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A "50% Off" Flash Sale for Amtrak's 50th Birthday | Frommer's Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

A "50% Off" Flash Sale for Amtrak's 50th Birthday

America's national railway is turning the big 5-0, and in celebration, Amtrak is halving the cost of most journeys for the coming months.

But there are significant exceptions, deadlines, and other details, so let's look at those.

Timing: Travelers must book tickets by May 5 and travel between June 2 and November 13, 2021.

Class: The discount is only for coach fares, except on the Acela, where the deal is for business class.

Routes: Only some of the railway's major routes are getting the cut-rate treatment. You won't be able to use this deal for the New Haven-Springfield Shuttle, Pacific Surfliner, or the Philadelphia-through-Pittsburgh portion of the Pennsylvanian Keystone. The deal also isn't available on Amtrak’s bus, van taxi, commuter train, and ferry connectors.

Maximum discount: Though this is being billed as a 50% off sale, for the most pricey routes, the biggest discount will actually be $50. Still, the final prices represent significant savings: $49 one-way New York to Boston on the Acela, $15 from Boston to Portland (Maine), $36 from Chicago to Minneapolis, and $41 from Atlanta to New Orleans.

Coronavirus protocols: These will be changing on May 23, when the line starts selling trains to capacity once again and stops blocking some seats. If that makes you nervous, know that Amtrak's website will still show how fully sold a particular departure is so you will be able to select departures that are less crowded, allowing for some social distancing. Of course, if you take part in this deal, you might book a departure while it's empty only to find it filled up after you get your ticket.

To learn more about this offer, surf over to the Amtrak website.