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Trogdor

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I don’t know the actual preference order. Assuming you were traveling end-to-end and not partway, with someone else having booked your room for a different segment and preferred lower level, then it’s possible that the end rooms above the trucks and by the end doors are given lower preference due to ride quality and door noise.
 

Bob Dylan

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Do you have any sense what the order of preference is? I've been put in room 14 when room 9 was available, which seems like the opposite of what I expected: upstairs first for better views, etc. I know some people like the quiet of downstairs, but I would still think Amtrak would rank upstairs as "more preferred".
"Amtrak" doesn't care, your just a Number to their Computer System!😉
 

Ryan

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@AlanB provides a clue from the great beyond...

No, it's not an unreasonable conclusion at all. And in fact many years ago I too believed that a bucket what attached to each room. But then several trusted friends who work/worked for Amtrak debased me of that notion. It's also not tied to what level the room is on either.

For example, last I knew the current booking order for rooms was 2, 3, 4, 11, & 12. After that, I'm not sure where they went next. Now, if for example you were booking the Texas Eagle with only 1 sleeper and there were 4 rooms placed in the low bucket by revenue management. Then rooms 2, 3, 4, & 11 would all go for low bucket. Room #12 however would sell at the next bucket level. If there were 5 rooms in the low bucket, then of course room #12 would also sell at the low bucket price.

There are 5 bucket levels in total. Revenue management (RM) initially picks how many rooms are placed into each bucket. And there is no requirement that each level actually have a number placed into the bucket. In other words, it is possible for RM to put 5 rooms in low bucket, skip the next bucket, put 2 in the mid-level, 5 in the next highest, and the remaining in the highest bucket. Additionally, nothing is set in stone either. RM or the computer can move the quantities of available rooms left around at will as they please. Well the computer of course follows certain rules, but a RM manager can do what they think best. So for example, around Thanksgiving I wouldn't bet on any rooms being placed in the low bucket and a very low number in the next bucket.

All of that said, a regular agent can if they know what they're doing, essentially swap a room for anyone at the same bucket level if they know what they're doing. Upper level, lower level, current bucket level for selling rooms are all irrelevant if the agent knows what to do and how to override things. Another trap that agents fall into is forgetting how to request a specific room. Under normal circumstances, an agent pretty much does what Amtrak.com does when making a reservation, they just request the next available room and ARROW provides the next room based upon the pre-approved order of rooms being sold in the car. And note that with more than 1 sleeper, ARROW also spreads rooms out across the available cars. It doesn't sell all the rooms in the first car, before moving on to the second car.

But agents do have a way to bring up all the available rooms and to pick a specific room within a specific car. The problem is that too many forget how to do this, or think it's too much work, or what ever. So instead what they do is request next available room. If that's the room that the person wanted, great! If not, they hold that room and request the next available room. And they repeat that until they get what the person requested. This method has too problems, first, you start running through all the buckets because you're holding all those rooms open. Second, the RM computer sensing a run on that train starts moving more rooms into higher buckets because it thinks sales are going through the roof and it wants to maximize revenue. It doesn't realize that an agent is causing this issue and when they're done, the agent is going to release all those rooms back into inventory, save the one that they really wanted.

I hope that this helps to explain things a bit. :)
 

Bob Dylan

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We're just trying to figure out the algorithm of the "automatic room assigner" of the computer system. I too have wondered.
I realize that, but since fingshul mentioned that Amtrak should rank upstairs as more preferred, just thought I'd point out that the Computer assigns the Rooms, ie the algorithm just plugs in a rez as it's received on line, unless you call and have a knowledable agent make your choice of rooms happen!
 

TheCrescent

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Fare oddity: on the Cardinal, the fare from CHI to ALX is higher than the fare from CHI to WAS. ALX is the stop before WAS. Can anybody explain?
The Crescent also often has higher fares between the Northeast and the Carolinas than fares between the same Northeastern cities and Atlanta. I’d like to think that Amtrak monitors the competition and charges based on comparable competitor prices but I doubt it.
 

flitcraft

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Gulped hard and booked our train trip for this summer for us and our 10 year old granddaughter--Keystone to NYC, Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, Southwest Chief to LA, and Surfliner to San Diego. (With a flight back to Seattle in time for the All Star Game--though she is more excited about the Home Run Derby than the actual All Star Game.) LD legs in a bedroom and a roomette.

