Amtrak blackout dates...

UPDATE: Amtrak moved to a revenue-based model and blackout dates are gone now...

I often take Amtrak between Washington, New York City, and Boston. Their Acela service faster than the bus or the plane, but due to a lot of political BS, there's way more demand than there is supply so the price is usually a huge deterrent. Luckily Amtrak has their own points program, their own points credit card, and they're a 1:1 point transfer partner with Chase Sapphire.

As I mention in my little point tutorial, airlines often restrict the number of reward seats on each plane unless they're on a fixed value point system like Virgin or JetBlue. Amtrak was sort of the best of both worlds — the cost between two points is always the same and you can still book the last empty seat on the train with points. Or so I thought!

I went to book a one way trip from Washington today and saw an error message that rewards aren't allowed on rush hour Acela Express trains. When I clicked on the Blackout Dates button, sure enough, I saw this message:

So I guess I'm going to take an earlier train :)

Also, doing the point math: the Washington -> NYC trip is $259 and it costs 8,000 amtrak points, so I'm getting 3.2¢ per transferred Sapphire point.


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