Amtrak announced they’re simplifying their fare structure to make it easier to book an Amtrak seat. Starting this fall, they’re introducing a new set of fares that reduces the previous three fare categories to just two.
Amtrak Fare Categories
The goal is to make it easier for passengers to choose the best option for their needs. The previous Saver Fare category is gone.
The two new fare types are called Flex and Value, and they bring some significant changes. The Flex fares are all about flexibility – they’re refundable, and there are no change fees, which means you can alter your travel plans without any extra cost.
On the other hand, Value fares offer a more budget-friendly option. They are non-changeable, but passengers can cancel their trip and get a 75% refund. Though not technically a penalty, there is a 25% cancellation fee.
These new fare options will be available for most coach and Acela business-class tickets. However, there will be different fare rules that apply to rooms on long-distance trains. The Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner trains will also have new fare categories.
“This streamlined fare structure with more affordable and flexible fares is part of Amtrak’s continued commitment to upgrading the customer experience at every step along their journey,” said Amtrak President Roger Harris.
New Refund Rules
One key change in this update is how refunds are handled for canceled Value fares. Unlike before, refunds will now be processed back to your original payment method, eliminating the need for eVouchers.
Under this simplified fare structure, Value fares are fully refundable if canceled 15 days or more before departure. The 25% fee applies only if you cancel less than 14 days before your scheduled departure.
The updated Flex fares aren’t too different from the previous Flexible fares, but will be priced lower. While they haven’t provided specific details, it’s likely that the new Flex fares will cover a range similar to what was previously offered by both the cheap Saver fares and the mid-tier Flexible fares.
According to a recent example from Amtrak, a current standard might be a single flexible fare at $80. In the updated structure, Amtrak would offer many Flex fares, the lowest starting at $24, signifying a substantial reduction in the cost of flexibility compared to the previous $80 flexible fare.
Expanded Discounts and Deals
The child discount will also see an update. All children from 2-12 years old can travel for 50% off with an accompanying adult. This was previously limited to 1 child discount per adult fare.
Occasionally, sale fares will be available at an even deeper discount. However, these tickets will be non-changeable and the ticket holder will receive a 50% refund if canceled.
New Acela Equipment
Amtrak’s simplified fare structure is part of their broader efforts to improve the travel experience. Amtrak recently introduced the Night Owl fares for select Northeast Corridor routes, offering significant discounts.
Additionally, watch for Amtrak to roll out new Acela trains in 2024. The new cars will feature more seating, extra outlets, and USB ports.
In summary, Amtrak’s new fare structure gives passengers more straightforward choices, offering both flexibility and affordability. It’s just one part of Amtrak’s commitment to enhance their passengers’ travel experience, and make train journeys even more accessible and enjoyable.