Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Other Loyalty Programs/Partners > Amtrak | Guest Rewards
Reload this Page >

Award policy changes re: cancellation and no on-board upgrades

Award policy changes re: cancellation and no on-board upgrades

Old Nov 6, 12, 12:52 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MSP
Programs: DL PM, Amtrak & OAL peon, Blingy metal at most hotels, Colbert Lifetime Platinum
Posts: 4,499
Thumbs down Award policy changes re: cancellation and no on-board upgrades

Moderator's note: AGR Insider posted an update stating the sleeper cancellation policy will now remain the same until March 1, 2013, while they formulate a new policy.

Please continue discussions in this thread. Thanks!

ByeByeDelta
AGR Moderator



My e-statement today linked to these news blurbs:

Program Update Regarding Redemption Travel Upgrades
Posted on: 11/01/2012
Upgrades to redemption reservations may not be purchased onboard the train from the conductor. To modify the class of service of your redemption reservation, you must have enough points to redeem for the new, upgraded reservation and contact Amtrak Guest Rewards for availability. Points may not be combined with other forms of payment for an upgrade in service.

Program Update Regarding Redemption Travel Refund/Exchanges
Posted on: 11/01/2012
Beginning January 1, 2013 our cancellation policy for redemption travel will change. Any new or existing redemption travel reservations must be canceled before departure to be eligible for exchange or refund of points. If the trip includes sleeping car accommodations, the reservation must be canceled at least 15 days prior to departure to be eligible for exchange or refund of points.
The prohibition of on-board upgrades is frankly shocking. Without knowing AGR's motives, it strikes me as a revenue play by AGR to get members to purchase points, at the expense of the core, revenue-earning transportation side of the business. It also comes across as mean-spirited. Amtrak's highly logical policy has always been that conductors should be eager to sell distressed premium inventory on-board and solicit all comers if space is available. Everyone's money is equally green regardless of how they paid for their ticket.

While there are some conductors that ostentatiously disdain this part of their job, the ones that do engage in upsells have always been happy to do so regardless of the ticket type. Even with the highly-restrictive online specials and former, non-upgradeable eBay tickets, boarding the train was like pressing a reset button on policy and the conductors never hesitated to sell an upgrade. This will mark an onerous procedural change for the conductors, as there has never been an explicit prohibition on en-route upgrades for certain ticket types. I predict that the net effect will weigh more heavily towards lost revenue and goodwill for Amtrak than increased revenue for AGR.

This is also a step in the wrong direction for the loyalty program in general, which continues to only offer one-size-fits-all seat upgrades to S/S+ members (with no differential value for using on Acela versus Surfliner), and no sleeper upgrade perks or awards of any kind.

As for the new cancellation policy, the first provision regarding cancelling prior to departure is sensible. The second regarding sleeper awards is draconian, much more so than the policy for paid tickets: "If canceled 14 days or fewer before scheduled departure, but before the scheduled departure, ticket is not refundable but the value may be applied within one year toward future travel."

It's understandable that AGR wouldn't want members to squat on valuable sleeper space only to cancel, but the new policy goes way too far. Why couldn't it harmonize with Amtrak's paid policy? It would work like this: If you redeem for a sleeper award, within 15 days of departure you are then locked in to using that redemption type (e.g. two-zone bedroom) within one year. Change fees could apply but be waived for S+, just as airlines allow award changes for fees (which are waived for top-tier elites). That would probably eliminate nearly all instances of space-squatting, while preserving some measure of flexibility that consumers expect award travel to entail.

I hope AGR will reconsider these changes both as matters of user-friendliness and of unintended consequences.

