Comparing Amtrak B/R fare to First Class Air Fare

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dlagrua

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Trying to book an Amtrak trip for two from PHL to FLG in Aug. The Bedroom fare comes up at a whopping $4785 R/T. We can go First Class Air for $954 round trip for two exactly 1/5th the price. We do not mind paying up to double to support train travel but this pricing is rediculous. The only thing that I can figure out is that management is trying to discourage ridership and kill the LD service.
 

Sidney

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$2500 each way? Insane. Did you consider two roomettes?

That outrageous pricing is crazy. Unfortunately,some people will pay it. If nobody would pay that kind of money,the price would drop to something reasonable.

At almost $5000 r/t you would expect steak and lobster for dinner,unlimited alcoholic drinks and personal valet services
 

Bob Dylan

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$2500 each way? Insane. Did you consider two roomettes?

That outrageous pricing is crazy. Unfortunately,some people will pay it. If nobody would pay that kind of money,the price would drop to something reasonable.

At almost $5000 r/t you would expect steak and lobster for dinner,unlimited alcoholic drinks and personal valet services
Or your own Private Car on the Back of the consist!
 

jebr

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The only thing that I can figure out is that management is trying to discourage ridership and kill the LD service.
Or that they think they can sell that bedroom to a few different people over different segments of that trip for a similar price, thus increasing ridership and getting similar or more revenue over selling it to one person over that segment. Also, for me personally a roomette is a bit more equivalent to domestic first class, even with two people.

That said, the airlines also seem to be doing a bit more discounting than Amtrak lately - I was able to get first class MSP - SEA on Alaska for $2.40 more per person than the saver coach fare would be on Amtrak! That was thanks to a 30% off discount code that was going on, plus a deal Costco had on Alaska Air gift cards ($500 gift card was being sold for 10% off at $450.) I don't know too many people who would decide to save $2.40 and go Amtrak coach over Alaska first!
 

Seaboard92

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Or your own Private Car on the Back of the consist!
Yeah it'll be a lot more than that. Think 40k range. Now that being said you can bring six of your best friends with you. And when divided you get it down to $5,000 a person. But that's without me doing any real looking into the numbers because its late and I want to go to bed.
 

dlagrua

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Its really a shame what is happening to the sleeper fare structure at Amtrak. First class airline fares can be found at bargain prices, yet Amtrak's fares are rising exponentially. If Amtrak can actually sell a $5000 bedroom R/T fare for two from PHL-FLG that would be a huge surprise to me. We will wait another month to see if the fares drop to more reasonable levels but after that the business reluctantly goes to the airlines. I still believe that the reasoning here might be that management is trying to kill the LD service. Look at the $80 billion infrastructure plan. I see nearly nothing for LD service
 

caravanman

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Assuming that market forces are behind the pricing, thats a good thing that Amtrak can charge high prices and so make money!
Of course, if the service was run as a public benefit, subsidised correctly, then folk could travel at consistently fixed reasonable fares all year round.
Comparing air fares to Amtrak is pointless, but has an interesting effect on the blood pressure! :D
 

dlagrua

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Comparing air fares to Amtrak is pointless, but has an interesting effect on the blood pressure! :D
While I agree with the first part of your post I disagree with the last sentence and let me tell you why. First off we have to get from one point to another and we will spend money to do it. Either Amtrak or an airline will get the business. The second point is that my wife and myself have been very loyal Amtrak customers over the past 18 years, traveling almost exclusively by train. We have spent thousands of dollars on train travel even when it was far more expensive. We are a reliable and hopefully a critical part of the customer base. By being 5 times the price of a First Class Airline ticket Amtrak is chasing away loyal customers that contribute a large part of the LD ticket revenue, but as stated before, maybe that is part of managements plan. We will wait it out another month and if fares do not drop to a more acceptable level, then we go by air. Is that a winning strategy for Amtrak?
 

Amtrakfflyer

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I’ve seen $6800+RT (family room) just for Galesburg to LA on the SWC. We went from 3 RT’s year on Amtrak to pretty much always flying now. The one, two punch of Anderson and Covid are something Amtrak seems to be doing very little to overcome.

The price comparison is even more insane when you compare sleeper fares to airline coach. You can pretty much fly coast to coast for 79 bucks or less each way with a little looking around.
 

caravanman

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Amtrak is a business, and while they appreciated your past custom, if a new customer is prepared to pay more for the train space, why wouldn't they sell it to them in preference?
If the Amtrak trains are running half empty because fares are too high, then that is a wrong fare structure, but full trains at higher fares is good business.
I am an Amtrak fan, and rely on low fares to be able to travel myself, but market forces are market forces...
 

Devil's Advocate

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Comparing air fares to Amtrak is pointless...
Why do you say that? I always try to shop around and inform myself on prices and options before making a purchase. Should everyone just give up and stay home if Amtrak pricing goes nuts?

Amtrak is a business, and while they appreciated your past custom, if a new customer is prepared to pay more for the train space, why wouldn't they sell it to them in preference?
I guess you've changed your mind about people being allowed to buy up multiple coach seats since you now say the focus is on being a business first and transportation second.

I am an Amtrak fan, and rely on low fares to be able to travel myself, but market forces are market forces...
I'm a passenger rail fan. If Amtrak ran an airline or bus network the same way they run their trains I'd probably never use them again.
 