Two observations--first, whoever recommended that you book via phoning AGR rather than via calling the regular Amtrak phone line was 100% correct. When I called the Amtrak line, after I dismissed 'Julie,' the agent who answered my call got the itinerary wrong twice, despite my repeating it carefully and slowly, and told me that there were no bedrooms for one leg of our preferred dates, though the website claimed that there were two available at the list price shown. Also, she kept warning us that Amtrak forbids minors under the age of twelve from occupying a roomette by themselves--which we assured her that we had no intention of doing. After the third such (unnecessary) warning, I made the mistake of saying, "Yes, you did warn us about that already, and we wouldn't have done it anyway," and she got huffy and said, "Well, it is my job to inform you of this. If you get caught violating this rule, your remaining legs of the trip will be cancelled without refund!" So, I told her that we'd think about it for now, and called back about fifteen minutes later only to get the same agent!

As a result, I waited to book till the next morning, via AGR, and the agent there couldn't have been more helpful. I gave her the choice of the three potential starting dates and the layovers we planned, and she actually found one set of trains that saved us several hundred dollars! (And she noted that the leg that the previous agent claimed was sold out, wasn't.) Given the contrast in agents, I asked if there was some way we could send in a report praising her professionalism and helpfulness. She first said no, but when I pressed, said that she could put her supervisor on the line. I waited for a bit, got the supervisor, who I told that I wanted to report the excellent customer service provided by the agent in question, not mentioning that she'd found me a significantly cheaper itinerary, in case that might get her in trouble! The supervisor thanked me for providing the review, and noted that most people are quick to complain but slow to praise, and that a note would be placed in the agent's personnel file. So all's well that ends well, at least till my credit card bill comes due!

My second observation: Holy, moly, have hotels gotten expensive! The same hotels that we had booked pre-pandemic for 100-150 dollars were all over 300 dollars a night! I booked anyway because the layovers are part of the overall 'special adventure,' and I wanted to be sure we got convenient rooms in acceptable places, leading me to book places we'd stayed in before. But, given the increase in hotel prices, I might think twice about our common practice of booking a night in Chicago or LA just to be sure we wouldn't miss the ongoing leg of a trip.
 
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trimetbusfan

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In past years has Amtrak lowered their fares during January and February? If so, when do they normally start to post them? I'm noticing that the fares currently posted for those months have not been lowered.
These are the lower demand months, so Amtrak will usually sell the rooms for cheaper during these months. They will open up at high bucket but about 4-5 months before departure they can drop.
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: several posts in this thread discussed hotel rates near Amtrak (rather than long distance fares) and have been moved to a new thread. Please limit the discussion in this thread to long distance fares. Please discuss hotels in the new thread.


Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and participation.
 

zephyr17

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In past years has Amtrak lowered their fares during January and February? If so, when do they normally start to post them? I'm noticing that the fares currently posted for those months have not been lowered.
These are the lower demand months, so Amtrak will usually sell the rooms for cheaper during these months. They will open up at high bucket but about 4-5 months before departure they can drop.
True, although when they reallocate some inventory into the lower buckets when they evaluate actual sales and inventory distribution sometime in that 4-6 month period before departure, they seldom allocate more than a couple of rooms to the lowest bucket they decide to stock. When those are sold, we're back in the higher buckets.

Remember, they aren't dropping fares, they're reallocating inventory across the various buckets. The fares offered will go up again once the new allocation to the lower buckets are sold. To get them, you need to monitor fares regularly in that 4-6 month window.
 

west point

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It may be that fares this winter will not go down very much. Pent up demand along with reduced capacity may mean thee will be passengers loads very close to this past summer. Who knows?
 
