Empire Builder 2022 Outrageous Bedroom Fares

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ms garrison

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Oct 26, 2018
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One thing driving sleeper prices may be the pandemic. For those a little more concerned about COVID that can afford the high bucket fares and are too afraid to get on a flight right now - Amtrak sleepers provide a completely private room experience that's just not possible on an airline and saves you from having to drive yourself. It certainly gives you a more secure feeling than sitting inches away from a stranger on a flight - yes I understand that if everyone is masked flights have a good track record with their air filtration, but getting packed in a small space with a bunch of strangers just feels freaky in a global pandemic regardless of the science of the HVAC system.
I just cancelled a trip from Chicago to Seattle- flying there, EB back because I didn't want to have to be at Midway and on Southwest for 4 hours. When I reschedule it will be EB both ways.
 

niemi24s

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These are the current Empire Builder fare buckets for one adult between CHI and SEA. . .
EB Fares Aug 2021.jpg
. . .in order of Coach, Roomette, Family Bedroom and Bedroom. Those in square brackets are estimates. High bucket Bedroom is 2.6 times the low bucket.
 
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BigRedEO

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Looking at booking a post cruise trip home across the country from Seattle to Boston in June of 2022. What is going on with Amtrak!? By that, I mean, Amtrak used to preach about booking early! We used to hear 'You better book early for the best fares!' That is entirely false when, looking now, a bedroom on the Builder starts out at $2,396 for June 2022?? 😯😯

My questions:
Is that the "low bucket"?
Subsequently, if that is the "low bucket" fare, then what is the "high bucket" fare? Does anyone happen to have the 4 or 5 "buckets" that used to be out there as a general reference to what was being charged for a roomette or a bedroom?

$2,400 about 10 months out?

Really Amtrak...🤨🤨
Yes, the prices have gotten ridiculous. Three months ago, I booked the Zephry from Emeryville to Chicago (my final destination is Cleveland) in mid-January and a Bedroom was almost $2,400!! That's more than double what it was when I took the same route about five years ago!
 

niemi24s

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Nothing unusual about that - if you have an understanding of the bucket system. For two adults in a Bedroom just on the CHI - EMY leg of your journey there's a possibility the fares could have been a high bucket $1980 five years ago and only $1220 now for low bucket!

How 'bout them apples? :)
 

zephyr17

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Well, just for fun I looked at fares for mid-January on the CZ, and yes, Bedrooms do appear to be generally at high or second highest buckets.
But roomettes appear to be pretty consistently in low buckets. Two people each traveling in their own roomette EMY-CHI is $1126 most dates. In one roomette, it would be a total of $787.

A Bedroom is $2485 for two, which appears to be high bucket (BTW, Niemi24s, right now your November 2020 chart seems to be tracking well for roomettes on the CZ, but it appears the Bedroom buckets have crept up a bit).

If you want to pay a $1300 premium for a bedroom over two roomettes, that is fine. I understand wanting the private WC and shower. But yield management is showing variations and there is inventory in low buckets. On the CZ in January, Amtrak is clearly anticipating high Bedroom demand against the 10 room supply and much lower Roomette demand against 26 room (plus any rooms they elect to sell in the transdorm) supply. Whether they are right or not, time will tell. But they clearly are not just sticking everything in higher buckets and walking off.
 
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niemi24s

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(BTW, Niemi24s, right now your November 2020 chart seems to be tracking well for roomettes on the CZ, but it appears the Bedroom buckets have crept up a bit).
Roomette fares have not increased since Nov 2020 except for the Auto Train. The other two sleepers on all trains have increased twice since then, but it's going to be several weeks before an updated bucket chart is ready to post - maybe.

Ferreting out fares from Arrow a day at a time is sheer agony without AmSnag. Just hope I get it done before fares go up again!
 

Seaboard92

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I think @Seaboard92 would be the best equipped to say whether or not this is feasible. I've long argued that Amtrak should create some opportunity for the private sector to come in and operate scheduled differentiated services to the general public along the LD routes.

