Quantcast

Cancel without penalty by May 31? Or Make the reservation by May 31, then 11 mos out to cancel?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,267
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
Here's a question I've been having (while dithering about making a reservation for a trip next winter). I received an email from Amtrak that said:

We are waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before May 31, 2020. This includes reservations booked with points.
So, it says the reservation must be MADE by May 31. But not that any cancellations or changes must also be made by that date. So the implication is that we can make a reservation before May 31, for up to 11 months out, and then change or cancel it without penalty, right up till the day we begin travel. Do you think I have this correct? Has anyone asked that specific question, and received an answer?

Getting through the next six weeks is more important right now than making plans for next winter, but by the end of May, I might be willing to think about it. We'll see!
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,334
Location
Austin Texas
Here's a question I've been having (while dithering about making a reservation for a trip next winter). I received an email from Amtrak that said:



So, it says the reservation must be MADE by May 31. But not that any cancellations or changes must also be made by that date. So the implication is that we can make a reservation before May 31, for up to 11 months out, and then change or cancel it without penalty, right up till the day we begin travel. Do you think I have this correct? Has anyone asked that specific question, and received an answer?

Getting through the next six weeks is more important right now than making plans for next winter, but by the end of May, I might be willing to think about it. We'll see!
Good question!
Maybe call Amtrak, but they're closing Earlier Right Now (.is it 10PM EST??), so do it a little earlier, I wouldn't think they're swamped in the evenings.

Please Share what you learn!!
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
668
Location
MI
I think you have it right OP. If the reservation was made before 5/31 you won't be penalized for cancelling. Implication is that things are expected to open up by then so travel plans can be made with more confidence for both sides. As to what will actually transpire over the next year or so, who the heck knows, the experts are learning as they go and the opinions of business people are of limited usefulness when analyzing a pandemic.
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,267
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
I'll call, but I need to wait till things calm down a little in Massachusetts and my sister can actually think that far ahead about dates. 😉

Meanwhile, if anyone else asks that question, I'd like to know what they get for an answer. It will affect my timeline for making reservations. After all, if there's going to be a penalty for cancellation, I'll just wait. If by making a commitment early, I can avoid the penalty for waffling later, I'll jump.
 

F900ElCapitan

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
381
I have a couple of reservations coming up in June (of which one I won’t be taking due to a graduation ceremony being cancelled) and I was curious about this so I called. What I was told, is you can make any changes or cancellations on any upcoming reservation up until May 31st. After that date the fee’s and charges will be re-instated. As things are starting to open back up, I have a feeling this date will stick, but time will tell.
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,267
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
... you can make any changes or cancellations on any upcoming reservation up until May 31st. After that date the fee’s and charges will be re-instated. As things are starting to open back up, I have a feeling this date will stick, but time will tell.
That is what I was afraid I was going to hear. In that case, no hurry at all to make the reservations. If Sis comes up with some dates, I will use Amsnag to choose the cheapest days. Lots of points racking up right now, from the promotions and the stay-at-home and no-touch shopping.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
Hello Jennifer

Have just copied this directly from the Amtrak page, I think it's ambiguous and not clear.

Amtrak is waiving change fees: For reservations made before May 31, 2020. This includes reservations booked with points. To modify a reservation, log in to your account, go to ‘Modify Trip’ on Amtrak.com, or find your reservation from your account on the home screen in the Amtrak app. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary. If you want to cancel your reservation with no fee, you must call 1-800-USA-RAIL and speak with an agent (not available via Amtrak.com or the app)

I appreciate that F900ElCapitan has spoken with an agent and has the meaning that the particular agent understands, but we have all found different agents have different interpretations of the same subject.

The first sentence appears clear enough, no fees for reservations made before May 31, 2020.

When it gets to cancel a reservation with no fee you have to phone, but it doesn't specify a cut-off date for cancellations, unless the first sentence is applicable.

Maybe this is deliberate so agents can apply rules how they see fit, or just badly worded?

