Amtrak moves to a fully electronic ticketing and boarding process

Airlines have been making the move towards a paperless ticketing experience for several years. Amtrak has caught up and surpassed the airlines this week with the announcement that electronic ticketing is now available throughout their train network. Not only does this mean that nearly all trips can be issued as electronic tickets, something that airlines have been doing for some time now, but boarding passes can now also be managed digitally rather than with paper. Passengers using the Amtrak iPhone app or any device capable of reading PDF files will be able to present the barcode from the reservation to conductors on board rather than depending on a printed ticket or boarding pass.

Of course, there are still a few exceptions to the "all" designator on the eligibility. Most significant is that tickets booked through travel agencies or corporate travel offices will not be eligible. Multi-ride tickets are also ineligible and trips involving bus service connections outside of California are ineligible. This certainly excludes some passengers but the vast majority will now have increased flexibility and functionality with their bookings.

The new ticketing scheme allows passengers to change an itinerary without reissuing their ticket. It also allows for multiple passengers to travel on a single ticket; this will ease family trips among other things. Perhaps most significant, however, is that the boarding pass no longer will hold any value. This is a huge benefit for both passengers and the company alike.

Passengers who lose a printed boarding pass can now simply print another one, just like with the airlines. No longer will losing the piece of paper be a costly event. The eTickets also cover an entire journey with a single pass, again easing the travel process for customers.

These changes represent tremendous improvements for Amtrak passengers across the country.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Interesting. DO you see this impacting the ZFV-EWR-XXX routing. This has sometimes proved very valuable as it was cheaper to “begin travel” in ZFV. There was no electronic interface between Amtrak & CO and now UA and one could “unfortunatly” miss ZFV-EWR and it would not effect the EWR-XXX flight.

    Kiev looks very interesting. Hope the vodka is good!

    1. A couple things, cruisr:

      1) United and Amtrak got MUCH better a while ago about noting the folks who “missed” the train and those passengers have seen many more tickets not honored than back in the good old days.

      2) I don’t think that United bookings qualify yet but I’ve had trouble getting that confirmed.

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