Great Ultimate Rewards Value on Amtrak Special Routes


This past weekend, I traveled to Charlotte for the #MileMadness DO. Tahsir was presenting and I just stood in the background and interjected tidbits of information into his presentation. I didn’t participate in the March contest, mostly because I flew out of the country on Day #1. Because there was no cheap fare or mileage availability out of Los Angeles, I booked my ticket out of San Diego. … [Read more...]

Earn Miles and Discounts for Referring Friends

I was poking around the interwebs this weekend and found a new site, Referaound, that shares information on referral programs. For example, American Express will let existing cardmembers refer people to the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards and earn 5,000 bonus Starpoints for each successful referral (log into your account and look for an ad in the lower right corner). You can do the same … [Read more...]

Review: Amtrak Emergency Bus Service

Amtrak 2

I've already given up on Amtrak, but I still have one more important task. During my misadventure on Sunday, a couple readers asked me to review the bus service. They've read reviews of business class. They've read reviews of coach class. They've even read reviews of those who dare to book sleeper cars on long-distance journeys. No one has ever dared to review Amtrak's bus service, but here at … [Read more...]

Why I’m Giving Up on Amtrak

Reading about the accident the next day -- thanks to the complimentary newspaper on the train!

Amtrak is a great deal here in the Pacific Northwest. You can transfer 2,000 Ultimate Rewards points for a one-way business class ticket from Seattle to either Portland or Vancouver, BC. With the promise of big, comfy seats, no lines for security, and on-board WiFi, you would wonder why anyone would take a plane. On these routes, Alaska, United, and Air Canada tend to use cramped prop planes -- … [Read more...]

Rewarding Recap: 50K Starpoints, 25% Off Radisson, Bonus VX Points

I'm off to the Chicago Seminars this morning! Be sure to stop by and say hi if you are, too. I've got a plan to start working on the trip report again en route, so look forward to some stories about our stay in Singapore... And with that, here are some of this week's top deals: Double Elevate Points on Virgin America - View from the Wing Gary shares a current promotion for double Elevate points … [Read more...]

Will Amtrak’s Strategy Work Anywhere but the East Coast?


The New York Times recently ran a piece arguing that Amtrak is making progress stealing back customers from the airlines, principally on short flights between Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. This is the same corridor where Amtrak competes with its so-called "high" speed Acela service. It's certainly not comparable to high speed train service in Europe or Asia, but given the delays and … [Read more...]

Trip Report: Amtrak Cascades to Vancouver, BC

The archaic business class seats. Ours faced backwards.

When I wrote this, I was sitting on the return train from Vancouver, BC, to Seattle, contemplating the benefits of riding Amtrak vis-à-vis flying. Despite some of the conveniences, I think I still have to go with air travel—or even a car. The train gives you room to spread out, and its employees are beyond doubt some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered, but in nearly every other respect … [Read more...]