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  1. Anthony

    Alan Burden (AlanB)

    I was very saddened to hear about Alan this evening, and it's an understatement to say I'm still shocked. Alan was the lifeblood of the Amtrak Unlimited community since its inception; a good friend; a true advocate for Amtrak and for all those who loved Amtrak. This was far too early for him. Some quick thoughts come to mind and I want to share: As PRR 60 said, I first met Alan here on AU roughly 18 years ago, when the site was an early version of what you see here today. Although the site began in 1997, I only added a discussion forum later - around 2000 - after we had decent traffic coming from search engines like Yahoo. Mind you, this was coming out of a time when listservs/mailing lists (and also, newsgroups and subscription services like Prodigy) had been the main method of railfan dialogue online, so it was a relatively new medium. The forum got maybe one or two new threads a day at the beginning, and then, very happily, Alan found it, joined - and stayed. Alan quickly proved to be extremely knowledgeable, generous with his time, friendly, and helpful to both newcomers and experienced train riders alike. He could talk in simple terms to a first-timer, and yet also in great detail about everything under the sun (from Amtrak politics, to operations, to the travel experience itself) with the pros. When the volume of users steadily increased, and with several upgrades to the forum software, Alan was the clear and logical first choice to help me manage the community. He wholly dedicated himself to this as well as several other online communities, doing what he loved the most - bringing people together (virtually and in person) in the common pursuit of the passion of trains. I have many fond memories of Alan's friendship and leadership, whether in person, on here, on IRC chat, over the phone, or otherwise. Behind the scenes, for years, we would discuss in great detail what to do about specific forum issues and controversies, and he always brought a thorough and considerate perspective. This only continued after we added more forum staff, and saw a significant growth in the membership over time. After I moved to the Northeast for college, I began seeing Alan in person several times a year - whether in Boston on his AGR points runs, or in NYC while I was passing through, or at any one of the Gatherings which he so much enjoyed planning and organizing. I remember the very first one in Chicago and what a fun success that was, and what an annual tradition it became. In fact, it seems like it was yesterday. I would continue seeing and speaking with Alan frequently in DC over the years I spent at Amtrak, whether just to catch up or to arrange things for the community. Sometimes they were visits in the ClubAcela or even on the train, or at a station along the NEC. A fun memory was on an impromptu HQ tour one afternoon, he and I went into the elevator alone from the top floor, and who gets in next but Mr. Boardman. That was a long ride down for me - who had failed to sign Alan in as a visitor - LOL! The best part: Alan didn't realize who it was until we got out of the elevator. (Boardman was just wearing a shirt and slacks, and perhaps didn't look the part!) Ultimately, I'm comforted by the fact that Alan was doing what he loved most, surrounded by his railfan friends, today. My life would have been much different without Alan - during an extended and very formative period - and I remain grateful to him for all of his contributions and commitment. Alan, if you can see this - Thank you.
  2. Anthony

    points expiring soon

    The AGR call center is well positioned to help with issues like this: 1-800-307-5000 Note that the AGR Terms and Conditions state: "Points will be credited to a Member's account up to 3 weeks after the completion of the Member's Amtrak trip." Members with impending point expiration should keep this in mind and plan accordingly. That said, points generally do post sooner and the AGR folks are pretty flexible about this sort of thing anyway. It is pretty easy for the agent to return expired points when it's clear that the member did honestly travel prior to the deadline. It's better to save the really hard stuff for AGR Insider
  3. I'm not giving my birthdate out. Why do you require this for membership? I require nothing -- I don't run this site anymore. But I think what you're asking is why the site asks for a birthdate. It's to comply with COPPA which requires that a member be at least 13 years old to join. So, if you are at least 13 years of age, feel free to give a false birthdate that meets the criteria! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children's_Online_Privacy_Protection_Act
  4. Anthony

    Change in the 1st class lounge rules?

    Jim: The policy did not change. I guess it's just a matter of brevity in that particular material you were reading. The anecdote in Chicago just demonstrates an agent that needs some training.
  5. Hello, Nathanael. You pose a valid question, but first, I encourage you to join the community as a Member. You are clearly invested in contributing and you seem to enjoy the camaraderie here, so registration seems like a sensible way to express your commitment to the group and this site. Anyway, the most recent system timetables have been less of a priority to upload because they have been published in digital form from the start (PDF on Amtrak.com), and many people download a copy for their own reference when they are posted. I realize that they are hard to find when they become obsolete, because the links get removed. At some point, I'll get copies of those PDFs and link to them directly, instead of going through the time-consuming process of adapting them to the page-by-page format the site uses for the earlier editions. Although "seven entire" timetables may be missing, I think the site -- even if never updated again -- still provides a valuable reference with 39 years of material that is difficult to find elsewhere in one place. That is why I continue to support the site on an ongoing basis even if my updates are delayed. I spend about 200 hours a month developing other Amtrak projects for customer benefit, so I assure you it's not out of lack of interest... and the site is plenty sustainable as long as my bank account continues to auto-pay the hosting bill. Best wishes, Anthony
  6. Bill, glad to see you back and hope things continue to get better for you Anthony
  7. Anthony

    Well Wishes for MrFSS

    Tom, hope you feel better fast! Merry Christmas to you and Sharon.
  8. Anthony

    AGR Mall, Can't Access Today???

    Known problem that is actively being worked on today
  9. Anthony

    Amtrak Android App and New AGR Website

    The problem is known and being worked on. If you go to the AGR website directly in the Android browser, you should have better results until it is fixed.
  10. Anthony

    Giordano's-open bar seating?

    The bar is open seating -- a nice way to jump in and out without waiting too long (well, unless you order a deep dish pizza, as previously noted )
  11. Anthony

    Any way to board train 50 on NEC?

    Train 50 is so frequently late that I would not even bother giving this a second thought.
  12. Anthony

    Problem with having two credit cards?

    AGR Insider is at the top of the chain at Amtrak's headquarters - it is perfectly safe.
  13. Anthony

    Why not stopovers on AGR trip?

    First class accom charge on Acela, WAS-BOS = $130 First class accom charge on Acela, WAS-NYP ($116) + NYP-BOS ($83) = $199 Not quite double, sure, but more nonetheless.
  14. Anthony

    Why not stopovers on AGR trip?

    Accommodation charges are always point to point, and don't quite work the same as a through rail fare. Amtrak generally charges more if you break up your occupancy of an accommodation over two trains as opposed to staying on the same train for the entire distance, reflecting what the market will bear for those shorter distances as independent tickets. That is why the coupons are only valid for a single segment - there really is a higher sale value for two separate tickets than just one. I have been using Multi-city ticketing long before I ever heard of FlyerTalk forums. The Multi-city ticketing option is offered by Amtrak and is, therefore, a legitimate option. AGR apparently does not think that is a legitimate option for upgrade coupon use, thereby requiring multiple coupons for a Multi-city ticket. AGR set the program up to give points based on dollars spent or city pairs ticketed. There is no gaming the system here. There is no loophole. We purchase what is offered by Amtrak . We expect AGR too recognize the Multi-city ticketing as a legitimate ticketing function. If the two types of tickets cost the same then the upgrades should cost the same, not double.
  15. Anthony

    Why not stopovers on AGR trip?

    It could be some quirk about my downgraded account.