June 16th, 2021

Pointless Arrow

Leg 1 Purchased

Today I purchased the the first leg of our around-the-country Worldcon train trip: Emeryville to Chicago on the California Zephyr. I wanted to use my Amtrak Guest Rewards points for this leg, and the Amtrak web site said a bedroom was available, but when I tried to actually purchase it, it said "a portion of this trip is no longer available," which didn't make any sense. So I called Amtrak Guest Rewards, and after about a 45 minute wait to talk to an agent, they were able to book this leg of the trip. And a good thing I did not wait any longer, as that was the last bedroom available at that price (43,985 AGR points). That same trip is now almost 10,000 points more now that I've taken the last bedroom in that price bucket.

(As a benefit of my AGR credit card, which is how I earned most of those points to start with, I get a 5% points rebate on my next statement, which is helpful.)

The next leg of the trip will be part of "TrainCon" on the Cardinal from Chicago to Washington, so I'll be paying the trip organizer our share for a bedroom there.

We haven't yet decided for sure how we're coming back. Our options are

1. The Capitol Limited to Chicago, (two nights in Chicago), the City of New Orleans to New Orleans (three nights in New Orleans).

2. The Crescent to New Orleans (four nights in New Orleans).

In both cases, we then continue on the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles, then probably a day trip in coach to the Bay Area on the Coast Starlight, where we retrieve our car and spend the night somewhere in the Bay Area before heading for home.

Because of the AGR restrictions on using points around Christmas and New Year, we're having to fiddle around trying to work out the best overall plan. One version leaves us with enough leftover AGR points to probably be able to buy a one-way trip to Chicago again next year for Chicon 8. The other drains the account entirely. And we'd better make up our minds soon, because from our experience above, the trains are already booking up in June for trips in December.