14 September 2012

Amtrak Service and Fares - # 17 - Passenger type discounts

Here and there during the fares part of this series, I've included an example or two of applying a passenger type discount.

In this chapter I'll go through the various discounts systematically.

To start with, let me briefly repeat a point I've made numerous times.

Passenger type discounts only apply to the coach fare, also known as the rail fare.

When passengers occupy upgraded accommodations such as business class, first class, or sleeping accommodations, the passenger type discount is applied to the underlying rail fare, but the extra charge for accommodations is almost never discounted by passenger type.

I wrote almost in the last sentence.  Some years ago I saw a AAA member discount for sleeping accommodations.  And there probably have been a few other isolated instances over the years where a passenger type discount was permitted during a promotional period, but these are the rare exceptions to an otherwise ironclad rule.

Another limitation is that none of the passenger type discounts currently apply for weekday travel on Acela Express.  This is Amtrak's solid gold service for business travelers so all passengers regardless of age or affiliation pay the full adult fare.  Amtrak does offer discounts for government travelers and high-volume corporate travelers, however.

In this post I will cover the most commonly used passenger type discounts.

Children, ages 2 through 15.  Discount: 50%.  Two children per adult passenger are entitled to the discount.  (If one adult were traveling with three children, the third child would have to pay the adult fare.)  Children traveling alone do not receive the discount.  Children under 2 not occupying a seat travel free.

Seniors, age 62 and above.  Discount: 15%.

AAA members, adults and children receive a 10% discount.  This is the one instance where there is a double discount.  Children of AAA members pay 50% of the already discounted AAA adult fare.  There is no AAA senior fare, so AAA members who are 62 or above do better using the senior discount.  One important restriction that applies for the AAA discount but not for the senior or regular children's discount is that reservations and ticketing must be done at least 3 days prior to departure.  A AAA member making reservations less than three days prior to departure would pay the regular adult fare.

Military, adult and children is identical to the AAA discount but without the 3-day advance reservation restriction.

Various other less common membership discounts also apply.  See the page at Amtrak.com that covers passenger type discounts.

Let's look at how Amtrak applies the discounts.  In the first example, which we'll play with in several different ways, two passengers are traveling one-way from Portland, Ore. (PDX) to Whitefish, Mont. (WFH).  We'll look at the results that Amtrak.com would serve up.

The lowest available fare for coach travel is the BOF1, at $115 one-way, sold in YB inventory.

Two regular adults: (2 x $115 = $230)

Here's the same example, but in this case it is one adult and one child: (1 x $115 + $57.50 = $172.50)

Now it's one senior and one adult: (1 x $97.75 + $115 = $212.75)


And now it's two AAA adults: (2 x $103.50 = $207)

One AAA adult and one AAA child: (1 x $103.50 + $51.75 = $155.25)

Let's look at one final example that shows the passenger type discount and how it does not apply to sleeping accommodations. 

In this last example we'll imagine that a senior is taking a grandchild from Sacramento (SAC) to Glenwood Springs, Colo. (GSC) and occupying a roomette.  Do you remember how in Chapter 16 you learned that when passengers are in sleepers, they always pay the lowest rail fare, regardless of whether the applicable coach inventory (YD) is available?

In this example, Amtrak applies the lowest rail fare (DOF1, $120 one-way per person, full fare), discounts it by the applicable passengers type(s), and then adds the accommodation charge.  In this instance, the lowest level charge available for the roomette is the EC inventory at $226 one-way.

Here's what it looks like from the consumer perspective at Amtrak.com:

The total of $388 is broken down as follows:

Note: the full fare DOF1 coach rail fare is the underlying fare per person before the passenger type discounts are applied.

Senior discount of 15% = $102   ($120 less $18)
Children's discount of 50% = $60   ($120 less $60)
Accommodation charge for EC inventory = $226   (not discounted by passenger type)

Total = $388  ($102 + $60 + $226)

Amtrak Service and Fares - navigational links
Backward to # 16 - Fares, sleeping accommodations

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