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

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AmtrakBlue

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Can anyone confirm whether this is true even of Saver fares? I have a ticket for later this month that I won't be using (work-related travel to a conference that's no longer happening). Trying to cancel online offers me an eVoucher less a $7 fee. If I can get an actual refund by calling, I will, but I don't know if I want to spend the time waiting for an agent if all I'll get is an eVoucher with an extra $7 on it.
I cancelled two BOGO (buy one, get one) tickets yesterday and got a full refund. I chose eVouchers since I know I'll be taking trains later this year. I did call, and luckily did not have a long wait to talk to an agent. I called around 5:45 eastern.
 

Bob Dylan

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The City of Austin has just issued a ban on activities that are held in Venues that have a capacity of 2,500 or more persons until May 1st!

This applies to all such places in the the City of Austin but does not include Travis County ( the Annual Rodeo starts next week)and the University of Texas ( where I work).

So far, 2 persons have tested positive for the Virus in the Greater Austin Area( 2 1/2 Million Population), one person in Travis County and one Dell Employee who traveled FROM Austin to India where he resides and is in isolation.
 

Johanna

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Can anyone confirm whether this is true even of Saver fares? I have a ticket for later this month that I won't be using (work-related travel to a conference that's no longer happening). Trying to cancel online offers me an eVoucher less a $7 fee. If I can get an actual refund by calling, I will, but I don't know if I want to spend the time waiting for an agent if all I'll get is an eVoucher with an extra $7 on it.
Well, in case anyone's interested in how this went: I called 1-800-USA-RAIL, and (stupidly) cancelled the reservation through Julie the robot. She said she could give me an eVoucher, which I told her was fine - she didn't mention anything about a cancellation fee, but a few minutes later, the eVoucher showed up in my inbox...for the fare less $7.

I called back and asked for Customer Relations. I got through right away, but they said that for my situation I'd have to be transferred to the Refunds department, for which there was a 10-minute wait. The Refunds agent offered to issue me a second eVoucher for $7. I asked if it was possible to get an actual refund, and he said he couldn't process that for me, but that he could send me back to Customer Relations. Having had enough by this point, I said I'd just take the eVouchers. I'll use them for something, I'm sure. (Unless we really are on the brink of the apocalypse, in which case I've got bigger things to worry about than a few dollars in Amtrak credit.)
 

AmtrakBlue

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It took me a bit to bypass Julie, but I did because I didn't trust the computer to give me a full refund....I doubt they'll expend the time/energy updating the code to handle this temporary event.
 

Johanna

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It took me a bit to bypass Julie, but I did because I didn't trust the computer to give me a full refund....I doubt they'll expend the time/energy updating the code to handle this temporary event.
I shouldn't have trusted her either, in hindsight, but I thought I'd give her a try. I guess I assumed that at some point, she'd say something like "Your reservation is subject to a cancellation fee of $7, so your eVoucher will be for $(X-7). Are you sure you want to go through with this?" - similar to the cancellation process on the website - so when she didn't mention a fee, I got overly hopeful.

Even in the best of times, it seems problematic that Julie is set up to charge fees without telling you about them, but hey, it's Amtrak.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I shouldn't have trusted her either, in hindsight, but I thought I'd give her a try. I guess I assumed that at some point, she'd say something like "Your reservation is subject to a cancellation fee of $7, so your eVoucher will be for $(X-7). Are you sure you want to go through with this?" - similar to the cancellation process on the website - so when she didn't mention a fee, I got overly hopeful. Even in the best of times, it seems problematic that Julie is set up to charge fees without telling you about them, but hey, it's Amtrak.
I'm glad you had your penalty fee credited during this unique window of special exceptions, but in the era of binding arbitration businesses are disincentivized to worry about adherence to clear terms and fair dealing practices. I would not expect Amtrak to continue crediting Julie related charges after SARS-2 passes.
 
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Happy to report that I spoke with a very friendly and helpful Amtrak agent today. Given the circumstances, I had to cancel a long distance biz/pleasure trip for this month and wasn't in a position to rebook yet. Though the trip was imminent, she refunded all points to my account (one leg) and the entirety of my purchase to my credit card (second leg). Pleased with Amtrak's response and will not hesitate to rebook once things have "settled down" a bit. This is the kind of response that builds brand loyalty.
 

jis

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I just canceled my trip to the Washington DC area later this month for two meetings including the RPA Spring Meeting. I had to call an Agent to get the cancellation fee waived. There was a ten minute wait on the telephone, but once I got to an Agent it was pretty straightforward, and the complete fare for the two Sleeper tickets was credited to my credit card, to be deposited there in seven to ten days I was told.
 

Chey

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I got this in my email today - I have a trip booked for July that I booked in Feb
Strange - I booked a trip back in November for a trip in early May - no email from Amtrak. I wonder why...
 

pennyk

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Strange - I booked a trip back in November for a trip in early May - no email from Amtrak. I wonder why...
I have trips booked for March, May and October and did not receive an email from Amtrak or AGR.
 

Chey

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I have trips booked for March, May and October and did not receive an email from Amtrak or AGR.
I wonder how they determine who needs to get that email - OTOH, I probably don't want to know!

Among the conflicting 'facts' I've heard about this virus is that it's not heat resistant so I'm inclined to wait a little longer before I decide a cancellation is needed. This was going to be a fun trip and I was looking forward to it.

