Is it to soon to be booking a cross country trip in Sept?

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piedpiper

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I want to take my wife to San Diego so she can see/meet her grandson and great granddaughter. This virus has sure mucked things up. Thinking of using that stimulus checks to pay for the trip.
 

pennyk

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I would not be booking a cross country trip right now. I currently have reservations for upcoming America by Rail tour in May and a cross country trip in October. I assume that America by Rail will cancel the May tour (in fact I do not know why they are waiting) and I will play things by ear to see if the Gathering is canceled (and I will cancel the October trip). Even though I am over 60, I think the advice to avoid traveling applies to those younger than 60.
 

tomfuller

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If you are OK with coach travel, you could each get a 15 or 30 day USA Rail Pass. You can decide later when you want to go and what routes. You have to use it within a year. You can also get your $ back or get a voucher.
 

IndyLions

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The travel situation will likely not be clear for months, in my opinion.
The most optimistic projections show a vaccine sometime in September. Assuming it could be late and/or take weeks/months to deploy, things could still be ugly as we approach Thanksgiving.

But really, nobody knows. If they say they know, they are exaggerating at best. :)

One thing that is likely, however is that travel deals will be out there to be had for some time. I’d be patient...
 

Maglev

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Like Penny, I also have my tickets for the Gathering in October. I'm watching Amtrak's cancellation policy as it is modified for COVID-19, and I now have until May 31 to cancel without penalty. That gives almost two months to see how this plays out. If you're okay with forking over some cash now, I have seen that five months out the fares often drop, so if it's a good deal--go for it and then re-evaluate at the end of May (or later if Amtrak modifies their cancellation policy again).
 

anumberone

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You have plenty of time to make a good decision later. Right now let’s all get through this stage safely
 

F900ElCapitan

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I would say your odds are pretty good to be booking for September. These viruses typically have about a 2-4 month run and die off. Might this be the exception? Maybe, and if it is, my guess is Amtrak will extend their cancellation with no fees. But with the number of people actually booking travel right now, I imagine there isn’t any hurry unless you see a good low-bucket fare that you want.
 

jebr

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My reading of the coronavirus waiver on Amtrak is that any booking made before May 31 will be able to be changed (or cancelled, I think) without a fee, even if the trip (or the cancellation request) comes after May 31. This is roughly in line with airline policies, which are allowing free changes on all tickets booked between sometime in early March until a later date (currently May 31 for most airlines.)

That said, it'd be more prudent to save the stimulus checks, and use them once the situation becomes clearer as to whether it's advisable to travel in September.
 

tricia

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IIRC, unlike the airlines Amtrak will allow cancellation without penalty for reservations made before March 1. Those of us who bought airline tickets in February for travel in June or July can't at this point cancel freely.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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I’m probably one of the biggest Amtrak advocates around but farewise I can’t rationalize any Amtrak trips this year. My wife and our two daughters ages 2.5 years and 3 months do at least 3-4 trips a year from Galesburg or Chicago to Los Angeles to see the family. Always take the train once in the summer and over the Christmas holidays. Amtrak fares are officially insane now. Last year we got a low bucket fare on Dec 23rd arrived in LA Christmas morning perfect trip and train wasn’t that busy. Returned on Dec 30 again at low bucket. Booked about 6 months out. Paid $1337 RT for the 3 of us at the time.

This year it’s about $1300-1500 each way for the family room or $2550 one way for a bedroom on the 23rd. The cheapest date around the holidays from GBB is Dec 19th is $1383 one way for the family room or 47,000 points. The crazy thing is the family bedroom 12/23 is $1500 ow as I stated earlier but 109,000 points. So apparently AGR points are devalued by over half peak periods now. Insane.

I ended up buying RT tickets on United Moline-Chicago-LAX Dec 22-29 for $640 TOTAL for all 4 of us, got great times to. I couldn’t rationalize spending $3000 round trip on Amtrak.

Planning another trip in August assuming its safe to travel. Amtrak fares are the same high prices as above. If we drive to Chicago United is offering $49 one way tickets through September ORD-LAX on most of their 10 plus flights a day. April they‘re $29 one way and June $39 one way. Spirit is offering $14.29 ord to lax as well through June. All these fares are changeable if need be.

Im not advocating Amtrak lower fares to next to nothing like Spirit is for spring travel. People shouldn’t be traveling now. But like United, Amtrak should offer some deep discount fares starting in July for 6 months to drum up cash and introduce people to rail travel. As it is now Amtrak’s pricing the majority of people and long time customers out.
 

