Fare Buckets discussion 2023 Q4 - 2024

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The 4 vertical rows of prices are the fares for Coach (C), Roomette (R), Bedroom (B) and Family Room (FR) for each train. There a many more Coach hares than are shown, but only the fare for an additional adult is shown. No idea why the FB is less than the B. Yes, $1021 to $3408 is the current fare range for the Bedroom.
 
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Why also is the family bedroom less than a bedroom?

No idea why the FB is less than the B.
Just a simple matter of supply and demand: the Family Bedroom is not as popular. I have often seen it empty. I like it if it is not much more fare than a Roomette, but a Bedroom with a big window and its own bathroom is much preferable.
 
Out of curiosity, I did a fake book for a few dates in the near future to see where prices are for an Albuquerque, NM (ABQ) to Chicago run on the SWC. Pretty high and sold out for many dates tested, but I found a screaming deal (so to speak, for Amtrak) for the SWC departing ABQ on July 4th with rooms starting at $530 for a single adult. I tested it for Chi to ABQ on the same day, but that was $719, but the July 3rd date from Chi to ABQ had the $533 price. Meanwhile, coach class was either sold out or also around $500 for most dates tested. So if anyone wants to go to or from ABQ over the holiday in a roomette, check it out now.
 
Family Rooms lack in-room bathroom facilities. They have always been priced between Roomettes and Bedrooms ever since since Superliners were first introduced in 1979-81 (when Roomettes were Economy Bedrooms and Bedrooms were Deluxe Bedrooms).
Oh they don't have in room bathrooms?! That makes little sense, to me....especially for multiple people in the 1 room.
 
Oh they don't have in room bathrooms?! That makes little sense, to me....especially for multiple people in the 1 room.
There's really no room for a bathroom. It's only about 10 feet down the Hall past the Roomettes to where the Toliet and Shower are located next to the H Room.
 
I’ve seen Family rooms lower than roomettes. I’ve always been tempted to book one, but I feel I’ll be taking up space to a family who could use it. Only one to a car. Best part is that you can see out of both sides of the train.
Yes, I have, too. But that is when they are in lower buckets than the equivalent roomette buckets. All three accommodation types, roomettes, bedrooms, and family rooms are managed as separate inventories and allocated independently of each other. The only one that isn't is the Accessible Bedroom. It is sold at the current roomette bucket to mobility impaired individuals, and the current Bedroom bucket to the general public when opened for general sale 14 days before departure.

I have actually seen roomettes cheaper than coach seats very, very rarely and grabbed one of those once a week before departure when I substituted it for what had been planned as a road trip. Such are the vagaries of yield managing separate inventories on the same train.
 
Amtrak is catering to the well off. To me, paying $3000 or even $2000 plus in a bedroom from Chicago to Seattle,Portland,Emeryville or LA is insane. Basically a 48 hour trip with good, not great food. I used to do circle trips around the US always getting low bucket, by playing around with dates. That is getting almost impossible to do.
Amtrak sleepers are catering to the well off. IMHO there's a whole different dynamic in coach. I recall that someone here figured out that Amtrak coach is actually significantly cheaper than pre-Amtrak coach fares when adjusted for inflation. I'm sure there's plenty of people in coach for whom those old $400-600 roomette fares were just as laughably out of reach as four-figure sleeper fares are to us now.

I understand that two days in coach doesn't appeal to most, myself included. The last time I took an overnight trip in coach (City of New Orleans a few years back) merely reminded me why I always get a sleeper for overnight travel, or fly if a sleeper isn't a realistic option. But not everyone is going from Chicago to Emeryville. I've taken Amtrak coach for many day trips over the years. I also personally don't feel that flex meals are "garbage" as some do, and I've taken a round-trip in bedrooms on the Lake Shore Limited with flex dining. On the other hand and to be fair, I've flown on more than one trip not because Amtrak didn't go when/where I was going but because I didn't have enough AGR points for a bedroom for my wife and I.

