Amtrak Hidden City Ticketing Using United Miles

One of the lesser known partnerships in the travel industry is between United and Amtrak, whereby certain Amtrak trains are code-shared as United flights.

As an example:

  • You cannot book Philadelphia 30th Street Station to Paris Charles de Gaulle, via Newark on Amtrak.com.
  • You can book Philadelphia 30th Street Station to Paris Charles de Gaulle, via Newark on United.com.

Certain Amtrak stations are allowed as United codeshares, while other’s aren’t. New Haven Rail Station, CT; Stamford Rail Station, CT; Philadelphia 30th Street Station, PA; Wilmington Rail Station, DE are all “codeshare” stations. New York Penn Station, or Trenton, NJ, for example, are not, interestingly enough.

Cash Prices as Codeshares

It’s interesting to see the cash prices of these trips, first.

Paris to Newark, and then continuing on to Philadelphia 30th Street Rail Station (ZFV) is $836.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 10.53.31 AM

 

Paris to Newark, not continuing onto Philadelphia 30th Street is $678. That’s a difference of $158. Chances are, in this case, you can find a cheaper separate ticket from Newark to Philadelphia less than $158, so it’s not worth it purchasing the trip as a codeshare.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 10.54.04 AM

 

So, you can see that “hidden ticketing” on Amtrak using a paid United fare doesn’t work.

Award Tickets as Codeshares

The same Paris to Newark flight above costs 30,000 United miles and $78 in taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 10.55.12 AM

Adding in a continuation to Philadelphia gives the same amount. So, you get a free transfer to Philadelphia.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 10.56.14 AM

Here’s where it get’s interesting. Let’s say you want to fly from Paris to Newark, continuing on a codeshare train to Trenton, NJ (out of Newark Airport station). You can’t. However, you can fly to to Newark from Paris, then continue onto Philadelphia 30th Street, since that is a codeshare city. Now, those that know their geography will know that Trenton, NJ is mid-way between Newark and Philadelphia, and is before the Philadelphia stop.

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So, you can fly from Paris to Newark Airport, continue on a codeshare train to Philadelphia, but get off in Trenton, NJ. No one will know. 

Here’s some cities this may work with:

  • Book your ticket to Stamford, CT, but get off in New York Penn Station
  • Book your ticket to Philadelphia, but get off in Metropark.
  • Book your ticket to Philadelphia, but get off in Trenton.
  • Book your ticket to Philadelphia, but get off in Newark.

You won’t be able to travel to Washington DC, Baltimore, or Boston, since these cities do not have an eligible codeshare train station after them.

As with any hidden city ticketing, there are things to be aware of:

  • You won’t have to worry about checked bags, since if you check them to Newark Airport from Paris, you’ll pick them up there anyways. They are not transferred to your train.
  • There’s always a chance a conductor will notice you leaving early, but in most cases, they won’t. If they do, I’d simply suggest you tell them you decided to get off sooner due to a change in plans. Amtrak fares are generally not any more expensive for a closer city, so if anything, you wouldn’t be escaping out on a higher fare.

This is hidden city ticket on Amtrak, using United miles. Pretty cool, eh?

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