Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak fares’

Amtrak Revives USA Rail Pass

June 10, 2021

Back in the 1970s Amtrak offered unlimited coach travel on the USA Rail Pass good for up to 30 days.

Various forms of the rail pass have been around over the years, but this week Amtrak announced a re-launch of the program.

The new USA Rail Pass will offer a 10-ride pass for $299 through June 22, a savings of $200 over the regular price of $499.

Amtrak said in a news release that passengers using the pass under the introductory offer will pay less than $30 per segment.

Unlike the paper passes of past years, the new rail pass is an electronic pass that allows up to 10 segments of coach travel in a 30-day period.

Trips involving a connection will count for two segments. Upgrades to business class or sleeping-car accommodations are not available.

Once the pass is purchased, passengers will have up to 120 days to use it. Once the first segment is traveled, passengers then have 30 days to travel nine more segments.

The news release said passengers will be able to book and modify their trip itinerary and will receive an electronic ticket for each segment to present to the conductor when boarding.

Biden to Help Amtrak Celebrate 50 Years

April 29, 2021

President Joseph Biden will participate in a ceremony on Saturday to mark Amtrak’s 50th anniversary.

The White House said the event will be held at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station where Biden also is expected to promote his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

Biden became known as “Amtrak Joe” during his time as a senator when he commuted on Amtrak between Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington on a near-daily basis.

As vice president under Barack Obama Biden continued to sometimes ride Amtrak

Amtrak is expected to showcase some of its special livery locomotives during the Philadelphia event, including the Salute to Veterans ACS-46 and two P42DC locomotives that have received 50th-anniversary inspired liveries.

The latter includes the Midnight Blue No. 100 and No. 46, which has the current livery with a large 50th anniversary herald.

Other locomotives are slated to receive heritage and/or specially designed schemes, but those units have yet to be released for revenue service.

The Midnight Blue unit was released from the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis last weekend and was the trailing unit on Monday night’s Capitol Limited that departed Chicago en route to Washington.

In a related development, Amtrak said Thursday it is selling 50 percent off tickets to mark its anniversary.

The fares are available on select routes and come with a maximum fare of $50 per segment.

Reservations must be booked between April 28 and May 5 for travel between June 2 and Nov. 14.

More details and bookings can be done at Amtrak.com. Terms and conditions apply.

Resumption of Daily Service Yielding Fare Bargains

March 14, 2021

It didn’t take Amtrak long to make available additional sleeping car space and coach seats for the summer on long distance trains that have operated tri-weekly since last fall but will resume daily operation starting in late May.

Daily service will retrn on May 24, May 31 or June 7 depending on the route.

Those who are able to book shortly after the expanded service space and seats went up for sale were able to find some economical fares.

Amtrak’s yield management strategy ties fares to demand. So if you plan to travel this summer on a day when your train would have operated even on its tri-weekly schedule, you would have found high fares, an analysis published by Trains magazine found.

But for those able to travel on days when their train would not be serving the station from which they planned to depart, there are some bargains available for now.

For example, on one day that the Empire Builder was scheduled to operate in early June on the existing tri-weekly schedule coach seats from Chicago to Seattle were priced at,$245 while a roomette was selling for $1,074 for one adult and a bedroom was priced at $1,816 in a family room.

But on the following day coach seats were selling for $150, a roomette was $651, a family bedroom was $842 and a bedroom was priced at $1,210.

Amtrak’s Roger Harris, the carrier’s executive vice president and chief marketing and revenue, told Trains he is confident that demand this summer for coach seats and sleeping car rooms will be high enough to fill those seats and rooms at fares close to what Amtrak has charged in previous years.

“Under our original restoration metrics, we needed to see forward load factor bookings within 10 percent of historical levels, and we are actually ahead of that for this summer.”

That is likely to mean, the Trains analysis concluded that fares will not be drastically reduced across the board.

Amtrak has boosted its advertising budget by $10 million and Harris said the carrier will attempt to reach travelers through media channels it has not made much use of in recent years, particularly radio and television.

There won’t be a major advertising campaign in traditional media. Harris said Amtrak’s market’s efforts will continue to a more targeted digital advertising approach.

“It’s starting in March, because that’s when people begin planning trips and buying tickets,” Harris said.

Also look for unsold sleeping car space in a few months to be auctioned through the BidUp program that recently launched that enables passengers to upgrade from coach accommodations to business class and first class seats, particularly on corridor trains.

