There are many things about traveling via Amtrak that appeal to seniors, from the relaxed pace to the simplicity of checking in and getting onboard. Amtrak provides amazing “road trip” scenery without the hassle of driving yourself, and it’s simpler than the many headaches of air travel. And, since seniors tend to have just a wee bit more time on their hands, the slower pace of trains compared is worth the benefits of a leisurely, scenic trip.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Amtrak from the perspective of seniors, from special discounts to vacation packages and accommodations. Let’s begin!
Does Amtrak have a senior discount?
Amtrak is expensive. Rightly, price is often the first question on many people’s minds – what sort of discounts can seniors take advantage of?
Amtrak offers anyone 65 or older a 10% discount on certain tickets across the country. It doesn’t apply to all types of trips (such as sleeper car tickets), but it does cover a bunch of Amtrak’s offerings. The only thing you need to do is prove your age when booking, and the discount is yours.
On trips that cross the border into Canada and are jointly operated by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada, seniors over the age of 60 can take advantage of the 10% discount.
To make sure you get the discount, make sure that you select “senior” as the traveler type when booking your ticket.
The 10% senior discount on Amtrak applies to:
- Most journeys in the US and Canada
- All types of fares: Saver, Value, and Flexible
The senior discount does not apply to:
- Sleeper car tickets
- The Auto Train
- Non-Acela Business Class
- First class
- Tickets for non-seniors on the same booking (discount only applies to the seats that are for seniors)
Seniors get 50% off Coach seats on the Amtrak Downeaster
The 10% discount is okay, but this one is significant. Seniors can get a 50% discount on Coach seats aboard Amtrak’s Downeaster train, which runs from Brunswick, Maine down to Boston. If you’re in the northeast and don’t mind riding coach, this is one significant discount.
As of July 1, 2023, two roundtrip coach tickets running from Portland, Maine to Boston would set you back $116. With the discount, that same roundtrip ticket is just $58! Which, realistically speaking, is probably what an Amtrak ticket should cost, but, hey, that’s travel pricing for you.
How much could you save with the senior discount?
Because the discount isn’t offered on sleeper card tickets, where roomettes average around $2,000 for a cross-country round trip, you probably won’t be saving hundreds with the senior discount. Since the offer only applies to coach and certain Business class tickets, your savings will more likely be in the $20-75 range, depending on how far you’re traveling.
Still, though, those savings aren’t nothing; in fact, the money you save with the senior discount will pay for most, if not all, of the food you purchase from the cafe car. Amtrak is expensive, and it’s likely to stay that way for at least a few more years. Hopefully, in the meantime, the senior discount can take away some of the the sting.
Is the Amtrak senior discount even worth it?
I’m including this section as a gripe. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous the senior discount doesn’t apply to sleeper class accommodations. The benefits of the sleeper car are immense, but not luxurious in a way that makes me think the discount shouldn’t apply. The sleeper car is what makes a three-day Amtrak trip enjoyable; being relegated to coach, the enjoyment would fade, and fade quickly. If anyone from Amtrak is reading this – extend the senior discount to sleeper cars! You’ll never again have an empty roomette.
Amtrak accessibility: what you need to know
While accessibility concerns won’t apply to all seniors, the number of seniors with at least one disability is 1.5X that of other age groups, so I wanted to address those concerns in this guide.
What does accessibility look like on Amtrak?
Booking your ticket
When arranging your Amtrak trip, you’ll have to make sure that Amtrak knows you need accommodations. Fortunately, this is as simple as checking the “Passenger with disability or assistance needed?” box when you start to build out your booking. Below, you can see screenshots of this option on the desktop and mobile versions of the site.
When you check that box, you can provide important information about yourself. This includes whether you travel with mobility devices or service animals, and if you have vision or hearing loss. You can also let them know if you need help at the station, like getting to the boarding area.
If you have additional information to share or specific assistance requests, you can also contact Amtrak directly at (1-800-872-7245) or TTY 1-800-523-6590. The phone call isn’t necessary, but it is an option for people who want to make extra sure that they’ll have what they need for a safe, comfortable journey. While customer service calls are typically a nightmare, my experiences with calling Amtrak have always been great.
At the station, Amtrak may assist you with navigating, checking in, and boarding the train. They can also help with your baggage if needed. The experience of getting onboard will be roughly the same as boarding a plane with a disability; the staff are trained, well-informed, and there to look out for you. I’d recommend arriving at the station at least an hour ahead of time, so that your boarding experience will be as smooth as possible.
While you’re riding
Once you’re on board the train, Amtrak can provide various types of assistance. This includes helping you with stairs when applicable, getting in and out of your seat, and storing your mobility aid. Additionally, they offer services like assistance with moving to the restroom bringing meals to your seat or room, providing visual announcements, and giving a personal safety briefing.
Accessible sleeper rooms
I think the sleeper car is far and away the best thing about traveling with Amtrak. I mean, a full private cabin to yourself, on a ticket that includes meals? What’s not to love? Fortunately, Amtrak offers a specific type of Sleeper accommodation for people with disabilities: the Accessible Bedroom.
Amtrak offers Accessible Bedrooms on the first level of the sleeper car, specifically designed to accommodate passengers with disabilities. These bedrooms provide ample space for a wheelchair and feature a sofa for two during the day, which converts to upper and lower bunks for sleeping at night. Just like other sleeper cabins, each room has a large picture window for scenic views.
The accessible bedrooms are equipped with an in-room sink and restroom for convenience. Passengers have access to a private shower nearby within the same car.
To assist you throughout your trip, there is a dedicated Sleeping Car attendant available to attend to your needs. They will also provide turndown service to ensure you have fresh towels and linens, making your stay comfortable and enjoyable.
Frequently asked questions about Amtrak for Seniors
If you’re booking a multi-segment ride, you will be able to receive the discount for the segments that qualify for the senior discount: Coach and select Business tickets. So, yes, you can get the senior discount for the coach portion, even though the sleeper car portion won’t be discounted!