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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic: Amtrak-related Discussion

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MikeM

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
512
Location
Wichita Falls TX
I finally bit the bullet and cancelled my trip for the end of this month. Calling in at 9:50am today, I was told there was a 10 minute wait and could enter a call back number. The whole process went smoothly. I'd booked using AGR points and the whole balance was refunded to my account. Makes me sad to walk away from this trip, it was something I was really looking forward to, but it was the safe thing to do.
 

iplaybass

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
169
Location
STL
Much easier to cancel and get a full refund to original payment on Amtrak than UA or AA. I had no trips booked on DL, so no experience there.
 

chakk

Conductor
Joined
May 26, 2011
Messages
2,555
Just boarded San Joaquin 711 in Hanford, the first morning northbound, making a connection in Sacramento to the Zephyr. In the 30 something years I have been riding the San Joaquins, I have never seen this few passengers riding. It’s just me and a small handful of others. I have an entire Comet coach car to myself! View attachment 17092
In today's world, perhaps social distancing on Amtrak means "one person per air circulation system".

Or perhaps, a la Larry David, you were wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat?
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,209
Per aviation pubs. Delta is parking all their larger planes during this crisis. Makes sense. However the pilots on those planes have no where to go as requalification on other planes will take time. Present rules by the FAA ( may be subject to crisis change ) require 3 take offs and landings ever 90 days or a sim 3 and requalification sim checks once a year..
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,031
Location
OTN
Maybe NOW Amtrak will stop blocking passengers like sardines so that THEY (conductors) won't have to work so hard. I am not sure if The Carolinian ever had assigned seating south from Philadelphia, but we (passengers) were told to find our own seats in a specific car over the weekend. It was a refreshing change for me as the Crescent crews are always such power hoarders and have threatened me with expulsion for not sitting where I choose. I asked the Conductor on Saturday morning (Carolinian) if open seating was based on the pandemic...he said "No, I didn't know there was an issue with that"...! I was concerned that one (maybe two) cars were completely blocked off. One of the suggestions from the CDC is to "self-isolate"...the further away from another person you can get, the better off you will be. So why not open the cars if they are available...? As far as I know, cleaning crews are paid to clean the entire train, conductors are paid to monitor passengers on the ENTIRE train. Maybe this virus will make Amtrak reconsider their seating policy going forward.
If you're worried about self-isolating, you're not on a train.
 
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crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,687
So... when do we think a total shut down of LD will happen? I have nothing else to do and tempted to take what may be my last LD train on some routes. I doubt all routes will reopen when Amtrak starts up again.

Anyone else doing / thinking the same?
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
11,781
Location
Delaware
So... when do we think a total shut down of LD will happen? I have nothing else to do and tempted to take what may be my last LD train on some routes. I doubt all routes will reopen when Amtrak starts up again.

Anyone else doing / thinking the same?
No, I have no plans to travel. I’m taking this virus seriously and will not put myself or others in danger for a joy ride
 
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v v

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2012
Messages
1,285
Location
UK / France
Re refunding tickets.

This morning used the number supplied in above posts and was asked to provide a credit card number in full before the call could be taken further. Wasn't sure why so dialled the number on Amtrak's website which was a different number, the Julie system connected us to an agent almost without wait.

Was told that full refunds are possible for journeys taken up to 30 April 2020, after that (ours is October) there would be the regular % deduction as they will not accept Coronavirus as a reason to give a full refund beyond that date. BTW we paid cash (via a credit card) for our tickets.

Said we had to think about it and would call back. After discussing it we realised that we hadn't mentioned two things. That we are in Europe and can't guarantee getting to the US to take any train, and that I am a long time supporter/member of an Amtrak forum.

Phoned back, different agent. he said immediately of course we can issue a full refund, where do you want it returned to, and that was that along with an Amtrak refund email, maybe under 2 minutes.

If it was because it was simply a different agent with a different take on the current rules, or that we can't guarantee getting to the US anyway, or even that this forum is more powerful than I thought we'll never know, but I'll say what I have said before that Amtrak customer service is absolutely second to none, anywhere, including if they had charged a fee.

