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My train was canceled, so I rebooked. Can I get the difference?

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I recently tried to change an Amtrak ticket from Boston to Baltimore. I couldn’t find a way to do it online, and Amtrak’s online chat was of no help. When I reached the call center, I found out that the train was canceled.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

An Amtrak agent told me that they could not change my train reservation, but didn’t mention that my train had been canceled. Now I am trying to apply all, or part, of my original reservation to the cost of a new ticket.

I bought a new ticket online for $127. The original fare was $74. An Amtrak agent suggested that I should ask for a refund of the difference between the rail fares.

Given that Amtrak canceled the original reservation, I think I am owed a refund of $53. I asked Amtrak, but it has not responded. I escalated my request in writing to one of the executive contacts on your consumer advocacy website and haven’t heard anything. Can you help me?

— John deCastro, San Francisco

ANSWER: This should have been two simple transactions. Amtrak canceled your first train from Boston to Baltimore. You should have received a full refund for that. And transaction number two? You buy a new ticket.

Instead, Amtrak combined these into one problem, turning it into a complex case that involved a cancellation and a credit. Oh, boy.

Here’s the confusing part: It’s not entirely clear if you tried to change your ticket before Amtrak canceled it or afterward. If you did it before, then cancellation penalties might apply, and you could lose part, or all, of your ticket credit.

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If, however, Amtrak canceled before you did, then you should have received a full refund, or Amtrak should have rebooked you on another train without you having to buy a new ticket.



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