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Amtrak winter sale takes 20% off train fares

January 18, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The Southwest Chief, a long-haul Amtrak train that runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, is shown here on a bridge at Fort Madison, Iowa.
The Southwest Chief, a long-haul Amtrak train that runs from Los Angeles… (Amtrak / Illinois State…)

Amtrak is having a winter sale that that could take you far -- or as far as you want to go -- by taking 20% off the price of coach tickets through mid-April.

The deal: The Winter Sale discounts rail travel between a number of cities nationwide. For instance, one-way discounted tickets from Los Angeles cost as little as $48 to Flagstaff, Ariz.; $50 to Albuquerque; $42 to San Francisco; $109 to New Orleans; prices don't include tax. These rates apply to coach seats.

When: Good for travel through April 14, but you must book by Jan. 24.

Tested: You don't need any special code to get the deal prices; the Winter Sale rate will pop up when you make a reservation.

Using Amtrak's website, I selected an overnight journey aboard the Southwest Chief, a daily train from Los Angeles to Chicago by way of Arizona and New Mexico, among other destinations. A trip from L.A. to Flagstaff takes roughly 10 to 11 hours each way. (If you want a more scenic long-haul route, consider the Coast Starlight, which runs from Los Angeles to the Bay Area during the daytime.)

I found the $48 fare (plus tax) available each way for an L.A.-Flagstaff round trip on March 4-11. Fares often vary by date, making exact comparisons difficult. But when I checked fares for the same route on random dates outside the Winter Sale period, I found one-way tickets for $60 plus tax in May and $76 in July. So the deal does save you money over prices for more popular travel times.

Tip: Children ages 5 to 12 travel for half the discounted adult rate. In the tested dates above, tickets for children cost $24 plus tax each way.

Contact: Amtrak, (800) 872-7245.

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