Changes to Amtrak’s Cancellation/Refund Policy

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I just received an email from Amtrak announcing changes to their extremely flexible and lenient cancellation policy. Up until now you could essentially cancel all reservations for a full refund or an eVoucher would could be applied to future travel. For some fares if you cancelled within 24 hours you’d only get 90% of the paid ticket value back in an eVoucher. Overall, an absolutely great policy for those that were not 100% sure of their travel plans. I will admit, there were a few times I purchased the cheap fares for a few dates as I was not sure of my travel dates – knowing I could cancel with no fee.

Here are the changes:

  • You must cancel at least 24 hours prior to the train’s scheduled departure in order to be eligible for a full refund.
  • If the reservation is canceled within 24 hours of the scheduled departure:
    • Value fare tickets only – a refund fee will apply
    • Saver fare tickets – not refundable
  • If the reservation is not cancelled prior to the scheduled departure (“no show”), the entire amount paid for the reservation will be forfeited, regardless of the ticket type.
  • If you purchase a flexible fare ticket, it will remain fully refundable.

This new policy will go into affect for travel beginning March 1, 2014 regardless of when the reservation was made. I personally think this new policy is totally acceptable as it still allows you to cancel tickets 24-hours in advance, and some tickets right up to a few minutes prior to departure time.

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  1. I think this is a terrible policy change. One of the advantages over flying with Amtrak was the ability to cancel / change the same day as the departure. That advantage is now gone.

  2. As an almost daily Amtrak rider and avid rail advocate, I fully support this policy. The previous policy was super lenient, and this policy is still very lenient.

    With all the pressure from Congress on Amtrak to reduce costs, this seems like a logical step. Imagine if you could make speculative purchases on airlines and then just cancel and get a full refund. I’m sure this will help Amtrak fill seats at a better price (for the company, not consumer) and satisfy some of those Amtrak detractors who criticize the rail line for not making prudent business choices.

    That was kind of sarcastic because the Amtrak detractors will never be satisfied

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