best to book in advance as soon as the tickets are available? Which is what I was intending to do. You can buy for mid Feb 2018 now so I'm guessing I wait 6-8 weeks I can book the tickets then for April?


As a tourist the vast majority of your purchasing leverage comes from being flexible with your travel dates and destinations, rather than specific purchase windows, which is what a lot of people seem to focus on for some reason. I've purchased intercontinental flights as far as ten months to as little as ten days before departure. In my experience when you buy isn't nearly as important as when you travel.

I'd rather be a glass half empty than a glass half fool.


#14 chakk

chakk

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 15 March 2017 - 01:20 AM

You can save one of your segments for better use by NOT taking the Amtrak bus between Emeryville and central San Francisco, for example. Instead, use a city bus such as AC Transit, or Uber or Lyft. If you are coming to the San Francisco area from Southern California you could certain from the Coast Starlight at San Jose and take Caltrain to San Francisco or to Millbrae where you could board BART to get even closer than the Caltrain station to city center in San Francisco.

#15 ScouseAndy

ScouseAndy

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 246 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Liverpool- UK

Posted 15 March 2017 - 01:54 AM

You can save one of your segments for better use by NOT taking the Amtrak bus between Emeryville and central San Francisco, for example. Instead, use a city bus such as AC Transit, or Uber or Lyft. If you are coming to the San Francisco area from Southern California you could certain from the Coast Starlight at San Jose and take Caltrain to San Francisco or to Millbrae where you could board BART to get even closer than the Caltrain station to city center in San Francisco.


I concur - I was on the SB CS and detrained at Oakland and took the ferry across the bay. It's a very scenic way to arrive in SF IMHO and the ferry terminal is walkable from Jack London Square

#16 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 15 March 2017 - 11:24 AM

You can save one of your segments for better use by NOT taking the Amtrak bus between Emeryville and central San Francisco, for example. Instead, use a city bus such as AC Transit, or Uber or Lyft. If you are coming to the San Francisco area from Southern California you could certain from the Coast Starlight at San Jose and take Caltrain to San Francisco or to Millbrae where you could board BART to get even closer than the Caltrain station to city center in San Francisco.

 

There's at least one way to more or less book just the Amtrak bus, if the idea is to avoid using a segment from the rail pass to perhaps save for a more expensive trip.  One is to book a short trip like SFC-EMY-BKY.  That's $11.50 before any discounts.  The schedule chosen could be earlier than the California Zephyr arrives.  Or one could use multi-city for the same price, and force the first segment to be bus #5006 and the train segment to be pretty much any time.  I tried a mix of 5006/538 and the price was listed as $11.50.  There was an odd breakdown of the price to $4.87 for the bus ride and $6.63 for the train from Emeryville to Berkeley.  Then of course you'd throw out the train ride.  There are a few other ways to do it too.



#17 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 15 March 2017 - 11:51 AM

 

When booking air travel from NZ it's always the international airports if flying directly to San Francisco. Some of the cheaper flights you have to go via LA but I'm not sure what airport you would then fly into.


SFO, OAK, and SJC are all international airports and any of them would work fine on their own or via LAX. 

 

Sure, all one really needs is a domestic connecting flight from another airport with service to the OP's originating airport.  A good travel agent would lay out the options, and sometimes one stop will result in a better price (or even a more convenient schedule) for any number of reasons.  I found the direct flights from Auckland to the US, and it looks like United goes to San Francisco, American to Los Angeles, Hawaiian to Honolulu, and Air New Zealand to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Houston.

 

I looked on Expedia for AKL-SFO flights, and I see at least 70 options.  Around the lowest price I see nonstop from Air New Zealand and United, Qantas one stop via Sydney, and numerous options through Los Angeles.  If don't see as many options for Auckland to Oakland, but the cheapest I see for the same day is Hawaiian Airlines through Honolulu.

