How many ways do I love Amtrak? Let’s count:
- No security lines.
- Train stations are downtown, not 45 minutes without traffic way in suburban hell (hello, Dulles).
- Comfortable seats.
- Tables in the dining car
- Free internet
- No change fees on same-price tickets, including award tickets
Let’s talk about number six. Here’s how Amtrak phrases the policy on their website:
So, how did I recently take advantage of this policy?
About 2 weeks ago, I was scheduled to travel from Washington, D.C. to New York on the 6:10pm train on an award ticket I booked using my Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Unfortunately, some traffic issues on the way up meant that I would arrive in DC very shortly before the departure and I didn’t want that. The weather was just too beautiful, the view from my friend’s rooftop too nice, and the beers were just too cold for me to leave that early.
En route from Charlottesville, I called Amtrak, gave them my Guest Rewards number and asked them to switch me to the 7:30 pm train (Guest Rewards is Amtrak’s frequent-traveler program). Since the ticket price was the same, I didn’t have to pay anything extra! Compare this to any airline, where you would pay $50 on Delta, $75 on United and $75 on American. Jetblue’s fees range from $75-150, while Frontier’s range from $25-$100 and only Southwest will give you a free, same-day ticket change.
It only took a five-minute phone call to allow me to relax and enjoy one of the first wonderful days of spring. So, salute to our nation’s train system for being super-generous to me with just about everything except my time. Still, it’s a price I will gladly continue to pay.
Amtrak just rocks.