Fares fair?

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caravanman

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There have been a lot of A.U. members recently complaining about the high costs of sleeper accommodations, together with the poor meals on offer...

My favourite ride is the Zephyr, and just for fun I checked some fares for later in the year.

I find that a roomette from Chicago to Sacramento is $640 in October, and only $555 in December.

I think those are comparable fares to a few years ago, or is my old age playing tricks on my memory?
 

Sidney

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The only LD routes that have skyrocketed are the SW Chief and The Texas Eagle to LA. Why?
 

Bob Dylan

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Supply and demand! Lots of folks want to go to LA and Southern California.

Same thing happens on the Florida Trains in the Winter ( directional in their cases)and the Zephyr and Empire Builder in the Summer.

I agree that the Texas Eagle and Chief Rooms have become to Pricey for what's on offer, I can't afford them, but folks are riding, so that's the way it is!
 
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Sidney

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Yeah,I know,but I can see if the price went up 50 to $75 not$280 for a roomette. You can still find $623 low buckets going East,but none from Chicago. Even booking eleven months out the fares are over $1000. Too rich for my blood. A way to save $300 from Chicago to LA is to take the Zephyr to Sacramento and a San Jouquian to Bakersfield and a bus to LA. Little bit inconvenient but quite a saving.
 

caravanman

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A lot depends on the dates... Chicago to LA:

Looking once again in December, Tuesday 7th to be accurate, the Texas Eagle roomettes are $899, but if you are prepared to change trains in San Antonio, a fare of $605 is available. Not great to have 5 hours wait during the night, but a good saving.
 

niemi24s

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The only LD routes that have skyrocketed are the SW Chief and The Texas Eagle to LA. Why?
If you search long enough you'll find they can ALL skyrocket because, for Roomettes at least, the ratio between high and low bucket fares ranges from 1.6 to 2.2.
 

zephyr17

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If you search long enough you'll find they can ALL skyrocket because, for Roomettes at least, the ratio between high and low bucket fares ranges from 1.6 to 2.2.
Low bucket roomette accommodation charge LAX-CHI on the SW Chief is about $100 higher than low bucket on the Builder SEA-CHI per your research. So the SW Chief is notably more expensive in the same yield management bucket. But that isn't a new development, that differential has been present for years.

The trip duration is roughly equivalent.
 
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Sidney

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A lot depends on the dates... Chicago to LA:

Looking once again in December, Tuesday 7th to be accurate, the Texas Eagle roomettes are $899, but if you are prepared to change trains in San Antonio, a fare of $605 is available. Not great to have 5 hours wait during the night, but a good saving.
That $605 fare is Coach to SAS and roomette to LA.
 

fillyjonk

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I had a roomette on the TE for March 2020, obviously that trip never happened for me. I got a voucher and held on to it, hoping both my mom and I would be fully vaccinated before the voucher expired. I used it just recently to get my tickets for Tuesday's trip, I paid $22 more for the roommette (both ways, $22 total increase) for May 2021 over March 2020.

I suspect it depends a LOT on when you are traveling, maybe I'd have seen more of a difference if my original ticket weren't for Spring Break Time.
 

zephyr17

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Amtrak's website is awful and gets worse with every modification.

With that said, you have to select "choose rooms" individually for each train in the presented itinerary. Coach is defaulted on all trains automatically.

However, I actually see the point of selecting accommodation by train. Quite a few people prefer to use coach for shorter runs, even overnight. For example, going in coach from New York to Chicago and a sleeper from Chicago to the West Coast. Which makes sense, especially considering the generally outrageous roomette prices on the Lakeshore. Having that option may make the difference between able to make a trip or having it be unaffordable.

The reservation system sees 21 & 1 as two separate trains on one itinerary, no different than, say, 49 and 7. The roomette prices on 421 (the reservation system's version of the through Chicago-LA cars) were too high, so he chose a different option.

That the UI could be better is indisputable, though.
 
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Sidney

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I had a roomette on the TE for March 2020, obviously that trip never happened for me. I got a voucher and held on to it, hoping both my mom and I would be fully vaccinated before the voucher expired. I used it just recently to get my tickets for Tuesday's trip, I paid $22 more for the roommette (both ways, $22 total increase) for May 2021 over March 2020.

I suspect it depends a LOT on when you are traveling, maybe I'd have seen more of a difference if my original ticket weren't for Spring Break Time.
The fares on the Texas Eagle jumped $270 two weeks ago. From.Chi to Lax it is now $899. It was $623. Quite a steep hike.
 

zephyr17

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The fares on the Texas Eagle jumped $270 two weeks ago. From.Chi to Lax it is now $899. It was $623. Quite a steep hike.
Yield management bucket jump, not a general fare jump. Those happen all the time, and are (or should be) demand driven. Fares move into higher buckets as inventory is sold, or Amtrak reallocates inventory in each bucket for anticipated demand. Goes the other way if anticipated demand doesn't materialize.

