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2018 Discount Fares and Refund/Cancellation Fee Changes


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#21 amtrakpass

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 11:10 AM

if that is the correct understanding of charging a fee for an evoucher that really is very bad news indeed! I have used a voucher to change my plans at the last minute many, many times. You have to use the voucher for Amtrak travel within a year anyway so they aren't losing any money. There are many trips I just could not afford to take if they are going to charge major fees to change a date since my work schedule can change at the drop of a hat. Flexibility with fares and dates is a huge advantage Amtrak has had. What a shame to throw it away.

#22 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 01:31 PM

I wonder how much this fare flexibility has cost Amtrak over the years. I remember not that long ago people booking multiple trips and cancelling the alternates because of the so called flexibility.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#23 ehbowen

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 01:39 PM

It wouldn't surprise me to find out that the sleeper cancelation policy is driven by the practice of travel agencies booking every available room on the train for resale, and then canceling the unsold ones at the last minute for a voucher which they can use to do the same thing next season.

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#24 the_traveler

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 02:54 PM

I agree.

If multiple reservations are booked by XYZ Travel Agency, I think there should be a penalty. However, if a room is booked by Joe & Kathy Smith at (address) and (phone number), or even a 2nd room by Ken & Steph Public at (address) and (phone number), there should not be a penalty. Most likely, a travel agency booking a block of rooms 11 months out will not have all the clients names at the time.

Edited by the_traveler, 28 December 2017 - 02:55 PM.

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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!

#25 Anderson

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:12 PM

On the one hand, they might put names on the reservations but change them later. On the other hand, they'll probably be paying with the same credit cards, so some sleuthing on Amtrak's part should show what's going on. It wouldn't seem to be too hard for them to put a line into their terms and conditions barring such a practice and then drop the hammer on and agency, forcing them to a refund if they're being abusive.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#26 Anderson

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:15 PM

Following up on the above, since I'm on my phone...

I'm trying to remember when the change from 10 to 20% happened. Wasn't that just back in August? I really don't appreciate having to deal with Schrodinger's change/cancel policy.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#27 PRR 60

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:25 PM

Following up on the above, since I'm on my phone...

I'm trying to remember when the change from 10 to 20% happened. Wasn't that just back in August? I really don't appreciate having to deal with Schrodinger's change/cancel policy.

 

Last year - August 15, 2016.



#28 City of Miami

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 03:43 PM

So it seems like now cancelling a trip with points is less punitive than cancelling a trip with cash. Is it still 10 or 20%, depending on timing, to cancel an AGR trip?



#29 jebr

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 04:30 PM

Or, perhaps, tie a full eVoucher refund to having an active AGR account and limiting it to, say, 2-4/year for a full eVoucher amount? That would seem a lot more difficult to work around for pre-booking (can you even do a name change without a cancellation for Amtrak?) and encourage enrollment in AGR.



#30 Shortline

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 05:00 PM

There are still travel agents? Seriously, I can't imagine that's the problem, first, there are so few left anyway, second, it's not like they could front the money to book that many rooms for even one day, much less multiple days, that far in the future. It was a low margin business and I can't imagine too many of them had the available free cash flow to do that.

Really, it's not a bad deal-certainly better than you get on an airline for the most part, and it makes sense. If the train is booked when I'm shopping to travel, I'm going to book a plane. If that room later opens up near train time, it's likely it may go empty, and they've either given your money back, or ended up taking another paid revenue space off a future train. I'm ok with it,

Broadway Limited, Ann Rutledge, Misouri Mule, Misouri River Runner, San Diegan, Surfliner, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited, Crescent, Texas Eagle, Blue Water, Wolverine, Pennsylvanian, 3 Rivers, Hiawatha, Heartland Flyer, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Lake Shore Limited, Capitol Limited, Northeast Regional, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Downeaster, City of New Orleans, City of New Orleans via Pullan Rail Journeys.


#31 ehbowen

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 05:46 PM

There are still travel agents? Seriously, I can't imagine that's the problem, first, there are so few left anyway, second, it's not like they could front the money to book that many rooms for even one day, much less multiple days, that far in the future. It was a low margin business and I can't imagine too many of them had the available free cash flow to do that.

Not the old-fashioned travel agencies, but the newfangled "packaging" companies. You want to book the CZ from San Francisco to Denver in August? Aww, Amtrak's all booked up, but if you call us, we can sell you a special all-inclusive package...for seven thousand dollars.

ETA: Think ticket scalpers for train travel. But if a scalper at the stadium doesn't sell his seat, he loses his money. If these guys don't sell, they cancel their booking and get a voucher for next year. No downside...unless you're just a regular Joe looking to book a trip for your family at a regular price.
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Edited by ehbowen, 28 December 2017 - 05:50 PM.

