Amtrak is devaluing its Guest Rewards program tomorrow, so if you are sitting on any sizable quantity of Amtrak points and thinking about a long-distance journey in the next year, you need to call Guest Rewards at 1-800-307-5000 before midnight ET this evening to book.
Wanting to experience long-distance train travel in first class, I phoned Amtrak earlier this week to book a journey from Los Angeles to Glacier National Park later this year for my wife and me. We usually go to cities when we travel, so this will be a nice change of pace.
Why Glacier National Park? Because it looks beautiful but also because I wanted to travel on both the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder and Amtrak’s soon-extinct zone-based routing rules allowed it.
Here’s the Amtrak redemption map–
The country is divided into three zones and as long as your travel stays within one zone, you are charged one flat fee:
- Coach Class – 5,500 points
- Business Class – 6,500 points
- Roomette – 15,000 points
- Bedroom – 25,000 points
You cannot travel from LA to Glacier National Park in a straight line, so we will first take the Coast Starlight to Portland and then connect on the Empire Builder to Glacier National Park. I purchased a very cheap one-way plane ticket back.
The booking process could not have been smoother. After a short hold I reached a great agent in California named Charles who quickly found the routing I wanted and within minutes I was booked…an e-ticket arrived via e-mail five minutes later. There were no taxes or fees on the ticket!
Spending 48 hours on a train isn’t for everyone (and if there wasn’t wifi on the Coast Starlight, it wouldn’t be for me either), but I am really looking forward the journey. The bedroom I booked will have a private bathroom/shower and all meals are included. Starting tomorrow, Amtrak’s award pricing will be revenue-based and my identical trip will now cost 66,000 miles, nearly three times as much!
This ticket retails for $1438, so consider that had I valued my ticket at retail price, my 25,000 points secured me over five cents each in value, a truly amazing deal.
Note that if you make changes to your pre-devaluation journey, you will be charged the new rate. Learn more about the new Amtrak program here.
*top photo courtesy of Amtrak