Amtrak ends AAA, student discounts

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Amtrak's Coast Starlight approaches the station at Chatsworth, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2018. Amtrak has eliminated its AAA and student discounts.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Amtrak has ended its 10 percent discounts for members of the American Automobile Association and students with school or college/university ID cards. The passenger carrier quietly pulled these discounts from its online booking portal effective Feb. 18. These changes join increased penalties for cash refunds on certain types of reservations, including sleeping car reservations, that were announced in December and took effect in late January.

Asked to comment, Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said only that “the best way for customers to save is to book early (at least 14 days in advance) and use Amtrak’s Saver Fares.”

Amtrak had previously limited the student discount to state-supported routes, apparently at the behest of the states that provide the funding for these services. The student discount was introduced within the past two years to take the place of previous 10-percent discounts for college students with memberships in either the Student Advantage or International Student Identity Card programs.

Besides booking Saver Fares, the only other regular discounts available on Amtrak rail fares are 50 percent off for children ages 2 to 15 (one per accompanying adult) and 10 percent for seniors (age 65 and older, up from the previous minimum age of 62), active-duty military personnel with military ID, passengers with disabilities, and dues-paying members of the National Association of Railroad Passengers and of Veterans Advantage. 

Most of these discounts are only available on reservations made three or more days in advance of travel, cannot be applied to Saver fares, and are not available on all trains or Thruway buses (weekday Acela Express trains and 7000 and 8000-series Thruway buses, as well as the portion of the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf operated by VIA Rail within Canada, are generally excluded). They only apply to the “rail fare” portion of the ticket price; no discounts are available on the accommodation charge for sleeping cars, Business Class or Acela First Class.

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