June 9th, 2021

Pointless Arrow

Amtrak Point Madness

A couple of days ago, I noticed that what I interpreted to be a bug in the Amtrak Guest Rewards system had disappeared and the trip from New Orleans to Los Angeles that was part of our return trip from Worldcon had gone back to a more reasonable point level. The cost in money had not changed; only the points redemption. Today, I finally had enough points in my account to try and buy the trip, and once again the cost of the trip had gone from about 78,000 AGR points to about 236,000 points, while the ~2,220 cash cost of the trip hadn't changed. I decided to call Amtrak and see what was going on, and after about an hour wait, got through to an Amtrak Guest Reward agent who informed me that it was due to the holiday period and that there was nothing that could be done about it.

I pointed out that the exact same city pair, hauled by the same locomotives, if booked as NOL-SAS/SAS-NOL (same train, but the second leg is the Texas Eagle cars from Chicago), cost more in money but less in points. She agreed, and said, "But you'd have to change sleeping cars." I gave up, for now. Given the way the system is working, I think I'm going to have to check daily because it looks like the redemption levels change randomly. I also think it's possible that if I book it as two legs, the car attendants can work together to let me stay in the same compartment, because it really makes no sense at all to have me move from car to car and make more work for them as well as us.

Alternatively, we just stay in New Orleans for two extra days, because if we leave on Wednesday instead of Monday, the point cost goes back down again. At least it does today.