Amtrak’s “Delta-izing” Continues.
The Anderson regime continues to find more ways to squeeze every last dime out of every reservation, even if it means antagonizing their best, most loyal customers.
Let me tell you about a family of five—mom, dad and kids ages 14, 11 and 5—and all of them train travel enthusiasts. These folks are taking extensive rail excursions as a family every year. Last year they enjoyed the Southwest Chief; this year it will be the Empire Builder, the entire route from Seattle to Chicago.
The two adults and three kids can still manage to travel nicely in two roomettes. Their trip on the Southwest Chief was paid for with cash, but Dad planned to pay for this one with points earned through Amtrak Guest Rewards.
With most of the major details settled, he went on line to the Amtrak website where he booked two roomettes from Seattle to Chicago on their preferred date, and for which he used a total of 52,000 points. He was assigned roomettes 4 and 7 by the computer.
The next day, he telephoned Amtrak’s reservations center, reached a live agent, and asked if he could be re-assigned to another roomette so the family would be in roomettes across the corridor from each other.
“No problem,” said the agent, who tapped away at his keyboard for a few seconds, then said, “OK, you’re now in roomette numbers 7 and 8, which are across the corridor from each other.” Then he said, “That’ll be 3,000 points for the change fee.”
Whoa! A change fee? Since when? This family had to make the same change in roomettes last year and there was no change fee. I emailed the Rail Passengers Association in Washington and change fees were news to them, too. Then three separate calls to Amtrak Reservations yielded three different responses, ranging from (1) There is no penalty, to (2) There is a penalty only if you’re using AGR points, to (3) There is a 5% penalty on all changes.
Another bad idea from the people who brought us contemporary dining. They’re on a roll.
A year and some later, I am hoping the amtrak commuter president will subtly influence the reversal of the idiocies of Anderson and the budget airline culture. Not holding my breath, though.
Hope springs eternal.
I recently booked a trip online for two people in two bedrooms from Denver to Reno on the California Zephyr. I had checked the prices online before booking the trip by phone, because I wanted to be sure we were in the same car. When the agent gave me the price I was surprised that it was too low. I asked repeatedly if it was for TWO bedrooms with one person in each, and she assured me that it was. When I got the confirmation email, it was for ONE bedroom for two people. I had to call again to get it corrected, for an additional charge (as I expected). The second agent was far more helpful. Be careful when you book.
Absolutely. Check and double check everything.
I really wanna hear your thoughts on this:
Thanks for sending this. I’m working on a post about this idiocy as we speak.