Over the past few years, we've seen the airline industry segment and break apart its ticket and fee policies, so that now travelers are paying for everything from pretzels to carry-on bags. Luckily, it hasn't gotten that bad when it comes to training travel. But business travelers heading out on a train trip should know that Amtrak does offer a range of different fare options. It's best to understand them before booking a train trip on Amtrak.
Amtrak Fare Options
Amtrak now provides three different levels of fares for their trains. The categories can have different rules, restrictions, and refund policies, so it's good to pay attention.
Amtrak's three fare levels are Saver, Value, and Flexible.
Amtrak's Saver level fare is its cheapest. Saver fares are usually 14-day advanced purchase tickets, web-only fares, flash sales, or other discounted fares. Unlike Amtrak's other fares, Saver fares are non-refundable (so make sure you want to take the trip!). However, Saver fares can be canceled (BEFORE the train departs) and a credit will be issued for future travel via Amtrak's eVoucher system. Saver fares are only available on some trains and some routes.
Amtrak's Value fares are a step up from Saver fares. They're more flexible and are fully refundable. Value fares can be refunded for a full refund 24 hours before departure. If you're within the 24 hours prior to departure, they are still refundable, but with a 10% refund fee.
Passengers can also have the refund issued as an eVoucher credit if they want, for use on future Amtrak travel. Value fares are available on all Amtrak routes. Note: if a Value fare is not canceled before a trip, the entire amount is lost. Use it, cancel it, or lose it!
Amtrak's Flexible fares are the top of the line.
They're fully refundable anytime before a trip, with no refund fee or penalty. Refunds can be issued back to credit cards or held as a credit on an e-voucher system. Flexible fares are available on many routes.
It's also useful to note that Amtrak offers Premium Service on some routes, such as the Acela Express First class or non-Acela business class. Premium service is in addition to the base fare and refund policies are based on the service.
You may also want to check Amtrak's baggage rules before a business train trip.
Business Traveler Tips for Amtrak Travel
- Which category of service? Unless you're really into saving money, most business travelers should consider opting for either finding a seat in the Quiet Car or upgrading to a Business Class seat (on regular Amtrak trains). For me (I usually travel on the Northeast Corridor, between Boston and New York or Washington D.C.), booking a regular ticket and aiming to get a seat in the Quiet Car works well. However, when I need the extra space or want a special experience, I love books in Business Class (or First Class on the Acela trains).
- Business Class and First Class Details. Business Class are the upgraded seats on Amtrak’s regular train routes, while First Class is the upgraded category of service on Amtrak’s Acela Express trains. The basic level of service on the Acela trains is the upgraded “Business Class” from Amtrak’s regular trains. Business Class seating is reserved, which means you’re guaranteed a seat. Compared to regular Amtrak seats, Business Class seats are wider, with extra legroom. They recline and have fold-down tray tables. Overhead storage is provided in Business Class (and above), along with reading lights and power outlets.First Class seats have all the amenities of Business Class seats, but they're in a separate, reserved car.
- Wi-Fi. Most Amtrak trains have Wi-Fi coverage, although it can be spotty and not particularly good. It's usually good enough to download or check email or do some quick surfing. But don't plan to watch streaming movies or even streaming music, unless you're willing to put up with relatively frequent drop outs.