Amtrak relaxes its refund rules in the face of coronavirus

Pacific Surfliner
The schedule for Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner has been cut.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s good news if you have or make Amtrak reservations before May 31: If you decide to cancel your ticket and want a refund, you can get one. The only catch: You must call.

The number is (800) 872-7245 (USA-RAIL). The refund cannot be completed on or the Amtrak app.

Amtrak is also waiving change fees for reservations before the end of May. Reservations may be modified by phone, or the app.

As U.S. faces its most trying coronavirus pandemic days, industry leaders imagine the future of travel.

April 21, 2020


Coronavirus has hit the passenger railroad company hard. Amtrak’s ridership has dropped about 95%, said Olivia Irvin, Amtrak media relations, and some service has been cut, including the high-speed Acela trains between Boston and Washington. To see which others are affected, see its service reduction page.

The Pacific Surfliner train schedule shows numerous cancelled train routes at the nearly-empty Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center amid coronavirus (COVID-19) physical distancing restrictions in Santa Ana, CA, on April 9, 2020.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Pacific Surfliner, the popular coastal train, is operating on a reduced schedule from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. It offers its new schedule on this page.

Amtrak is selling only about half its seats on every train so passengers can follow social distancing guidelines, Irvin said.

Stay-at-home orders are in place in California, although some areas have begun to ease the restrictions. Residents may leave their homes for food, healthcare or to commute to an essential job, the governor’s order says.

It may be tempting to book precious time off even with the world as unsettled as it is. But this year, your trip may be more financially protected.

April 15, 2020


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is discouraging nonessential travel and offers guidance on how to evaluate your trip.

The health organization also issued a Level 3 warning on cruise ship travel and the State Department said last month that cruise ship passengers faced an increased risk of coronavirus infection.

The CDC is suggesting would-be cruise passengers defer their trips and self-quarantine for 14 days after their return.