I haven't tried it for a trip yet, but I've seen a tip from a pair of frequent Amtrak travelers who post a lot of YouTube videos that two roomettes across from each other is cheaper than one bedroom. You end up with no in-room shower, but that's no real loss to me. I've never used the shower in a bedroom because I don't want a wet bathroom, and haven't used the shower on the train since the late '90s when I would take the Capitol Limited for business trips between Chicago and D.C.

Fiddling on the Amtrak website with various long-distance trips from Chicago on a random day (8/4), it seems generally but not universally true that two roomettes is cheaper than one bedroom, in dollars or points. I also found a weird anomaly where a bedroom was actually cheaper than a roomette: Capitol Limited from Chicago to DC on 8/4/24!
 
Up until 9 Nov 2024 the high bucket for a Bedroom on the CL is $1141. Starting 10 Nov 2024 it rises to $1275 and seems to stay at that level for the next six months. Also on10 Nov 2024 Family Rooms are shown as sold out for the next six months.

This appears to reflect a change in the consist for the CL from Superliners to Viewliners I recall being mentioned somewhere else, but I can't find that thread.

Moderators are welcomed to move or delete this post.
 
There have been recent changes in the behavior of both Amtrak.com and railsforless.us that are useful in evaluating inventory and yield management bucket allocation.

In researching prices in response to recent posts on the SW Chief it became apparent that the second sleeper on the Chief is being withdrawn sometime before next spring, also that the Bedroom pricing is generally in higher buckets on the Chief than the Builder. I became curious about second sleepers on both and when/if they were being withdrawn.

If more than 5 Bedrooms are available, that means there is more than one standard sleeper in inventory, so I ran inquiries for Bedrooms on railsforless.us, which will give inventory counts. I quickly found that the Builder is keeping its second sleeper through next spring. I already knew the Chief was back down to one sleeper by next April and started running inquiries on railsforless.us to figure out about when.

In my first query, 8/15-9/14, I found several dates with more than five Bedrooms, which I expected for late summer. But I got sidetracked by one date, 8/21, which railsforless.us said had 7 Bedrooms available at $1951, 5th bucket. Seven bedrooms made sense, but all seven at 5th bucket, which is low-ish for the SW Chief, did not. I did not think that made sense for typical Amtrak inventory allocation patterns these days, so I switched over to Amtrak.com to see what it said.

I immediately saw 4 Bedrooms for 8 passengers worked out to $2216, 6th bucket. I also saw the "+" button was active, so I started adding rooms.

I was able to push it to all 7 rooms railsforless.us said it had and discovered Amtrak.com now has the capability to add single rooms when they cross bucket boundaries, which you could not do as recently as a month ago.

I won't go into the arithmetic, but the allocation for seven available Bedrooms on 8/21 is:
2 Bedrooms @ $1951 (5th bucket)
2 Bedrooms @ $2216 (6th bucket)
1 Bedroom @ $2523 (7th bucket)
2 Bedrooms @ $2879 (8th, high, bucket).

The behavior changes are:
1. railsforless.us is now showing total inventory, though it is now incorrectly stating it is all at the lowest open bucket.
2. You can push Amtrak.com into allocating rooms for singles over inventory allocation boundaries.

I find both these developments useful. Knowing total inventory is better than just lowest bucket inventory, and being able to find bucket allocation for all open rooms up to 8 is great.

But I haven't run the SW Chief out past September to find when the second sleeper is dropped yet, though...
 
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This appears to reflect a change in the consist for the CL from Superliners to Viewliners I recall being mentioned somewhere else, but I can't find that thread.
Nothing has been confirmed by Amtrak; it's just an assumption many of us are making based on the unavailability of both Family Rooms and lower level seating on the CL after that date, the unavailability of Silver Star travel north of WAS, and the possibility of a reduction in train capacity between NWK & NYP around that time period.
 
