Amtrak BidUp (Bidding for Upgrades - Business Class, First Class, and Sleepers)

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roadman3313

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Just read this on the Amtrak Media site. I have experienced e-standby upgrade offers via email from hotels where they offer a fixed, often discounted price for additional services (i.e. early/late check-out) or upgraded rooms on a stand-by basis (i.e. if available at check-in). If it is available they charge you at check-in. If not, then you don't pay anything. Basically it serves as a discount to be on stand-by rather than paying full price to guarantee an upgrade in advance.

The Amtrak version below sounds less like the standby option that hotels use and more like a bidding system where one bids for an upgrade up to two hours prior to departure and then sees if they "win." Not really sure what to think of the concept but I wanted to share in the event anyone has an eligible trip coming up.

Make offers before departure for Business Class or First Class
WASHINGTON – All Amtrak customers enjoy roomy seats and legroom. But for those who want a more premium experience – with even more comfort and amenities – Amtrak customers now can make BidUpSM offers for upgrades to Business Class or First Class.

  • Customers with existing reservations can visit Amtrak.com/BidUp, check eligibility up to two hours prior to departure and place a bid to upgrade their reservation into our premium classes of service: Business Class (most corridor routes) and First Class (Acela).
  • Participants view upgrade options for their scheduled trip and submit a bid for an upgrade on their itinerary. There is no fee to make a bid and Amtrak also will provide tips on how to increase the chances of winning an upgrade.
  • Customers have the option to modify or cancel the bid and they will not be charged unless the upgrade is awarded.
  • Customers with winning bids will receive a new ticket prior to their scheduled departure.
  • Other terms and conditions will apply, with more information at Amtrak.com/BidUp.
Amtrak Guest Rewards members will earn two points per dollar spent on their trip, plus Business Class and First Class point bonuses.

“BidUp is a great way for more Amtrak customers to enjoy our premium services,” said Roger Harris, Amtrak Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer.

Amtrak Business Class customers enjoy amenities beyond Coach class, including a dedicated car or section on the train, more legroom, a 25% point bonus for Guest Rewards members, and reserved seating on Northeast Regional, Palmetto,Carolinian and Vermonter trains.

Acela First Class customers have an array of premium upgrades from Acela Business Class and exclusive to our highest speed service in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, including reserved single, double and conference table seating, at-seat service with complimentary meals and beverages, a 50% point bonus for Guest Rewards members, and complimentary lounge access with priority boarding.

Amtrak is utilizing the Plusgrade platform as the first rail travel customer of the Quebec-based ancillary revenue and merchandising company.

Source: Amtrak Media Center
 

Mailliw

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So apparently Amtrak is going to allow passengers to bid for upgrades now like airlines do. At first only for Business Class (or Acela First Class), but sleeper accommodations are a future possibility.
I agree with the author here; it probably won't be a big deal unless it's expanded to sleepers. Coach passengers (or roomette passengers looking for a bedroom) could fine bargain last minute upgrades, but then again how common is it for sleeping cars to have last minute vacancies? Thoughts?
 

roadman3313

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Why not do this for sleeper accommodations on long-distance trains? 🥺
The FAQ on the page does say, "Bidding for an upgrade to a private room will be offered at a later date." Might be a possibility in the future.

In looking at the site for an upcoming reservation, the bidding appears to be on a sliding scale. Each point on the scale shows the likelihood (strength) of your bid. Some would be a savings while others are not so much depending on any current promotions that are going on. One key catch is if you bid and your bid is accepted as a winner, once the upgrade is applied the ticket becomes fully non-refundable, non-changeable, and non-transferable, even if the original fare was refundable.

There is also one item in the Terms and Condition of note:
"Amtrak cannot guarantee that passengers on an Upgraded Booking will receive all the inclusions of the higher class of service." While this is meant to imply any special services such as special meal preferences or what not if the award is booked close in, it is still language to be aware of.

As an aside, Amtrak also made an update to the Terms and Conditions for E-Vouchers as of 2/21 but I haven't seen any language updated that ties them in with the new bidding system.
 

bms

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I got a message about the program. I usually travel alone so there's really no reason to upgrade from the guaranteed two coach seats up to business. Not to make light of Covid, but I will always remember this past year, as it was nice that I always had the two seats to myself ;)
 

Exvalley

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Amtrakfflyer

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Just like airlines nowadays leave with every first class seat filled Amtrak should do the same. Rooms included. Just have to find the fine line as to not cancel out advance bookings while doing it.

