"train runs"/short trips for TQPs?

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joelkfla

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I am still on Select and just moved to Select+ as of yesterday so it says I need at least 7,000 more to go to reach to the top. I'm not sure if I can make it by March 2023 to reach that level or just remain on Select+ status.
The AGR T&C say TQP's are accumulated by calendar year. Why do you say you have until March?

"Select membership is automatically achieved by earning 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) during a calendar year. Select Plus membership is automatically achieved by earning 10,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards TQPs during a calendar year. Select Executive membership is automatically achieved by earning 20,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards TQPs during a calendar year."
 
Joined
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If one lives/works near an Amtrak longue, the food and beverages might be worth it.
Why are so many folks fixated on the free food? As a frequent user of the Amtrak Lounge in Washington while I was working, the absolute main benefit of the lounge is that it gives one comfortable seats in a quiet setting while they wait for their train. Also, priority boarding and the ability to skip the cattle line. The food at Washington is not much to speak of, but the lounge was still worth it to me. In some ways, despite the better food and more spectacular setting, the lounge at Moynihan does have a limitation in that it doesn't have good access to the trains, and sometimes lounge denizens are stuck in the cattle line with everyone else.

Similarly, the point of the sleeper ticket is not the free food that's included. What you're paying for is a private room where you can sleep lying down in a bed. So to say that one is paying $600 for a Flex meal is not really accurate. (That said, I agree that they need to improve the quality of the food served on the eastern long-distance trains, but, still, this is not being billed as a culinary experience in a Michelin-starred restaurant.)
 

joelkfla

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If one lives/works near an Amtrak longue, the food and beverages might be worth it. I don’t know what the current policy is in transportation, but previously there was no transportation requirement for a United Club or Amtrak lounges. One could go with the status. If I lived near Penn Station I would have gone there every day I was home and maybe multiple times.

United Club had domestic alcohol included. And theoretically one could prove access and get past airport security.
The website says:

Who is Eligible for Lounge Access?​

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards members traveling with a same-day Amtrak ticket and valid Select Plus or Select Executive member card.
Note "same day Amtrak ticket". This is also stated on signage, at least at Moynihan. There have been 1st-person reports here of members being denied access without a travel ticket, or even being challenged by overly zealous lounge attendants for having an arrival ticket or a same-day connection, which are valid for admission under policy.

Anyhow, I hardly think chips & a soda would be worth it.

If anything would make it worthwhile, it would be the points bonus, and perhaps the upgrade & companion coupons if you're in a position to use them.
 

BCL

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The website says:

Who is Eligible for Lounge Access?​

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards members traveling with a same-day Amtrak ticket and valid Select Plus or Select Executive member card.
Note "same day Amtrak ticket". This is also stated on signage, at least at Moynihan. There have been 1st-person reports here of members being denied access without a travel ticket, or even being challenged by overly zealous lounge attendants for having an arrival ticket or a same-day connection, which are valid for admission under policy.

Anyhow, I hardly think chips & a soda would be worth it.

If anything would make it worthwhile, it would be the points bonus, and perhaps the upgrade & companion coupons if you're in a position to use them.

I'm pretty sure that was recent. There were people talking about possibly just going in there to get coffee and a bag of chips, but that might have been at least 5 years ago. I could have easily done a couple of thousand dollars worth of "damage" at one if I just worked a block away.

United Club was really complicated though. They apparently had some sort of rule that was conveyed to TSA that club members could access them without any air travel. Later I think that changed to requiring air travel but it didn't need to be on United. Now I think it's required that they be on United since they're getting crowded. But Amtrak and United are no longer doing this.

Of course one could do any number of things to avoid this. One could just buy a cheap unreserved ticket and then just cancel it and buy a new ticket with any eVoucher value. I think eventually it would have to be used, but that wouldn't be that big a deal with most AGR members who ostensibly travel on Amtrak.

There were stories about people who bought fully refundable first class airline tickets to take advantage of lounge perks, or even complimentary meals. Just no show and then use it to buy another ticket. One story I heard they finally caught on and said that they'd refund the ticket but this guy was banned.
 

BCL

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Why are so many folks fixated on the free food? As a frequent user of the Amtrak Lounge in Washington while I was working, the absolute main benefit of the lounge is that it gives one comfortable seats in a quiet setting while they wait for their train. Also, priority boarding and the ability to skip the cattle line. The food at Washington is not much to speak of, but the lounge was still worth it to me. In some ways, despite the better food and more spectacular setting, the lounge at Moynihan does have a limitation in that it doesn't have good access to the trains, and sometimes lounge denizens are stuck in the cattle line with everyone else.

