- Amtrak is considering making its cheapest fares nonrefundable and nonchangeable, according to an internal memo seen by Business Insider.
- Other fares will see a 25% cancellation fee and 15% change fee within 14 days of travel.
- Ancillary revenue and more fare segmentation has been a big focus of Amtrak leadership recently, as they seek to bring many airline-style practices to the railroad.
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Amtrak is considering the introduction of more airline-style ticketing policies and fees, according to internal memos seen by Business Insider, as it seeks to turn a profit for the first time in its history.
As soon as late January, the memo shows, Amtrak’s cheapest “saver” fares could become completely nonrefundable and nonchangeable 24 hours after purchase, with the second level “value” fares subject to a 25% cancellation fee or 15% change fee within 14 days of departure.
Currently, saver fares can receive a 75% voucher for cancellations and value fares can be fully refunded up to 8 days before departure. There are currently no change fees for any tickets, according to Amtrak’s fare guide.
An Amtrak representative declined to comment.
Ancillary revenue and fare segmentation like those shown in the memo have been a growing focus of Amtrak’s executives — a large proportion of whom have backgrounds in the aviation industry — over the past year.
Richard Anderson, Amtrak’s current chief executive and former Delta Airlines CEO, said earlier this year that small changes in fare structures have already helped the railroad’s bottom line.
“Pricing and revenue management was thought of like some department over in another building and we didn’t pay much attention to it,” Anderson said at an event in September. “We’ve been able to bring some commercial instincts in and make some basic investments in revenue management technology. Nothing fancy, just basic, good, RM practices.”
Other changes have included a move away from freshly cooked meals on some long-distance trains in the eastern United States. The switch to airline-style prepared meals on those services sparked fierce backlash from customers, over both to the food’s quality and an executive’s blaming of the change on millennials.
In November, Amtrak reported its highest annual ridership — and smallest financial loss — ever. January’s possible changes could help even more as the railroad hopes to breakeven on its next fiscal year report for 2020.
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