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United-Amtrak Codeshare FAQ - Including ZFV (Philadelphia)

United-Amtrak Codeshare FAQ - Including ZFV (Philadelphia)

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Old Jun 28, 19, 3:50 am   -   Wikipost
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Overview

Amtrak operates a codeshare program with United. The codeshare program permits passengers to connect via Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) with train service to/from these train stations:
  • ZFV – Philadelphia 30th Street
  • ZTF – Stamford, CT
  • ZVE – New Haven, CT
  • ZWI – Wilmington, DE

(NB: Codeshare trains are not available from Washington, DC or Boston, MA.)

These destinations are all along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) line. The most popular codeshare origin/destination is ZFV (30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia, PA) since fares that are valid to PHL are often also valid to ZFV, and they can be quite cheap.

The codeshare trains are regular scheduled trains on Amtrak's Northeast Regional service. The trains stop at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) rail link station, where passengers can board the AirTrain (monorail) to the terminals and proceed to your connecting flight. Passengers in possession of an Amtrak ticket, including through the codeshare program, travel on the AirTrain for free.

Earning Miles (PQMs/PQSs, PQDs, and RDMs) on Amtrak

Codeshare train segments earn 325/250 RDMs (depending on purchased fare class -- see link), 0 PQMs/PQSs, and 0 PQDs one-way. (Note: This is a change from the pre-merger days (Continental Airlines) where you would earn EQMs.) You will only earn these miles by actually riding the train.

You can also earn Mileage Plus RDM miles on Amtrak via Acela Express. See more details at the following URL:
http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/Mark...es/Amtrak.aspx

Other General Pointers

Here are a few important points that have been mentioned in this thread:
  • The train tickets are for the coach section only.
  • United codeshare tickets operated by Amtrak are not valid on any other train (including Acela) besides your scheduled ticketed train as all trains on the NEC are reserved.
  • It takes approximately 10 minutes (once you board) to travel between the Newark Airport Rail Station and Terminal C via the Airtrain (monorail).
  • If you plan to do anything other than take the train exactly as ticketed (e.g., skip the train, pick up tickets at a different station, etc.), you need to be careful. Details on this issue are below.
  • Misconnections between Amtrak and Newark will be accommodated in the same manner as if you had taken a flight segment and were not able to make your connecting flight. Simply explain to the EWR agent that you're connecting to/from Amtrak.

Checked Luggage

Train to Plane
There is no luggage transfer service between the train and Newark Airport (EWR). You must take your luggage to the same check-in point you would normally use--skycap, ticket counter, etc. Your baggage will not be transferred from the train to your flight. (Amtrak trains serving EWR do not have checked baggage service, and so you'll need to carry your bags onto and off of the train anyway.)

Plane to Train
When your flight arrives at EWR, your bags will only be checked to EWR (airport) and you must claim your luggage at the baggage claim. Once you have claimed your bags, proceed to the airport train station via the AirTrain (last stop, after P4). There is no checked baggage service on Amtrak trains at the EWR train station, but overhead luggage racks offer generous amounts of space, and many cars have an oversized luggage rack at one of the ends of the car (near the restrooms).

Printing Your Ticket

Online check-in through United will give you a "fake" boarding pass for the train segments. This "fake" boarding pass is not valid for transportation on Amtrak. You must obtain your train ticket from the Amtrak Quik-Trak machine or Amtrak agent at the train station of your departure and at Newark Airport train station for your return.

ZFV, ZTF, ZVE, ZWI
To pick up your ticket, go to an Amtrak kiosk on the same calendar day as your departure (won't work on the day before, even if within 24h) and swipe your credit card/ID. Tap 'Pick Up Ticket' (Or something to that effect), then 'Codeshare', then 'United Air/Rail Customer' and input your train's UA-coded 'flight' number, usually a 66XX number. It will locate your record and spit out your train ticket and a receipt, if you wish.

Other Stations
Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL with your time/date and train number that you will be traveling to obtain your Amtrak Passenger Name Record (PNR). Keep in mind that this is not the same as your United reservation number! You must call to get the Amtrak PNR. Once you have that information, you may go to any Quik-Trak machine (such as Penn Station) to print your Amtrak ticket.

