Comparing Amtrak B/R fare to First Class Air Fare

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tomfuller

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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.
For 2 people, a roomette is just fine. The date I checked in August had a roomette for 2 for $708 from Chicago to Flagstaff. The uncomfortable night is from Pittsburgh to Chicago in coach. A bedroom IMO is for a couple traveling with a kid or 2. For many years I slummed in coach
 

Sidney

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Leaving out of Harrisburg to Chicago you have a four hour layover in Pittsburgh. You catch the Capitol Limited around Midnight. A roomette for that short a trip is quite pricy. I'll usually get a roomette on a Western train that leaves that afternoon,so I can handle the overnight in Coach. Returning is worse,since you board at 6:40PM and arrive at 5AM.

Of course having both seats to yourself makes all the difference in the world. From what I read here Amtrak will begin selling every seat coinciding with the return of daily service in late May.
 

Michigan Mom

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Chicago-NYP roomettes have not gone up so much as to be unaffordable (recall there was a thread discussion about the buckets and fare increases, pre-pandemic that was very interesting). However, taking the Capitol to connect to one of the Silvers had stopped being an attractive option, we had flown last few trips to Miami and will be doing so again out of Detroit. It became a question of saving the sleeper car fare, having more time at destination, and more money towards accommodations.
As far as the West Coast trips, I am so grateful we took the EB and SW Chief when it was affordable in either dollars or AGR points, because it's really not now... :-/ Amtrak is marketing these LD trains as land cruises, not about when you'll get there, so I'm guessing enough people are willing to pay for those rooms at the current price points. Case in point, the increase in Biz class fare on the Wolverine makes it completely not worth it, and they fill up the car anyway.
 

Barb Stout

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I was checking out some prices to do a circle trip between ABQ, Chicago, NOL, and Deming NM and found some of the astronomical fares were when I selected a date that the SSL didn't run from NOL to DEM; it gave me a price anyways and put me on the CONO to Chicago, then the TE to Deming. I had to stare at the page for a while to figure out why the price was so high as the price boxes dwarf everything else on the page. These current train prices are still less than what it cost me to fly back home back in the '80s (Phx to Bismarck, ND), but of course, airfare has gone down since then. I wish I didn't have my bum clavicle/shoulder/blade/rib problem and could still drive without pain (seat belt/harness causes problems).
 
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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.
I don’t know what specific dates you were searching for in August, but my PHL-FLG search showed rooms in the $700-$850 range. You may have been pricing during a schedule load or a fare load where the two are disconnected and the system defaults to a ”rack” pricing until real fares and inventory can be established.
 

Ryan

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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.
This all.... sounds vaguely familiar....


In todays hard economic times a business cannot feel free to raise prices anytime that they wish to do so, That's any business not just Amtrak. A business needs to be cognizant of and recognize the competition. In this case the auto, bus and plane are the competition. If the prices on the sleepers go up sharply, then this months trip will be our last. Prices of many non-essential items are going down. Salaries are going down, unemployment is near 20% and there are bargian airfares galore if you don't mind being treated like a lowlife animal. We will check the price and just go back to auto travel.

Lets see how many sleepers Amtrak sells at high bucket? If they expect me to pay more for ridng in the same worn out, beat up trains, they've got another thing coming. I tell you the consumer will start resisting if exhorbitantly high sleeper prices previail. Wait and see.
On sold out trains many of the seats and sleepers are already being sold at high bucket. Raise the price even higher for a trip in the same tired worn out sleepers and you risk losing passenger traffic. If the prices go up any higher we will take to the road. I believe that lots of passengers also feel this way. When Amtrak made the 25% discount on the NE corridor permanent, ridership soared to new record highs. It became a better buy then flying. The consumer realized it and flocked to the rails.

Also consider than on LD trains, Amtrak sleeper prices are 3 to 5x what a plane ticket costs and 5-15x slower. Its still twice as high as a first class airfare seat.

What makes you believe that Amtrak has such a great service that they can get unlimited prices? Prices need to be balanced so that tickets can be sold year round. Only a few trains in the non-vacation months consistently sell out so the forumula of supply and demand already applies.