Well done Amtrak, reinforced we are customers for life.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
919
So... when do we think a total shut down of LD will happen? I have nothing else to do and tempted to take what may be my last LD train on some routes. I doubt all routes will reopen when Amtrak starts up again.

Anyone else doing / thinking the same?
I think the entire railroad will shutdown unless they get the billion dollar bailout they are looking for.
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
11,781
Location
Delaware
Re refunding tickets.

This morning used the number supplied in above posts and was asked to provide a credit card number in full before the call could be taken further. Wasn't sure why so dialled the number on Amtrak's website which was a different number, the Julie system connected us to an agent almost without wait.

Was told that full refunds are possible for journeys taken up to 30 April 2020, after that (ours is October) there would be the regular % deduction as they will not accept Coronavirus as a reason to give a full refund beyond that date. BTW we paid cash (via a credit card) for our tickets.

Said we had to think about it and would call back. After discussing it we realised that we hadn't mentioned two things. That we are in Europe and can't guarantee getting to the US to take any train, and that I am a long time supporter/member of an Amtrak forum.

Phoned back, different agent. he said immediately of course we can issue a full refund, where do you want it returned to, and that was that along with an Amtrak refund email, maybe under 2 minutes.

If it was because it was simply a different agent with a different take on the current rules, or that we can't guarantee getting to the US anyway, or even that this forum is more powerful than I thought we'll never know, but I'll say what I have said before that Amtrak customer service is absolutely second to none, anywhere, including if they had charged a fee.

Well done Amtrak, reinforced we are customers for life.
People seem to be getting the April 30th date confused. Apparently even the agents. They’re waiving fees for purchases made by 4/30/20, not traveled by 4/30. So I’d say the 1st agent was confused and the 2nd agent knew what the policy was.
 

StanJazz

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
190
Location
CHI
Re refunding tickets.

This morning used the number supplied in above posts and was asked to provide a credit card number in full before the call could be taken further. Wasn't sure why so dialled the number on Amtrak's website which was a different number, the Julie system connected us to an agent almost without wait.

Was told that full refunds are possible for journeys taken up to 30 April 2020, after that (ours is October) there would be the regular % deduction as they will not accept Coronavirus as a reason to give a full refund beyond that date. BTW we paid cash (via a credit card) for our tickets.

Said we had to think about it and would call back. After discussing it we realised that we hadn't mentioned two things. That we are in Europe and can't guarantee getting to the US to take any train, and that I am a long time supporter/member of an Amtrak forum.

Phoned back, different agent. he said immediately of course we can issue a full refund, where do you want it returned to, and that was that along with an Amtrak refund email, maybe under 2 minutes.

If it was because it was simply a different agent with a different take on the current rules, or that we can't guarantee getting to the US anyway, or even that this forum is more powerful than I thought we'll never know, but I'll say what I have said before that Amtrak customer service is absolutely second to none, anywhere, including if they had charged a fee.

Well done Amtrak, reinforced we are customers for life.
The number on the above is not the same as 1-800-USARAIL. USARAIL is the same as 1-800-872-7245
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,188
Location
Gator Country Florida
I doubt all routes will reopen when Amtrak starts up again. ... Anyone else doing / thinking the same?
Actually, with the amount of money they say the airlines are going to need to get back to full operation ... No, I don't think Amtrak routes will be killed. It will take less money to keep Amtrak running while the airlines recover then it will to bring the airlines back rapidly.
 

tim49424

Conductor
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
2,963
Location
Holland, MI
I just called and canceled a trip via AGR Plus special number. It took less than two minutes to get a full refund. The agent did ask me why I was canceling and I told her fear of the Covid-19 virus. I was scheduled to travel to Kansas City, May 1-4 to attend the Tigers-Royals games on the 2nd & 3rd. Those games will not be played which started the process of me calling off the trip. Being nobody knows how the season is going to play out, or frankly if it is, I probably will not be rescheduling the trip until next year. The Amtrak cancellation was so quick and so effortless, I was really impressed that it went as expected. As sad as I am to nix this, I’m glad Amtrak was so accommodating.
 