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Question regarding fare adjustments for trips with two segments on one itinerary:

I just booked EMY-CHI-BOS on CZ + LSL in a roomette. EMY-CHI was in the second highest fare bucket (was watching it like a hawk and it finally dropped from the highest) and I got the last CHI-BOS room in the second lowest fare bucket.

On the itinerary confirmation email after booking, I see one base fare and one roomette fare for the entire trip EMY-BOS, not two separate roomette fares.

My question is, if the roomette fare for EMY-CHI drops further, will I be able to get the fare difference refunded? Or will the lack of CHI-BOS availability in the original fare bucket prevent any adjustment?
 

trimetbusfan

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Question regarding fare adjustments for trips with two segments on one itinerary:

I just booked EMY-CHI-BOS on CZ + LSL in a roomette. EMY-CHI was in the second highest fare bucket (was watching it like a hawk and it finally dropped from the highest) and I got the last CHI-BOS room in the second lowest fare bucket.

On the itinerary confirmation email after booking, I see one base fare and one roomette fare for the entire trip EMY-BOS, not two separate roomette fares.

My question is, if the roomette fare for EMY-CHI drops further, will I be able to get the fare difference refunded? Or will the lack of CHI-BOS availability in the original fare bucket prevent any adjustment?
Your fare is likely is shown together as one fare because it is part of what Amtrak calls a ‘fare bundle.’ Pretty much means that when booking the two legs together would give you a slight discount, as opposed to booking separately. (and, of course ensure a garunteed connection for you). Im not sure about the other part of your question.
 

Anderson

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It does seem like there'd be a market for an intermediate accommodation between these two. Alternatively, if we could simply triple the number of sleeper cars, the price per room would come down, and if the price were lower, more people would spring for them.
The nosebleed sleeper pricing is (relatively) new. Admittedly I cannot speak for what NYP-BOS adds to the price, but I remember when $500 was on the expensive end for a roomette. About ten years back it was pretty common for me to be able to get a last-minute space for about $300 one-way RVR-ORL (this was low-bucket, mind you, and at the time the room charge paired to the lowest regular coach fares), which made for more than a few trips down/back over the years.
 

jis

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The nosebleed sleeper pricing is (relatively) new. Admittedly I cannot speak for what NYP-BOS adds to the price, but I remember when $500 was on the expensive end for a roomette. About ten years back it was pretty common for me to be able to get a last-minute space for about $300 one-way RVR-ORL (this was low-bucket, mind you, and at the time the room charge paired to the lowest regular coach fares), which made for more than a few trips down/back over the years.
The minimum fare appears to be $529 today.

Straight inflation would raise the $300 2013 price to $382 2023 price. The rest is Amtrak-flation.
 

Anderson

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The minimum fare appears to be $529 today.

Straight inflation would raise the $300 2013 price to $382 2023 price. The rest is Amtrak-flation.
So, I found a receipt. $300.10, DLD-RVR, from 2015, NARP fare. That's the oldest email

I have a partial email archive from back then, and with some effort I could probably pull even more Amtrak emails from old piles. I swear that was actually the second-lowest bucket - IIRC the buckets at the time ran from something like $250-500 (roughly - the highest fares I recall were in the low $500s from Orlando-ish to Virginia, but when those came up I'd just use some AGR points for a one-zone reservation). I specifically recall this latter detail because I did an analysis of Seaboard fares from the late 60s vs Amtrak's fares at the time and found that the Seaboard fare rates were roughly in line with the upper buckets.
 
