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Old Jan 28, 12, 8:18 am   #1
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: PA
Programs: Airtran A+ Elite, SPG Preferred Plus, Hilton HHonors Gold, AGR
Posts: 136
sleeper rewards direct trains only?

Hi all. I was On the phone with AGR last night and when I went to redeem my points for a chi-sea trip, I was informed that they are only to allow point redemptions for the most direct train (the builder in this case). I have never saw this mentioned anywhere that I recall. Has anyone else heard this? Or was it just a misinformed rep?
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Old Jan 28, 12, 10:20 am   #2
 
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Misinformed agent. I've gotten the same line occasionally. Just call back another time and get another agent.

EDIT: Of course, if your desired itinerary doesn't appear on amtrak.com, you'll have more difficulty booking it.

Last edited by Ispolkom; Jan 28, 12 at 10:33 am.
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Old Jan 28, 12, 10:59 am   #3
 
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Here is how I book AGR

First pretend you are making a paid booking. If the choice you want shows up as a paid booking then you are good to go
If you are looking at the California Zephyr and then coast starlight it is the second option when I checked. It should also be the agents second option.

Call back and talk to another agent suggested wording is "I see I have the option of booking via LA on the Zephyr and then the Coast Starlight please book me into a (BEDROOM or roomette).

If agent refuses ask for supervisor

Train 3 is not a good choice as the delays on it give you a 20-30 % chance of missing your connection. A day in LA might be nice but weigh that against having no room for your LA - SEA trip

Check delays here
http://www.amtrakdelays.onlineschedulingsoftware.com/

In addition there are service alerts out for the coast starlight train 14 found here
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1237608335997

I do not know if this affects your ability to book the itinerary you want

ABOVE ALL BE NICE
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Old Jan 28, 12, 3:22 pm   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darben View Post
Call back and talk to another agent suggested wording is "I see I have the option of booking via LA on the Zephyr and then the Coast Starlight please book me into a (BEDROOM or roomette)."
I think if you ask for "via LA on the Zephyr," that will confuse the agent a bit.

I usually just use train numbers when I'm talking to Amtrak or AGR agents so that there's (hopefully) no misinterpretation.

I just yesterday redeemed for a NYP-LAX trip in June; the agent first suggested the Lake Shore Limited and the Southwest Chief, but I said, "Actually, I wanted train 49 connecting to train 421." No problem, even though it's not the quickest route. There were in fact 15 possible itineraries showing on Amtrak.com, and I should have been able to suggest, and be booked on, any of them.
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Old Jan 28, 12, 4:22 pm   #5
 
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Thanks everyone. I did call back and the other agent was going to book it, but due to us changing trains on a blackout day we weren't able to. I didn't know about that requirement either, just that the trip couldn't initiate on a blackout day. Oh well. Back to the drawing board it seems.
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Old Jan 28, 12, 7:40 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jftino View Post
Thanks everyone. I did call back and the other agent was going to book it, but due to us changing trains on a blackout day we weren't able to. I didn't know about that requirement either, just that the trip couldn't initiate on a blackout day. Oh well. Back to the drawing board it seems.
What are you trying to do?
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Old Jan 29, 12, 1:05 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darben View Post
Train 3 is not a good choice as the delays on it give you a 20-30 % chance of missing your connection. A day in LA might be nice but weigh that against having no room for your LA - SEA trip

Check delays here
http://www.amtrakdelays.onlineschedulingsoftware.com/

In addition there are service alerts out for the coast starlight train 14 found here
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1237608335997

I do not know if this affects your ability to book the itinerary you want

ABOVE ALL BE NICE
When I look up train 3 for the past 4 weeks, the average on time performance is 22 minutes EARLY. It appears that only 3 days in the last month did it not arrive early and only one of those days was late enough to miss the Coast Starlight.

And, California Zephyr doesn't go to LA.
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Old Jan 29, 12, 1:23 pm   #8
 
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Was hoping to leave chi on Xmas and take the SW chief to LA then up the starlight. Since we'd change trains on the 27th and that's part of the blackout period, it seems it's a no go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darben View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by jftino View Post
Thanks everyone. I did call back and the other agent was going to book it, but due to us changing trains on a blackout day we weren't able to. I didn't know about that requirement either, just that the trip couldn't initiate on a blackout day. Oh well. Back to the drawing board it seems.
What are you trying to do?
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Old Jan 29, 12, 2:30 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
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I actually think your proposed travel is legal. Here is the T&C's for blackout dates.

I have bolded the part I think pertinent. Your travel originates on Dec 25. The transfer that continues your travel is within the blackout period.

WHAT DO OTHERS THINK of the wording?

Personally I would PM the Amtrak insider and ask.