DonNewcomb

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
43
What is going on with Vancouver, BC service?....
I don't know but every winter we have a Canadian snow-bird couple in our Tia-Chi class at the local senior center. They were scheduled to leave for home on April 1st but bugged out early this week to get home before the border is closed.
 

Lacunacoil

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
21
Just to clarify even further, huge saver fare sale today, which has no changes allowed or refunds being a saver fare. This is the policy that began few weeks ago. Coronavirus wont effect this, so another words, you cant buy ticket and expect change is possible. I just got off phone with a car who put me on hold and checked. This saver fare no change policy is awful as I dont live anyplace I just travel to 6 different states, by train, on low budget. And always only decide the day before or day of if I want to go.
 

IndyLions

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
336
Location
Brownsburg IN
Much easier to cancel and get a full refund to original payment on Amtrak than UA or AA. I had no trips booked on DL, so no experience there.
Delta was a challenge. Re-booking my daughter’s trip back to college, which she’s going to need to rebook again – involved going to the airport because we could not get through even after multiple hour waits on the hotline.

A few days later, I had slightly better luck re-booking my own business travel – but the wait was still 2+ hours on the phone (probably closer to three).

Also – I was not able to get any sort of refund only a credit for future travel.

My multiple calls to Amtrak were all handled within five minutes with a full refund. It went super smoothly with professional response from the agents.

As a matter of fact, of all the travel arrangements I had to cancel - it was only the airlines where I could not get a refund. In every other situation I got a full refund from hotels, Amtrak, etc.

I think they are addicted to their business model of taking everybody’s money upfront and depending on it for cash flow. No wonder they need to get bailed out every time there’s an economic crisis. Anybody who says the airlines are not subsidized is fooling themselves. I support the subsidy, don’t get me wrong – but I get sick of hearing the argument that Amtrak is subsidized and airlines are not.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,531
Location
Toronto area
I don't know but every winter we have a Canadian snow-bird couple in our Tia-Chi class at the local senior center. They were scheduled to leave for home on April 1st but bugged out early this week to get home before the border is closed.
Canadians have until the 23rd of March to get back before their out-of-country health insurance is terminated. Several of the companies who provide these services are using the crisis to wiggle out of contracts, so even if one breaks a leg they will not be covered. This, and threat of a full border closure have everyone expediting returns. We trimmed our US vacation by 3 days and know many who are dropping weeks.
 

Tirnipgreen

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
27
If you're worried about self-isolating, you're not on a train.
I think my point was more about the way Amtrak conductors block passengers into tightly packed groups when (as they ought to be doing now) they ought to allow passengers to find their own seat where THEY want to sit. I have yet to figure out why seating can't be handled like the airlines do with online seat selection. My other point was...were the conductors so clueless about the nationwide Coronavirus protocols dealing with distancing from others...? I, personally, am not buying into the toilet paper hoarding mentality that has taken this country by storm. Am I concerned about contracting the virus, YES...! I just think the attitudes of many Amtrak staff towards passengers need to improve...but I still prefer the train over flying.
 

VentureForth

Conductor
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
5,857
Location
Richmond Hill, GA
I think my point was more about the way Amtrak conductors block passengers into tightly packed groups when (as they ought to be doing now) they ought to allow passengers to find their own seat where THEY want to sit. I have yet to figure out why seating can't be handled like the airlines do with online seat selection. My other point was...were the conductors so clueless about the nationwide Coronavirus protocols dealing with distancing from others...? I, personally, am not buying into the toilet paper hoarding mentality that has taken this country by storm. Am I concerned about contracting the virus, YES...! I just think the attitudes of many Amtrak staff towards passengers need to improve...but I still prefer the train over flying.
It's not insurmountable, but the main reason they can't do seat selection on the train like they do on the airlines is because on the airlines, everyone gets on then off together. Though Amtrak could certainly assign seats, seat selection would be a whole different ballgame.
 
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