We booked our new reservations on the basis we can cancel up to a few weeks before travelling in October, but if there will be fees after May 31 then we may as well cancel them now as the future is uncertain.

Just a little snippet for you re lockdown in Spain. If you are stopped in the street by the police and are not making one of the few journeys you are allowed to make the fine is €600, ouch! Heard this from friends this morning who live in Spain, they say it concentrates the mind before going out...

Due to European governments being held to account by the media and press a great deal more information about this pandemic is appearing as public knowledge. For most countries they will be relaxing lockdown quite slowly under strict conditions as they fear a public backlash if and when a second wave of infections starts.

Oh what a mess, looks like the old order is gone and a new world beckons.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
Just called Amtrak reservations to ask them to clarify (again) what was told to ElCapitan.

Ryan told us that in the event of cancellations or alterations made after 31 May 2020 Amtrak will be reinstating usual fees for any type of changes.

This morning we heard that Germany (at the front of planning and thinking responses to the virus in Europe) advised that September would be the earliest for relatively free travel within Europe. It made us ponder whether we should retain our tickets as a full refund is available now but not later.

So we cancelled on the spot (again trouble free and under 90 seconds) and like Jennifer will now wait until much later to consider whether to travel or not. This is becoming a habit, third time we have cancelled including some tickets booked last year before Covid-19 was born.

We only made this recent third attempt at booking due to the very ambiguous message on the Amtrak website, I think they should clarify this to state for any travel up until 31 May and not just reservations.

Hope this helps others to be wary of booking beyond the Amtrak cut-off date.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,334
Location
Austin Texas
Just called Amtrak reservations to ask them to clarify (again) what was told to ElCapitan.

Ryan told us that in the event of cancellations or alterations made after 31 May 2020 Amtrak will be reinstating usual fees for any type of changes.

This morning we heard that Germany (at the front of planning and thinking responses to the virus in Europe) advised that September would be the earliest for relatively free travel within Europe. It made us ponder whether we should retain our tickets as a full refund is available now but not later.

So we cancelled on the spot (again trouble free and under 90 seconds) and like Jennifer will now wait until much later to consider whether to travel or not. This is becoming a habit, third time we have cancelled including some tickets booked last year before Covid-19 was born.

We only made this recent third attempt at booking due to the very ambiguous message on the Amtrak website, I think they should clarify this to state for any travel up until 31 May and not just reservations.

Hope this helps others to be wary of booking beyond the Amtrak cut-off date.
Thanks for the report Jamie! Hope yall are still doing well over there in France!
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,267
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
Ryan told us that in the event of cancellations or alterations made after 31 May 2020 Amtrak will be reinstating usual fees for any type of changes.

...

Hope this helps others to be wary of booking beyond the Amtrak cut-off date.
Yes, thanks very much to Jamie for calling and getting that clarification. I agree that the wording on Amtrak.com is very ambiguous, as was the wording in the email they sent out. That's why I needed to ask. Making assumptions can cost you later on, and I always hate to have put myself in that position.

I hope that others find the answers in this thread as useful as I have! Thanks, all.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
Thanks for the report Jamie! Hope yall are still doing well over there in France!
Yes thanks Jim, it's a haven of peace but not sure how long before we start to go stir crazy.

How about you, and of course your mum and your family? How is it working out in your patch?
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,334
Location
Austin Texas
Yes thanks Jim, it's a haven of peace but not sure how long before we start to go stir crazy.

How about you, and of course your mum and your family? How is it working out in your patch?
Thanks Jamie, Best to Rosie!

Were doing pretty good here in Austin so far, wish the rest of the Country was doing as well as us!

My worry is that since it's an election year the Politicians will let the Greedheads,Protesting Morons ( a tiny Minority in our Country) and Ignorant Economic Zombies pressure them in to reopening everything too soon, and when the Second Wave hits itll be a Totsl Disaster for this Country and the World!
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
Thanks Jamie, Best to Rosie!

Were doing pretty good here in Austin so far, wish the rest of the Country was doing as well as us!

