Tag Archives: amtrak

The Benefits of Amtrak Select Plus

I had a short trip to San Diego for work (more on that later), and the only return flight that worked with my schedule was a redeye from San Diego to Newark with a three-hour stopover en route to Baltimore (and then an hour trip to my apartment). I don’t have status with United (or any other airlines for that matter) so upgrades were not an option. I simply prepared myself for a hellish journey home, counting down the hours until I could collapse in my own bed.

There was one silver lining: Amtrak Select Plus. Thanks to all the Amtrak traveling I did in 2013, I still have Amtrak Select Plus status through February 2015. Amtrak Select Plus isn’t all that great, except for one little known perk: It gives you access to United airport lounges.

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Now a lounge doesn’t make up for sleeping in 40 minute increments in economy, but it is a nice pick-me-up in between layovers. The Newark lounge even had showers.

San Diego:

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My love affair with Amtrak has come to a tragic end. For years, I’ve been able to book Amtrak trains with the comfort of knowing I could cancel my ticket any time for a full refund. I could book two trains in case I missed one and simply cancel the unused ticket after the fact. No longer.

Full refunds are still available for cancellations more than 24 hours in advance of your ticket, but if you cancel within 24 hours, you will have to choose between an Amtrak voucher or a 10% fee on your refund.

While I understand the economics of this latest move, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It’s not like Amtrak’s service is exactly stellar: Frequent delays, sporadic break downs, unreliable wifi, and rapidly rising prices. At least, I had the flexibility of changing my train at the last minuteĀ  with no penalty – emphasis on the past tense. Sigh…


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