The behavior changes are:
1. railsforless.us is now showing total inventory, though it is now incorrectly stating it is all at the lowest open bucket.
2. You can push Amtrak.com into allocating rooms for singles over inventory allocation boundaries.
Correction, railsforless.us is showing only the total inventory for Bedrooms, but it is showing the true lowest open bucket inventory for roomettes when I started checking more. I am going to keeping poking around. The limitation of not crossing bucket lines when asking for single room on Amtrak.com also still applies to roomettes. Strange that it behaves differently for roomettes and bedrooms, but that's Amtrak IT for you.

Also, the SW Chief's second sleeper appears to come off around the end of September/sometime in October. The last day that has more than five Bedrooms available is 9/29. The first day with five available after that is 10/31. Further, on 11/9 I found five Bedrooms available starting at $1951, bucket 5, which is effectively a low-ish bucket on the SWC. I checked that date on Amtrak.com and it has 1 Bedroom at $1951, 1 Bedroom at $2216 (bucket 6), 1 Bedroom at $2523 (bucket 7) and 2 Bedrooms at $2879 (bucket 8, top). That pattern would indicate it is a completely unsold single sleeper, if five rooms in one sleeper had already been sold, I would not expect to see any inventory available at $1951. There are also no days with more than five Bedrooms over the Christmas holidays, though allocation shifts towards the top couple buckets. Finally, there are some dates in mid-December before holiday travel really kicks in at $1723, bucket 4. Friday, 12/13 has one bedroom at $1723, bucket 4, one bedroom at $1951, bucket 5 one bedroom at $2216, bucket 6, one Bedroom at $2523, bucket 7, and one Bedroom at $2879, bucket 8. Again, that is not a pattern I would expect after having sold one sleeper.
 
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Up until 9 Nov 2024 the high bucket for a Bedroom on the CL is $1141. Starting 10 Nov 2024 it rises to $1275 and seems to stay at that level for the next six months. Also on10 Nov 2024 Family Rooms are shown as sold out for the next six months.

This appears to reflect a change in the consist for the CL from Superliners to Viewliners I recall being mentioned somewhere else, but I can't find that thread.

Moderators are welcomed to move or delete this post.
Another indicator is that up until the departure of 11/10 departure of 29, most dates in early November show 10 Bedrooms available, which indicates two standard Superliner sleepers until then. As of the 11/10 departure, the maximum number of available Bedrooms is 4, consistent with 2 Viewliner sleepers. The lack of Family Rooms, the drop in available Bedrooms from 10 to 4 as well as the different price all would seem to indicate that the train's inventory in ARROW has been adjusted to reflect a Viewliner consist for 29 as of 11/10. Whether that consist materializes in the real world is another issue. It's a lot easier to change the consist back in ARROW if the theorized change is delayed or suspended than to implement a significant change in rolling stock deployment.
 
Another indicator is that up until the departure of 11/10 departure of 29, most dates in early November show 10 Bedrooms available, which indicates two standard Superliner sleepers until then. As of the 11/10 departure, the maximum number of available Bedrooms is 4, consistent with 2 Viewliner sleepers. The lack of Family Rooms, the drop in available Bedrooms from 10 to 4 as well as the different price all would seem to indicate that the train's inventory in ARROW has been adjusted to reflect a Viewliner consist for 29 as of 11/10. Whether that consist materializes in the real world is another issue. It's a lot easier to change the consist back in ARROW if the theorized change is delayed or suspended than to implement a significant change in rolling stock deployment.
‘Lower level coach’ is also not an available after this date.
 
Hi-

I support Amtrak as much as I can, but I'm way past the age and size of Coach seats so I always shop for fares at the Roomette Level and above. Recently I was pricing a trip to the Bay Area to Chicago later this Summer, Amtrak one way roomette fares From EMY-CHI were $1200-$1400, AA and UA and AS airlines all wanted the same or slighty less for a RT First class ticket. I also consider the Train oneway and fly back, but that really dosen't lessen the impact of Amtrak's pricing for their "Premium" product.