Skipping ZFV-EWR/EWR-ZFV Segment

The purpose of the Amtrak codeshare is to provide service for those who are traveling to or from the codeshare-eligible cities. Frequently abusing the Amtrak codeshare program to travel to or from EWR while skipping the Amtrak segment puts one at risk to you (like losing your MileagePlus account) as well as jeopardize the continuation of the program.

All of that said, sometimes there are situations where you might not end up wanting to take the train. If you do so, you will almost certainly want to book the trip as two one-ways. Fares to/from ZFV are usually one-way fares, so this will not make your trip more expensive.

The scenarios below are categorized as low-risk, medium-risk, or high-risk.
  • Low-risk scenarios are unlikely to result in cancelled segments; the risks here include UA coming after you if you do it frequently, and the possibility of being routed directly to PHL in IRROPS.
  • Medium-risk scenarios are those where some people have reported cancelled segments, particularly if there is enough lag time between the Amtrak segment and one or more of the United segments for the systems to sync up; sometimes you can get an agent to reinstate canceled segments/trip for no charge but seating assignment and upgrades will probably be lost.
  • High-risk scenarios are those where some segments are almost certain to be cancelled.
Here are the scenarios:
  • Booking One Way or Round Trip: ZFV-EWR-XXX, boarding ZFV-EWR downline (e.g. at TRE or MET) - No risk (subject to obtaining your train ticket--see below)
  • Booking One Way: ZFV-EWR-XXX, Skipping ZFV-EWR only - Medium-risk
  • Booking One Way: XXX-EWR-ZFV, Skipping EWR-ZFV only - Low-risk
  • Booking Round Trip: ZFV-EWR-XXX, Skipping ZFV-EWR only - High-risk
  • Booking Round Trip: XXX-EWR-ZFV, Skipping ZFV-EWR only - Medium-risk
  • Booking Round Trip: ZFV-EWR-XXX, Skipping EWR-ZFV only - Low-risk
  • Booking Round Trip: XXX-EWR-ZFV, Skipping EWR-ZFV only - High-risk
  • Booking Round Trip: ZFV-EWR-XXX -OR- XXX-EWR-ZFV, Skipping ZFV-EWR and EWR-ZFV - High-risk

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I benefit from a schedule change?
If there is a schedule change, you can ask United to drop the ZFV-EWR segment. For example: I'm EWR based, but was "flying" ZFV-EWR-XXX. Originally, I had a 1 hour, 40 minute layover @ EWR, which got changed to a 1 hour 10 minute layover. I said I wasn't comfortable with that short of a connection time (since you have to take the monorail and clear security). I was able to drop the first segment (ZFV-EWR) without any trouble (and thus avoiding a "re-position" to ZFV).

Why would I want to book a train segment instead of just ticketing from Newark?
The best reason is that you actually want to get to one of the codeshare cities! Of course, there are also less straightforward reasons. Due to the competitive airline markets -- especially Philadelphia -- the ticket prices are often much less expensive using the train segments and a “connection” at the Newark Rail Station. Often times, other rail station ticketing points have fares that are less expensive than ticketing directly from EWR.

Can I obtain my Amtrak ticket at another location – say NY Penn Station?
According to the official rules, no. Quik-Trak machines not at codeshare stations (ZFV, ZWI, etc.) will not natively print codeshare tickets. Members here have reported mixed success in obtaining their Amtrak tickets from Amtrak ticket offices.

Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL to ensure your reservation is in their system before attempting to obtain your ticket at an Amtrak ticket office. United train segments are generally placed in the Amtrak system 24-48 hours in advance of your travel (the official policy is 36 hours, but others have reported that conflicts with reality and is often less than a day in advance). When you call Amtrak, you will need to know your train number and date of travel. The Amtrak phone agent can give you the Amtrak confirmation code (PNR, different from your United PNR), which may be helpful when picking up your ticket--you might be able to get non-codeshare-station Quik-Trak machines to print your ticket using this confirmation number.

