I’m taking my first ever “train run” (rail run?) so I do not lose my Amtrak Guest Rewards points. They expire every three years unless you take a paid train trip or you carry the Amtrak-branded credit card. I decided I would purchase a one-way, $14.00 ticket from Yonkers, NY (YNY) to Croton-Harmon, NY (CRT) on May 7, 2011, to celebrate National Train Day, and because I earn triple Amtrak Guest Rewards points that day.
I logged into my Amtrak Guest Rewards program account and clicked over to amtrak.com. However, the rewards and reservations systems are separate and my login IDs are also separate. I intended to purchase my ticket online, but the reservations system would not allow me to do so. I called Amtrak and made a reservation via the telephone automated system (why I could not do this online, I’ll never know), then was transferred to an agent who explained that since the Yonkers station no longer has a ticket window, I would need to produce both my reservation confirmation number, a boarding record locator that she gave to me, a photo ID, and my method of payment to the train conductor on board the train. Furthermore, since I had to book over the telephone, I cannot review my reservation online.
Although my closest Amtrak station is two or three hours away, their antiquated rewards/reservation system is another reason I do not often do business with Amtrak. It would make more sense for Amtrak Guest Rewards and amtrak.com to be the same account and the same system. One should also be able to book and receive bar-coded tickets via e-mail or text, instead of only via postal mail, from a ticket window, from a kiosk, or on the train.