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Book online or call customer service?


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#1 Guest_Michelle_*

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:04 PM

I'm planning a multi-leg trip next year: taking the Coast Starlight, but getting off for a few nights in several cities along the way: San Luis Obispo, Portland, San Francisco, Monterey.

 

I figure it would be fastest to book through the online system, but is it better to call in and speak with an agent? Would that be easier or have benefits I'm not aware of?

Thanks!



#2 ChuckL

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:16 PM

I'm planning a multi-leg trip next year: taking the Coast Starlight, but getting off for a few nights in several cities along the way: San Luis Obispo, Portland, San Francisco, Monterey.
 
I figure it would be fastest to book through the online system, but is it better to call in and speak with an agent? Would that be easier or have benefits I'm not aware of?
Thanks!

Be aware that if you book with an agent, you won't be able to view or modify your reservation either with the Amtrak website or the mobile app. The agent will still provide you with an email and E Ticket which you can print out or save as a PDF on your phone, so if not having the online isn't important to you, I'd probably go with the agent doing the booking for your more complex trip. I did with the same type of circumstances as you.


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

#3 pennyk

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:48 PM

I always book complex trips with an agent.  If you are interested in choosing your sleeper room, you may be able to do so with an agent and not on-line.


Amtrak miles: 227,873; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion, Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, NE Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto.  VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian, Ocean; Alaska RR Denali Star: 356 miles


#4 RSG

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 01:58 PM

Given the fact that the WWW interface is experiencing issues with the redesign, I would advise calling and speaking with an agent until the bugs are worked out.

 

Aside from that, as pennyk notes, completing a complex booking is best done with agent assistance. If you deal with an experienced agent, they will often catch details or issues which you may not have seen or thought about. They will repeat the details and confirm them with you, which can be helpful in making sure that you are traveling on the dates you wish to. Rail travel is a bit unique in that because it often spans calendar days, it's easy to become confused about the arrival dates of trains when it involves multiple cities or legs. Having someone to work through it with helps to ensure that you are making the stops you wish to make on the days you wish to make them.


Edited by RSG, 08 October 2017 - 01:59 PM.


#5 DoB

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 02:21 PM

Whether online or by phone, I'd suggest making a separate reservation for each leg (except for stopovers shorter than a day). There's no price advantage to multi-city tickets (unless a stopover is shorter than a day), and if your ticket isn't lifted in any leg, all subsequent legs on the same reservation will be canceled.

As for online vs. phoned, I always prefer booking my tickets online when possible - it's easier to look up my reservation online (and make changes if necessary), and I can verify that I have the details correct before booking. But there's a lot only a human agent can do, such as reserving a specific room and applying a coupon.

#6 SarahZ

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 02:34 PM

I prefer to speak to an agent, mostly so I can choose my room(s).


Amtrak Miles: 39,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

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#7 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 02:50 PM

When I purchase day trips in coach I book online to save time.  When I ride in a sleeper overnight I book over the phone for greater flexibility.  This is mainly due to the fact that sleeper selections can only be done over the phone and calling to make changes after you've purchased your tickets online is likely to result in the agent trying to charge you extra.  Coach options are basically nonexistent on Amtrak, so there's no penalty to booking online.  I don't consider four stops on the same route to be a complicated trip so if i was riding coach I'd book this online to speed up the process.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 08 October 2017 - 02:50 PM.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#8 Dakota 400

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 03:55 PM

I also prefer to book directly with an agent.  I use the online resources for sleeper accommodation availability and fare information.  But, I have been more satisfied working with an Amtrak agent than making the booking solely online.



#9 the_traveler

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:23 PM

Even though you cant see your phone made reservations online, the agent sends you an email with the e-ticket. What I do is made a new folder in my email called Amtrak eTickets and transfer it there! Then all my e-tickets are all in 1 place.

Edited by the_traveler, 08 October 2017 - 04:24 PM.

Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#10 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:29 PM

 

I'm planning a multi-leg trip next year: taking the Coast Starlight, but getting off for a few nights in several cities along the way: San Luis Obispo, Portland, San Francisco, Monterey.
 
I figure it would be fastest to book through the online system, but is it better to call in and speak with an agent? Would that be easier or have benefits I'm not aware of?
Thanks!

Be aware that if you book with an agent, you won't be able to view or modify your reservation either with the Amtrak website or the mobile app. The agent will still provide you with an email and E Ticket which you can print out or save as a PDF on your phone, so if not having the online isn't important to you, I'd probably go with the agent doing the booking for your more complex trip. I did with the same type of circumstances as you.


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

 

I was able to lookup my agent booking info online.


Trains taken (US): Coast Starlight, San Joaquins, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, SP4449 excursion 2015
Current Amtrak mileage: 20271 miles plus 130 Ambus miles

#11 ChuckL

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:34 PM

 

I'm planning a multi-leg trip next year: taking the Coast Starlight, but getting off for a few nights in several cities along the way: San Luis Obispo, Portland, San Francisco, Monterey.
 
I figure it would be fastest to book through the online system, but is it better to call in and speak with an agent? Would that be easier or have benefits I'm not aware of?
Thanks!

Be aware that if you book with an agent, you won't be able to view or modify your reservation either with the Amtrak website or the mobile app. The agent will still provide you with an email and E Ticket which you can print out or save as a PDF on your phone, so if not having the online isn't important to you, I'd probably go with the agent doing the booking for your more complex trip. I did with the same type of circumstances as you.


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
 
I was able to lookup my agent booking info online.
How? It hadn't been working from either the website or phone apps under Find Trips and putting in your reservation number


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

#12 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:46 PM

 

 

 

I'm planning a multi-leg trip next year: taking the Coast Starlight, but getting off for a few nights in several cities along the way: San Luis Obispo, Portland, San Francisco, Monterey.
 
I figure it would be fastest to book through the online system, but is it better to call in and speak with an agent? Would that be easier or have benefits I'm not aware of?
Thanks!

Be aware that if you book with an agent, you won't be able to view or modify your reservation either with the Amtrak website or the mobile app. The agent will still provide you with an email and E Ticket which you can print out or save as a PDF on your phone, so if not having the online isn't important to you, I'd probably go with the agent doing the booking for your more complex trip. I did with the same type of circumstances as you.


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
 
I was able to lookup my agent booking info online.
How? It hadn't been working from either the website or phone apps under Find Trips and putting in your reservation number


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

 

I did it prior to the website upgrade (about two or three months ago).


Trains taken (US): Coast Starlight, San Joaquins, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, SP4449 excursion 2015
Current Amtrak mileage: 20271 miles plus 130 Ambus miles

#13 me_little_me

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:50 PM

If you call, do so in the LATE evening when agents are less busy and they have time to help you better.



#14 Lonestar648

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:16 PM

When the agent did my multi-city trip this past summer it came up on my iPhone APP with the bar codes for the Conductor to scan.





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