That being said, I think a lot of the PV stock at this point is highly specialized for smaller groups and will likely have to be priced dramatically higher than even the high standard sleeper fares to make economic sense for the owners.
Actually at some point in the 1990s Amtrak did experiment with this on the Pennsylvanian. They operated the JP Henderson as the Keystone Club Class. So is it doable yes. But is it practical no.

Now could some PV owners do some supplementing at peak periods. I've thought about chartering a car for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Specifically the Lake Shore Limited.
 

Tlcooper93

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Currently browsing roomette fares for a February EB trip from CHI-PDX.

Seems that fares stay at $1052 no matter the date, whether it be next week or 6 months from now.
Really makes my blood boil.
 

Sidney

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Currently browsing roomette fares for a February EB trip from CHI-PDX.

Seems that fares stay at $1052 no matter the date, whether it be next week or 6 months from now.
Really makes my blood boil.
That"s probably the roomette fare. I cannot justify paying over $1000 for a two and a half day trip. I am leaving this afternoon on the EB from Chicago to Seattle and I paid $505,the low bucket senior fare. I booked last March.
 

Tlcooper93

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That"s probably the roomette fare. I cannot justify paying over $1000 for a two and a half day trip. I am leaving this afternoon on the EB from Chicago to Seattle and I paid $505,the low bucket senior fare. I booked last March.
It only recently changed to that fare.
When I checked last August, the roomette fare was very reasonable, hovering around $600. Now, even 9 months-1 year in the future, its the same as if I booked for tomorrow.
$1052.
 

Sidney

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Low bucket fares are harder to find than Bigfoot right now.
I 'm planning a circle trip for June. Texas Eagle,Coast Starlight,Empire Builder. Roomettes.TE prices are $200 more than a few months ago ,but leaving from Bloomington saves you $240. Coach to Bloomington is $13. CS $305 to Pdx. That's where my planning hit a snag. Pdx to Chi $1000 plus. Unless prices come down to earth,I'll fly from Pdx to BWI for about $150.I'm leaving from Was in Coach on the CL.

Hopefully by next summer both the CL and TE will have traditional dining and a sightseer car.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Also puts more $ in Amtrak's pockets, which is a good thing (even though many people here disagree with that, which I find strange from a group of people who supposedly want Amtrak to succeed).
I want dependable passenger rail infrastructure to succeed. In my view that requires being priced and operated in a manner that is practical for average everyday Americans to use it on a regular basis. Coach seats are fine for young travelers on day trips but they are impractical for older travelers on long overnight journeys.
 

Sidney

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A check within the last half hour showed Roomettes from CHI to PDX are available on 1 through 9 February for $653.

While there were no low buckets ($529), they were not all high buckets. At least tonight. It pays to keep checking.
I wish Amtrak would show fares at a glance for each month,like airlines do. Going manually day by day is tiresome. Being retired,my dates are very flexible and if I can see a low bucket in a monthly calendar I'll grab it. Also,when planning circle trips it would be very convenient.
 

Barb Stout

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I wish Amtrak would show fares at a glance for each month,like airlines do. Going manually day by day is tiresome. Being retired,my dates are very flexible and if I can see a low bucket in a monthly calendar I'll grab it. Also,when planning circle trips it would be very convenient.
The airlines show fares for each day for a month? When did that start? I have not seen that. The last time I flew was December 2019. Probably purchased the tickets a few months prior to that. Maybe I just didn't/don't know how to access that information.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The airlines show fares for each day for a month? When did that start?
The first time I saw a monthly fare calendar was on Southwest.com sometime in the early 2000's. Not every airline provides their own monthly calendar but most of them publish real time fares to a global booking service which can be read by third parties. Google's travel service is based on the ITA engine and shows several months of fares from hundreds of airlines with lots of user customization that puts Amtrak's clumsy low effort booking process to shame.

 
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