Last edited by ByeByeDelta; Nov 16, 12 at 7:57 pm Reason: Link to AGR Insider Update
GoAmtrak is online now  
Old Nov 6, 12, 1:07 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,856
So what happens if you miss a train - forfeit the points? It's silly if that's what they want to do.
LilZeppelin is offline  
Old Nov 6, 12, 1:11 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MSP
Programs: DL PM, Amtrak & OAL peon, Blingy metal at most hotels, Colbert Lifetime Platinum
Posts: 4,499
Originally Posted by LilZeppelin View Post
So what happens if you miss a train - forfeit the points? It's silly if that's what they want to do.
For paid sleeper tickets, you already forfeit the full value for no-showing. Not so for all other tickets, of course. To avoid point forfeiture, you just have to call AGR now before departure time if you don't think you're going to make it (but you'll be SOL if it's a sleeper or, presumably, if the AGR service center is closed at the time).
GoAmtrak is online now  
Old Nov 6, 12, 1:25 pm
  #4  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: New York, NY, USA
Programs: HH Diamond, Amtrak Exec
Posts: 3,262
Originally Posted by GoAmtrak View Post
For paid sleeper tickets, you already forfeit the full value for no-showing. Not so for all other tickets, of course. To avoid point forfeiture, you just have to call AGR now before departure time if you don't think you're going to make it (but you'll be SOL if it's a sleeper or, presumably, if the AGR service center is closed at the time).
AFAIK, you can call the regular number to cancel a reservation if the AGR office is closed.

Originally Posted by GoAmtrak View Post
It also comes across as mean-spirited. Amtrak's highly logical policy has always been that conductors should be eager to sell distressed premium inventory on-board and solicit all comers if space is available. Everyone's money is equally green regardless of how they paid for their ticket.
No, Amtrak changed that policy a month or so ago. They are now doing everything that they can to discourage onboard upgrades. On board upgrades no longer sell for the low bucket price, but instead they sell for the current bucket price.

Therefore there is no longer any advantage to waiting until one is on the train to buy a room, one might as well either call from the station or visit with an agent if one is available, to do any last minute upgrades.

Conductors are not prohibited from selling an onboard upgrade to my knowledge, but I suspect that few will even wish to bother with the process now seeing as how it could have been accomplished before boarding with the same results. Heck, even while on the train if one has a stable enough cell phone connection, one can simply call Amtrak to upgrade one's reservation and then just speak with the conductor to facilitate the transfer from coach to the sleeper.
AlanB is offline  
Old Nov 6, 12, 1:30 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MSP
Programs: DL PM, Amtrak & OAL peon, Blingy metal at most hotels, Colbert Lifetime Platinum
Posts: 4,499
Thanks, Alan, I was not aware of that change. Obviously Amtrak is right to continue maximizing sleeper revenue given the scarcity of space. That still doesn't explain the logic in prohibiting upgrades on AGR tickets. In fact, it makes it even less logical -- and the lost revenue for Amtrak even worse -- if the prevailing accommodation charge bucket is high in any given situation.
GoAmtrak is online now  
Old Nov 6, 12, 1:48 pm
  #6  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: New York, NY, USA
Programs: HH Diamond, Amtrak Exec
Posts: 3,262
Originally Posted by GoAmtrak View Post
Thanks, Alan, I was not aware of that change. Obviously Amtrak is right to continue maximizing sleeper revenue given the scarcity of space. That still doesn't explain the logic in prohibiting upgrades on AGR tickets. In fact, it makes it even less logical -- and the lost revenue for Amtrak even worse -- if the prevailing accommodation charge bucket is high in any given situation.
Part of the change was indeed no doubt simply to maximize revenue.

However, part of the reason for the recent change regarding onboard upgrades and what they cost is due to eTicketing. While I admit that I don't understand exactly how or why this is the case, apparently eTicketing made things more complicated for the conductors and not easier. I remain at a loss as to why this is the case; one would naturally assume the opposite that it would be easier with the advent of eTicketing. But, again, that is apparently not the case.
AlanB is offline  
Old Nov 7, 12, 6:07 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Sacramento, CA, USA
Programs: Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold, Alaska MVP Gold, National Executive
Posts: 233
AGR Award Travel - Cancellation Policies

Trying to make sure I understand things correctly.

If I book sleeping room award and later cancel a reasonable time before departure (say a month), do the points go back into my account like I never had an award or are they restricted in any fashion.

I'm concerned about having to use the points by a certain date or don't get points back but can use same award type by a certain date.

Tried reading rules but not totally clear.

Hoping someone will confirm that I just get all points back in my account and can use whenever, however I want.

