Amtrak has new COVID-19 safety protocols for the holidays. Thanksgiving travelers who plan to ride the train between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30 need to reserve a seat, including on the popular Pacific Surfliner, which links San Diego, Orange County, L.A., Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Amtrak is selling a limited number of tickets to allow for social distancing onboard, so book early to get a seat on the train you want.
Not sure when, or even if, you’ll be traveling? You have a little wiggle room. Amtrak won’t charge change fees on reservations made by Dec. 31. Also, if you cancel your plans, fees are waived for reservations made by Oct. 31. Travelers holding unreserved coach tickets on the Pacific Surfliner (which doesn’t require reservations during nonholiday times) can use them up to a year from the date on the ticket.
Still concerned about how to stay safe onboard? Consider a private room. Some Amtrak trains offer roomettes and bedrooms that accommodate up to two passengers and larger quarters for families. Meals are included in the price. For example, one-way room fares on the Coast Starlight in late November between L.A. and Santa Barbara start at $138 (compared with $25 for coach and $36 for business).
Here are other things to know about traveling on Amtrak during the pandemic.