Amtrak Eliminating and Reducing Discounts Effective January 9

Now that Delta’s former CEO is running Amtrak, Joe H. passes along that effective January 9, Amtrak is eliminating AAA and student discounts and reducing the senior discount from 15% to 10% and raising the eligibility requirement for that from 62 to 65.

The child discount will also be restricted to 1 per parent down from the current 2 per parent.

Copyright: tdezenzio / 123RF Stock Photo

I haven’t seen any Amtrak public announcement of it. We know because of a memo dated 12/6 by the public agency in charge of Los Angeles-San Diego trains, referencing the changes after being notified by Amtrak and discussing whether they should follow them.

Amtrak already has enough problems attracting riders, so raising fares should help.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Where’s the logic here to eliminate discounts/raise cost of travel by targeting Amtrak’s largest market segments? Why before substantially improving:
    -food/beverage services: quality and cost?
    -on-time performance? (How much cost covering mid/connections, etc?)
    -Improving mechanical condition and refurbishing of equipment (beyond Northeast Corridor)?
    -Making internal changes to abide by repetitive negative OIG reports identifying fraud and waste?
    -Fixing HR to ensure appropriate training for consistently acceptable on-board services performance?
    -After over 10 years, to finally open and re-negotiate labor contracts to control costs?
    -To bring in-house commissary functions to cut costs?
    -To increase schedule frequencies to become more convenient for travelers to select Amtrak?
    -Too late now to market against curbside buses to college and elderly markets?

    Beyond diverting funding from national and state supported route system to subsidize high cost of Northeast Corridor, what are the realistic objectives and financial goals to prevent derailing Amtrak?

  2. SEA to YVR is around $45 one way on Amtrak with the AAA. Flying on Alaska, same is around $60 on sale. So 5hr (could be 4, could be 6) on Russian cold-war train equipment or Centurion/Alaska lounge and 45 minutes in air on a 738 + EQM + EQD ? Hmmmmmm better sleep on that …

  3. This sounds like a large enough price increase for us that will require our rethinking Amtrak usage.

    We always travel as a family of five, three children. By far the reason we use Amtrak is that it has a station with parking within 30 minutes of our home and the line goes directly to Chicago where we can get flights for less than we pay at the major airport that is also 30 minutes from our home. The current savings are more than enough to offset the extra fare for traveling to Chicago. However, this also adds a day of travel for us, because the trains don’t run often enough, they are not fast enough and they cannot be counted on to arrive on time.

    I would be happy to pay increased fares for faster, more comfortable and more reliable train service. But this increase will not get us any of those and makes departing from our local airport more attractive.This from riders who have a Amtrak station 30 minutes away. We already choose to depart locally on some flights and without accompanying improvements, this will push us to use Amtrak less without a doubt.

  4. I always enjoy seeing that video of the snow at Rhinecliff station – on a nice day there are great views from there across the Hudson.
    Looking at the LOSSAN staff report, they use the word ‘proposed’ rather than “is eliminating” regarding these discouts. And they imply that the AAA discount may last further into Q1 2018.
    The only upside (?) to this might be that it makes redeming Guest Rewards points slightly more attractive since the number of points required is based on the full non-discounted fare. Up until these changes, those that qualify for a discount have to compare their discounted price with the number of points required.

  5. Several weeks ago they also stopped allowing Student discounts on Northeast Regional corridor entirely, which is the majority of their network traffic…

  6. Amtrak is not having trouble attracting riders. I suppose that’s the problem: not enough capacity, giving the freedom to raise prices.

  7. What can you expect when you put a Delta Airlines executive in charge of Amtrak. Soon he will be reducing leg room, charging for baggage, reducing maintenance, and giving himself a big fat raise. No country makes money off of their passenger railroad, they are considered part of the national infrastructure. I hate to say it but it is time to get rid of Amtrak especially the Northeast and California Corridors, let the airlines handle all of that passenger traffic. The airlines can’t provide decent service as it is. Its what this country has been whining about for the last two decades , give the people what they want clogged roads and delayed flights. As far as long distance trains let them go watch endless interstate out your car window or fly on a cramped airplane, Who needs to see this country, Of course I am being sarcastic!

  8. I found out the hard way they removed the AAA discount when I tried to book tickets the other day. Why would they do this given the natural clientele overlap between AAA members and Amtrak riders? This is another step in what seems to be a conspiracy against Amtrak being successful. It’s bad enough that Congress has never funded it properly nor invested in rail transportation. Other modern nations in Europe and Asia have high speed rail connecting their major cities. Here we have Amtrak sharing freight lines like we’re a third world country. For years Congress has limited consumer choice with Amtrak and then not funded rail infrastructure claiming limited demand even when ridership has been at an all-time high. The airlines and the oil industries have lobbied for years against rail infrastructure, so we should not be surprised when a former Delta executive makes these decisions. Richard Anderson comes from an industry that has never understood customer service nor what doing the right thing is. Remember the Northwest debacle when passengers were kept on the tarmac in blazing heat for many hours? Remember when they spent millions lobbying to not put locks on cockpit doors after 9/11? This industry has always required Congress to step in and force them to do the right thing that most human beings already understood.

  9. I use Amtrak frequently and one of reasons is my AAA discount. I always choose Amtrak over other train services in my area and over flying to my destinations. I liked everything about Amtrak and with the discount, I could afford to travel extensively. Now, I will have to use other and cheaper transportation. I’m very disappointed by your decision – especially since your NARP discount makes no sense and for charges a fee for me to join.

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