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Revised Cancellation and Refund Policy eff 3/20/2018

Revised Cancellation and Refund Policy eff 3/20/2018

Old Mar 20, 18, 7:51 am
  #1  
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Revised Cancellation and Refund Policy eff 3/20/2018

Sneaky Amtrak has imposed a 25% cancellation penalty for most fares applying to both refunds and credits to eVouchers effective 3/20/18. There is NO notice of this significant change on the Amtrak home page or on the booking page (except if you click on the fare types listing to open the description window, the new 25% penalty is shown). Even the Refunds and Cancellations page does not show it (yet), but the Fare Options and Restrictions page does. Immediate rebookings to a new reservation can be made without penalty - allegedly.

The gist of it (credit AmtrakLKL at Amtrak Unlimited):

Sleeping Car Reservations
  • Cancel within 24 hours of purchase - Full refund or eVoucher
  • Cancel at least 15 days prior to scheduled departure - 75% refund or 75% eVoucher
  • Cancel 14 or fewer days prior to scheduled departure - 75% non-refundable eVoucher
  • Cancel after scheduled departure or no show - No Refund, No eVoucher
Acela First Class, Non-Acela Business Class
  • Cancel prior to scheduled departure - Full refund or eVoucher
  • Cancel after scheduled departure or no show - No Refund, No eVoucher
Reserved Coach, Acela Business Class Excluding Flexible Full Fares
  • Cancel at least 8 days prior to scheduled departure - Full refund or eVoucher
  • Cancel 7 or fewer days prior to scheduled departure - 75% refund or 75% eVoucher
  • Purchase within 7 days of departure and cancel within 1 hour of purchase - Full Refund or eVoucher
  • Purchase within 7 days of departure and cancel more than 1 hour after purchase - 75% refund or 75% eVoucher
  • Cancel after scheduled departure or no show - No Refund, No eVoucher
  • Flexible Full Fares continue to offer full refund at any time.
Advance Purchase Saver Fares
  • Cancel within 24 hours of purchase - Full refund or eVoucher
  • Cancel more than 24 hours after purchase but prior to scheduled departure - 75% non-refundable eVoucher
  • Cancel after scheduled departure or no show - No Refund, No eVoucher
Unreserved Coach Fares
  • Cancel within 1 hour of purchase - Full refund or eVoucher
  • Cancel more than 1 hour after purchase - 75% refund or 75% eVoucher
USA Rail Pass, California Rail Pass
  • Cancel within 1 hour of purchase - Full refund
  • Rail Pass has been issued but no travel reservations have been made and no tickets have been issued - 75% refund or 75% eVoucher
  • Rail Pass has been issued and reservations have been made:
    • Cancel at least two days prior to first scheduled departure - 75% refund or 75% eVoucher
    • If tickets have been issued (these are still paper ticket reservations), all tickets and rail pass must be mailed to Amtrak Refunds for refund.
    • Cancel less than two days prior to first scheduled departure - No Refund, No eVoucher. Pass will be considered used.

Last edited by NovaEngr; Mar 20, 18 at 8:39 am
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Old Mar 20, 18, 8:03 am
  #2  
 
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I do not understand the logic behind a 25% penalty for a refund and an identical 25% penalty for a voucher. It seems to me that a voucher leaves money in Amtrak's hands, and Amtrak would consider that to be a good thing, and motivate the customer to choose that alternative.

"Cancel" appears often, and it makes me wonder if a change of booking would incur a penalty. For example, if I hold a ticket from New York to Chicago, can I change it to a ticket from New Orleans to Los Angeles on a later date without a penalty, because it's a change rather than a cancellation? Probably it depends on the agent who is talking to the customer.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 8:54 am
  #3  
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Here is the complete chart, including flexible fares. Nothing sneaky as the refund policy is the policy in effect at the time of purchase. People who bought tickets last month for travel next month, will get the benefit of the advertised (at the time) policy. This updated policy largely increases the benefit of flexible tickets and preserves that brand.

https://www.amtrak.com/planning-booking/changes-refunds/refund-and-cancellation-policy.html
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Old Mar 20, 18, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Here is the complete chart, including flexible fares. Nothing sneaky as the refund policy is the policy in effect at the time of purchase. People who bought tickets last month for travel next month, will get the benefit of the advertised (at the time) policy. This updated policy largely increases the benefit of flexible tickets and preserves that brand.

https://www.amtrak.com/planning-booking/changes-refunds/refund-and-cancellation-policy.html
To have the old policy applied to reservations made before March 20 will require calling Amtrak reservations. Cancelling on the website or app will apply the new policy.