When dealing with a human ticket agent, most Amtrak ticketing personnel are not familiar with these type of tickets and will need the “assistance” of the Amtrak support desk, generally, to issue your ticket.

If you cannot obtain your paper ticket in advance, you may have luck having the conductor search for you by name after you board the train. You can also give the conductor the Amtrak PNR you obtained by phone, but conductors seem to prefer looking by name anyway. Note that at some staffed stations (like Philadelphia and New York Penn), gate agents will not let you onto the boarding platform without a valid ticket. Additionally, when you arrive at EWR, you won't be able to proceed through the gate to board the AirTrain without either a valid Amtrak ticket or a New Jersey Transit AirTrain Access Fee ticket, which can be bought inside the EWR station for $5.50.

I want to drive/taxi/walk to the airport, do I actually have to obtain my ticket in Philadelphia and ride the train?
Technically, you are supposed to ride the train. If you fail to print your train ticket from an Amtrak kiosk prior to the train's scheduled departure from ZFV, your UA reservation will be cancelled. (Note: this may have changed since Amtrak's changeover to e-ticketing, since printing a paper boarding pass no longer affects the reservation's ticketed/unticketed status.) If you pick up your ticket but then fail to have a conductor scan your ticket, the remainder of your United flight reservation will likely be canceled within 24 hours and possibly sooner.

Can I board the train at a different point than PHL if I have my train ticket?
YES! You can board the train at any station along the way – Metropark, Princeton Junction, or (if you are traveling from points North) even New York Penn Station.

Can I pay the difference in Amtrak fare to travel beyond the point to which I am ticketed?
No. (Confirmed as no longer true by FlyerTalk's Amtrak lurker, AGR Insider, in this thread.)

Much of the information in this wiki was originally put together by FlyerTalk user martig4. Some of the FAQ information dates back to 2004 and could be no longer applicable, so please feel free to edit this wiki and help ensure its contents contain the most up-to-date information!

Known Issues

The Amtrak codeshare is pretty great. But there are certain aspects that make taking the train-plane tougher than your garden-variety connecting flight. In hopes that some of these might be able to get fixed, here's a short list of them:
  • The eTicket for the Amtrak segment must be retrieved from a QuikTrak machine or a knowledgable Amtrak station agent, close in to the train trip.
  • The Amtrak confirmation number (which is useful for picking up the train ticket) is not provided by United.
  • Certain electronic reservation functions (like app boarding passes and automated SDC) are disabled when there is a remaining unused Amtrak segment in a reservation.
  • Occasionally, the Amtrak ticket disappears entirely, and neither Amtrak nor United admit that it's their fault. At its worst, this means getting on the train with the risk that the conductor won't accept whatever documentation you have.
  • Sometimes, the ticket shows up in Amtrak's system as unpaid.
  • Amtrak agents (except station agents at the high-traffic codeshare stations) and United agents (even at EWR) are often ignorant about the program.
  • The red phone at the EWR Amtrak station, which can be used to contact a good agent if the EWR ticket desk is unmanned, has a 10-minute call cut-off.

Archive thread United-Amtrak Codeshare FAQ - Including ZFV (Philadelphia) {Archive}
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Old Jan 1, 16, 9:37 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Originally Posted by schwarm View Post
Now that EWR Amtrak station is no longer staffed, there are 2 steps that are mandatory for anyone venturing the Amtral codeshare via EWR to Philadelphia 30th St Station:

1) Prior to traveling, call Amtrak to obtain your Amtrak confirmation number. The phone agent can get this from name and UA confirmation number. This is needed since the only way to get train ticket at EWR is via Fastrak machine, and the Fastrak machine can only do this by inserting credit card to "unlock" and then entering Amtrak confirmation number. Of note, Amtrak confirmation number is not printed on train coupon.

2) It is nearly certain that the Amtrak system will not relay that you actually took the train trip ex-EWR to UA. Therefore, it will be necessary to call United prior to return to argue that you were on the train and did not miss the segment. If I ever do this codeshare again, I actually plan to call United from the train to tell them that I am indeed on the train. Why wait? Time-stamped selfies from the train could also be useful, I suppose.