My worry is that since it's an election year the Politicians will let the Greedheads,Protesting Morons ( a tiny Minority in our Country) and Ignorant Economic Zombies pressure them in to reopening everything too soon, and when the Second Wave hits itll be a Totsl Disaster for this Country and the World!
Yes that's all well and good but what about the important stuff, your family?
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
Jim what you wrote above is happening to a lesser extent in the UK, but it's politics and I couldn't possibly comment.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,334
Location
Austin Texas
My family are all doing fine, both here in Texas and California,which are 2 of the Safer places (compared to the "Hotspots" )"thanks to good Leadership and cooperative citizens!
 
Last edited:

jebr

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
3,945
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
Just called Amtrak reservations to ask them to clarify (again) what was told to ElCapitan.

Ryan told us that in the event of cancellations or alterations made after 31 May 2020 Amtrak will be reinstating usual fees for any type of changes.
This surprises me, and would go against both what the verbiage of the text states (reservations made by May 31, with no indication of when changes need to be made by) and what other travel companies are doing (most airlines are offering cancellations anytime for reservations made by a certain date, though usually with the refund being in a voucher form for the airline.) I wonder if it's a case of an agent not fully understanding the rules, poor internal communication, or the website having the wrong information. Unfortunately, we likely won't know the true reality until June 1 at the earliest.

That said, based on the information on the website, there'd be a strong case that a full refund should be offered for any cancellation of a reservation made by May 31. With the arbitration clause, it might be difficult to enforce if Amtrak really resisted giving refunds. However, it's quite possible that a hang-up-call-again or a complaint to customer relations would get a full refund if the initial contact didn't.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
This surprises me, and would go against both what the verbiage of the text states (reservations made by May 31, with no indication of when changes need to be made by) and what other travel companies are doing (most airlines are offering cancellations anytime for reservations made by a certain date, though usually with the refund being in a voucher form for the airline.) I wonder if it's a case of an agent not fully understanding the rules, poor internal communication, or the website having the wrong information. Unfortunately, we likely won't know the true reality until June 1 at the earliest.

That said, based on the information on the website, there'd be a strong case that a full refund should be offered for any cancellation of a reservation made by May 31. With the arbitration clause, it might be difficult to enforce if Amtrak really resisted giving refunds. However, it's quite possible that a hang-up-call-again or a complaint to customer relations would get a full refund if the initial contact didn't.
Completely agree with you, we wouldn't have made the booking if we had thought we had to cancel by 31 May. But after Jennifer's question and ElCapitan's experience it made us doubt and want to confirm what we read into the statement hoping ElCapitan's agent was misinformed, but we received the identical answer when we asked.

Agreement to a full refund was instant, an email arrived within seconds stating we are due to have the full value returned to our bank account.

Amtrak aside, 2 sets of airline tickets we have booked ahead of the virus outbreak (Delta and Singapore Airlines) for the journey to arrive at the gathering the long way round are not being co-operative with any form of refund. They are making us nervous of any travel plans where there is a suggestion we will lose more than we have so far, therefore no hesitation in cancelling if there were the slightest chance we were to lose money again.

Maybe someone with authority from the forum could ask Amtrak to clarify their booking and cancellation policy for the benefit of the whole membership, and put it in writing?
 

jebr

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
3,945
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
I reached out to Amtrak via a Twitter DM (as far as I know, no member of the AU staff has any official media contacts with Amtrak.) Based on my conversation with them, under the current waiver all changes/cancellations must be made by 5/31 to be eligible for a fee-free change/refund. It doesn't matter when you make the reservation, only when you change it. They did say that they may extend it to a later date in the future, depending on how the situation with COVID-19 develops. I did mention that the website makes it sound different and to send a request up to clarify that the change must be made by 5/31. They said they'll pass it along.

