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Herb

Tier Qualifying Points

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I'm a regular Amtrak user, here in the Very North of California. My station is Dunsmuir and the only train is the Coast Starlight, #14 Northbound and #11 Southbound.

First off, the new generation of the Amtrak App on the iPhone and disconnected the Amtrak ticket application from Amtrak Rewards. Why? it was working just fine. Now I'm back to having two login username and passwords. Its backwards.

Secondly, my main point is that as an Amtrak Western user i would suggest that Tier Qualifying Points follow the same disappearing act as the standard rewards. I was just getting to 2000 TQP's and they vanished. How realistic is it for us in the West to loose our points because we don't have enough trains to really earn them.

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I earned Select then, soon after, Select Plus because of the AGR credit card and a special TQP earning bonus last summer, not Amtrak travel. If not for the credit card, that would not have happened. Either way, Select doesn't do much for me except the 25 or 50% points earning bonus when traveling Amtrak.

Edited by FrensicPic

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Secondly, my main point is that as an Amtrak Western user i would suggest that Tier Qualifying Points follow the same disappearing act as the standard rewards. I was just getting to 2000 TQP's and they vanished. How realistic is it for us in the West to loose our points because we don't have enough trains to really earn them.

 

It follows the airline model of using a calendar year to amass status points. There was a time when there used to be a slew of travelers on the last week of the year looking to get the final points needed to make a status level. The one I remember that was well known was the SFO-OAK flight on United Airlines, which could actually be booked. It counted as one segment or 500 miles and was a relatively quick and cheap way to get that.

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I earned Select then, soon after, Select Plus because of the AGR credit card and a special TQP earning bonus last summer, not Amtrak travel. If not for the credit card, that would not have happened. Either way, Select doesn't do much for me except the 25 or 50% points earning bonus when traveling Amtrak.

 

The OP could theoretically make Select and get the annual discounts and lounge passes. I could see going to Portland and using the lounge there. Or maybe even LAUS.

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Amtrak's IT needs help. Professional help. Probably of an inpatient variety.

 

All jokes aside, I never touched the app because it had a slew of issues from day one and I decided that I didn't trust it. My sincere advice would be to chuck the app, use the website "straight" on your phone, and when necessary call in to get the ticket sent to a second email address.

Edit: And as to year-end status runs, there were a few of us who would wedge in extra segments on Amtrak's commuter-esque corridor services back when AGR had a 100-point-per-segment minimum for the same reason. I count a half-dozen rides on the Hiawatha for just that reason, and I know there are folks who did the same thing on other routes like the Keystones.

 

Folks will still do that sort of thing for status on airlines which operate on that basis (SFO-OAK may not be an option, but there are some acrobatics that can sometimes kick out...SEA-YVR comes to mind).

Edited by Anderson

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Edit: And as to year-end status runs, there were a few of us who would wedge in extra segments on Amtrak's commuter-esque corridor services back when AGR had a 100-point-per-segment minimum for the same reason. I count a half-dozen rides on the Hiawatha for just that reason, and I know there are folks who did the same thing on other routes like the Keystones.

 

Emeryville to Berkeley on Capitol Corridor was probably the most notorious. I heard about the Gathering group that had several people approaching the conductor making sure to get the points. The distance was so short that it wouldn't be that difficult to just walk back.

 

I remember one conductor looking at my EMY-FMT-GAC ticket asking if I split it up to "get more points". Using multi-city bookings to extract more minimum point segments for the same price was a neat trick, as was adding discounts.

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Secondly, my main point is that as an Amtrak Western user i would suggest that Tier Qualifying Points follow the same disappearing act as the standard rewards. I was just getting to 2000 TQP's and they vanished. How realistic is it for us in the West to loose our points because we don't have enough trains to really earn them.

 

I'll note that Tier Qualifying Points are simply a tracking mechanism to see if a particular member is eligible for higher "status" with AGR. While you're losing the TQP counter, you'll still keep the points earned on those trips to redeem for future travel. So you're not losing any points for travel, just the count to help reach a tier qualifying status.

 

That being said, it'd be kinda cool if AGR did some sort of "TQP rollover" process where any TQP not used to become eligible for status are rolled over until there's enough to meet a status point. For those who've made status, any additional TQPs above and beyond that needed to get to their earned status would roll over to next year to give them a head start. Wyndham does something like this and I think it's a nice perk (even if status really doesn't get me anything.)

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Barring a few exceptions, one mentioned above, in general TQPs for a given year disappear at the end of the year. TQPs have no value for traveling. Indeed in many of the new versions of programs, unlike Amtrak, the TQP calculation is substantially different from the straight point calculation. For example, United uses a fare paid based computation for regular points, whereas EQM (what United calls TQPs) is computed from the actual miles traveled. The qualifying requirement for various Elite Status requires a certain miles threshold and a certain amount of money spent on actual fares threshold. Be happy that Amtrak does not do that, since there have been years when I have qualified by miles for a higher tier status but did not meet the dollars threshold. :(

 

But the actual BIS (Butt in Seat) miles is still useful for getting lifetime status where for each additional million miles you get one higher level of lifetime status. So in a sense, even if the actual miles become useless for earning status in the following year, they remain in your record and count towards lifetime status.

 

It would have been nice if Amtrak had a lifetime status thing. But I suppose they don;t have sufficient records to actually put one in effect at this point and recognize past travels in it.

Edited by jis

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It shouldn't be that hard to keep track of AGR Lifetime Status since everyone has their AGR # that they use on Amtrak Travel and Spending.

 

As was said, even a few minor perks that would cost little or nothing ( early boarding, Lounge use, Seat choices) would be nice for loyal travelers like most of us.

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