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Amtrak Benefits with United Ending

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TC_NYC

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Shouldn't be a huge surprise, since they are probably killing every single avoidable expense these days...

Benefits With United Airlines Will Be Discontinued
December 24, 2020 will be the last day to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points on United Airlines itineraries. February 4, 2021 will be the last day that United Club access will be a benefit of Select Plus and Select Executive tier status.


This was actually the easiest way to rack up AGR points, every mile you traveled with United earned 1x AGR point, no matter how cheap your ticket was (and didn't need to involve Amtrak travel). So a LAX-MCO ticket earned 2,218 AGR points.
 
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jis

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I believe United wanted to get rid of actual distance based award points allocation across the board like they have done for their own customers. So this might be something that United wanted, in order to make all award points based on revenue rather than distance traveled.

The only thing for which actual distance traveled is used now is for certain aspects of status computation including lifetime status purposes.

Besides, the benefits structure was pretty lopsided heavily weighted in favor of Amtrak program members anyway. There was little of benefit for general United Mileage Plus members that was of value to most in it.
 
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AmtrakFlyer

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The interesting thing is and I just read it again yesterday miles/points were only supposed to be awarded on NEC trains with a connection to United involved. The points given for any United flight apparently were/are a glitch.
 

me_little_me

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Does this mean United Club members would lose Amtrak club privileges? If so, lock 'em up! Or pack the Executive Board! (Depends on your political inclinations). :)
 

MARC Rider

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Oh well, at least I got to use the United Lounge once. But I didn't realize you could earn AGR points for United trips. I don't usually fly United, but I did when I went to China in 2017, and could have racked up some points.
 

Winecliff Station

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Does this mean United Club members would lose Amtrak club privileges? If so, lock 'em up! Or pack the Executive Board! (Depends on your political inclinations). :)
Good question. The announcement doesn't mention United Club members, only those with tier status. Since United Club is a paid membership the rules may be different

Club Acela was the only benefit for me having United Club membership, because I was using Club Acela 2-3 times per week before the pandemic. If the access is gone I may ditch the United Club MasterCard in June when the annual fee comes up again, since this would be a major devaluation for me.
 

jis

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Good question. The announcement doesn't mention United Club members, only those with tier status. Since United Club is a paid membership the rules may be different

Club Acela was the only benefit for me having United Club membership, because I was using Club Acela 2-3 times per week before the pandemic. If the access is gone I may ditch the United Club MasterCard in June when the annual fee comes up again, since this would be a major devaluation for me.
AFAICT, the entire relationship between the two is being severed, so United Club members will indeed lose access to Club Acela access.

I have used the Club Acela access a few times after I lost my AGR status after moving to Florida. Frankly in my case I did not consider Club Acela access to be a critical factor since I used it so seldom., when I did not have access due to my class of travel on Amtrak. I doubt that very many United Club members care too much about that except some who live in the NEC territory.

Frankly for Amtrak, if they had a large anough lounge at a location, they would be much better off selling single or multiple use passes and pocketing the money directly instead of going through convoluted partnership scheme.
 

jloewen

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AFAICT, the entire relationship between the two is being severed, so United Club members will indeed lose access to Club Acela access.

I have used the Club Acela access a few times after I lost my AGR status after moving to Florida. Frankly in my case I did not consider Club Acela access to be a critical factor since I used it so seldom., when I did not have access due to my class of travel on Amtrak. I doubt that very many United Club members care too much about that except some who live in the NEC territory.

Frankly for Amtrak, if they had a large anough lounge at a location, they would be much better off selling single or multiple use passes and pocketing the money directly instead of going through convoluted partnership scheme.
Hm. I used the United lounges, based on my Amtrak status, and that was a meaningful bonus. In Denver, e.g., you got a decent lunch (soup, salad, even dessert items), and you could bring along a traveling associate too. So this is a devaluation of Amtrak status for me.
 

me_little_me

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Hm. I used the United lounges, based on my Amtrak status, and that was a meaningful bonus. In Denver, e.g., you got a decent lunch (soup, salad, even dessert items), and you could bring along a traveling associate too. So this is a devaluation of Amtrak status for me.
Just the opposite for me. As a lifetime United Club member, I could get into Amtrak's clubs on trips in the NEC after having traveled up there on the day before.
 

jis

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Hm. I used the United lounges, based on my Amtrak status, and that was a meaningful bonus. In Denver, e.g., you got a decent lunch (soup, salad, even dessert items), and you could bring along a traveling associate too. So this is a devaluation of Amtrak status for me.
Since I am a United Club member that AGR benefit was never of any use to me while flying United, and I seldom fly any other airline, specially one that is not a member of the Star Alliance.
 

jebr

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While I never used it much, this is a bit disappointing to see. I'm guessing most of the push is coming from United's end (trying to remove the cost of buying points from Amtrak, maybe trying to get rid of the loophole for flights out of EWR with a train segment, etc.) I think that one of the best ways trains can be a vital part of our transportation system, especially short-to-medium-term, is to be feeder services for long flights.