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jis

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So, I found a receipt. $300.10, DLD-RVR, from 2015, NARP fare. That's the oldest email

I have a partial email archive from back then, and with some effort I could probably pull even more Amtrak emails from old piles. I swear that was actually the second-lowest bucket - IIRC the buckets at the time ran from something like $250-500 (roughly - the highest fares I recall were in the low $500s from Orlando-ish to Virginia, but when those came up I'd just use some AGR points for a one-zone reservation). I specifically recall this latter detail because I did an analysis of Seaboard fares from the late 60s vs Amtrak's fares at the time and found that the Seaboard fare rates were roughly in line with the upper buckets.
I managed to dig up the RVR - ORL Roomette fare in 1969. It was $47.67 which in Dec 2022 dollars is something close to $400. That was not including food. If you throw in the flat charge for Flex Meals Dinner and Breakfast that goes upto $460 or so. Still Amtrak comes out well ahead of the inflation curve. So the previous argument that fares have not kept up with inflation apparently is false now.
 

Amtrak709

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I managed to dig up the RVR - ORL Roomette fare in 1969. It was $47.67 which in Dec 2022 dollars is something close to $400. That was not including food. If you throw in the flat charge for Flex Meals Dinner and Breakfast that goes upto $460 or so. Still Amtrak comes out well ahead of the inflation curve. So the previous argument that fares have not kept up with inflation apparently is false now.
jis: Just to throw in my two cents worth, I personally have always been one who prefers to purchase a bedroom (since and even before the heritage roomettes went away in the 1990's) and have gotten used to paying about 130%-140% of the roomette fare for that bedroom for about the last 30+ years. NOT SO since about 2 years ago, i.e. RVR-ORL roomette = now about $399 but a bedroom = $1237. Seem to be similar on all city pairs and routes. Try test book one and see if you or anyone else agree. I acknowledge that this is specially my issue but I suspect it may apply to many other railfans and travelers. With respect, there is NOT a ticket RVR - ORL worth $1200--although I did pay I am almost ashamed to admit $1157 ATN-NYP to see the Moynihan Train Hall in early 2021. The upside to that trip was on the return NYP-ATN the conductor seemed to think I was company and upgraded my roomette to to the "H" bedroom at NO additional cost. As I have frequently said in the past, I strike my colors!
 

Anderson

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I managed to dig up the RVR - ORL Roomette fare in 1969. It was $47.67 which in Dec 2022 dollars is something close to $400. That was not including food. If you throw in the flat charge for Flex Meals Dinner and Breakfast that goes upto $460 or so. Still Amtrak comes out well ahead of the inflation curve. So the previous argument that fares have not kept up with inflation apparently is false now.
The previous argument was a mixed bag on a good day. The top bucket or two of fares had always kept up with inflation (with a possible asterisk on the F&B front, but I'd also argue that the Flex meal pricing is only being allowed to stand because nobody is paying cash up front for it). Lower buckets did help induce some ridership, but I'd point out that this should be considered alongside the massive drop in airline fares (particularly adjusted for inflation) since the 70s. There are plenty of days that Amtrak's current sleeper fares compare unfavorably to a paid first class ticket on one of the major carriers.

[I'd note that Amtrak has one previous episode of trying this - the last year or two of the Warrington era.]
 

Bob Dylan

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I used to regularly ride the Texas Eagle between Austin and Chicago for around $150- $200 in a Roomette( Single Rail Fare+Room Charge) and the Sunset Ltd/Eagle between Austin and LAX in a Roomette for Low Bucket of $150-$180 . This was from about 2000-2019.

Now, when a Roomette is Available( mostly SOLD OUT most days) to Chicago in the Single Sleeper on the Eaglette, the Prices Range from $600-$1000 and to LAX on the Sunset/Eagle $800-$1200!( often requires a change from the #421 to the #1 Sleeper @ O-Darl-Thirty in SAS).

Inflation is Real, but "Amflation", as jis said, is Price Gouging in my opinion, but people are paying it, so most of my LD trips are now via Airlines, especially Southwest Airlines.( not to mention the downgrading of the Services on the Texas Eaglette!🤬)
 
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Until people stop paying (admittedly including myself being a won’t fly) - not sure how much change will occur. Obviously Amtrak roomettes will never be competitive with domestic coach especially low cost carriers like Southwest but they ought to be competitive with domestic FC. Thankfully for me I managed to grab a few lower buckets for some of my trips this year - but I’m guessing I got lucky.
 
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