Taking earlier train on amtrak

Old Apr 10, 18, 2:50 pm
  #1  
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Taking earlier train on amtrak

I have a ticket on the NE Corridor tomorrow and would like to take an earlier train tomorrow. Is it possible to just get on an earlier train with my current ticket? I've read before that a lot of conductors are okay with this as long as the train isn't full, but I don't know how things have changed since instituting the iPhone ticket check system.

If I do need to change my ticket at the station, does that mean I need to pay for the difference between what I paid and the current price of a new ticket on the earlier train ? I bought the value price originally, but all the value price tickets are sold out now for the train I want to take and there are only flexible tickets left which is about $80 more than I paid...

Thank you!
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Old Apr 10, 18, 5:46 pm
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I have never heard of a conductor being OK with this... it must have been long, long ago. You will have to exchange for a new ticket at the current price and pay the difference, I'm afraid.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 7:33 am
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Yes, change your ticket ahead of time. I have been using the Pacific Surfliner for a "long, long" time and occasionally over the years jumped on an earlier train without changing tickets. Conductors didn't blink an eye. BUT, no longer. A few months ago I boarded the Surfliner at LAX to SAN on an earlier train, Business Class, mid-week. I hadn't done that for a long time. Conductor nicely and calmly, explained that I should have switched ticket before boarding, (lady across the aisle had done the same thing.). He asked us to call the Amtrak toll free line from the train to do the switch. He said Business Class was not full all the way to SD and it shouldn't be a problem. When we both just had an "Oh no, sad face" at the prospect of calling the toll free number from the train, he said not to worry, took our tickets and said he would take care of it. He returned later, handed us back our tickets and said he had made the switch. Really nice man, and I thanked him profusely. But now I know not to switch trains again without a proper ticket.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 7:45 am
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It won't work because it is all automated. When the Conductor scans your e-ticket, it will show as invalid. You need to change your ticket before you board and pay any fare difference.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by davesam12 View Post
Yes, change your ticket ahead of time. I have been using the Pacific Surfliner for a "long, long" time and occasionally over the years jumped on an earlier train without changing tickets. Conductors didn't blink an eye. BUT, no longer. A few months ago I boarded the Surfliner at LAX to SAN on an earlier train, Business Class, mid-week. I hadn't done that for a long time. Conductor nicely and calmly, explained that I should have switched ticket before boarding, (lady across the aisle had done the same thing.). He asked us to call the Amtrak toll free line from the train to do the switch. He said Business Class was not full all the way to SD and it shouldn't be a problem. When we both just had an "Oh no, sad face" at the prospect of calling the toll free number from the train, he said not to worry, took our tickets and said he would take care of it. He returned later, handed us back our tickets and said he had made the switch. Really nice man, and I thanked him profusely. But now I know not to switch trains again without a proper ticket.
You actually can travel on any Surfliner train you want without changing your ticket--if you booked coach. Coach on the Surfliner is unreserved. A ticket for one train is good for any other train on the same date or on a future date (within a year).

This is also why people say that coach on the Surfliner can be hairy during peak season: since tickets are good for any train, there's no way to limit the number of people on board, and so it can literally be standing-room-only at peak times.

Surfliner business class, though, is reserved, and so you must travel on your ticketed train. This is also why people suggest traveling business class during peak time periods (to ensure you get a seat, because they won't sell more business class tickets than there are seats on the train).

All trains on the Northeast Corridor are reserved (except the Keystone, but it's only unreserved west of Philadelphia to Harrisburg), so you cannot switch trains without changing your ticket.
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