Thanks in advance.
Greytop is offline  
Old Nov 7, 12, 6:28 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Programs: AGR, PC, HH no status as I stopped paying for travel
Posts: 1,454
Try this thread
Award policy changes re: cancellation and no on-board upgrades

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amtra...-policies.html
darben is offline  
Old Nov 7, 12, 6:52 pm
  #9  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: New York, NY, USA
Programs: HH Diamond, Amtrak Exec
Posts: 3,262
Greytop,

If you cancel a month before, then yes you get the points back. The key is to do it prior to 15 days before your departure. Cancel after that point and you could be in trouble; although I would hope that AGR will take into consideration extenuating circumstances like a medical condition or god forbid a death in the family.
AlanB is offline  
Old Nov 8, 12, 11:15 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Programs: AGR Select/Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum
Posts: 102
Thumbs down This Ill thought Policy needs Revision!

Hopefully the new GM @ 60 Mass, Doug Varn (and other Senior Managers) will take a look @ this Ill Advised and Unfair Draconian Policy and Modify it to be more in line with the New Rules on Paid Reservations! Having the Same Groundrules for AGR Redemption Trips would be the Sensible and Fair way to go IMO! (ie maybe a 10% penalty for cancelling/revising a Reservation that involves a Sleeper less than 15 Days before Departure UNLESS Valid Circumstances that are listed, ie illness, death, weather emergencies etc occur!) Taking away Hard Earned Benefits from your Best Customers is a Poor Business Model no matter what you are selling! Come on 60 Mass, use your Brains!!

Last edited by jimhudson; Nov 8, 12 at 11:23 am
jimhudson is offline  
Old Nov 8, 12, 10:33 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Programs: Amtrak S+, HH GLD, AA 1MM, SPG, UA, TSA Disparager Gold
Posts: 371
Does any airline FF program impose a no redeposit, no exchange rule on premium award tickets within X days of departure?

The sleeper award cancellation policy goes too far in my book. It's trivial to implement a redeposit with penalty, whether in cash or points. I can't understand why AGR chose the nuclear option instead.

The first posts of 2013 could well be complaints from folks who lost 50k points despite canceling prior to departure. I sincerely hope AGR is reconsidering this policy. (I'm honestly reconsidering my loyalty to the AGR program.)
gatelouse is offline  
Old Nov 8, 12, 10:42 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: n.y.c.
Posts: 13,471
Originally Posted by gatelouse View Post
Does any airline FF program impose a no redeposit, no exchange rule on premium award tickets within X days of departure?
And on the other hand, does any airline allow you to cancel a premium award ticket with no penalty up to 15 days in advance?

Originally Posted by gatelouse View Post
I'm honestly reconsidering my loyalty to the AGR program.
Have you frequently cancelled a sleeper award within the 15 day window? If your loyalty is based on the ability to do that, maybe it's not the loyalty that Amtrak is looking for.
nerd is offline  
Old Nov 9, 12, 5:09 am
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Programs: DL 1 million, AA 1 mil, HH lapsed Diamond, Marriott Plat
Posts: 28,192
Originally Posted by nerd View Post
And on the other hand, does any airline allow you to cancel a premium award ticket with no penalty up to 15 days in advance?
I can't speak to the 200+ IATA carriers, but Delta allows free award redeposits to its top two tiers of elites, up to 72 hours before scheduled travel. American allows free changes of travel dates if origin and destination remain the same, right up to time of travel.

Amtrak's new fifteen-day window seems lengthy to me, even punitive, but I'm not looking at data of typical advance sleeper bookings, and of sleeper award bookings in particular.
3Cforme is offline  
Old Nov 9, 12, 5:16 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NYC
Programs: Amtrak Select Plus, Marriott Lifetime Gold, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,063
United allows free redeposits for top-tier Elites as well. Have taken advantage many times.
vatraveler is offline  
Old Nov 9, 12, 12:33 pm
  #15  
Company Representative - Amtrak
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: Amtrak Guest Rewards (Select Executive)
Posts: 528
We do value our loyal members and customers and it was not our intent to give you the impression that we don't. We know that in order to have enough points to redeem for a trip in a sleeper, you have spent a lot on Amtrak travel or on the AGR credit card. Your business is important to us and we want you to continue to redeem your points for sleepers. This policy is not being introduced to make redemption travel more difficult for you. If you find that your plans change and the deadline has passed, please be assured that all extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis and we will do our best to accommodate your request to modify your itinerary or refund your points without penalty.


Sincerely,

Vicky Radke
Program Director, Amtrak Guest Rewards
AGR Insider is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: