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LookingGlassTie

Multi-city vs one-way booking

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Hey, got a question:

I haven't done this before, but if I wanted to do a cross-country round trip (sort of), would it be better for me to book using multi-city for the whole trip or a one-way segment for each leg?

A trip I'd like to take would be:  Northeast Regional, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, Crescent and back to Northeast Regional.

So if I took such a trip, would it be better to book the whole thing as a multi-city or to book each segment as a one-way on its own reservation?

Thanks!

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I personally would book each way separately. Say if you go WAS to SEA, I’d book WAS to SEA on 1 res and SEA to WAS on another. You can still book multi-city on each one.

If for some reason, segment #2 is not scanned, not only will segment #4 be cancelled, so will segment #9 (your room on the CL from CHI to WAS)!

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I typically make similar trips every year (from/to Springfield MA) using AGR points for as much of the trip as possible.  Given that itinerary, you have no choice but to spend a night in a hotel  in Seattle and New Orleans.  However, you may want to spend a night in Chicago as a 'safety net' in case  the Capitol Ltd is quite late.  But then, I feel lucky and am connecting from #448 to #27 in April.  

As for using 'multi city', I've discovered that there are often 'conjunctive' fares given when connecting trains are necessary for a single 'from/to' combination.  After spending a night at PDX, I found booking PDX-CHI via the Coast Starlight and Sunset/Texas Eagle (#422) as a conjunctive fare was more than $100 less cost for a roomette than booking PDX-LAX and LAX-CHI individually.  Likewise, the conjunctive fare NOL-SPG with sleeper on the Crescent costs less than booking it NOL-NYP/NYP-SPG.  Interestingly, though, the conjunctive fare forces me to leave the sleeper at WAS and take #176/476 to SPG.  Go figure.  But for $100 less, that's how I booked it.

As always, before booking such a multi-connected trip, be sure to use Amsnag to find the best prices on each train for the entire month you are thinking about traveling.  I do a screen print for each train and  then 'connect the dots' to get the best price from train to train...be very careful you are looking at the correct departure date for each connecting train, as I don't think 'multi city' is 'smart enough' to catch and 'flag' an impossible connection such as leaving CHI on #7 on the 8th and departing SEA on #11 on the 9th.

For what it's worth, I tend to book home-to-hotel, hotel-to-hotel, hotel-home as 3 separate reservations, usually 2 or 3 trains apiece.  That simplifies changing things 'on the fly' should there be problems such as a train cancelled due to the line blocked by a freight derailment as has happened to me twice in the past 5 years.

You might also find some enlightening info in the thread in the visitors forum Click Here

Edited by bratkinson

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8 minutes ago, the_traveler said:

I personally would book each way separately. Say if you go WAS to SEA, I’d book WAS to SEA on 1 res and SEA to WAS on another. You can still book multi-city on each one.

If for some reason, segment #2 is not scanned, not only will segment #4 be cancelled, so will segment #9 (your room on the CL from CHI to WAS)!

I make absolutely sure my ticket is scanned on EVERY train.  If not, I'll confirm with the conductor that he 'scanned' my ticket by entering my name or roomette number as being on board.  I want those AGR points no matter what!!!   For what it's worth, I had to ask the attendant in Acela First Class to fetch the conductor to scan my ticket (and the others in FC) leaving NYP a couple months ago!

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Thanks for the replies!

I looked at the Amtrak website and saw that multi-city booking is four segments max.   However, I don't know if that would be different if I booked by phone.   Even so, booking each segment as a one-way might be better for me.

 

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It may be different to book by phone.  In the time long ago before I knew better (2016), I booked a cross-country trip on one reservation with eight segments and layovers of three to five days.  Because of my wording to the reservations agent, only one of the connections was guaranteed. 

50 minutes ago, LookingGlassTie said:

 

I looked at the Amtrak website and saw that multi-city booking is four segments max.   However, I don't know if that would be different if I booked by phone.  

 

 

Edited by Maglev

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I make absolutely sure my ticket is scanned on EVERY train.  If not, I'll confirm with the conductor that he 'scanned' my ticket by entering my name or roomette number as being on board.  I want those AGR points no matter what!!!   For what it's worth, I had to ask the attendant in Acela First Class to fetch the conductor to scan my ticket (and the others in FC) leaving NYP a couple months ago!


I had to have the Conductor scan my ticket when leaving a crowded NER In Baltimore once. He actually thanked me for bringing it to his attention but like you, I was doing for the points.

A bigger concern would be if there were other segments which would be cancelled if you were listed as a “no show!”

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The big reason why you SHOULD book some segments together is for guaranteed connections--if one train is delayed, Amtrak guarantees your connection to the next train or will make other arrangements to get you to your destination (typically a bus, or put you in a hotel and on a train the next day). Multi-city bookings aren't guaranteed this way by Amtrak, but some of your connecting segments would be if you booked them together outside "multi-city" mode.

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Are you planning on spending time in your connecting cities, or are you planning on short same-day connections wherever possible? Because that will affect whether you need guaranteed connections, whether you there will be any savings by booking it as one thing, and whether it will let you book any segments as a standard non-multi-city connecting ticket.

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4 hours ago, JRR said:

I had to have the Conductor scan my ticket when leaving a crowded NER In Baltimore once. He actually thanked me for bringing it to his attention but like you, I was doing for the points.

A bigger concern would be if there were other segments which would be cancelled if you were listed as a “no show!”

 

Wait, so if I don’t have my ticket scanned, I don’t get points? We might have missed out on a lot of points over the years, if that’s the case (mainly from sleepers). :unsure:

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I think sometimes the conductor just checks in with the SCA if all passengers are aboard, and then the conductor batch scans the tickets.  Unlike coach travel, I don't think it happens that one could travel in a sleeper without having tickets scanned.

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32 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

Wait, so if I don’t have my ticket scanned, I don’t get points? We might have missed out on a lot of points over the years, if that’s the case (mainly from sleepers). :unsure:

At least 5 years ago, give or take (my memory is getting worse by the day!), after making the switch from coach in 449 to sleeper in 49, and not having had my ticket scanned in the hour or so since (re) boarding at ALB, I stopped the conductor on his way through the diner where I was enjoying a real steak dinner (can't do THAT any more on #49!) and asked him to scan my ticket.  I already knew that if you miss your train, the rest of your reservation gets cancelled, so I had to absolutely make sure I got my ticket scanned.

After telling him I was in the sleeper, he stated that the SCA told him what rooms had boarded at ALB and he simply 'marked them' as scanned in his scanner.  So I was good to go.  I still double check with the conductor if he didn't come by within an hour or so of my boarding.

As it turns out, the Amtrak scanners seem to have gotten 'smarter' in recent times.  Or, perhaps, they were originally programmed to have a number of features I am unaware of as a passenger.  One of the features that surprised me is that when boarding #141 at WNL on 'lighter' days (not any more since CTRail started!), the conductor would ask as I was coming up the steps: "Bruce?"  I'd reply 'yup!' and he gave me my seat check, knowing he'd seen me a good number of times previously.  Other conductors, while coming through BC where only me and one other had settled down would do the same as he approached me (I prefer to be 3-5 rows from the rear of the car).  Obviously, passenger names show up as well.  I've also had conductors ask my name when boarding (during that blasted 3 year bustitution NHV-SPG!!) and I'd simply tell him/her my name and they'd mark me as boarded without scanning my ticket. 

Another feature of the scanners is it tells them how many are getting on or off at each stop.  For lower volume stops such as all but HFD on the NHV-SPG runs, they know that 4 passengers are supposed to get off, but only 3 were seen on the platform.  They'd get on the PA and 'remind' passengers 'THIS IS xyz STATION!'.  One night on #148 (pre CTRail), we sat at Hartford for 2-3 minutes beyond scheduled departure time waiting for what I presume was one or two stragglers to get off.  I've seen it too many times where passengers don't even START to get out of their seat, get their bags down, put their coat on, etc, until the train comes to a complete stop.  And, of course, they were specifically told by the conductor 'xxx in about 5 minutes'  as he lifts their seat check.  

So, yes, even if ones' ticket isn't scanned when in a sleeper, I STILL want to make sure it gets recorded for the points!

 

Edited by bratkinson

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I saw a post on the other thread on this subject that mentioned using city pairs for multi-city booking as opposed to single train segments.   So that guaranteed connections are more likely.

Based on my ideal trip, which pairs should I use?    My stations would be NFK (or NPN), WAS, CHI, SEA, LAX, NOL, back to WAS and then back to NFK or NPN.

So how would I pair those up?

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35 minutes ago, LookingGlassTie said:

Based on my ideal trip, which pairs should I use?    My stations would be NFK (or NPN), WAS, CHI, SEA, LAX, NOL, back to WAS and then back to NFK or NPN.

So how would I pair those up?

I don't know where you plan to spend nights, so I can't advise on how to pair up those cities.  For example, I suggest not trying to connect the same day from the Coast Starlight  to the Sunset Limited.  But if you want to go for example through from NPN to SEA, use this city pair for booking on line or when you ask the agent, and you will get guaranteed connections if they are available.  I would advise against booking on the same ticket if there is an overnight or longer layover.     

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With the current scanners, the Conductor can actually hit a button that “scans” every ticket of everyone boarding at Thant station. And on the opposite end, (s)he can push an “all done” button that marks anyone not scanned as a no-show. And yes, if you are a no-show, youwill not earn points.

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On 12/4/2018 at 10:27 PM, Maglev said:

It may be different to book by phone.  In the time long ago before I knew better (2016), I booked a cross-country trip on one reservation with eight segments and layovers of three to five days.  Because of my wording to the reservations agent, only one of the connections was guaranteed. 

 

I booked a multi-city reservation on the phone with seven segments about a month ago. The phone agents seem to have a bit more flexibility than the website. 

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On 12/4/2018 at 8:37 PM, bratkinson said:

...be very careful you are looking at the correct departure date for each connecting train, as I don't think 'multi city' is 'smart enough' to catch and 'flag' an impossible connection

I think it has gotten smarter. I tried Tampa to NYP departing Jan10 and NYP to CHI departing Jan 11.  If I select the bus - Silver Meteor option for segment 1 and LSL for segment 2, all is well.  But if I select the Silver Star for segment 1, I get

Quote

The following train departs before a previous train in your journey arrives: Please review your travel dates and times and resubmit.
[Error ID: 553S]

because the Start doesn't arrive in time the next day to connect with the LSL

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Yes, I have found that error many times if I book the SS and then connect to the North at WAS.

The SS arrive say on the 25th, so I automatically enter I’m departing on the 25th. However since the 3:15 am departure is actually on the 26st, it gives that error.

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