For the period from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013 travel origination on Redemption awards may not occur on the following dates/times: January 2, 2012; February 17, 2012; February 20, 2012; April 56, 2012; April 9, 2012; May 25, 2012; August 31, 2012; September 3, 2012; October 5, 2012; November 2021, 2012; November 2426, 2012; December 2023, 2012; December 2630, 2012; January 2, 2013; February 15, 2013; February 18, 2013; March 2829, 2013; April 1, 2013; May 24, 2013; August 30, 2013, September 2, 2013; October 11, 2013; November 2627, 2013; November 30, 2013; December 1, 2013; December 2022, 2013 and December 2829, 2013 and January 35, 2014.

if you cannot get what you originally wanted then Can you do it in reverse leaving lax on Dec 24 and Seattle to chi on the 25th

or leave Seattle on Dec 31 and transfer to the zephyr for chi on New years day?
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Old Jan 29, 12, 3:09 pm   #10
 
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Amtrak has taken the position that you may not book a train segment that begins on a blackout date, regardless of whatever other segments you have in your itinerary. This keeps you from booking a throwaway segment to get around the blackout. Unlike the airlines, Amtrak doesn't really have a way to see if you missed a previous segment so they can't enforce it by cancelling the rest of your segments.
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Old Jan 29, 12, 3:23 pm   #11
 
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you are always informative
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Old Jan 29, 12, 6:39 pm   #12
 
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Thanks Alan. That makes sense. I had wondered about that. Not that it helps with my trip planning but at least I understand the reasoning behind it now.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 5:20 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darben View Post
Here is how I book AGR

Train 3 is not a good choice as the delays on it give you a 20-30 % chance of missing your connection. A day in LA might be nice but weigh that against having no room for your LA - SEA trip.
Darben, where are you getting the info about the SWC being so late 20-30% of the time to miss the connection with the CS? While there is theoretically only a 2 hourish connection time, my understanding is that this is one of the better routes for time keeping. There is a LOT of padding in the schedule. Barring a derailment or some sort of weather related catastrophe, chances are pretty good at making the connection the SWC - CS connection in LAX.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 6:41 pm   #14
 
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I consider anything over one hour delay unacceptable for this connection as there are no other alternatives for someone if they miss the connection. I have been unlucky enough to miss a guaranteed connection. Train left 5 minutes after our arrival in Washington. Not enough time to make connection Amtrak put us up overnight in Washington at their expense and We enjoyed Washington the next day as it was kite flying day and the cherry blossoms were out. Problem was no room availability the next day stuck in coach WAS - NOL. Not the best experience. I included a link so OP could check for himself, but on a long distance trip without recourse I tend to take a very conservative approach to connections. Those who feel safe cutting things close may do so.
The Status for train 3 arriving into LAX
2012-01-30: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:02 am Delay: -13 minutes
2012-01-29: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:08 am Delay: -67 minutes
2012-01-28: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:05 am Delay: -70 minutes
2012-01-27: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:08 am Delay: -7 minutes
2012-01-26: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:11 am Delay: -4 minutes
2012-01-25: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:28 am Delay: -47 minutes
2012-01-24: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:18 am Delay: -57 minutes
2012-01-23: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 12:15 pm Delay: + 240 minutes
2012-01-22: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:34 am Delay: -41 minutes
2012-01-21: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:09 am Delay: -66 minutes
2012-01-20: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:25 am Delay: -50 minutes
2012-01-19: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:20 am Delay: 5 minutes
2012-01-18: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 9:00 am Delay: 45 minutes
2012-01-17: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:25 am Delay: 10 minutes
2012-01-16: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:03 am Delay: -12 minutes
2012-01-15: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:08 am Delay: -67 minutes
2012-01-14: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:52 am Delay: 37 minutes
2012-01-13: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:26 am Delay: -49 minutes
2012-01-12: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:05 am Delay: -10 minutes
2012-01-11: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:08 am Delay: -7 minutes
012-01-10: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:30 am Delay: -45 minutes
2012-01-09: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:27 am Delay: -48 minutes
2012-01-08: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:16 am Delay: -59 minutes
2012-01-07: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:06 am Delay: -69 minutes
2012-01-06: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:56 am Delay: -19 minutes
2012-01-05: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:27 am Delay: -48 minutes
2012-01-04: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 7:30 am Delay: -45 minutes

2012-01-03: Scheduled: 8:15 am Actual: 8:03 am Delay: -12 minutes
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Old Jan 30, 12, 8:03 pm   #15
 
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So yeah, out of the dates you posted, a connection would have been missed once. That is not 20-30%. I just think we should try to be realistic. Yes, a missed connection would suck. But the SWC-CS connection is generally perceived by most to be a pretty safe connection.

Don't forget that when the train comes in late, you can make the connection with just 15 minutes, unlike on a plane. And amtrak might hold the train for 5-10 minutes, or as is common on the SWC, they will detrain connecting pax early and bus them to meet the CS.
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