In summary, this is a very problematic connection. Use at your own risk.
#1 is most definitely false.

The Amtrak quick track machine has an option for "United Code Share". You select this and input the United "flight" number and the machine should locate your itinerary. I've done this many many times without problem.

#2 YMMV
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Old Jan 2, 16, 5:42 am
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I just looked at my MP account and see no entries for my outbound ZFV-EWR in Nov. or my return EWR-ZFV in Dec. Or at least nothing appears under "airline activity." There isn't any place else it might be, is there?

How many redeemable and how many qualifying miles should those train trips earn? No miles toward UA life-time ones, right?

I'll call MP when they open in a little while to ask about this. Unfortunately, don't think I kept any of the tickets. (I did get a cardboard boarding pass for EWR-ZFV from the transfer desk after clearing EWR customs, which as I recall mean absolutely nothing to the Amtrak conductor. I had to use the conductor's cellphone, which he graciously lent me, to call Amtrak for the confirmation number they use.)
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Old Jan 2, 16, 8:12 am
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by Cargojon View Post
#1 is most definitely false.

The Amtrak quick track machine has an option for "United Code Share". You select this and input the United "flight" number and the machine should locate your itinerary. I've done this many many times without problem.
No, the machine has changed. There used to be an option for airline code share, but it is no longer there. Now, in order to do anything, you have to slide a credit card first. I was not the only one there having to do this.

Have you used the machine since this change?
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Old Jan 2, 16, 12:20 pm
  #19  
 
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Originally Posted by schwarm View Post
No, the machine has changed. There used to be an option for airline code share, but it is no longer there. Now, in order to do anything, you have to slide a credit card first. I was not the only one there having to do this.

Have you used the machine since this change?
You always had to slide a credit card first, even to pull by flight number. I was able to pull by flight number as recently as 12/18/2015. How recent is this change?
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Old Jan 2, 16, 1:29 pm
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
You always had to slide a credit card first, even to pull by flight number. I was able to pull by flight number as recently as 12/18/2015. How recent is this change?
This was last week. It was not this way in August.

Perhaps because we had multiple travelers?
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Old Jan 2, 16, 3:13 pm
  #21  
 
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Originally Posted by schwarm View Post
This was last week. It was not this way in August.

Perhaps because we had multiple travelers?
I think the code-share option is on the second page of options, did you scroll ahead to a second page?
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Old Jan 3, 16, 8:48 am
  #22  
 
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Is there anyway of picking up tickets more than 24 hours in advance? I'm meant to be on a 5.15 train from ZFV but I want to pick up the train at metro park.

Thanks
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Old Jan 3, 16, 9:39 am
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by EWRMAN View Post
Is there anyway of picking up tickets more than 24 hours in advance? I'm meant to be on a 5.15 train from ZFV but I want to pick up the train at metro park.

Thanks
They seem to load the tickets that morning. I could not pick up my tickets the night before which was less than 24 hours.
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Old Jan 3, 16, 11:57 am
  #24  
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My recent experience

Hello,

I thought I would share my recent experience to the thread since I used the forum for helpful advice before purchasing my ticket for the holidays.

I booked 2 separate one-ways, one originating at YVR and finishing at ZFV via DEN, and the other the reverse route via SFO. Check-in from YVR was seamless, aside from the ticketing agent never hearing of "ZFV" before when tagging my checked bag. However, the extra boarding pass card that had instructions on how I was supposed to claim my own bag at EWR before going to the train cleared things up for both of us.

My problems started with both my outbound and return itineraries while at EWR. On my outbound flight, where I was to claim my bags at EWR and transfer to the train, my checked bag never arrived at the baggage carosel. The baggage agents were completely clueless as to the program, with two of the agents saying they had no idea where my bag was supposed to be. The two agents told me that my bags were likely transfered to the train, even after I showed them the boarding card with instructions to claim my bag at EWR! It was incredibly frustrating, but eventually they were able to locate the bag after insisting that there was no way it was transfered to the train, and they sent it up to the claim after my train to ZFV had departed. This happened to 3 people on the same flight to EWR who were connecting to ZFV.