Per Niemi24's chart, it went from low bucket to the middle bucket. Could go to high bucket $1185.
 
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zephyr17

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$899 is now low bucket on the Eagle from Chi to Lax.
Well, I will not discount the possibility they have decided not to release any inventory in the lowest two buckets, especially since there is only one through sleeper and several intermediate points that generate demand on 421/422. They have declined to offer low buckets at all many times in the past on several trains, well in advance, if they anticipate high demand. They also have largely stopped putting out the inventory initially in the lowest bucket in many cases.

Things are pretty disrupted now. With other trains just coming off three days a week and post-COVID travel demand possibly high. It could be that Amtrak's yield management folks have decided to put the limited inventory on 421/422 starting in the middle bucket for the time being as they see how the situation develops.

If memory serves, low bucket on the through Texas Eagle cars was always a lot rarer than on either the Sunset or the San Antonio TE cars, or the SW Chief.

Since it lined up precisely with the existing middle bucket (general fare increases tend not to do that, and are also not so extreme) and no other trains appear to have had such a shift, I still contend it is probably an inventory management move. While in the short term that amounts to the same thing as a straight up increase, in the longer term it allows for the possibility that they'll reopen the lower buckets if anticipated demand doesn't develop at the current price point.

I would tend to believe it an actual bucket shift if there is a day the price is higher than the $1185 of the current high bucket.

I will say at that price and without the SSL, I won't be filling my Texas Eagle gap on my Amtrak long distance experiences any time soon.
 
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niemi24s

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$899 is now low bucket on the Eagle from Chi to Lax.
Your terminology is lacking. $899 is not low bucket but no doubt the lowest bucket you've seen offered on a limited search.

Low bucket is, in reality, the $623 which you previously mentioned. You must realize that the bucket that's offered can change from day to day - or even every day. Here's an example from an AnSnag search. . .

NYP-CHIa.jpg
. . .showing each of the five buckets during a five day period. No reason at all to get your shorts in a wad when fares double from one search to the next. It happens all the time - especially for Roomettes. On the other hand I've seen Family Bedrooms stay at high bucket for weeks on end.
 

Sidney

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I have seen a few $623 fares on the Southwest Chief Eastbound from LA. I may have missed a few days but I checked almost every day from Chicago to LA on the Chief and TE and nothing is lower than $899 all the way through next April.
 

zephyr17

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Niemi24, fyi, in the absence of Amsnag I did a couple of phantom reservations in what should be low demand periods, early November when I recently got my low bucket EB and LSL fares, plus mid-January, and early February. All the dates I tried came up at $899. I do agree with you that $899 is not the low bucket, just the lowest available bucket. But I also honestly think that Amtrak may just not be putting any inventory in the two lower buckets on 421/422 right now, based on those random samples of what should be low demand days. I have theories of why they might do this, but no firm knowledge. I hold hope they put some inventory into the lower bucket as actual demand develops (or doesn't). If they can sell them in middle bucket, why offer them in the low bucket? But whether or not they can remains to be seen. And they may blink.
 

bms

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Niemi24, fyi, in the absence of Amsnag I did a couple of phantom reservations in what should be low demand periods, early November when I recently got my low bucket EB and LSL fares, plus mid-January, and early February. All the dates I tried came up at $899. I do agree with you that $899 is not the low bucket, just the lowest available bucket. But I also honestly think that Amtrak may just not be putting any inventory in the two lower buckets on 421/422 right now, based on those random samples of what should be low demand days. I have theories of why they might do this, but no firm knowledge. I hold hope they put some inventory into the lower bucket as actual demand develops (or doesn't). If they can sell them in middle bucket, why offer them in the low bucket? But whether or not they can remains to be seen. And they may blink.
You used to be able to get the low bucket by booking 5 months out, but I'm seeing some fares over $1000 for trains 5 months out that are 6% or 12% full. A lot of times it's cheaper to take the Builder and change to the Starlight in Portland, even though it has to cost Amtrak more to take people on a three-night trip than a two-night trip.
 

bms

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How do you know how fully booked the sleepers are? That is something I'd like to be able to figure out.
That's just the percent full for the whole train on the site. Can't imagine there are many sleepers booked if the whole train is only 6% full.
 

zephyr17

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You'd be surprised with the pandemic. There was a post either here or on one of the Amtrak oriented Facebook groups within the last couple days about a train with like 12 people in coaches and the sleepers were full.

I can probably find it again if I look for it.
 

caravanman

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How do you know how fully booked the sleepers are? That is something I'd like to be able to figure out.
One method I used, was to "pretend" that I wanted to book more passengers than just myself into the bedrooms. May not be a 100% perfect solution, but one gets a feel for the availability of sleepers on a train...
 

AmtrakBlue

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That's just the percent full for the whole train on the site. Can't imagine there are many sleepers booked if the whole train is only 6% full.
The percentage MAY be only for coach since people like to know if they’ll be stuck with a seat mate.
 
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