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A bit bewildered by ticket prices

  • Thread starter Dominick; "Nick"
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Dominick; "Nick"

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Looking at Amsnag.. I want to go from Chicago to Pasco, Washington, Sleeper. Amsnag shows I have two options: 27 and 7/27. Can anyone explain why the prices for 7/27 are significantly more than the 27? What's the difference between the two? I'm assuming if I book the 7/27 I'll have to physically move from one train to the other when the trains split yet that combination is more expensive than the straight thru 27. I just don't "get it." I'd think the fare for 7/27 would be cheaper since you'd have to get up in the middle of the night and physically move to the other train??
Same thing again on my trip from Portland, OR to Tuscon, AZ.. The options there are weird, too. The 2/422 sleeper is more expensive than the 422. Whats the difference between the "two" trains? (to a "non-rail expert") it's one train....at least it's NOT two entirely separate trains leaving Los Angeles at different times.
Also, how often does the Coast Starlight miss the connection at Los Angeles? Does Amtrak pay for hotel/food if the Coast Starlight is late? For 2 days??
Some info from seasoned, experienced train people would be so appreciated......THANKS!! in advance. Nick.
 
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fairviewroad

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The simple answer is the the Seattle section (train 7) has sold a higher percentage of its accommodations than the Portland section (train 27) on your departure date. That has pushed the Seattle sleeper into a higher "fare bucket."

The opposite can be true some days, meaning you'd pay less if you are willing to make the middle-of-the-night switch. In your case, you're lucky that you can get the cheapest fare without having to do the midnight switcheroo.

I can't answer the question about the Coast Starlight connections.
 

F900ElCapitan

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As to 7/27, it’s all about capacity, demand, and actual sales. Yes, 7 and 27 depart Chicago as one train with 7 being all of the cars forward of the Sightseer Lounge and 27 being the lounge and cars aft. To get to Pasco 27 would definitely be your best choice as you said you wouldn’t have to change sleepers. The option becomes important if the 27 sleeper was very full or sold out and the 7 sleeper has more space available. Then the price on it to get to Spokane very well might be less than trying to get into the 27 and would lower your trip price. Usually Amtrak is quite proud of the 27 sleeper, I believe due to it’s easy connection to the Coast Starlight and that it’s usually just one car (this past summer was odd and it ran with two sleepers). Amtrak does not care about your inconvenience, and pricing is reflective of that.

For 2/422 it’s very similar. The Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle will depart LAUS with 2 sleepers, one for train 2 and one for train 422. With the two sleepers going to different destinations (New Orleans and Chicago), thus demand will very from one to the other. The only difference you’ll notice on your trip is the 2 sleeper will be up front behind the transition sleeper and the 422 sleeper will be the last car on the train. Both get the same service between LAUS and Tucson and through to San Antonio where they split.

There are a couple of ways to guarantee your connection in LA. Having a single ticket is one. If the CS is running late, especially prior to the Bay Area, they will likely put you on a train to Bakersfield and bus to LA to make the connection. But if you miss it after that, I’m not sure, maybe someone else can chime in for that info.

Sounds like a great trip!! Good luck!!
 

TC_NYC

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Enjoy Pasco, it's where I live, be sure to book the Homewood Suites or the Hampton Inn in Richland, both offer beautiful views of the Columbia River that you won't get in the rough part of town the train station is located.

Simply put, book train 27. The website is just programmed to offer you train 7 with a "connection" to 27 in Spokane, when they split the train in half.
 

the_traveler

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If you book train 27, you can stay in the same room all the way. If you book the 7/27 “connection”, you will need to change at some point.

“Train” 422 - while physically connected to the Sunset Limited - consists of one sleeper and one coach going between LAX and CHI. ‘Train” 2 has 2-3 sleepers and coaches going between LAX and NOL. Thus they are sold, and may be priced, separately.
 

saxman

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Revenue management doesn't really look at the "convenience" factor of switching rooms in the middle of the night. Even when they do, they don't want you to take away revenue sleeper space for such a short trip from SPK to PSC. That's better being sold to a longer distance rider from Portland to MSP, for instance.
 

zephyr17

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With regard to the Coast Starlight to Sunset connection. If it is guaranteed, and if is issued on a through ticket, it is guaranteed. That connection had gone on and off the guarantee several times over the years. I don't know what the current status is and am too lazy to check. For purposes of this discussion i assume you are on a single through ticket, which Amtrak will not issue unless guaranteed. If for some reason they decide to break the guarantee between the time you purchase the ticket and your travel date, Amtrak will automatically reissue the ticket rerouting you via the San Joaquin (this actually happened to me).

F900 already discussed what happens if the train is already significantly late by the Bay Area. I'll cover the other alternatives. If the train will miss the connection by a short time, they'll likely hold the Sunset. If it late enough they can't hold it, they'll bus bridge connecting passengers from Santa Barbara or Oxnard to Ontario or Palm Springs. I've never heard of them laying passengers over for the next Sunset. They make every effort not to since it only runs three days a week.
 

me_little_me

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You might also, if you have time, consider a layover in L.A. and enjoy a visit there so you can't miss your train. The biggest downside to missing a connection if you are in a sleeper, is that there may not be any rooms left on the next train and, while they will refund the difference in cost, no amount they will offer would make it worth my while to ride the rest of a trip home in coach.
 

bratkinson

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Last April, I was on the Coast Starlight to LA with connection to the Sunset. While eating breakfast approaching Sacramento about 4 hours late, they tracked me down and told me to get off at SAC and be bused to my train. I hastily packed up my roomette and hightailed it into the station. The agent said those connecting to #4 were going to be bused, but I was reticketed to get off at Martinez, put on a San Joaquin to Bakersfield and then bused to LAX. Fortunately, the SCA hadn't made up my roomette so I sat there until MTZ. I ended up beating #11 to LAX and they arrived about 30 minutes before #2's departure. Somehow they made up time, mostly padding, I suspect.

I'm going to be doing the #1 to #14 connection in April this year. I've made that connection one direction or the other maybe 20-25 times in the past 40+ years and never missed the train! Only bused once!
 

zephyr17

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You might also, if you have time, consider a layover in L.A. and enjoy a visit there so you can't miss your train. The biggest downside to missing a connection if you are in a sleeper, is that there may not be any rooms left on the next train and, while they will refund the difference in cost, no amount they will offer would make it worth my while to ride the rest of a trip home in coach.
A valid concern for most LD to LD connections, particularly at Chicago.

However, for this particular connection, 11 to 2, Amtrak seldom, if ever, lays passengers over for the next train. There are much faster alternate routings than the Coast Starlight using the San Joaquins and Thruway buses, and if the lateness is incurred after the bay area they can bus bridge with a much faster transit time, picking up the Sunset at Ontario or Palm Springs. Since the next train is a couple days later, and there are multiple alternatives to protect the connection, laying over to the next train really not done for this connection.
 
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