Did you know that the high bucket ONE WAY fare on the LSL from NYC to CHI is $165 and add on for a sleeper is $463 roomette and $863 bedroom. Do the math and you've got a trip that costs $630- $1028 & again ONE WAY FARE. Round trip costs you $1260-$2056. Thats just not expensive, that's highway robbery!
I don't understand how people pay $898 to $1100 for a bedroom and probably up to $600, perhaps $800 for a roomette high bucket. Must be the wealthy NYC market doing the buying. I agree that the pricing will stay where it is but revenue will never climb without adding capacity.
For ten years, you've been preaching the same doom and gloom, yet Amtrak seems to still be filling sleeping cars.
 

dlagrua

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Last we head the sleepers were not filling up. Can you provide evidence that they are? All I am saying is that first class air at 1/5th the price seems at the moment like the better deal than traveling in an old worn sleeper. If Amtrak can in fact sell the fares for 5X more, as much as we dislike flying we will have no choice than to save $4000 on the trip. Would you pay 5X to travel Amtrak when there are alternatives?
 

AmtrakBlue

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I've been hearing the sleepers are filling up - especially due to COVID. Yes, people will pay those prices to avoid planes and coach cars on trains during, and probably for some time after, the pandemic. Plus people are anxious to get back on the trains after this past year of "staying at home".

I traveled last Sept and as far as I can remember, most, if not all rooms were used when I'd take a walk (to bathroom, for fresh air stop, to cafe or diner car.
 

Sidney

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I traveled on the EB in January from Chi to Pdx. Most of the roomettes were used. Only one bedroom was sold during the entire length of the trip. Has to be the price.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I traveled on the EB in January from Chi to Pdx. Most of the roomettes were used. Only one bedroom was sold during the entire length of the trip. Has to be the price.
This is what I often see on my trips as well. Many occupied roomettes with lots of empty bedrooms. I don't think price alone explains this but it's hard to imagine it does not play a substantial role in booking decisions. We see many people struggle with this exact dilemma over and over again right here on the forum.
 
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Sidney

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A simple question with a not so simple answer. If bedrooms are remaining empty because of the high price,why isn't the price being reduced? I posed that question to my sleeping car attendant on my Chi to Pdx trip where only one bedroom was sold the entire journey. She didn't have an answer.

$1000 plus for a bedroom. $500 for the roomette. Basically you are paying double,triple for more space. The food is the same.
 

Exvalley

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Yep, definitely that and couldn't possibly have something to do with a global pandemic or anything.
I’d say that a train running during a pandemic with full roomettes and only one bedroom sold has overpriced bedrooms. If the vacancies were more evenly distributed you’d have a stronger argument.
 

Maglev

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I am going to visit my aunt in Florida. I thought that Bedrooms on Amtrak would cost about $8,000, and so I booked first-class plane tickets for $2,000 (flying into the local airport instead of Orlando; Orlando would have been cheaper). I checked Amtrak later, and Bedrooms weren't even available for the whole trip. It was $6,600 with a Family Bedroom going out on the Empire Builder and a Roomette coming back. We would not be happy in a Roomette for three days, and I already know my wife doesn't like the Family Bedroom. The Bedrooms are indeed selling.
 

Cal

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I will say, as someone who has, since my latest trip, always travelled in a roomette, having the in-room bathroom and the extra room was VERY nice to have. However, it is still overpriced.
 

Michigan Mom

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The Bedrooms are considerably more money than the Roomettes, and provide a bit more space, but still really only accommodate 2 adults, and one young child, or a single adult and two kids. Therefore the price differential from the Roomette is for having the included toilet and shower, (as noted above the meals are exactly the same) and I'm guessing that, post pandemic when travel gets going again, it will be even less difficult for Amtrak to sell those BRs. While I wasn't thrilled about being priced out of them, I can see why they'd charge what people are willing to pay.
 

Ryan

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I’d say that a train running during a pandemic with full roomettes and only one bedroom sold has overpriced bedrooms. If the vacancies were more evenly distributed you’d have a stronger argument.
I'd say a train running during a pandemic with full roomettes and only one bedroom sold is a data point.

