How can I beat the craziness of the Continental/Amtrak link between EWR and Philly
April 20, 2011 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any recent experience with the Continental/Amtrak link for trips to Philadelphia 30th St. Station (coded ZFV by Continental)? I need to get to Princeton NJ (not Philly) and Continental/Amtrak link is much cheaper than just a flight to Philly or Newark.

I need to get to Princeton NJ and I can either fly to Philly or Newark. Continental offers a ridiculously cheap fare to Philly, but it is actually a flight to Newark, then an Amtrak ride from Newark to the 30th St Amtrak Station in Philly (which Continental gives the airport code ZFV). This is actually not a bad thing in that I can just get off the train in Princeton (without having to go to Philly).

The problem is on the return. Technically I would need to pick up my Amtrak ticket at the Philladelphia 30th St. Station on my departure date and then travel to Newark to catch the flight back home. Since I'll be in Princeton (halfway between Newark and Philly) it seems silly to double back to Philly just to pick up a ticket to allow me to go from Princeton to Newark.

The Continental rep I spoke with said that if I don't pick up the Amtrak ticket in Philly and then show up in Newark, it will count as a "missed flight" and my ticket on the Newark flight will be cancelled. (This seems to be a new policy within the last year or two). The FAQ on FlyerTalk has a lot of conflicting and out of date info, so they're no help.

My questions are:
1) Has anyone done the Continental EWR - ZFV link? Did it seem worth it (time and aggravation wise)
2) Has anyone had success in getting on the return Newark flight without having picked up tickets in Philly at the 30th St. Station?
3) Is it possible to have someone pick up the Amtrak tickets in Philly for me? Do they check ID either at the station or cross check tickets once passengers load the train?
4) Is there any ride board option that would allow me to offer my Philly -> Newark train tickets to someone needing them? I'd be happy to give them away. I just need someone to physically pick them up. After all I can always buy tickets in Princeton to get to Newark.

Last bonus question: does it make any sense that I can buy a seat on the *exact same plane* to Newark for twice the price of what I pay if I were to get off that plane and step on a train and go to Philadelphia? (Note: I don't really expect an answer to that question)
posted by cptspalding to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Technically I would need to pick up my Amtrak ticket at the Philladelphia 30th St. Station on my departure date and then travel to Newark to catch the flight back home.

Do you have to print it out the day of departure? Can't you get both tickets printed out for your round-trip at one visit of an Amtrak kiosk?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:05 PM on April 20, 2011


I was going to say something similar to B.P.--are you going to get a regular Amtrak ticket receipt (which is not a ticket, but has a bar code and lets you print out your tickets at the station) or something unique to the airline? If you have the real tickets from Amtrak, you can get on the train anywhere along the route and it will be canceled for the full trip, so Continental would be none the wiser.
posted by parkerjackson at 3:08 PM on April 20, 2011


First of all, are you sure you can't just change your return ticket to originate from Princeton? Did you ask the Continental rep if you could do that, specifically? I think the code sharing is between the flight and a particular train, not between the flight and a particular station.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:09 PM on April 20, 2011


1. Yes, I've done it a couple of times, most recently about a year ago. Usually, though, I just flew to Newark and then took New Jersey Transit and SEPTA down to Philadelphia. It wasn't too much hassle at all - there are signs in the airport directing you where to go to get the train.

2. No experience with this part, sorry.

3. Generally, when you print out the tickets for the first leg of your journey on Amtrak, you get the tickets for the return trip as well. However, if this is somehow not the case for the ZFW fare, I don't believe that someone else can pick up a ticket for you at the customer service counter, as they definitely do check ID at 30th Street Station and in my experience, are not particularly accommodating. You could give a friend your confirmation number and have him/her use it to print your tickets at a kiosk in the station. My experience with ID on the train itself has varied; sometimes they check against the ticket, and sometimes they don't.

4. I MeMailed you.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:25 PM on April 20, 2011


First of all, are you sure you can't just change your return ticket to originate from Princeton? Did you ask the Continental rep if you could do that, specifically? I think the code sharing is between the flight and a particular train, not between the flight and a particular station.

I did ask this and it actually is specific to the station. They effectively consider the 30th St. Station as if it were an airport, but have no such designation for Princeton. They also have similar codeshares with New Haven, Stanford and a couple of others.

easy,lucky,free - thanks for the info on Q3. Based on what they told me and what you're saying, it sounds like they really want to make sure you physically pick up the tickets at the 30th St. Station. It all seems bizarre to me.
posted by cptspalding at 5:28 PM on April 20, 2011


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