Veterans Advantage Eliminated  -   Amtrak Decision Inexcusable


Amtrak's recent move to eliminate special discount programs — including those for veterans — is raising the ire of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). In a letter sent this week to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson, Blumenthal said getting rid of the veterans' benefits is "inexcusable."  "I urge you to cease these efforts and reaffirm that veterans will always be welcomed and encouraged to use the nation's railroad with a discount program that recognizes and rewards their service to our country," he wrote. A spokeswoman for Amtrak said that the 10 percent discount for active-duty military personnel remains in place, but she did not respond to requests for comment on Blumenthal's letter or to questions regarding plans to end a discount program for veterans and their families offered through the membership-based program, Veterans Advantage.


     Scott Higgins, who co-founded the program with his wife Lin, said that Amtrak officials informed him the program would end 26 MAR. Members of Veterans Advantage received a 15 percent discount on Amtrak tickets. "We were really stunned," Scott Higgins said. "We're struggling to understand why they are doing this." Lin Higgins said that Amtrak has offered the discounts for 17 years, and she is hopeful that the passenger railroad system will reconsider. Under its new CEO, Amtrak has quietly moved to change the way it does business. As part of that, it has done away with traditional discount programs that offered benefits to groups including students and AAA members. Amtrak also reduced the discount for disabled customers to 10 percent from 15 percent and raised the age requirement for seniors to 65 in order to receive a discount.


     The railroad system will instead offer travelers discounts through fare sales and "flash" discount promotions. Amtrak also this week changed its refund policy adding a 25 percent cancellation fee on Acela business class and reserved coach tickets that are canceled 24 hours or more after booking and prior to departure. The new policy went into effect 20 MAR.


Source:  The Washington Post | Lori Aratani | March 23, 2018


Editor’s Note – I traveled cross country and back on AMTRAK several years ago. I would have given it a very high recommendation as a means of travel, but will withdraw that now that veterans have lost their discount.


Yours in service,


Chuck Weber