Getting the news Friday that one of my favorite high school teachers had passed was tough. Really tough. Quit cutting those damn onions tough.
Although I had received the news that he wasn’t eligible for exploratory treatment which consequently meant that he had run out of medical options, I didn’t completely take that to heart. His change in appearance had been dramatic, yes, but I still figured that he had awhile longer to live because Mr. Kishore had spirit. He had spirit in spades. He exuded life and knowledge. To say that he’s gone now, well, I will refuse to believe that until Saturday, and if his kids and wife’s spirits are as lovely and generous as his was (and I’m sure they are), then he really didn’t leave us, at all.
I told him once, “You are too smart to be a teacher.”
He replied, “That’s what’s wrong with education these days.”
I don’t know how true that is or was, but I do know it was a blessing every day I was in his class. I think a lot of my classmates would share my opinion, as I don’t think I remember a single class being so prepared for an AP test like ours was. He was an great teacher, he was a great man, I’m sure he was a great father and the world is poorer without his daily contributions. Rest in peace, Mr. Kishore.
As is the case with sudden life events like this, travel can become complicated and expensive. If you are on the East Coast and have earned Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points from any of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus credit cards, I have a tip: Amtrak, while usually expensive, is actually very cheap when redeeming with points. If you want to go to the funeral on Saturday and can’t spare the money for a plane or train ticket, but have UR points, read on.
If you live in the Northeast zone (see below), a roundtrip intra-zone ticket is only 8,000 UR points. A roundtrip Eastern zone ticket is only 11,000 points (The full pricing list is here).
8,000/11,000 UR points is equivalent to $80/$110 as a statement credit, but I would argue you can get much greater value by redeeming points, since train or plane tickets to Charlottesville can often cost $400 or more.
As the map shows, a roundtrip New York/Boston/Philadelphia to Charlottesville Amtrak ticket is only 8,000 UR points. A roundtrip Atlanta/Pittsburgh/Detroit to Charlottesville Amtrak ticket is only 11,000 UR points.
To take advantage of this, you first have to sign up for an Amtrak Guest Rewards account (Guest Rewards is Amtrak’s frequent-traveler program).
Once you have a Guest Rewards account, call the number on the back of your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus credit card and ask the customer service representative to transfer the necessary amount of points into your Guest Rewards account. It’s an instantaneous transfer, so you should see the points upon reloading your account summary page, well, instantly.
Go back to the Amtrak homepage and hold your mouse over the “Join Guest Rewards” dropdown menu and click on “Redeem Points for Amtrak Travel.”
Enter your account information, the stations you wish to travel to and from, the number of passengers, the time and the date and then click “next.” In my case, I’m leaving from New York and want to leave in the afternoon.
Options should pop up like as below. Search for the train and want and click on the left circle to confirm your selection. The page will automatically populate the lowest and cheapest fare-class possible on each train. While this can be a business-class ticket, most often it is a reserved coach seat. The latter is what you want to book.
Make sure you are certain this is the trip you want, since you will lock in the ticket (and your points) when you hit next. While you can refund your points, the refund is not instantaneous. You are then brought to the following page, where you confirm a final time your itinerary.
Click on the “Redeem Points” button to finally purchase your ticket. You will then have a confirmation number, as the below screenshot shows.
Scroll down to see each way you can get receive your ticket. I prefer email.
Amtrak also has a text-alert system for delays. The signup is optional.
I hope this tutorial was informative. Any questions, please just leave a comment below. I hope to see you Saturday.