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Amtrak Deal Bulletin: Oct. 12 (delayed)

Vancouver, Washington, Amtrak Station Vancouver, Washington, Amtrak Station

General Conditions: Except where noted, all Amtrak promotions apply to coach travel only; discounts apply to full-fare tickets and can’t be combined with other discounts; most deals entail blackout dates; seats are limited; some promotions do not apply to all trains; most promotions make provisions for one or two children accompanying each adult traveler. Companion and most youth deals require all travelers to travel together. Amtrak also offers other minor deals and promotions. In most cases, the Amtrak website automatically computes and displays eligible discounts for any trip you enter. Check for details and booking.

Website Makeover

This week’s bulletin was delayed by the switchover to Amtrak’s updated website. Is it different? Yes. Is it better? Maybe. I’ll experiment with it for a few days before reaching a conclusion.

Fall Excursion

Autumn Express: Scenic ride New York-Selkirk (near Albany) and return, going north on the rare mileage West Shore line, south on Amtrak’s regular Hudson Division line; operates Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14-15. Tickets at $169 include box lunch. Book your trip here

Amtrak Point Bonus

Earn double Amtrak Guest Rewards points for travel through Nov. 18.

Weekly SmartFares:

Buy Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 10-13

Travel Monday-Thursday and Saturday, varying dates, Oct. 21-Nov. 11.

Deal: 30 percent off regular coach fares.

Routes: Sale seats are available between endpoints or intermediate points of sale route; sale fares apply only in the direction noted.

  • California Zephyr: Emeryville-Chicago.
  • Capitol Limited: Sandusky-Washington.
  • Cascades: Seattle-Portland.
  • Empire Builder: Spokane-Grand Forks, Chicago-Spokane, Portland-Chicago.
  • Northeast Regional: Many routes.
  • Southwest Chief: Topeka-Needles.
  • Sunset Limited: New Orleans-San Antonio.

Time-Limited Promotions

  • Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express and Maple Leaf: 15 percent discount for travel within New York State, plus Montreal. Buy tickets five days in advance by through May 26, 2018, travel through May 31.
  • Campus Visit: 50 percent off companion ticket for a high school junior or senior visiting a college or university with a parent or guardian. Register through special website,, and travel through Dec. 25.
  • Capitol Corridor: 25 percent discount on round-trip travel to Oakland Coliseum stop for Athletics home games. Buy and travel through Nov. 01. Also up to five companion tickets at 50 percent discount. Buy by Dec. 31, at least two days in advance, travel through Jan. 2.
  • Downeaster: Heartland Flyer: $20 one-way fares from San Marcos, Austin, Temple, and Taylor to Dallas and return for Texas-Oklahoma game; $31 from other points. Buy by Oct. 31, travel Oct. 12-15.
  • Hoosier State: 15 percent discount and free companion ticket Chicago-Indianapolis. Buy through Dec. 28, travel through Dec. 31.
  • San Joaquins: Up to five companion tickets at 50 percent off. Buy through April 28, 2018, travel through April 30.
  • Ski Train: The Winter Park Express will run again this ski season, from Jan. 5 through March 25, from Denver to Winter Park Resort. Trains will run Saturdays and Sundays plus Jan. 5, Feb. 2 and March 2. Trains leave Denver at 7 a.m. and leave Winter Park at 4:30 p.m. Advance-purchase one-way fares or $29 are available; other tickets cost $39-$59, based on capacity control.
  • Texas Eagle: $20 one-way fares from San Marcos, Austin, Temple, or Taylor to Dallas and return for Texas-Oklahoma game. Buy by Oct. 31, travel Oct. 12-15.

Ongoing Promotions (valid a year or more)

  • Acela: 25 percent discount for weekend and week-night travel between New Haven, Washington, and intermediate points. 14-day advance purchase.
  • Capitol Corridor: Up to five companion tickets for $5 on weekend travel. Buy one day in advance through Dec. 31, travel through Jan. 1.
  • Downeaster: 50 percent senior discount: age 62 or over: travel Boston to/from Portland and intermediate stops. Also free companion ticket. Buy at least three days in advance.

Saver Fares

Get a 20 percent discount on a 14-day advance purchase except 25 percent where noted. Amtrak has removed the “buy by” date and now shows these discounts as open-ended. Fares valid in both directions and to/from intermediate points. No time limit.

  • Auto Train: Lorton-Sanford.
  • California Zephyr: Chicago-Emeryville
  • Capitol Limited: Washington-Chicago.
  • Cardinal: New York-Washington-Chicago.
  • Cascades: Eugene-Vancouver (25 percent)
  • City of New Orleans: New Orleans-Chicago
  • Coast Starlight: Los Angeles-Seattle.
  • Crescent: New York-New Orleans.
  • Empire Builder: Chicago-Portland/Seattle.
  • Lake Shore Limited: Chicago-Boston/New York.
  • Northeast Regional, some Keystone and Pennsylvanian: Boston-Pittsburgh-Lynchburg (25 percent).
  • Palmetto/Silver Meteor/Silver Star: New York-Miami.
  • Southwest Chief: Chicago-Los Angeles.
  • Sunset Limited: New Orleans-Los Angeles
  • Texas Eagle: Chicago-San Antonio.

Ed Perkins, editor

For more travel tips from Ed Perkins, see our companion site Ed on Travel


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