I know this has been an issue for a while but their premium pricing seems to be more out of whack then what a compititve product would be in order to compete for higher spending customers. I'm now retired so I have the time to take Amtrak on Inter-City routes and long distance trains. However I'm still buying a transportation product and can't afford to pay a 100% or more premium just because I want Amtrak to succeed.

Thanks,

Paul
 
Amtrak one way roomette fares From EMY-CHI were $1200-$1400, . . .
Roomettes on this train have eight different fares (buckets). The two you mentioned were the highest. In contrast, the two lowest fares (buckets) are $628 and $695.

Howsomever, that doesn't mean those two lowest fares are offered. FWIW, found a $775 fare offered for travel on 12 July after three or four tries. In addition...

• This site is a neat way to search for fares for a whole month (or more) with a single search: https://railforless.us/
• The last chart here shows all the different fares for all the long distance trains: https://www.amtraktrains.com/threads/long-distance-train-coach-sleeper-fares-buckets.77062/page-7

I'll let others chime in with their ideas about when the lowest fares are offered.
 
I know this has been an issue for a while but their premium pricing seems to be more out of whack then what a compititve product would be in order to compete for higher spending customers. I'm now retired so I have the time to take Amtrak on Inter-City routes and long distance trains. However I'm still buying a transportation product and can't afford to pay a 100% or more premium just because I want Amtrak to succeed.
This has been the subject of extremely extensive discussions here. I will give you the response I usually give.

Amtrak does not need you to buy a sleeper accommodation. There are others who will take your place.

Amtrak sleeping cars are not a good value proposition, I do not think anyone here contends that they are. The pricing is not rooted in the value proposition, but rather in supply and demand.

The supply of sleeping accommodations is extremely small and is insufficient to meet even the limited demand for them. This summer, the Southwest Chief has two sleepers and possibly a transdorm, I am not sure since I don't live along the route and do not see the consist, but I am sure of two standard sleepers because of the characteristics of the available inventory on the website. I'll assume a transdorm for purposes of this discussion. That means there are roughly 30 roomettes, 13 in each sleeper plus 4 revenue roomettes for sale in the transdorm, and 10 bedrooms available on each departure That's 210 roomettes and 70 bedrooms in total capacity each week. They are all usually are booked out or close to it by departure in peak travel season.

There are thousands of First Class airline seats between LA and Chicago each week.

Amtrak yield manages fares and would be doing a poor job if their perishable inventory was significantly unsold by departure. An empty room is revenue forever lost. But there are few empty rooms. Based on that result, Amtrak yield managers are not overpricing their product. Whether that mediocre, at best, product is a good value at those prices is a different question. It's not, but that question itself fundamentally moot in light of the supply and demand situation.

It's Economics 101.

I myself will not pay higher buckets, which are the $1200-1400 prices you see. Highest roomette bucket is $1624 on the SW Chief, btw, so the prices could still go up from what you found. Yet I travel sleepers regularly. I do not hold out for lowest bucket, $708 for the SW Chief, but will book in the lower and middle buckets, which would be in the $800-$1000 range, using round numbers, for the SW Chief.

If you wanted to travel in a sleeper on any Amtrak trains this summer, not just the SW Chief, you are booking far too late. Any inventory allocated to lower buckets has long since been sold and remaining inventory is in the higher buckets. Booking too early can also be a mistake. Amtrak used to almost always allocate a room or two at low bucket at inventory release 11 months in advance of departure but they have become significantly more sophisticated and aggressive in their yield management practices in recent years. 4-6 months in advance (closer to 6 for peak season) appears to be something of a sweet spot in my experience. Even then, chances of their allocating any inventory at all to the lowest bucket in peak season is slim to none.

Ride Amtrak because you like to ride trains, not because you want to "support" Amtrak. Fair warning, you will never be getting a "good" deal for your indulgence in sleepers, but you can get especially bad ones if you book late.
 