On the return trip, check-in at ZFV was easy and I used the Amtrak itinerary number to get my ticket (I called Amtrak to obtain the Amtrak itinerary number the day before and the friendly agent gave it to me with no problems). The train was on-time and transfer to EWR was easy. However, I needed to check my bag, so I went to one of the self check-in machines and the flights shown on there were not the same as the ones on my itinerary! My itinerary had me on an 11am flight and the check-in machine showed 6am, which was already past! I was told by an agent that this was do to my train segment and would have to talk to another agent. I showed her my Amtrak ticket and my United itinerary and she corrected it for me. She mentioned there is often this problem with Amtrak codeshares and that it wasn't fixed yet.

For the money I saved by booking to ZFV, I would probably book a similar itinerary again, but I would definitely skip the frustration of checking a bag. The worst part was dealing with the EWR agents that either didn't know about the program or how it was supposed to work.
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Old Jan 3, 16, 12:35 pm
  #25  
 
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Originally Posted by EWRMAN View Post
Is there anyway of picking up tickets more than 24 hours in advance? I'm meant to be on a 5.15 train from ZFV but I want to pick up the train at metro park.

Thanks
You may be able to, IF the tickets are loaded on the Amtrak system the day before. But you won't be able to do that from the QuikTrak machine, you need an Amtrak agent, and the Metropark agents will absolutely not help you, so to pick up the day before you would need to go to Philly-30th Street to try to pick up from an agent there.

Further, Metropark station building is closed and locked before 5:15, so you can't even get to the QuikTrak machine the day of travel before the train departs ZFV. And finally, if you were planning on hopping on the train at Metropark, forget that too because the 5:15 train does not stop at Metropark.

From your FT handle it appears that you are based near EWR, and are trying to pull a ZFV trick and not take the train from ZFV. Bad move. For this one, you probably do need to go catch that 5:15am train from ZFV, or SDC your ticket.
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Old Jan 3, 16, 8:49 pm
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by TTN View Post
Check-in from YVR was seamless, aside from the ticketing agent never hearing of "ZFV" before when tagging my checked bag.
What an ordeal! So did they ultimately tag your bag to EWR or to ZFV? What was the bag destination on your claim stub?
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Old Jan 3, 16, 9:36 pm
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by Cargojon View Post
I think the code-share option is on the second page of options, did you scroll ahead to a second page?
Did not see scroll or second page options. In August there was no need to scroll to see codeshare options, but at that time the machine didn't work since there were multiple travelers on the itinerary.
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Old Jan 3, 16, 10:37 pm
  #28  
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
What an ordeal! So did they ultimately tag your bag to EWR or to ZFV? What was the bag destination on your claim stub?
The final destination on the claim stub, as well as the bag tag, was listed as ZFV. However, when the bag was checked at YVR, an extra "boarding card" printed out of the machine with clear instructions to claim at EWR to carry to the train.
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Old Jan 3, 16, 11:52 pm
  #29  
 
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I moved to Philadelphia a year ago and have now "flown" ex-ZFV twice going abroad without problem. I don't recall clearly, but think united.com showed ex-ZFV as an option both times. Can one count on united.com to show ZFV possibilities or must one search with ZFV for "from" or "to" not to miss fare-saving opportunities? Will checking "nearby 'airports'" reliably bring in ZFV?

If one presents themselves at ZFV or EWR before time for scheduled train, will they be allowed to go on an earlier non-Acela one?
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Old Jan 4, 16, 7:00 am
  #30  
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Originally Posted by itsme View Post
If one presents themselves at ZFV or EWR before time for scheduled train, will they be allowed to go on an earlier non-Acela one?
Northeast corridor trains are all reserved. You'll need to ask am Amtrak agent at the Philadelphia station or for Newark Airport call in as there is no Amtrak ticket agent there any more. I would not suggest simply boarding an earlier train without changing yur reservation..
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