The frustrating part is that United is probably the most logical partner for such a partnership (with major hubs at EWR and ORD, one directly connected to Amtrak and the other a major Midwest hub, although requiring a connection on local rail.) BWI could be another useful place to have connections available at, but Southwest is the main airline with a strong presence there, and they don't do any codesharing currently. I'm not currently aware of any other airports that have direct Amtrak connections and are a hub for a major US airline. I think the direct rail link (or a dedicated shuttle service, at minimum) is required as a starting point - it's hard enough to get people to move from going all-air to a rail-air connection, and having to navigate local transit on top of that would likely put off a lot of people who might at least consider a clear, direct connection. You might be able to do it in a place like DEN, where it's basically a cross-platform transfer to the local train to the airport, the airport train runs every 15 minutes, and has luggage racks, but somewhere like Seattle, Portland, or Chicago would require dedicated transport to be successful.

I've taken the Landline bus (which connects MSP airport to the Duluth airport) and while I haven't done it as part of a Sun Country itinerary (which is the partner they use,) it does seem to work pretty well, with unified check-in and even checked baggage transfers. That's the kind of transfer experience that should be strived for to get people onto the train instead of running feeder air services everywhere.
 

Bob Dylan

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Burbank,CA also has a direct Train to Airport stop.

Othef Major Cities with Rail between Amtrak Stations and Airports are Dallas, Ft. Worth and Philadelphia.
 

jis

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Rumor has it that United was told that Amtrak would charge more for the AGR points doled out by United, which raised awareness among United bean counters of the Amtrak relationship, and they decided to remove a cost item for which they did not see enough benefit accruing to United.

But truth be told, United had already started winding down the relationship about a month back before any announcement was made by shutting down their Penn Station operations.

One significant problem with the United - Amtrak codeshare was the lack of seamlessness in handling checked baggage at the United - Amtrak interface. This made it difficult to use for those carrying a mountain of baggage, most of it in checked form. To use Amtrak they ahd to drag all that themselves instead of the airline/Amtrak handling it. It was workable only for the single cabin baggage type travelers, and even for them buying separate tickets tended to be cheaper.
 

Winecliff Station

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Trogdor

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I didn't see anything in the article about discontinuing actual train service to EWR....anyone have an answer from reading other sources?
Nobody said they were. This has to do with earning miles/points and access to lounges. Nothing to do with stations being served.
 

Winecliff Station

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Nobody said they were. This has to do with earning miles/points and access to lounges. Nothing to do with stations being served.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply anyone had said it.... it was just a question that occurred to me in light of the other ties being cut.
 

me_little_me

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Some day (dream on), Amtrak and the airlines will have real code share as Amtrak provides the service now provided by small carriers who have "jumper" planes that go from the hub airport to local cities e.g. Atlanta to Macon or Charlotte to Greenville.
Half the flights in an out of the hubs can be eliminated reducing airport congestion.
Safety would be increased.
The money saved by eliminating or reducing the size of redundant airports can be used to pay for expanded train service so a city like Greenville, SC would have high speed trains both to Charlotte airport (and downtown) and Atlanta.
 

MARC Rider

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Some day (dream on), Amtrak and the airlines will have real code share as Amtrak provides the service now provided by small carriers who have "jumper" planes that go from the hub airport to local cities e.g. Atlanta to Macon or Charlotte to Greenville.
Half the flights in an out of the hubs can be eliminated reducing airport congestion.
Safety would be increased.
The money saved by eliminating or reducing the size of redundant airports can be used to pay for expanded train service so a city like Greenville, SC would have high speed trains both to Charlotte airport (and downtown) and Atlanta.
To have that really happen, somebody would have to spend a lot of money to build access tracks from the railroad main lines into the airport terminals, not to mention building and staffing stations in the airport terminals. As far as I know, the only place in the US that has anything close to that is Philadelphia, but even there, the SEPTA tracks only link up with the NEC in the direction of 30th. St. That means that they could run Keystones from the Airport to Lancaster and Harrisburg or maybe Northeast Regionals to New York, but anything else would require a change at 30th St.
 

jis

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Actually the setup in EWR is perfectly usable for such, as is BWI with a little tweak. If those are not usable as such then neither are the rail connections in Frankfurt (requires a people mover ride to get to most terminals) or London Heathrow (requires an endless walk to get to the Heathrow Express/Connect station). would be usable. Then there is Milwaukee and Burbank and such, as well as Harrisburg which are also possible to bring upto usable standard, as is Miami, and Orlando soon, if things fall in place properly. There may be others that I can't think of right at this moment.

Could those be even better? Sure. But let us not fall into the trap of "ideal is the enemy of good".

Frankly, at SFO they should have extended the Air Train all the way to Millbrae Caltrain/BART instead of the BART connection. Millbrae is about as far as the Car Rental complex is from the main terminals, which is reached by the Air Train.
 
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