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Amtrak Free Upgrades - how easy are they to redeem?

Amtrak Free Upgrades - how easy are they to redeem?

Old Jan 6, 17, 9:49 am
  #1  
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Amtrak Free Upgrades - how easy are they to redeem?

I just received a coupon for a free upgrade this winter on the Northeast Regional that I can book at 12 hours out. I know it isn't much of an upgrade (business is pretty much coach with more legroom based on past experience), but an upgrade is an upgrade.

The email does mean I have to book within 12 hours of departure, correct (i.e. a 6pm departure means I can call in starting at 6am the day of)? Also, what are the relative chances of actually getting the upgrade, especially on a midweek 6pm departure on the NEC?
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Old Jan 6, 17, 6:20 pm
  #2  
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BC does also get you a free non-alcoholic drink from the cafe car.

As for upgrading, I've never tried that on a Regional. But I've had great success doing it on Acela's. However, I generally try to avoid those "rush-hour" departing trains.
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Old Jan 6, 17, 7:22 pm
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I've gotten the upgrade 100% of the time that I've tried, which is once. It was on a Regional, and it was about four hours before a rush hour departure.

Please post your success or failure.
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Old Jan 7, 17, 11:02 am
  #4  
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As others have noted, these upgrades have a very high probability of success, assuming there are any seats available. I've never had one not clear, unless the train is sold out.

However, the logistics of upgrading can sometimes be frustrating. You have to call, and Amtrak's call center is often backed up at peak times, even on the select exec lines. You can't do it online, and ticket office people often have no idea how to do it.

Are you sure the upgrade is only good on regional? Acela business->first is a better value (and a bigger jump in service and comfort).
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Old Jan 7, 17, 4:12 pm
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Originally Posted by mab View Post
You have to call..
You don't absolutely have to call. If you're departing from a station with a ticket window, you can print out the coupon and redeem it there.

Some agents are still confused though, and will try to tell you that your Saver fare is not eligible for upgrade because it's a discounted fare (not true!). Those agents simply don't know how to manually reprice the ticket to the original fare paid because ARROW will tell the agent to collect the fare difference.
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Old Jan 7, 17, 5:37 pm
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As diburning noted, calling is not required. I had an Acela Club attendant process my upgrade. She did have some difficulty because it was a Saver fare, but she never said it wasn't allowed. She just muttered something about the computer fighting her over a Saver fare, and fought back until she defeated the electrons.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 4:42 am
  #7  
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Thanks for the replies, all. I'll post the DP once I use it later this month.

Originally Posted by mab View Post
Are you sure the upgrade is only good on regional? Acela business->first is a better value (and a bigger jump in service and comfort).
Yes, from the email: "Because we value your membership in the Amtrak Guest Rewards® program, we're offering you the chance to experience Business class on Northeast RegionalSM when you redeem your complimentary upgrade by April 7, 2017."

Fine print specifically calls out NE Regional and business class upgrade again, so no Acela for me.
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Old Jan 9, 17, 1:17 pm
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I got the same comp upgrade coupon. Woo free can of Pepsi!
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Old Jan 16, 17, 2:45 pm
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I got that coupon too, but I didn't even realize it until I logged into my AGR account today - I didn't notice the e-mail Amtrak sent a week and a half ago because at the time I was in the middle of an exhausting week at CES. Forget a can of Pepsi, I'm holding out for a Starbucks iced coffee!
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Old Feb 20, 17, 9:18 pm
  #10  
 
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I got one, as did some (but not all) family members also in AGR.

I used two of them to upgrade a pair of us from Virginia to a smaller New England station with no issue (8 hours travel). I simply called the evening before a morning departure and got it done easily. Knowing the ticket window "competency" of the local stations, I would NOT have tried to print it and do it there - they basically can sell a standard ticket and grudgingly give you other basic info, but that's about it. To me, asking for an upgrade processing from a discount ticket would be a non-starter.

Agreed there isn't much to get excited about, but my past times in Business Class have included a quieter ride with a bit more space and free coffee - more than one cup, actually. Anyway, worth the call, 10 minutes of hold to talking to a nice lady who took the certificate numbers down and immediately emailed a new ticket for those better seats.

In the past, I have also had upgrades given to me twice: once I did it on Regional (equally as easily and comfortable) and once on Acela on a midweek 'business' city trip with no issue. I might have paid the dollars for the Regional upgrade (like $30) but not the Acela ($150). Acela First is great, but not that great. To each, their own.
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Old Feb 21, 17, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by diburning View Post
Some agents are still confused though, and will try to tell you that your Saver fare is not eligible for upgrade because it's a discounted fare (not true!). Those agents simply don't know how to manually reprice the ticket to the original fare paid because ARROW will tell the agent to collect the fare difference.

Ugh, I tried by phone and issue above. Was traveling on NE Regional on a Veterans Advantage fare. Wasted 45 minutes on hold to have the agent tell me that in order to redeem the upgrade, it would incur a $20 fare difference first.

The issues with agents not knowing how to use promotions in Arrow doesn't seem to be anything new.

Serious question, is this really that difficult for Amtrak to manage through and retrain?

Last edited by ne52; Feb 21, 17 at 11:48 am Reason: clarity
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Old Feb 21, 17, 5:45 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by ne52 View Post
Ugh, I tried by phone and issue above. Was traveling on NE Regional on a Veterans Advantage fare. Wasted 45 minutes on hold to have the agent tell me that in order to redeem the upgrade, it would incur a $20 fare difference first.

The issues with agents not knowing how to use promotions in Arrow doesn't seem to be anything new.

Serious question, is this really that difficult for Amtrak to manage through and retrain?
The issue in your case is that you cannot use any discounts (except for corporate) with the free upgrade coupons. So the agent had to charge you the difference between the discounted fare that you had paid and the fare without a discount; which in your case was $20.

As an aside, since you're Select Exec, next time call the AGR Exec number. Don't call the general Amtrak reservations number or any of the special Amtrak numbers for those with status. Your wait should be much shorter on the AGR Exec line and those agents can process the upgrade just like a regular agent.
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Old Feb 21, 17, 7:47 pm
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Yes, as Alan has mentioned, the coupons may not be used on any sort of discounted fares except corporate fares.

The issue is that the way ARROW presents Saver fares (particularly with its advance purchase "discount") as a discounted fare where some agents may think that it is ineligible due to this confusion. ARROW will spit out all sorts of errors, and the agent will need to know how to manually reprice the (upgraded) fare to the one you paid in order to process the coupon.
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Old Aug 4, 19, 2:52 pm
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So I guess I cant use a free companion coupon to get 2 tickets for the price of 1, and then use 2 upgrade certs to upgrade?
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Old Aug 5, 19, 4:40 pm
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
So I guess I cant use a free companion coupon to get 2 tickets for the price of 1, and then use 2 upgrade certs to upgrade?
Correct
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