Benefit to Buying Round Trip Ticket vs. Two One Way Ticket

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I want to buy a ticket but I am not 100% sure of my return date (I'd like to keep it flexible). I believe that when you buy a round trip on Amtrak as opposed to an airplane ticket you are essentially buying two one way tickets and there is no discounts to buying the round trip together. Is this true? Is there any benefit to buying my trip and return trip together vs. buying my trip and return trip separately?
 

the_traveler

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With the exception of AT (I think) a round trip ticket is essentially 2 one way tickets, which cost the same as 2 one way tickets. I see no real benefit to getting a round trip ticket. However, I do see a big downside.

If for some reason your ticket is not pulled on one segment, the computer will think you are a no-show and automatically cancel all future reservations on that particular reservation. It may not even be your fault. (Say the Conductor came thru, you were in the bathroom/cafe/diner and did not collect your ticket - then (s)he pushes all done. Because your ticket was not pullled, and your reservation was A-B-C-D-C-B-A with this being the B-C segment, the computer will cancel your C-D segment. However your D-C-B-A segments would also be cancelled.) You may not know of this cancellation until you try to check your bags upon your return 3 weeks later!

Another is if you try to change your reservation or room on the B-C segment, your reserved room on your D-C segment may be changed or cancelled without your knowledge!

I always make mine as 2 one way tickets.
 
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Chey

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I've priced all my trips both ways and never seen any advantage to round trip. In fact, I've sometimes booked both segments of a one-way two-train trip as separate tickets and saw no cost difference, the only advantage there being the guaranteed connection of doing them together.
 
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BCL

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There are a few cases where it might make sense. Some discount coupons apply to either one way or round trip. The companion coupon definitely too.

Maybe also a quick round trip out and back loop? Isnt that a guaranteed connection if the outbound direction is late?
 

fairviewroad

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There are a few cases where it might make sense. Some discount coupons apply to either one way or round trip. The companion coupon definitely too.
Yes, the companion coupon can be used for a round-trip. That's the only time I've booked a r/t ticket in the past three years. Otherwise, I'm solidly in the "two one-ways" camp.
 

BCL

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I haven't played around with it, but is there a difference in Points cost between 1-way and RT when using AGR?
Nope. I believe it's a minimum 800 points each way. I thought maybe I could get some sort round trip booked for less than 1600 points, but it was a minimum of 1600 points for any round trip.
 

BoulderCO

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For the reasons stated above, I always purchase two one-way tickets. By the way, I also do this now with airline tickets. No extra cost (on United, at least) and with the non-refundable tickets I buy, potentially a lot of savings if I need to change my travel plans.
 

BCL

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For the reasons stated above, I always purchase two one-way tickets. By the way, I also do this now with airline tickets. No extra cost (on United, at least) and with the non-refundable tickets I buy, potentially a lot of savings if I need to change my travel plans.
These days airline fares are basically a la carte, but I remember back even a decade ago there used to be fare rules that created weird pricing depending on the layover time. I think a Saturday layover was the key to getting a round-trip price that went way down.

One time I was trying to book a round-trip flight, and the total fare more than tripled depending on whether or not I booked the first flight of the day or the second. I think one-way fares were far different though. A lot of pricing didn't necessarily match up with purchasing one-way fares separately.
 

DoB

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Generally speaking, I agree with the advice to buy two one-ways unless there's a specific reason, such as a coupon, to buy a round-trip.

If one is only planning to stay at the destination very briefly, however, I wonder if Amtrak is more likely to provide protection against a misconnect if both legs are on a single reservation (round-trip or multicity) than if they're on separate reservations. I'm thinking of the little adventure I had in January 2016.

Of course, most of us don't take the train to our destination with plans to head back home 95 minutes later, so the point is mostly moot. (And points runs are basically a thing of the past, with AGR 2.)
 

BCL

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Generally speaking, I agree with the advice to buy two one-ways unless there's a specific reason, such as a coupon, to buy a round-trip.

If one is only planning to stay at the destination very briefly, however, I wonder if Amtrak is more likely to provide protection against a misconnect if both legs are on a single reservation (round-trip or multicity) than if they're on separate reservations. I'm thinking of the little adventure I had in January 2016.

Of course, most of us don't take the train to our destination with plans to head back home 95 minutes later, so the point is mostly moot. (And points runs are basically a thing of the past, with AGR 2.)
That's certainly what I was thinking. I've made at least one out and back trip (EMY-SNS-EMY) where my main options were once a day.

However, since most people have mobile devices, it is possible to cancel and maintain points if it's not possible to make the return. I don't know how it would work in case there's a delay for my example that's severe enough to not get to Salinas in time for the return. There's one thruway bus that would go SNS-EMY, but that theoretically would need to be booked with a train segment. I know if I managed to cancel and had to rebook, I might consider just booking that and a throwaway train segment for the next morning. That bus would arrive in Emeryville after the last train of the day. If they allowed it to be a guaranteed connection, they might be able to accommodate that via bus only.
 
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