Amtrak to Make Discounted Fares Less Generous

Amtrak is poised to become less generous with its discounted fares starting next month.

Trains magazine quoted anonymous sources as saying that a number of changes will be made to fare discounts and cancellation policies in the wake of a review ordered by Amtrak co-CEO Richard Anderson.

Under the present policy, passengers who cancel a reservation before their scheduled departure time can convert the entire value of their ticket into a voucher to be applied to future Amtrak travel within a year.

The new policy will impose a 25 percent cancellation penalty for sleeper and super saver fares.

Passengers who cancel and seek a cash refund will see 10 percent of the value of their ticket deducted for coach or Acela Business Class reservations if canceled within 48 hours of scheduled departure.

Also under the present policy, a 15 percent penalty is imposed for sleeping car reservations canceled within seven days of departure. The penalties are waived for business class or Acela first class reservations.

The new policy deducts 25 percent of the value of a canceled sleeping car ticket or a coach or Acela Business Class ticket purchased with a saver fare regardless of whether the remainder of the ticket value is returned as cash or a voucher.

The penalty does not apply if the reservation is changed for a future date or otherwise modified short of cancellation. If a change results in a lower fare, the full difference can still be refunded as a voucher.

Many existing discounted fares will continue to be offered, but the discount will be less.

The 15 percent senior discount will be cut to 10 percent and the age eligibility threshold increased from 62 to 65.
Likewise, the disability discount of 15 percent will be cut to 10 percent. Unchanged are the requirements that passengers buying a disability fare ticket do so with an Amtrak agent by phone or in person at a staffed station. The disability discount will continue to apply to all rail fares.

Amtrak now allows up to two children between the ages of 2 and 12 to travel for half off the full adult rail fare when they are accompanied by an adult paying full fare.

The new rules will allow only one child per accompanying adult. All other children must pay the full adult fare.

The new rules will also create an exemption whereby many discount fares will not apply to the highest fare bucket.

Under the existing rules, all discounts can be applied to all fares except saver or E-bucket fares that require a ticket purchase at least three days in advance of travel.

The new rules will mean that only the disability discount can be applied to “full Y” bucket fares, which typically carry the highest rail fares and apply to the last tickets sold.

This change will also affect such discounts as student, AAA members, Veteran’s Advantage members and National Association of Railroad Passengers member discounts.

“Full Y” fares are the only ones available for purchase aboard a train from a conductor.

All discounts apply only to the rail fare and are not applied to accommodation charges for sleeper, business class and Acela first class tickets.

Tickets acquired with Amtrak Guest Rewards points will carry their own change and cancellation penalties.

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