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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Ideas to make the most of 20K redemption

   
Author Topic: Ideas to make the most of 20K redemption
mary_228
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Hi: I'd like to book a roomette for a two zone trip before the new revenue-based program goes into effect. I'd like to travel in April. I live in Chicago but could easily fly to begin or end my trip in another zone.

It would be nice to have an allowable stopover such as connecting between The City of New Orleans (arr from Chicago at 3:32pm to a westbound Sunset Limited which departs at 11:55am) so that I could enjoy a bit of time in New Orleans. I assume this is permissable on an award ticket. Does anyone have a list of itineraires which would maximize these types of connections so that I can see a bit of the cities along my route?

I have ridden the Coast Starlight, Zephyr and Empire Builder on paid tickets along parts of their routes, and enjoy that type of train with the observation car and dining car (as opposed to cafe car) meals which represent a significant value especially as a reward trip IMO. However if any eastern trains (excepting the Capitol Limited, which I understand is a superliner) offer a similar service or better sleeping compartments please feel free to suggest.

Thanks for all of your expertise!

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TwinStarRocket
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Someone might correct me, but I believe you cannot stopover in New Orleans using Guest Rewards. Generally speaking there are no overnight connections allowed, and no other options but the most direct route from origin to end point.

And I think the redemption changes to revenue based sometime in January.

The Southwest Chief or Texas Eagle might be a good choice if you are willing to settle for just the train ride.

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Gilbert B Norman
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There was a report at another site that one member wanted to redeem AGR points for an NYP-CHI trip via 51, The Cardinal. He quickly learned that only 49, Lake Shore, could be used for the same reason Mr. Twin Star immediately notes - most direct route.

So far as an "overnight in New Orleans", and after some review of the AGR site, you would need an itinerary where there is no alternate route available. For example an itinerary such as New York-El Paso, you could overnight at New Orleans. However, Chicago-El Paso, you could not, as there is direct service on 421, Eagle. Nor could you do Chicago Houston as there is an Ambus connection made at Longview.

Finally, Amtrak is "Judge, Jury, and Court of Appeals".

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palmland
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A route I've thought of doing is NYP or Washington to Los Angeles on the Crescent and Sunset. Booking will let you do this but overnight in New Orleans is on your dime. With a 7pm arrival the westbound schedule is slightly better as it allows time for dinner in one of New Orleans' many great restaurants. Departure next am at 9.

This let's you enjoy both a Suplerliner and Viewliner (arguably better accommodations for those in a roomette with its upper berth window, in room toilet, and more headroom.

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mary_228
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Oh, I am disappointed! I thought if, for example my end point is Vancouver BC, I could choose to travel through New Orleans to LA to the Coast Starlight. I re-read the redemption Guidelines and a valid routing is one that is generated by the reservation system so my options are actually many for this routing. In contrast to what Mr. Norman reported about the passenger going NYP-CHI via most direct route, the reservation system is showing the Zephyr, to the Coast Starlight, the Emprie Builder to the Cascades and even the Southwest Chief to the Coast Starlight to a bus.I was hoping for some time in the various cities along the way. Guess that is what paid tickets are for!
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notelvis
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I think that CHI-SAC-SEA-VCR would be a good deal for 20,000 though that doesn't get New Orleans as you had hoped.

Just remember that to redeem points using the old zone-based redemption system, you have to do it BEFORE Jan 24.

--------------------
David Pressley

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Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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TwinStarRocket
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And there are 16 blackout dates from Nov 24 thru Jan 3: (Nov 24, 25, 28, 29, Dec 19-23, 26-30, Jan 2, 3).

The Zephyr is very scenic in winter, and the 9 hour layover in SAC would get you as close as you can get to a stopover using points. "Old Sacramento" near the station has fun shops and fancy eateries.

I think the Southwest Chief scenery is very nice, especially northern New Mexico. But in the winter, the red rock country near the AZ border is after dark. If you are close to missing the Coast Starlight connection in LA, they will probably bus you from Barstow to Bakersfield.

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notelvis
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A clarification...... you have to BOOK the trip before January 24, 2016.

That means you could presumably book travel on the old zone-system as far out as January 2017 if you book by January 24th.

I have a trip booked in March 2016 using the old zone-system.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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TwinStarRocket
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Not to hijack this thread, but I have been playing around with the points estimator and I am surprised to find out I generally will come out better with the new revenue based redemption system. Please correct me if I misunderstand anything. The reasons appear to be as follows:

1. I tend to travel at non-peak times (Summer is the best time not to leave Minnesota).

2. I live in the middle of the central zone. The farthest I can go in a roomette would be San Diego (20,000 pts. now, 24,000 next yr) or Miami (32,000 next yr). But most my trips are half that distance and cost less points in the new system.

Some observations:

A $100 fare is equivalent to 3,450 points in the new system. That means a 20K 2-zone roomette in the old zone system equivalent to a $580 roomette in the new revenue based system.

Amsnag will be a great tool to find the cheapest day to travel and save you some points. If you find a day under $580 for a roomette you just came out ahead.

2 people used to travel in sleeper for the price of one in the old system. Now the 2nd person will cost you points for the additional low bucket coach fare to go along.

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yukon11
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Interesting thread.

I have never been interested in AGR points as I probably average only one Amtrak trip per year, usually from the Bay Area to the Northwest.

Since retirement, I have always wanted to take an Amtrak excursion around the perimeter of the country. However, the cost would be prohibitive. I would never consider coach for such a long trip.

For example, a trip from MTZ (Martinez)-SEA-CHI-WASH-NOL-LAX-MTZ would run around $ 2930 for a roomette, all the way. For a bedroom, my calculations show $ 5250. For a shorter loop, lets say, MTZ-CHI-SEA-MTZ it would run $ 1840 for a roomette and $ 3465 for a bedroom.

I wonder if Amtrak could offer a significant fare discount for back to back LD trains. Possibly something like a discount for 7 days on multiple LD trains, a greater one for 9 days, etc.

It would also be nice, regarding the above, if Amtrak would allow a few lay overs, in various towns and cities, as part of the package. Such long trips could be a little monotonous and it would be nice to detrain and get some leg stretching time.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Richard's immediate reminds me of a "circle fare" railroads offered. This fare was a Chi-SF round trip which could be routed via Seattle and LA.

I did such a journey, North Coast Ltd, Shasta Daylight, Coast Daylight, Super Chief during 1962. Roomettes and Parlors all segments and side trips to both Vancouver and San Diego were thrown in. Using a 1963 MILW timetable as source, First Class Rail was $154.45, and Roomettes were $33.80 for each segment, plus some $10 each for Parlor seats - oh and the $7.50 Super's extra fare. However, I stayed in some hotels you wouldn't catch me near today.

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yukon11
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Mr. Norman - If I had a chance to ride those 4 trains, back then, I would be happy even without any discount. Wow, what a trip.

Richard

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Ocala Mike
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Gil, being about your age, I can certainly relate to your comment about some hotels you stayed in during the early 60's. I think back to some of the things I did during that era, and wonder how I survived to reminisce today.
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