Travelers Can Bid for Amtrak Business Class Seats

February 26, 2021

Amtrak has rolled out a new website page called “BidUp” to give passengers holding coach tickets an opportunity to bid for an upgrade to business class.

The site (https://www.amtrak.com/BidUp) enables passengers to bid on an upgrade up to two hours before departure.

There is no fee for bidding and the site contains pointers on how to increase the chances of submitting a winning bid.

The advantage of the bid option is the prospect of landing a business class seat at less than the advertised price if a passenger were to buy it upfront when making a reservation.

This could particularly be the case on days in which normal sales of business class seats are light.

That is less likely to be the case with Midwest corridor trains in which business class often sells out and availability is smaller to begin with.

Some trains, particularly in the Northeast Corridor, carry cars in which all of the seating is in business class.

Kids Can Ride Free on Amtrak

October 21, 2020

Amtrak launched this week a flash sale through Oct. 25 in which one child ages 2-12 can travel for free with each paid adult fare.

The free travel applies to coach or business class and is applicable on Northeast Corridor, national network, and most state-supported trains.

Excluded are the Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh, Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner trains in California, and some Thruway bus routes numbered 7000 to 8999.

Travel must be begin and be completed between Oct. 26 and Dec. 17. Tickets must be purchased at Amtrak.com or on the Amtrak app.

Fares are subject to availability and must be booked at least three days in advance of departure.

Backout dates of Nov. 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30 also apply along with other terms and conditions.

Amtrak Offers NEC Bargain Fares

July 11, 2020

Amtrak said this week that it is offering what it termed its “lowest fares of the year” for Northeast Corridor travel.

A news release said passengers could save up to 30 percent by booking the ongoing Saver Fares already offered on Acela and Northeast Regional trains with the special offer before July 31 for travel through Sept. 12.

The fares have no blackout dates and exchanges and refunds will be processed upon customer request through Aug. 31.

Travel Downturn Keeping Some Amtrak Fares Lower

March 17, 2020

Aside from fewer people traveling, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Amtrak has meant greater availability of fares at lower levels, an analysis by Trains magazine has found.

The analysis found that coach and sleeping car fares are at their lowest price level on most routes.

Amtrak fares vary depending on demand on a given day. The higher the demand the more likely that fares are to be higher.

Trains reported that passengers who believe they will be able to travel during historic busy travel periods will find sleeping car fares higher than what can be had now but still lower than what those fares would be under normal circumstances when sleeping car rooms are often sold out.

A roomette this summer on the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited can be had for $310, which matches the current adult roomette fare.

On the Chicago-New York Cardinal, roomettes are selling for $595 whereas last year during the summer they sold for $900.

The Cardinal has long had less sleeping car space than other eastern long-distance trains and thus its sleeping car fares have tended to be higher and space is harder to get.

Nos. 50 and 51 typically operate with one Viewliner sleeper although in recent weeks sleeping car space on the route has increased slightly with the assignment of a Viewliner baggage-dormitory car to the train.

The Trains analysis spot check found that a sleeping car accommodation on the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief can be had this summer for $740 whereas it current is priced at $604.

The respective fares for the California Zephyr (Chicago-Emeryville, California) are $685 for the summer versus $547 now and for the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder they are $900 versus $513 now.

The COVID-19 has resulted in sleeping car accommodations being sold out northbound on the Auto Train through March 23 whereas southbound plenty of space is available.

When demand for the Auto Train is strong Amtrak has the option of expanding sleeping car consists from seven cars to eight.

The Auto Train equipment pool includes Amtrak’s only two Superliner sleepers that have only bedrooms on the upper level.

Amtrak to Change Fare Rules March 1

February 24, 2020

Amtrak plans to make some of its most popular discounted tickets non-changeable and non-refundable on March 1.

The changes to the terms of the “saver” tickets mirror the rules applied to discounted airline fares.

Amtrak also plans to tighten the rules on standard fare tickets at the same time.

Currently, passengers buying “saver” tickets have some flexibility to change their travel plans and to get a refund if they cancel their trip.

Amtrak Executive Vice President Roger Harris, who is the carrier’s chief marketing and revenue officer, said tightening the rules for discounted tickets is a trade-off that will allow the railroad to make “the very lowest fares even lower.”

But no longer will passengers be able to get refunds for discounted tickets. “In other words, once you buy it, you use it or you lose it,” Harris said.

The changes in the fare rules had been expected after Business Insider last December published a leaked internal Amtrak memo describing plans for fare restrictions.

This isn’t the first time that Amtrak has cracked down on refunds and cancellations.