 

It is a little different with a connecting flight when it comes to customs.  Customs inspections happen when one first lands in the United States, and then the baggage can be transferred to the connecting flight.  I think most international airports have transfer counters post-customs to handle that sort of thing.  Once my brother in law was in transit to Seattle via SFO returning from a business trip.  After he was finished with customs and baggage transfer, he had a few hours and was free to leave the airport and return for his connecting flight.  He bought us lunch; apparently he got per diem from his employer.



#18 caravanman

caravanman

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,770 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nottingham, England.
  • Interests:Open minded travel, in which the journey is often as interesting as the destination...

Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:04 PM

Hi,

 

Yes, the Amtrak fares are bookable 12 months in advance. I assume you will be in coach, as your original railpass idea would only be for coach seats. Sometimes there are "Saver" fares available, which shave a little off of the regular price. Dunno if they are available 12 months out, or just kick in nearer to the date, if particular date sales are slow...?

 

Ed.



#19 ScouseAndy

ScouseAndy

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 246 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Liverpool- UK

Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:17 PM

You can save one of your segments for better use by NOT taking the Amtrak bus between Emeryville and central San Francisco, for example. Instead, use a city bus such as AC Transit, or Uber or Lyft. If you are coming to the San Francisco area from Southern California you could certain from the Coast Starlight at San Jose and take Caltrain to San Francisco or to Millbrae where you could board BART to get even closer than the Caltrain station to city center in San Francisco.

 
There's at least one way to more or less book just the Amtrak bus, if the idea is to avoid using a segment from the rail pass to perhaps save for a more expensive trip.  One is to book a short trip like SFC-EMY-BKY.  That's $11.50 before any discounts.  The schedule chosen could be earlier than the California Zephyr arrives.  Or one could use multi-city for the same price, and force the first segment to be bus #5006 and the train segment to be pretty much any time.  I tried a mix of 5006/538 and the price was listed as $11.50.  There was an odd breakdown of the price to $4.87 for the bus ride and $6.63 for the train from Emeryville to Berkeley.  Then of course you'd throw out the train ride.  There are a few other ways to do it too.

I'd be very careful about this and would refer you to https://m.amtrak.com...ssible-bookings

Potential to have one booking or more cancelled with no notice if Amtrak can't contact you

#20 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:42 PM

 

 

You can save one of your segments for better use by NOT taking the Amtrak bus between Emeryville and central San Francisco, for example. Instead, use a city bus such as AC Transit, or Uber or Lyft. If you are coming to the San Francisco area from Southern California you could certain from the Coast Starlight at San Jose and take Caltrain to San Francisco or to Millbrae where you could board BART to get even closer than the Caltrain station to city center in San Francisco.

 
There's at least one way to more or less book just the Amtrak bus, if the idea is to avoid using a segment from the rail pass to perhaps save for a more expensive trip.  One is to book a short trip like SFC-EMY-BKY.  That's $11.50 before any discounts.  The schedule chosen could be earlier than the California Zephyr arrives.  Or one could use multi-city for the same price, and force the first segment to be bus #5006 and the train segment to be pretty much any time.  I tried a mix of 5006/538 and the price was listed as $11.50.  There was an odd breakdown of the price to $4.87 for the bus ride and $6.63 for the train from Emeryville to Berkeley.  Then of course you'd throw out the train ride.  There are a few other ways to do it too.

I'd be very careful about this and would refer you to https://m.amtrak.com...ssible-bookings

Potential to have one booking or more cancelled with no notice if Amtrak can't contact you

 

 

In that case, book SFC-EMY-RIC with cash (I see $15 for this Friday), then RIC-CHI with the rail pass segment.  Just show both tickets upon boarding the train in Emeryville, they'll scan both and you should be set without even having to leave the train.  Shouldn't be too much of an issue since it's not an impossible or duplicate booking.  You might even be able to get baggage by showing the complete set of tickets.  I'm pretty sure they're used to passengers doing this sort of thing given that a bus segment is considered a single rail pass segment.

 

It might be easier to just start the trip in Emeryville.  If I were going to recommend Amtrak do something, it would that such short connecting bus rides don't count as a rail pass segment, so that people don't have to game the system.





Reply to this topic



  

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users