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#32 the_traveler

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 06:14 PM

Yes, there are still travel agencies around. In fact, you may have heard of one:

Amtrak Vacations

They are a totally separate company (a travel agency) that is under contract with Amtrak to provide packages. If you have a gift certificate from Amtrak Vacations, it can not be used directly to purchase train travel from Amtrak. You must use it at Amtrak Vacations!
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!

#33 Shortline

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 06:26 PM

I guess so. In this day and age I can't imagine why anyone would pay for that kind of a service.

Broadway Limited, Ann Rutledge, Misouri Mule, Misouri River Runner, San Diegan, Surfliner, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited, Crescent, Texas Eagle, Blue Water, Wolverine, Pennsylvanian, 3 Rivers, Hiawatha, Heartland Flyer, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Lake Shore Limited, Capitol Limited, Northeast Regional, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Downeaster, City of New Orleans, City of New Orleans via Pullan Rail Journeys.


#34 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 06:38 PM

Travel agents still exist but these days the fees are paid directly to the agency by the person traveling rather than being received as a sort of kickback from airlines and hotels.  Many of us enjoy researching our travel options and looking for deals but some people just want to pickup the phone and give broad instructions that are turned into a personalized vacation behind the scenes.  If you make good money but your job and family life is very hectic I suppose I could see the appeal.  All you have to do is show up and enjoy the vacation.  The minutia of making sure everything lines up smoothly is somebody else's problem and if things go horribly wrong you have someone else to blame.  This is distinct from a prepackaged holiday where everyone travels in a group and receives roughly the same experience.


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#35 PVD

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 06:42 PM

Travel agencies may be way less commonly used for individuals, but for companies and organizations they perform very useful services. I am a member of an organization that has hundreds of volunteer members at its annual congress and mid winter meeting. Anyone attending calls the agent handling it and makes their booking. The organization gets one bill, and accurate records, and has established rules for bookings, someone is available 24/7 in case of problems, and hundreds of reimbursement requests don't have to get processed, with the headaches that accompany that. (sent in late, filled out wrong, lost in the mail, never got my check you made arrangements outside of the rules we gave you).

 

Larger companies also use them for business travel, many of them are mostly online, with human backup. Company sets booking guidelines, system lets you book within what is allowed. Levels of mgt override for special situations.   



#36 Anderson

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 06:47 PM

A handy example is that when I was traveling for a trip for William and Mary, I had to book via their travel agent.  On the bright side, the TA literally didn't know an Acela from a Regional and I had an upgrade card to burn...

Edit: To be clear, there are situations where it is advantageous to use a TA, but that's generally (at least IMO) limited to either situations where they'll also be handling stuff like visa support letters and the like or trips where there's a lot of complexity that needs to be navigated.


Edited by Anderson, 28 December 2017 - 06:48 PM.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#37 Anderson

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 03:06 AM

One interesting "quirk" in the chart above: If for some reason a saver fare is on offer within the last seven days before departure (uncommon but I've seen a few of them only require three-day advance purchase), technically the saver fare now has the more flexible cancellation conditions (24 hrs vs. 1 hr).  Bear in mind that as far as I've generally been concerned, a voucher might as well be cash (I'll use it within a few months).

 

FWIW, this has probably cost Amtrak at least one LD trip (when I showed him this change, I believe that Charlie Hamilton promptly took an axe to his planned LD train trip to the NARP meeting this spring) and there's a decent chance it costs them a second one (I was planning to take the train to Worldcon in San Jose.  Now?  I'm probably at least cutting that trip back from WAS-CHI-LAX-SJC to just LAX-SJC).


Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#38 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 10:36 AM

Boscovs has a travel agency.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
Most important: Keep it Simple, Stupid!
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Avatar and sig were done by my fiance, Corvidophile.

#39 willem

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 11:37 AM

I was lazy and didn't type 75% eVoucher over and over and over. Whatever it says "XX% refund or eVoucher" means XX% refund or same XX% to an eVoucher. There is no more full credit to an eVoucher unless it says Full refund or eVoucher.

 
If you typed all that by hand, thank you for your extraordinary effort to let the community know about the change.



#40 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 12:01 PM

If you have a paper voucher and go to an agent in a station, is that affected? Is there a charge either for cancelling a trip and asking the station agent for a paper voucher? Or for redeeming a paper voucher and keeping part of it? Please forgive me if this was answered above, but I didn't see it if so.


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 29 December 2017 - 12:02 PM.





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