Similarly, the point of the sleeper ticket is not the free food that's included. What you're paying for is a private room where you can sleep lying down in a bed. So to say that one is paying $600 for a Flex meal is not really accurate. (That said, I agree that they need to improve the quality of the food served on the eastern long-distance trains, but, still, this is not being billed as a culinary experience in a Michelin-starred restaurant.)

I'm not fixating on it per se, but it's something that was theoretically a perk for at least a calendar year, if not longer (when I made Select Plus my welcome email said that I was immediately eligible for lounge access well before the new year started), and one that didn't require travel.
 

jcastallack

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I wouldn't go for status just for the food but I can honestly say I only bother with the Moynihan lounge for the food, since I come from the east and it's a bit of an extra walk. I used to use the Acela lounge just for the early track announcements but in the Met lounge that's hit or miss. But I'm there every week and used to buy lunch in Penn Station and no longer have to, saving me around $10 a week. I also pick up snacks for the train. Moynihan and other NEC lounges (I've been in the DC, Philly, and Boston ones) are just not comparable foodwise.
 

SNJRider

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You can easy reach Select+ or Select Exec if you basically book roundtrip on sleepers between CHI-SEA and choose the expensive room (Like the $2000 ones) and you can easy reach the top, fast. The more expensive, the more TQP you will earn, same for points.

I am still on Select and just moved to Select+ as of yesterday so it says I need at least 7,000 more to go to reach to the top. I'm not sure if I can make it by March 2023 to reach that level or just remain on Select+ status.
I think that's what I'm questioning: What is Select Plus or Select Exec worth? If I'm 1,000 away from Plus, would I want to do $5k credit card spend or ride First on Acela to hit it? This is in addition to normal commutes and travel.
I thought we only had until year end to hit a tier? I know our status expires in March but do we have that time to gather TQP's?
 

SNJRider

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If one lives/works near an Amtrak longue, the food and beverages might be worth it. I don’t know what the current policy is in transportation, but previously there was no transportation requirement for a United Club or Amtrak lounges. One could go with the status. If I lived near Penn Station I would have gone there every day I was home and maybe multiple times.

United Club had domestic alcohol included. And theoretically one could prove access and get past airport security.
Unfortunately, the United partnership doesn't exist anymore.
I've used the Moynihan lounge many times since pandemic and the sitting area is very nice. However, the food (very little variety) has been the same for 12 months and the alcohol is NYC prices, not discount airport lounge prices. I would argue that airport lounges are "worth" more because you can be stranded at an airport for hours but that's less likely at a train station.
 

BCL

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Unfortunately, the United partnership doesn't exist anymore.
I've used the Moynihan lounge many times since pandemic and the sitting area is very nice. However, the food (very little variety) has been the same for 12 months and the alcohol is NYC prices, not discount airport lounge prices. I would argue that airport lounges are "worth" more because you can be stranded at an airport for hours but that's less likely at a train station.

The main problem I had the one time I visited the United Club was that we pretty much had to remain in the "sterile" area at SEA because they weren't going to let us back in. And we had checked-in baggage that we needed to collect before maybe some luggage thief got to it. We did end up spending about a good 45 minutes there enjoying the sodas, coffee, and cheese (they had lots of cheese) although I didn't realize that domestic beer was included as I'd only seen the price list for premium beers. But in the end we got to the baggage claim and found that our luggage had been moved by airport employees to a claim area and we picked it up.

I wouldn't say that I've been stranded at a train station, but I have been delayed a few hours. We just constantly monitored the train status and knew it was going to be 3 hours late judging by where the train was.
 
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Depending on how one 'values' the advantage of the next AGR tier vs the cost to get there makes all the difference in the world. Getting tier status strictly from credit card spending $5,000/1,000 TQPs is a very expensive way to do it.

As for me, I enjoy sitting quietly on the train for enjoyment. Living in Springfield MA, I have easy access to the NEC and have taken numerous 'day trips' as a means of relaxation as well as enjoyment. It also permits me to spend a day away from my home phone and the annoyances that can come that way. I don't 'live for my cellphone' as many do. It's usually turned off and I do everything via wifi on my laptop.

I also prefer the added legroom of business class. Sometimes the extra cost of BC seems a bit high, but the 25% point boost (including TQPs) makes it less painful. So having access to the lounges along the NEC is valuable in my opinion. Yes, I could buy lounge access cards with points, and have done so before reaching Select Plus in 2015 or so. The peace and quiet are why I'm in the lounge. Except for Monihan, chips and soda aren't much of a benefit at any of them. Chicago used to be nice before covid. It's still peaceful, except the hour or so before western LDs board.

I might note, too, that these days, Acela BC costs less than regional BC! So it's an easy choice for me to switch trains at New Haven.

Oh, and don't forget, the bonus points based on AGR tier. I take a couple of trips on points every year!
 