The carrier two years began imposing a 25 percent cancellation penalty.

Ticket change penalties are standard in the airline industry and in 2018 the airlines raked in $2.7 billion in reservation-change and cancellation.

Amtrak expected to gain $10 million dollars a year from the rule changes.

The new fare rules that become effective next month will affect “saver” and “value” tickets by establishing a 24-hour window for passengers to change their travel plans once ticketed.

After 24 hours, the ticket will become nonrefundable, and no changes or upgrades will be allowed.

Currently rules allow discounted tickets to be changed at any time before departure subject to a 25 percent cancellation fee.

Standard and value fares will come with a 25 percent penalty for cancellations or a 15 percent penalty for changes made within two weeks of departure, unless the passenger is changing or upgrading the reservation on the same train or day as the original reservation.

Standard fares currently are fully refundable if canceled eight days or more before departure. If canceled less than eight days before departure, the 25 percent cancellation fee applies.

Flexible, business and Acela First-Class Premium tickets are still refundable up to the moment of departures and changes can be made at any time.

Amtrak said that in the wake of its fare rule changes it will promote even more discounted fares for travel aboard its Acela and long-distance trains.

One area in which Amtrak continues to distinguish itself from the airlines is with add-on fees.

The carrier said it has no plans to charge passenger fees for baggage.

But Harris said that doesn’t mean it will never impose such fees.

“Frankly, we should review it,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re going to be like an airline that suddenly says give me $30 for your bag. I don’t think that’s the value proposition that we offer.”

Amtrak allows passengers two personal items and two carry-ons, plus two checked bags free.

BOGO Tickets Being Offered from Jefferson City

January 8, 2020

In cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation Amtrak is offering a buy one, get one fare sale for travel to and from Jefferson City, Missouri.

For each adult coach ticket purchased through Feb. 29 using discount code V716, a second adult traveling on the same itinerary can travel free of charge aboard one of the Missouri River Runner trains.

The offer is valid for adult coach seats only and no additional discounts can be applied.

All sales are final and no upgrade to business class is permitted.

Exchanges are permitted within the ticket validity period subject to a 25 percent cancellation fee. For more information, including other terms and conditions, visit Amtrak.com.

Amtrak said in a news release that the BOGO tickets are to thank the community for its patience while local, state and Amtrak officials worked to provide a temporary station after the regular station was closed to due to structural defects.

The temporary station is located along the boarding platform a half-block west of the regular Amtrak station, which closed last October.

The Missouri River Runner trains are funded by MoDOT. Trains 311, 313, 314 and 316 operate daily between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Leaked Memo Suggests Amtrak May Impose Restrictions in Effort to Boost Fare Revenue on Cheapest Tickets

December 14, 2019

A news report on Friday cited a leaked Amtrak internal memorandum that listed changes the passenger carrier is considering making in early 2020 to boost revenue.

These include making its lowest fares nonrefundable and nonchangeable. Other fares would be subject to a 25 percent cancellation fee and a 15 percent change fee within 14 days of travel.

The changes are similar to those that have been standard in the airline industry for several years.

A report by Business Insider, a website specializing in American business and financial news, said Amtrak is taking another page out of the airline revenue playbook by seeking to increase ancillary revenue and create more fare segmentation.

Airlines earn ancillary revenue by charging fees for such things as seat assignments and checked baggage.

The Business Insider report framed the proposed changes as part of an ongoing drive by Amtrak to turn a profit for the first time in its 48 year history.

The changes could come as soon as January although no change fees for tickets are currently shown in Amtrak’s published fare guide.

The memorandum proposed making Amtrak’s saver fares nonrefundable and nonchangeable 24 hours after purchase.

Under Amtrak’s current policies, saver fares are fully refundable up to eight days before departure. Holders of the fare can cancel their trips and receive a voucher worth 75 percent of the fare paid.

“Value” fares would be subject to a 25 percent cancellation fee and 15 percent change fee within 14 days of departure.

Amtrak does not currently impose change fees for value fares.

The Business Insider account noted that Amtrak President Richard Anderson is a former airline CEO and that several of the rail passenger carrier’s top executives also worked in the airline industry.

The report said Anderson earlier this year has said that small changes in fare structures have already helped Amtrak increase revenue.

“Pricing and revenue management was thought of like some department over in another building and we didn’t pay much attention to it,” Anderson said in September. “We’ve been able to bring some commercial instincts in and make some basic investments in revenue management technology. Nothing fancy, just basic, good, RM [revenue management] practices.”