I personally think as far as sleepers go Amtrak should do the bidding and go back to how it used to be. Sell them on board at some discount, low bucket minus 20 percent maybe. (Right now a onboard upgrade is pretty much high bucket, meaning the upgrade is $1000+ and no one does it). Or at 8pm make an announcement onboard offering a few open rooms available for the night at $100 good til 8am the next day including the continental breakfast that’s now served. Bed and breakfast upgrade, I guarantee those rooms would go quick and introduce people to sleeper travel. In the digital age it’s all easily possible if the will was there.
 
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RickIronton

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That's great "TheCrescent",... how much did you save and I understand they are going to roll it out in the near future to more classes of service, hopefully, to include sleeper upgrades.
 

John Bredin

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I was in Chicago Union Station today, and one of Amtrak's screens said "Upgrades available" and mentioned sleeper cars as well as business class. But it also said to ask an "Amtrak representative" without mentioning the bidding process.
 

TheCrescent

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That's great "TheCrescent",... how much did you save and I understand they are going to roll it out in the near future to more classes of service, hopefully, to include sleeper upgrades.
I did a “good” offer, I think, so I saved maybe half of the cost of the upgrade (compared to buying the first-class ticket at the beginning).

I see that first class is sold out more often than coach, and the new Acelas have a smaller percentage of seats allocated to first class than the current Acelas, so it might be tougher and tougher to get a BidUp upgrade without paying the maximum price, though.
 

me_little_me

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I was in Chicago Union Station today, and one of Amtrak's screens said "Upgrades available" and mentioned sleeper cars as well as business class. But it also said to ask an "Amtrak representative" without mentioning the bidding process.
Knowing Amtrak, they'd probably just sell it to you at full price and high bucket.
 

Explore

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Any recent experiences? Is it best to wait until a few hours before departure, do it right after you book, or is it a crapshoot? I’d be doing it on the Pacific Surfliner.

Of course, if you want social distancing (even without a pandemic), coach may be the best bet. Certainly I wouldn’t want someone sitting next to me.
 

Sidney

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I have several 48 hour upgrade coupons I plan to use next month and beyond
If nothing is available,so be it. My only wish on the two overnight coach trips is that I have both seats to myself.
 

Acela150

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I have several 48 hour upgrade coupons I plan to use next month and beyond
If nothing is available,so be it. My only wish on the two overnight coach trips is that I have both seats to myself.
Just remember that Upgrade Coupons can't be used to upgrade to Sleeping Accommodations.
 

Sidney

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I know. I m in Coach on the Lake Shore from Boston next month. Hoping I can upgrade to BC. Wish I could afford a roomette. Chances are a single seat or two seats to myself.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Is bidding even offered on the Surfliner trains? As it is that would appear to be the best business value Amtrak offers. Last I looked it was like 15-20 bucks more San Diego to LAX, including wine/cheese/snacks at seat.
 

Exvalley

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My guess - and this is only a guess - is that if two bids are equal and there is only one seat to upgrade into, the earlier bid will be chosen as the winner.
 

RovinMoses

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Last week I entered a bid for business class on the Cascades and it was not accepted even though the website said there was a good chance. I was so happy we didn't pay more to ride in the Heritage Cars instead of the Talgo equipment. It has been so long since I took that train, I didn't realize that there had been a change in equipment. Now I realize why some riders were using vouchers to pick up food and drink at the small concession inside PDX Union Station -- they were business class. We had a comfortable trip, but had forgotten that covid had closed the Cafe Cars. No coffee until Seattle :cool:
 

Sidney

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Is bidding even offered on the Surfliner trains? As it is that would appear to be the best business value Amtrak offers. Last I looked it was like 15-20 bucks more San Diego to LAX, including wine/cheese/snacks at seat.
The Surfliner is Amtrak's best Business Class value and the Coast Starlight is the worst. When they begin filling up all seats again CS BC will be of value if you want two seats to yourself but that will not even be guaranteed.
 

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