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This has been the subject of extremely extensive discussions here. I will give you the response I usually give.

Amtrak does not need you to buy a sleeper accommodation. There are others who will take your place.

Amtrak sleeping cars are not a good value proposition, I do not think anyone here contends that they are. The pricing is not rooted in the value proposition, but rather in supply and demand.

The supply of sleeping accommodations is extremely small and is insufficient to meet even the limited demand for them. This summer, the Southwest Chief has two sleepers and possibly a transdorm, I am not sure since I don't live along the route and do not see the consist, but I am sure of two standard sleepers because of the characteristics of the available inventory on the website. I'll assume a transdorm for purposes of this discussion. That means there are roughly 30 roomettes, 13 in each sleeper plus 4 revenue roomettes for sale in the transdorm, and 10 bedrooms available on each departure That's 210 roomettes and 70 bedrooms in total capacity each week. They are all usually are booked out or close to it by departure in peak travel season.

There are thousands of First Class airline seats between LA and Chicago each week.

Amtrak yield manages fares and would be doing a poor job if their perishable inventory was significantly unsold by departure. An empty room is revenue forever lost. But there are few empty rooms. Based on that result, Amtrak yield managers are not overpricing their product. Whether that mediocre, at best, product is a good value at those prices is a different question. It's not, but that question itself fundamentally moot in light of the supply and demand situation.

It's Economics 101.

I myself will not pay higher buckets, which are the $1200-1400 prices you see. Highest roomette bucket is $1624 on the SW Chief, btw, so the prices could still go up from what you found. Yet I travel sleepers regularly. I do not hold out for lowest bucket, $708 for the SW Chief, but will book in the lower and middle buckets, which would be in the $800-$1000 range, using round numbers, for the SW Chief.

If you wanted to travel in a sleeper on any Amtrak trains this summer, not just the SW Chief, you are booking far too late. Any inventory allocated to lower buckets has long since been sold and remaining inventory is in the higher buckets. Booking too early can also be a mistake. Amtrak used to almost always allocate a room or two at low bucket at inventory release 11 months in advance of departure but they have become significantly more sophisticated and aggressive in their yield management practices in recent years. 4-6 months in advance (closer to 6 for peak season) appears to be something of a sweet spot in my experience. Even then, chances of their allocating any inventory at all to the lowest bucket in peak season is slim to none.

Ride Amtrak because you like to ride trains, not because you want to "support" Amtrak. Fair warning, you will never be getting a "good" deal for your indulgence in sleepers, but you can get especially bad ones if you book late.
At 75,riding Coach is tough,but doable. I am on a rail pass now riding from Boston to San Luis Obispo. Last month using the pass I rode from New York to Chicago, then Chicago to New Orleans on the CONO and back to NY on the Crrscent My own rule of thumb is that I will not pay more than $350 for a one overnight in a roomette. That price I found on the CONO so I got a roomette to break up Coach

I am not riding more than one overnight in Coach. Decent priced hotels two miles from my stops break up the rail pass.

I would love to do a roomette again, but at $700 from New York to Chicago and $1500 from Chicago to any city on the West Coast is insane to me and I won’t do it.
 
My own rule of thumb is that I will not pay more than $350 for a one overnight in a roomette.
A quick look at the fare bucket chart indicates the CONO is your only option as a senior traveling the whole route - unless you modify your rule of thumb or shorten your trip..
 
Out of curiosity, I checked the Western routes leaving Chicago on a mid November day. I did find a $588 fare one person senior roomette for the Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland and $714 from Bloomington Il to LA on the Eagle. $12 Coach from Chicago to Bloomington. Otherwise $960 leaving from Chicago. Those low bucket fares are there, but they are getting harder to find.
 
Just checked EMY-RNO on the Zypher in late October. Lowest Roomette fare is $424, Often I would be able to get this route One Way for less than $300 for a roomette this far in advance.
 

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