What seems "sneaky" to me is that the change is not flagged somewhere on the website where customers can easily see it. Someone who books travel regularly may not pull down the fare type descriptions and see the change - and may not even notice it if they do. I think that either the home page or the booking page or both should have a prominent notice that the refund policy has changed and a link to see the details. Someone who books a reservation believing the long-time practice of getting full voucher credit for cancellations made prior to scheduled departure is still in effect will be in for an nasty surprise.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 10:46 am
  #5  
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Amtrak now has a worse change/cancel policy than Southwest and Alaska Airlines.

I guess I'll quit trying to convert people from the Horizon SEA-PDX shuttle to the Cascades. That's all on you, Mr. Anderson.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 7:19 pm
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So shady to institute this is such a secretive way. Not to mention how horrible the policy change is. I was already thinking about shifting back to the air shuttles for my commute. I miss the days when I could use frequent flyer miles for business class flights to Europe and Asia.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 10:44 pm
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As a person who constantly has at least a dozen reservations with Amtrak at any one time, this just means I'll have to do exchanges rather than evouchers. It's an annoyance and some of the trips may be dummy ones until I figure out when I really need to go, but as long as there is still no change fee, which it appears there isn't, I'll be ok.
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Old Mar 21, 18, 7:41 am
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Originally Posted by musicalbox View Post
As a person who constantly has at least a dozen reservations with Amtrak at any one time, this just means I'll have to do exchanges rather than evouchers. It's an annoyance and some of the trips may be dummy ones until I figure out when I really need to go, but as long as there is still no change fee, which it appears there isn't, I'll be ok.
I agree to an extent. I have trips booked through May and will have to play the shuffle game for now. However, it was nice to be able to pool vouchers for leisure trips outside my normal route or to upgrade to better/different equipment, such as combining NER vouchers to pay for Acela.
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Old Mar 21, 18, 10:55 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Here is the complete chart, including flexible fares. Nothing sneaky as the refund policy is the policy in effect at the time of purchase. People who bought tickets last month for travel next month, will get the benefit of the advertised (at the time) policy. This updated policy largely increases the benefit of flexible tickets and preserves that brand.

https://www.amtrak.com/planning-booking/changes-refunds/refund-and-cancellation-policy.html
Based on information in this link, it appears that 'value fare' reserved coach tickets are still fully refundable up to 8 days prior to travel. Amtrak is definitely trying to discourage those who reserve sleeper accommodations to 'hold' the space. The 25% penalty will be painful unless you are able to change the reservation rather than cancel and rebook.
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Old Mar 21, 18, 12:25 pm
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To be honest, I am all for Amtrak putting a penalty on releasing sleeping car space. Tour operators have been abusing this and causing availability issues and distorting the yield management calculations, forcing prices into higher buckets earlier than they should be and possibly causing Amtrak revenue problems when yield management drops prices at a late date.

Hope that there will be the ability to modify the reservation rather than have to cancel.
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Old Mar 21, 18, 3:43 pm
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Thanks for that explanation, zephyr17. If that's the explanation, it makes sense.

This policy will also reduce the benefit of rebooking when the fare goes down, which has been a regular occurrence for me.
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Old Mar 22, 18, 3:10 pm
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So we can just change to later dates and do this multiple times?

i take the train weekly for work and have multiple reservations bc i dont know what my exact work schedule will be. Im assuming i can just change reservations for free for other later dates and just keep repeating this process multiple times if need be
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Old Mar 24, 18, 9:44 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by zephyr17 View Post
To be honest, I am all for Amtrak putting a penalty on releasing sleeping car space. Tour operators have been abusing this and causing availability issues and distorting the yield management calculations, forcing prices into higher buckets earlier than they should be and possibly causing Amtrak revenue problems when yield management drops prices at a late date.
That assumes that these policies will even apply to tour operators. Many of the regular booking polices for individuals do not apply to tour ops.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 9:22 am
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The worst part of the policy for me is the non-100% voucher on Saver fares or even close-in cancellations on Value fares. I somewhat get having a stricter policy on sleeper reservations (although there should be an option for a "flexible sleeper" reservation, even if it's sky-high.) However, what's the point of even offering an eVoucher in most instances when the penalty is the same either way?
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Old Mar 26, 18, 10:47 am
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If you're allowed to book space and "carry forward" the booking in perpetuity with no penalty, I don't understand how that solves abuse of sleeper bookings. Agree with everyone that penalizing canceling into e-vouchers is punitive and totally the wrong incentive.
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