Posts Tagged ‘American Automobile Association’

Amtrak Ends AAA, Student Discounts

March 1, 2018

Two popular Amtrak discount fares were eliminated quietly last month.

The passenger carrier removed its American Automobile Association and student discounts, both of which offered 10 percent off on Amtrak fares.

When asked to comment about the changes, Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said that passengers seeking discounts should book at least 14 days in advance of travel or look for Amtrak’s Saver Fares.

The student fares had been scaled back, being limited to travel aboard state-sponsored trains.

Earlier, Amtrak had ended its Student Advantage and International Student Identity Card programs, both of which offered 10 percent discounts.

Since early this year, Amtrak has overhauled its fare structure, including increasing the penalties for cash refunds on certain types of reservations.

Amtrak also offers 50 percent off for children ages 2 to 15 (one per accompanying adult) and 10 percent discounts for seniors (age 65 and older), active-duty military personnel with military ID, passengers with disabilities, and members of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (now the Railroad Passengers Association) and of Veterans Advantage.

For the most part, these discounts require reservations to be made at least three days in advance of travel and cannot be applied to Saver fares

They also are unavailable on some trains, including weekday Acela Express trains and 7000 and 8000-series Thruway buses, as well as travel between Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the segment of the Maple Leaf operated by VIA Rail Canada.

The remaining discounts apply only to the “rail fare” portion of tickets and cannot be used for accommodation charge for sleeping cars, business class or Acela first class.

Florida Safety Patrol Trips by Rail Fading Away

May 30, 2017

Since 1948, members of the school safety patrol in Palm Beach County, Florida, have been riding the train from the Sunshine State to Washington in the spring on sightseeing trip that is a reward for the work the safety patrollers put in during the school year.

Some safety patrollers still ride the train, but increasingly they are flying to Washington or taking a bus.

School officials say the student like riding the train, but their parents prefer flying because it allows for more sightseeing time in Washington and doesn’t require as much travel time.

“The kids love the train, it’s a rolling slumber party,” said Jim Pegg, a school district administrator and the president of the Palm Beach County Safety Patrol Association.

It once required four trains to move the safety patrollers to Washington, but now it requires just two.

The number of students riding the rails has fallen from 4,800 to just over 1,000.

“It’s mostly because the adults don’t want to ride the train for two whole days,” Pegg said. The train leaves Thursday at noon and arrives Friday morning. The return trip is invariably longer, arriving in West Palm Beach about 5:30 p.m.

The Washington trips were initially organized the American Automobile Association as a reward for sixth-graders and their school service.

School officials segregate the children by gender with one car filled with boys and another car filled with girls.

They turn their seats into makeshift tents, play games, listen to music and give notes to teacher to pass to the girls or boys in the other car.

Three years ago, Principal Laura Green asked the parents if they preferred for their children to ride the train or fly to Washington. The cost of riding Amtrak versus flying was comparable.

“It was time spent in the city that swung the vote,” Green said. “On the train, you’re gone five days, but you’re in D.C. three.

If the student flew, they would arrive by 10 a.m. Tuesday and leave late in the day on Friday.

“The extra day gives us time to go to an extra Smithsonian,” Green said.

Another advantage of flying was the ability to pick dates that better fit the school schedule. “Nothing against the train, but there’s a set pattern to their itinerary. I can maneuver the trip through what I want to see. For the past two years, we’ve taken the children to the Pentagon and that’s a great trip. And you couldn’t do it on the train.”

Amtrak Vacations Named Preferred Partner

April 5, 2017

Amtrak Vacations has been selected by the American Automobile Association and Canadian Automobile Association as a national preferred partner.

Operated by Yankee Leisure Group, Amtrak Vacations offers more than over 300 rail vacations to cities and National Parks with options to depart from more than 500 Amtrak stations nationwide.

Among the most popular destinations are the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the cities of New York, Seattle, Washington and New Orleans.

“The demand for rail travel has seen unprecedented growth, and with our new partnership, we look forward to expanding our support even further to the AAA travel agent community and all AAA members,” said Frank Marini, president of Amtrak Vacations.