So have you made any changes to your own plans? I know you love trains as much as I do, probably more.
 

Chey

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No idea. It's been a couple of years since I rode Amtrak and I got the e-mail today. Alphabetic? Numeric?
LOL! I just NOW got the email! Glad to have it but I'm think I'm still going to wait till the end of April before I make that decision.
 

pennyk

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I wonder how they determine who needs to get that email - OTOH, I probably don't want to know!

Among the conflicting 'facts' I've heard about this virus is that it's not heat resistant so I'm inclined to wait a little longer before I decide a cancellation is needed. This was going to be a fun trip and I was looking forward to it.

So have you made any changes to your own plans? I know you love trains as much as I do, probably more.
I am supposed to leave 2 weeks from today to go to NYC for one night then join a group in Boston with a day trip to Brunwick, ME. This will be my first overnight trip this year (and I usually travel once a month). I hope I am able to travel because I really want to go. I am over 60, but healthy, so I am one risk factor. On the positive side, if I go, my NYC hotel likely will be less than half the cost it was when I first made my reservation.
I did not get the email this afternoon. I have no idea why I did not receive it. Maybe I am "special."
 

Railroad Bill

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As things continue to deteriorate, especially in state of Washington, we are considering cancelling our Amtrak EB trip to Seattle in May and the return trip as well. Ohio is also now closing down venues that involve large crowds. Not sure if or when CLE may have restrictions placed on travel?
 

pennyk

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can't read this story without paying $$$ to the Chicago Tribune
here are the first 2 paragraphs
Amtrak told employees Wednesday it will “significantly” reduce service and offer an unpaid voluntary leave program as bookings on the national railroad drop 50% in the wake of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The memo, which was obtained by the Tribune, said cancellations are up 300% and ridership has “declined sharply” in the Northeast and across Amtrak’s national network, with those trends accelerating in recent days.
 

jis

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I am supposed to leave 2 weeks from today to go to NYC for one night then join a group in Boston with a day trip to Brunwick, ME.
NY State may most likely have 2000 or more cases by the time you get there, mostly concentrated around New York City. In areas where community spreading is happening the numbers are doubling every 4 to 5 days.
 
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pennyk

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NY State may most likely have 2000 or more cases by the time you get there, mostly concentrated around New York City. In areas where community spreading is happening the numbers are doubling every 4 yo 6 days.
Thanks. I was afraid that would happen. I saw the mayor of Boston interviewed earlier and Boston has many cases. I expressed my concern to our friend. I am guessing the OTOL fest will not be canceled but there may be a only few participants (all of whom are under 60).
 

Thirdrail7

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While this is a Chicago based article, this is the situation that can occur across the system:


Amtrak has temporarily suspended three trains that operate between New York and Washington due to lower demand. There have been no route reductions out of Chicago’s Union Station, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. That could change, however.

“More than half of the Amtrak service in Chicago is state sponsored and before we would make any changes in that service, we’ll have discussions with the state transportation departments in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan,” which provide funding for the routes, Magliari said.
Some cancellations that have been floated are state-supported services. You can't cancel them without communicating with the state. However, the Long Distance network and the NEC can be altered without much blowback.

I would expect a cut to the Acela service and some of the regionals but things will get interesting when it comes to the LD network. I can see them hacking away at potions of it as well.
 

jis

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Thanks. I was afraid that would happen. I saw the mayor of Boston interviewed earlier and Boston has many cases. I expressed my concern to our friend. I am guessing the OTOL fest will not be canceled but there may be a only few participants (all of whom are under 60).
During these episodes my biggest worry is always getting stranded at some odd place for weeks due to sudden placement of travel restrictions.

For example, effective tomorrow India has canceled all visas and all visa free facilities even for Overseas Citizens for travel from the US to India. Initially they had forgotten to create an exception for those who are residents in India, so if one is an US citizen OCI resident in India, but in the US for a short visit, they could not get back to their home in India until April 15th (hopefully). Fortunately someone brought this to the attention of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and they revised the restriction (though not updated in their Consular Section web page). But while this one got fixed, in the hustle and bustle, who knows what can inadvertently become the regulation of the day?

And now that President Trump has just announced ban on travel from Europe minus UK to the US for a month ....

Granted that travel restriction within the US is improbable, but it could happen if things get really bad, though very unlikely by the end of this month.
 
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Happy to report that I spoke with a very friendly and helpful Amtrak agent today. Given the circumstances, I had to cancel a long distance biz/pleasure trip for this month and wasn't in a position to rebook yet. Though the trip was imminent, she refunded all points to my account (one leg) and the entirety of my purchase to my credit card (second leg). Pleased with Amtrak's response and will not hesitate to rebook once things have "settled down" a bit. This is the kind of response that builds brand loyalty.
That was my experience as well, with a trip coming up next week. I was floored by how quickly I got through to an agent (less than a minute hold time), and then again when transferred to guest rewards. Even though my entire trip was paid for by points, the phone call took about 3 minutes, every point was refunded, and the points were back in my account within 10.

I had expected upwards of an hour hold time, and figured my chances of reaching an agent who had never heard of the temporary change waiver was about 50/50. This was surprisingly efficient, friendly service by Amtrak.
 
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