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United-Amtrak Codeshare FAQ - Including ZFV (Philadelphia)

United-Amtrak Codeshare FAQ - Including ZFV (Philadelphia)

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Old Mar 13, 17, 1:16 pm   -   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 because 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.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 12:17 pm
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United-Amtrak Codeshare FAQ - Including ZFV (Philadelphia)

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Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Aug 5, 13 at 8:17 pm Reason: archiving information
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Old Nov 23, 04, 12:19 pm
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Comments wanted

With the recent plethora of questions regarding ZFV / Amtrak travel I thought it time to write a FAQ.

I welcome any comments and will revise the FAQ accordingly based upon feedback.

martig4
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Old Nov 23, 04, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by martig4
With the recent plethora of questions regarding ZFV / Amtrak travel I thought it time to write a FAQ.

I welcome any comments and will revise the FAQ accordingly based upon feedback.

martig4
Excellent work. The only point I'd make is to watch out for the "15 min" monorail. The frequency of the monorail varies by day of week and time of day. Usually it's every 4 min - but the first/only time I arrived on Amtrak (with a ZFV ticket) it was every 1/2 hour (Sunday afternoon). Fortunately I had taken an earlier train or I would have missed my flight (last one out that day to sjc).
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Old Nov 23, 04, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by martig4
With the recent plethora of questions regarding ZFV / Amtrak travel I thought it time to write a FAQ.

I welcome any comments and will revise the FAQ accordingly based upon feedback.

martig4
Yes! Good job

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Old Nov 23, 04, 12:33 pm
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Thanks for the time and effort put into this. Much appreciated!
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Old Nov 23, 04, 1:22 pm
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[QUOTE=martig4ZFV – New Haven, CT [/QUOTE]

Excellent post! Only 1 correction - code for New Haven should be ZVE
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Old Nov 23, 04, 1:27 pm
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[QUOTE=Magic Pickles]
Originally Posted by martig4ZFV – New Haven, CT [/QUOTE

Excellent post! Only 1 correction - code for New Haven should be ZVE
Corrected.

Thanks.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by martig4
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. Members here regularly ticket themselves from ZFV and simply find their own way to the airport. No member has reported cancelled flight segments for not using or even obtaining the Amtrak tickets.
Beware -- I know of two different FT people who have had problems with cancelled CO segments, due to CO thinking that they missed Amtrak segments!

Last edited by Xyzzy; Nov 23, 04 at 1:50 pm
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Old Nov 23, 04, 1:59 pm
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Any info on ballpark times when miles will post both on CO/Amtrak segments and from Acela/Metroliner segments?
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Old Nov 23, 04, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by HobokenFlyer
Any info on ballpark times when miles will post both on CO/Amtrak segments and from Acela/Metroliner segments?
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showt...amtrak+posting
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Old Nov 23, 04, 3:00 pm
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Originally Posted by xyzzy
Beware -- I know of two different FT people who have had problems with cancelled CO segments, due to CO thinking that they missed Amtrak segments!
I'm going to take a shot in the dark here and guess that they did not use online check in before the scheduled departure of the trains. I doubt CO would cancel the air segments if you had already checked in.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by martig4
With the recent plethora of questions regarding ZFV / Amtrak travel I thought it time to write a FAQ.

I welcome any comments and will revise the FAQ accordingly based upon feedback.

martig4
Great job. And just in time for my first try of the ZFV routing tomorrow. I am actually a NW member, and am curious to see if Amtrak segments will post at all.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 3:33 pm
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Originally Posted by sapman986
I'm going to take a shot in the dark here and guess that they did not use online check in before the scheduled departure of the trains. I doubt CO would cancel the air segments if you had already checked in.
Online checkin doesn't check you in for the Amtrak segments. I know for a fact that one of the people with problems used online checkin. The problem wasn't with the immediately following Amtrak segment, it was with the return.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 3:42 pm
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Originally Posted by xyzzy
Online checkin doesn't check you in for the Amtrak segments. I know for a fact that one of the people with problems used online checkin. The problem wasn't with the immediately following Amtrak segment, it was with the return.
Hmmm. That's worrying. I'm aware that CO doesn't check you in for the Amtrak segments, but was presuming that once you are checked in for the CO segment that the flight portions would not be touched. From what I have read on here, the CO and Amtrak systems supposedly don't talk to each other much.

How did either of them get the problem resolved? Did CO reinstate their segments?
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Old Nov 23, 04, 4:19 pm
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Angry

Originally Posted by xyzzy
Beware -- I know of two different FT people who have had problems with cancelled CO segments, due to CO thinking that they missed Amtrak segments!
yeah, while i am sure the original poster was well-intentioned, it is probably not a good idea to have this thread whatsoever. not only should this not be sticky, it should be killed.

die thread, please die.

if not, the CO beancounters might put investigate all ZFV tickets which could lead to some unpleasant surprises at the airport.
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