Recently, Sarah received a free companion certificate on Amtrak, The certificate is good for either a one-way or a roundtrip journey, in coach, on just about everywhere Amtrak goes in the United States. There are some blackout dates, however, usually around the major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
We wanted to use the certificate on an upcoming trip. We would travel from New York to Chicago and then return from Washington, DC to New York, with a bunch of other travel in between. One could travel this way by buying two separate one-way tickets. But since we had the certificate, it would make sense to try to redeem it as an open-jaw.
Open jaws are one-way trips combined on a single ticket with a common point of travel. We have taken advantage of the open-jaw rule as recently as last Christmas. I had a free roundtrip ticket on United or Continental Airlines for two passengers within the contiguous forty-eight states. Our holiday plans were to leave New York for Paducah, Kentucky and then onto Los Angeles before returning to New York. The rules for the certificate did not allow for stopovers but did allow for an open-jaw. The open-jaw allowed us to travel from A-B and then C-A, specifically New York (A) to Paducah (B), and Los Angeles (C) to New York (A). We just needed to find our own way from Kentucky to Los Angeles.
For the upcoming Amtrak trip, we were only going to use the companion certificate for the longest and most expensive segment of our travel: Chicago to New York. Then I remembered that for most airlines an open-jaw often counts as a roundtrip. Would Amtrak’s rules allow it? After making a reservation over the phone, we were able to book the open-jaw as a roundtrip from New York (A) to Chicago (B) and then from Washington (C) to New York (A).
The usual conditions apply with this certificate, including needing to visit an Amtrak ticket office to pay for the tickets and redeem the certificate. However, if you’re planning on taking a somewhat complex journey and have one of these certificates, don’t settle for a one-way trip and see if an open jaw can benefit you.