Anderson

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I'd often pop out to Glenview on the lengthy CHI layovers between 29/30 and the Western trains to grab 200 "Rail Points" (as they were then called) and rather more redeemable points for like $12.
 

JoshP

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Buffalo, NY
The AGR T&C say TQP's are accumulated by calendar year. Why do you say you have until March?

"Select membership is automatically achieved by earning 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) during a calendar year. Select Plus membership is automatically achieved by earning 10,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards TQPs during a calendar year. Select Executive membership is automatically achieved by earning 20,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards TQPs during a calendar year."
On my profile, it says it will expire 3/28/2023 so thats why I said March.
 
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You can only earn 4,000 TQP from credit card spending. That's a $20,000 spend, which, if you make a decent income and use your credit card for all your purchases (paying off in full every month, of course), is not too hard to do. To get to Select Plus, you would need an additional $3,000 Amtrak travel spend to get the remaining 6,000 points. You can reduce the spend a little bit if you travel business class (or First Class on the Acela) where you get some bonus points, unless they've changed the system and no longer count the bonus points as TQPs. If you take several long distance trips in sleepers every year, that's not too hard to do, but back here in the east with $50 - $200 NEC runs, it takes quite a few trips. On the other hand, they're shorter trips, so maybe it's easier to find the time to make more of them.
 

JoshP

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Suppose if I want to rake up points, I could just for pleasure, purchase several tix from Buffalo Depew to Niagara Falls, NY back/forth for few days and it says tix are $14 each and I wonder how many points I will earn or plain nothing? No more 100 points earn or will it be less?

Thanks
 

Bob Dylan

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Suppose if I want to rake up points, I could just for pleasure, purchase several tix from Buffalo Depew to Niagara Falls, NY back/forth for few days and it says tix are $14 each and I wonder how many points I will earn or plain nothing? No more 100 points earn or will it be less?

Thanks
Since you get 2 Points for each $1 your Point Total for each $14Ticket is 28 Points!😠
 

zephyr17

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Well, at 28 points per one way, BUF-NFL, 2 round trips BUF-NFL-BUF should do just over 100 points (4 one ways @ 28 points each, 4*28 = 112). All TQPs.

Just did a TAC-PDX points run round trip. With my 4K AGR TQP points for 20K BOA spend, hoping with TWO-NYP Business Class. NYP-PHL, and PHL-NYP Acela, that'll be enough to retain Select status. Math looks okay.
 
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Sidney

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In the days where you had the different zones across the country,100 points was the minimum number of points per trip. I recall going from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg or Lancaster Pa for $5.50 each way during double days once a week. I racked up quite a few points taking advantage of that. These days it's $8.50. The most you can get during double days is 34 points instead of 200.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Suppose if I want to rake up points, I could just for pleasure, purchase several tix from Buffalo Depew to Niagara Falls, NY back/forth for few days and it says tix are $14 each and I wonder how many points I will earn or plain nothing? No more 100 points earn or will it be less?

Thanks
It’s been years since the minimum 100 points rewards. Today it’s 2x the cost of the ticket. So a $14 ticket will earn you 28 points.
 

JoshP

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It’s been years since the minimum 100 points rewards. Today it’s 2x the cost of the ticket. So a $14 ticket will earn you 28 points.

So basically if I want to either keep Select or move up to Select+, I would need at least 100 R/T for me to keep Select or almost 200 to move up to Select+. Amtrak would think I'm crazy if I ever done that.
 
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I use Pacific Surfliner Business Class for my local trips up and down the coast from LA.
If you have the BofA AGR credit card (fee card) you can get 3 points per dollar for Amtrak purchases (tickets and onboard purchases) which is in addition to what Amtrak gives you.
Hurry! Time appears to be very limited on this card. I've been hearing a cutoff of September 30 although, nothing official has been announced.
And if you don't have the card its a moot point since they are no longer taking applications.
 
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The most effective way to earn lots of points with a trip of short duration is to book a sleeper for a very short ride, like say, Baltimore to Washington. Of course, the price is ridiculous (like $170 for a roomette on the Crescent, as opposed to $27 in coach), but you do get 340 points for a 40 minute, 40 mile trip. Acela First Class would be the next alternative, with a $65 BAL -WAS fare for 195 points (including the 50% first class bonus).

(Actually, I'm amazed that they're showing fares that cheap in Acela for a train tomorrow afternoon -- Acela Business can be as high as $80, and I've never priced first class for Baltimore to Washington, because, well, it seems like a waste of money. But you do get a nice point haul from it. The Northeast Regionals are showing $8 coach fares - that's a cheap as a MARC ticket. Not sure what's happening here. Maybe a lot of people getting off at Baltimore, and thus a bunch of empty seats that need to be sold.)
 
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