With that in mind, I'd personally take a "wait and see" approach. I wouldn't be surprised if the date gets extended beyond May 31, but there's no guarantee of that. My personal date for seeing if they'll change it is May 20; if they don't change it by then, I'll decide whether to keep the reservation for the Gathering understanding I may lose 10% of my points, or whether to cancel it and hope the low fare is there if I decide to travel for a few days after the Gathering in October.
 

Samsbigtrip

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
99
Location
Wiltshire, UK
In four weeks time I would have been on my Big Trip, but the Elephant has kyboshed that and even if I could travel I'm not sure I want to - especially when rent-a-crowd in the US are demonstrating against restrictions implemented to saving lives, and they are consequently putting lives in jeopardy.
So:
American Airlines will give me an eCredit valid until the end of 2021, Delta and Virgin Atlantic are more generous and their eCredit extends two years. My Grants Pass AirBNB and I agreed to cancel and while AirBNB initially kept the fees the B&B had paid, they relented after an email from me asking asking nicely for them to reimburse my hosts. My Chicago hotel just cancelled but I booked all my hotels with free cancellation so I'm just waiting for the other three to cancel me.
My bank has dropped the interest it pays me from 1% to 0.25% and I beginning to wonder if I shall eventually be paying them to use my money!
In three weeks I will start the process of cancelling the remaining bookings - all made in December. These include my flights and the hotels that haven't already cancelled on me, and contacting Amtrak to cancel my 23rd May EB journey from Seattle to Chicago, and from what I have read that should be fee-free. Is that correct?
Stay safe everyone, stay well! xxx
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
In three weeks I will start the process of cancelling the remaining bookings - all made in December. These include my flights and the hotels that haven't already cancelled on me, and contacting Amtrak to cancel my 23rd May EB journey from Seattle to Chicago, and from what I have read that should be fee-free. Is that correct?
@Samsbigtrip

Sam, I would contact Amtrak now and not wait. My guess is as the deadline for fee free cancellation approaches they are going to get busy.

When you call Amtrak, I use the 800 number by the way and not the number for international customers, you are asked by an automated answer system what you need, just say the word 'Agent'. You may have to say this 2 or 3 times before you are headed towards one but it is easy to use as soon as the system realises you need to speak to a person.

I have had an instance where an agent said there were fees, said I'd let them know, phoned back, got different agent who put the full credit immediately back to the account that paid for the tickets. Sometime you will wait for up to a week to see the money back in your account as refunds are/were not actioned every day.

Compared to airlines Amtrak are fabulous about giving refunds when there is a good reason, you become a customer for life.

Good luck, but if you have any other questions just ask, done this 3 times now.
 

v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,288
Location
UK / France
I reached out to Amtrak via a Twitter DM (as far as I know, no member of the AU staff has any official media contacts with Amtrak.) Based on my conversation with them, under the current waiver all changes/cancellations must be made by 5/31 to be eligible for a fee-free change/refund. It doesn't matter when you make the reservation, only when you change it. They did say that they may extend it to a later date in the future, depending on how the situation with COVID-19 develops. I did mention that the website makes it sound different and to send a request up to clarify that the change must be made by 5/31. They said they'll pass it along.

With that in mind, I'd personally take a "wait and see" approach. I wouldn't be surprised if the date gets extended beyond May 31, but there's no guarantee of that. My personal date for seeing if they'll change it is May 20; if they don't change it by then, I'll decide whether to keep the reservation for the Gathering understanding I may lose 10% of my points, or whether to cancel it and hope the low fare is there if I decide to travel for a few days after the Gathering in October.
Thanks for doing that Jeb, think it needed to be done.
 

Samsbigtrip

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
99
Location
Wiltshire, UK
@Samsbigtrip
Sam, I would contact Amtrak now and not wait. My guess is as the deadline for fee free cancellation approaches they are going to get busy.
[...]
Good advice V - thank you. It took 3 minutes and 35 seconds from the time I had navigated Julie to the time I hung up. Emailed confirmation of cancellation receipt already in my inbox and my refund will be with me within 7 days.
So sad :-(
Stay safe everyone, stay well.
xxxSam
 
Top