Life just got a whole lot easier for perennially rushed Amtrak passengers. The train service announced on Monday that passengers who purchase tickets online would no longer be required to print their tickets at kiosks or have them delivered by mail. Instead, passengers nationwide can now display electronic tickets using their iPhones and other mobile devices.
Amtrak conductors will be using special devices to scan the QR codes embedded in passengers’ digital eTickets. Meanwhile, travelers who don’t have mobile devices or don’t feel comfortable going the eTicket route can print their tickets at home or at train station kiosks.
Amtrak’s transition to paper tickets has been in the works for some time. The train service tested its eTicket initiative in five regions across the country before going forward with the national launch. Passengers will officially be able to start using eTickets on every train route throughout the nation beginning August 1st, 2012.
There’s no doubt that e-ticketing will help busy business travelers save time, especially in tourist-hubs like New York’s Penn Station, where ticketing kiosks can be overcrowded and long lines are not unheard of. However, some FlyerTalk members still have questions about logistics and whether conductors will be notified about changes that passengers have made to their eTicket itineraries when they’re in areas with no cellular data.
“The refund policies are very confusing. When I look online it appears that if I cancel the e-ticket reservation now I will get a full refund for the ticket … This is not consistent with the information on the website which seems to say that once an e-ticket is issued you can only get a refund to a e-voucher, or a refund to your credit card less the 10% penalty. It would be nice if the practice matched the explanation,” writes FlyerTalk member BeantownFlyer.
Have you booked any train travel since Amtrak added the eTicketing option? Feel free to share your expectations and experiences in the comments.