String together more than a single data point, add in some data on the selling price for the rooms that went unsold, and then maybe you can start to think about hanging an argument on it.

Until then, Occam's razor applies. The source of a bunch of empty space on a train in the middle of a pandemic might have something to do with that pandemic.
 

Exvalley

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I'd say a train running during a pandemic with full roomettes and only one bedroom sold is a data point.

String together more than a single data point, add in some data on the selling price for the rooms that went unsold, and then maybe you can start to think about hanging an argument on it.

Until then, Occam's razor applies. The source of a bunch of empty space on a train in the middle of a pandemic might have something to do with that pandemic.
Again, your argument would be more persuasive if roomettes and coach were also nearly empty. But since it was just the bedrooms in the instance, Occam's razor suggests that there is something peculiar to the bedrooms that explains the discrepancy. Price is an obvious potential factor. It is also possible that the demographic that chooses a bedroom is less likely to travel.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Again, your argument would be more persuasive if roomettes and coach were also nearly empty. But since it was just the bedrooms in the instance, Occam's razor suggests that there is something peculiar to the bedrooms that explains the discrepancy. Price is an obvious potential factor. It is also possible that the demographic that chooses a bedroom is less likely to travel.
It could be because people who normally travel the less expensive coach cars are choosing to pay extra for a private room. I’m pretty sure that a couple upgraded from coach to a roomette on one of my trains last fall.
 

Exvalley

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It could be because people who normally travel the less expensive coach cars are choosing to pay extra for a private room. I’m pretty sure that a couple upgraded from coach to a roomette on one of my trains last fall.
Very good point. But to extend that logic, wouldn't some people who normally travel in a roomette prefer a the bedroom's private bathroom/shower during a pandemic?
 

jis

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Very good point. But to extend that logic, wouldn't some people who normally travel in a roomette prefer a the bedroom's private bathroom/shower during a pandemic?
Maybe. But the Bedroom to Roomette fare difference is pretty spectacular for the limited added isolation that it confers I suppose.

Ultimately the question to pose to the Amtrak fare managers should be "How is yield management coming along?" "Are you managing to get the highest yield by whatever is it that you are doing?"
 
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Ryan

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Again, your argument would be more persuasive if roomettes and coach were also nearly empty. But since it was just the bedrooms in the instance, Occam's razor suggests that there is something peculiar to the bedrooms that explains the discrepancy. Price is an obvious potential factor. It is also possible that the demographic that chooses a bedroom is less likely to travel.
Looking at WAS-ATL (one of my most used LD trips in the past) for the next several departures, I find that I can get a roomette, but bedrooms are sold out.

Clearly roomettes are too expensive and should be cheaper, but bedrooms are priced appropriately since they're sold out.


(or, maybe one should be drawing conclusions from single data points)
 
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Bob Dylan

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I've been doing lots of test bookings for LD trips on various Amtrak Routes for the next few months, and Generally the Roomettes are Overpriced and the Bedrooms are Outrageous when paying Cash!

For example, using the Texas Eagle to CHI, and the Cardinal,Cap( with a Regional to NYP) or LSL from CHI-NYP, it would Cost me over $1200 One Way in a Roomette most days( plus a layover in Chicago on my dime since there is no same day connections. Southwest Airlines will fly me Non Stop from Austin for $250 RT to LGA or BWI !)

On some days, the Bedrooms and Family Rooms are Cheaper than the Roomettes on the Eagle to CHI, but all the Eastern Trains ( fewer Bedrooms and Roomettes) have High Bucket Fares and Point Redemption Amounts on ALL Days.( Supply and Demand)

Hopefully, once Daily Service returns on the LD Routes( along with Better Food and Beverage Service and Products)the Prices will become more " Normal"! YMMV
 
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jis

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I think it is important to know the actual load factors and yields to make any sense of it. I wish we still had the inside contacts that we enjoyed in Boardman's time. Of course one could probably file an FOIA and get some of that info, but all of it won't be subject to FOIA since they will potentially claim trade secret cover, one would imagine.
 
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