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Amtrakfflyer

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Not when it’s using public tax dollars. No one here is asking for free rides but when the difference is $6800 train to $158 RT Air something is wrong. No one in their right mind would pay that and if they did once they wouldn’t do it again, there is nothing first class about the experience. It’s not only sleeper fares, I’ve seen coach at $983 on Amtrak from GBB to LAX for December of this year.

From what I hear from friends that work for Amtrak and even here from trip reports Bedrooms and the family rooms are pretty much empty on most trains nowadays. Roommates are another story but people are generally NOT paying these insane rates, so don’t be fooled. Amtrak is not the same company it was prior to Anderson and Gardner is just as disingenuous.

QUOTE="caravanman, post: 886062, member: 256"]
Amtrak is a business, and while they appreciated your past custom, if a new customer is prepared to pay more for the train space, why wouldn't they sell it to them in preference?
If the Amtrak trains are running half empty because fares are too high, then that is a wrong fare structure, but full trains at higher fares is good business.
I am an Amtrak fan, and rely on low fares to be able to travel myself, but market forces are market forces...
[/QUOTE]
 
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caravanman

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Why do you say that? I always try to shop around and inform myself on prices and options before making a purchase. Should everyone just give up and stay home if Amtrak pricing goes nuts?

A few days ago you worried about "weeks without service" if Amtrak was willing to sell two coach seats to one passenger but now you're fine with sleeper passengers being priced out of the market for months on end because that's just good business?
I wish you would stop rehashing what I say to distort it!
How are sleeper passengers being priced out of the market, if the sleepers are running with full capacity?
I SAID: "If the Amtrak trains are running half empty because fares are too high, then that is a wrong fare structure, but full trains at higher fares is good business."

Trains, bus, car, motorbike, planes, are all different modes of transport, comparing the cost of one against the other is pointless to the extent that you are comparing different items. Comparing one train cost against another train is valid, or one flight against another. Yes, of course one mode will always be cheaper if that is all you are comparing, that bit is not exactly rocket science is it?
 

bratkinson

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1) A sucker is born every minute. Some fool will pay the exorbitant sleeper fares.
2) Priced at 'what the market will bear'. When you have the only game in town (private room, facilities, beds), you can charge whatever someone is willing to pay.
3) If the prices don't succeed in killing sleeping cars, then the unpalatable 'free food' will!
 

Sidney

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...and as long as people will pay those insane prices Amtrak will charge them. Most people wouldn't even think of paying $2000 plus for sleeper but a few will and that's why Amtrak charges those fares.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Trains, bus, car, motorbike, planes, are all different modes of transport, comparing the cost of one against the other is pointless to the extent that you are comparing different items.
It's not pointless to me. I view flying, driving, and riding a train as accomplishing the same general goal. They all have their own pros and cons, and I have my own personal preferences like most other people, but the maximum I'm willing to spend on one is still dependent on how much the others would cost me.

Comparing one train cost against another train is valid, or one flight against another. Yes, of course one mode will always be cheaper if that is all you are comparing, that bit is not exactly rocket science is it?
I think people should price their trips however it makes sense to them. The idea that it's only valid to compare trains with other trains but not with flying or driving makes no sense to me. What other trains are we supposed to be comparing? Where I live it's Amtrak or nothing.
 

caravanman

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Look, it's not complicated. What are you complaining about?

Is it high train fares?

Why are they too high?

Is there some "conspiracy" that Amtrak sets them high because they want to stop folk using them?

Or is it that in these Covid times, folk will pay a lot for a "private room" on a train?

Maybe the train is now too expensive for you, that is how market forces work, some folk can afford

certain things, others have to make do with less desirable products.

Folk should just enjoy their flights, instead of expecting cheap train travel in a market economy like the

USA...
 

Eric in East County

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Will sleeping car fares come down once AMTRAK resumes its pre-COVID operating schedule? Adjust for inflation, how do today’s fares compare with those, for example, charged for the SUPER CHIEF back in the days when it was THE train of choice for the Hollywood stars and other celebrities?

We can see where prices might have to be raised temporarily, given the operating losses that AMTRAK must undoubtedly be incurring at the present time. (It is our belief that the airlines can afford to charge less and operate at a loss since they can pretty much count on eventually receiving some sort of Government bailout.)

BTW, just since January, the cost of a gallon of gasoline in San Diego County has jumped up considerably so creeping inflation is not just affecting sleeping car fares.

Eric & Pat
 

caravanman

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"you're fine with sleeper passengers being priced out of the market for months on end because that's just good business?"

Just because I try to explain the reasons for high fares, does not mean I think they should be a popular thing with the paying public. Explaining how a business model works has no bearing on whether I think it is good or bad.
 

neroden

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I admit that I don't trust Gardner; it is possible that someone is deliberately trying to set Bedroom prices to prevent them from selling. On the other hand, on some routes, there are very few Bedrooms and people will pay nosebleed prices for them.

The only way to get Bedrooms all the way from PHL to FLG -- until #66/67 starts carrying its sleeper -- is on the Cardinal. Which has one Viewliner sleeper, IIRC. Meaning two Bedrooms total. Running three days a week. If five of them are already sold, Amtrak may, indeed, be able to sell the last one for a nosebleed price.

I generally only get Roomettes. Apparently some people will pay *large* premiums for Bedrooms, since it is typical (pre-Covid and pre-Anderson!) for two roomettes to cost less than a Bedroom.
 
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For my upcoming trip, flying Alaska in First Class MSP-PDX was just $178 one-way; a roomette on the eastbound EB PDX-MSP Train #28 was $490 for me on the way back home ($233 base fare + $257 for the room).
 
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