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Albi

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Thank you for this thread!
I, too, was thinking about spending my stimulus money on Amtrak, expecting to get very good deals for the summer. Imagine my shock when I checked the rates!!!

I usually fly from gig to gig (covering all US states) and my clients pay for that. I would love to go by train but my clients wouldn't accept paying those rates, lol. Flying is always cheaper, so I have to fly when working.

But Amtrak long distance is so much more fun and relaxing, so I thought I'd hop on a few trains around the country with that extra money. You know, from Austin to LA, from LA to Seattle, from Seattle to Chicago, like that.
Guess what!? Those $1200 won't get me far.
This is not cool! What are they thinking?
 

Shanghai

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I too have booked my train travel to the Gathering and a trip to Chicago in early August. Also, train from New York to Florida in late August. I hope I do not have to cancel. I canceled my March trip to Dallas and Emeryville and received a full refund.
 

IndyLions

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I find it puzzling that there are (apparently) so few lower bucket fares available these days.
My guess is they haven’t modified their pricing algorithm and this is how it is reacting to this highly unusual situation that was unanticipated and not accounted for...
 

AmtrakBlue

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I find it puzzling that there are (apparently) so few lower bucket fares available these days.
My guess is they haven’t modified their pricing algorithm and this is how it is reacting to this highly unusual situation that was unanticipated and not accounted for...
Why should they lose more money by lowering the prices on the few seats they're selling?
 

Maglev

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I did a random check for ten days out, and the fare from Seattle to Kissimmee in a Bedroom is $1861--about half of what it was for a date next winter ($3938). When someone last posted that there were no good fares, I was similarly able to find good fares for travel in the near future. I think low fares are available because of low demand, but there is still high demand for future travel at peak times.
 

jebr

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I wasn’t implying they should lose money...If future bookings are at an all time low - I would think they’d want to start adjusting some fares to reverse that.
Short-term bookings will stay low until non-essential travel is allowed again. For bookings in the next few weeks, Amtrak could offer absurdly low rates and they still likely wouldn't get many takers, not to mention it'd be irresponsible to encourage non-essential travel for close-in bookings at this time.

As for long-term, if Amtrak has enough liquidity to ride out the next few months, it'd be better to wait and see. Sure, you might be able to get $300 now for a room in August, but if travel restrictions are loosened in May or June that room might be able to sell for $600 or $700, and you still have plenty of time to sell it at $300 close-in if you have no takers at the higher price point. However, if travel restrictions stay in place through the summer, then you're having to refund that money anyways when the trip is cancelled, which just puts you back at square one. Better to wait it out, and once it's safe to travel again offer sales fares then to entice people to book on Amtrak.
 

lonewolfette9847

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I booked for late August from Albany NY to Philly. I have hope that time will bring change for the better. Anything can happen. And if you book now, you can cancel with no fees through 5/31.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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So I just followed through and booked our August trip to Cali on United for 49 bucks each way. I really wanted to take the train but it’s even more expensive than the fares I was complaining about at Christmas. Aug 6th $3941 one way Galesburg to Sacramento for 2 adults, a 2 year old and a ”free“ infant. Close to $7900RT for a bedroom or just under $5000 for the family room. There’s nothing first class about Amtrak that warrants those prices.

How does Amtrak plan on salvaging any of the summer at these rates when the airlines are selling the same dates for 75% less. People are stuck indoors with time on their hands planning late summer trips. Amtrak will not be a part of those trips. This mismanagement irks me as much as anything else Anderson or the bean counters have done to destroy ridership. Are they truly in a bubble or just don’t care?

I get the reasons posted above by others for not having a true fire sale. Possible refunds, etc but these fares are not appropriate now or at anytime by this version of Amtrak.
 

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tricia

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So I just followed through and booked our August trip to Cali on United for 49 bucks each way. I really wanted to take the train but it’s even more expensive than the fares I was complaining about at Christmas. Aug 6th $3941 one way Galesburg to Sacramento for 2 adults, a 2 year old and a ”free“ infant. Close to $7900RT for a bedroom or just under $5000 for the family room. There’s nothing first class about Amtrak that warrants those prices.

How does Amtrak plan on salvaging any of the summer at these rates when the airlines are selling the same dates for 75% less. People are stuck indoors with time on their hands planning late summer trips. Amtrak will not be a part of those trips. This mismanagement irks me as much as anything else Anderson or the bean counters have done to destroy ridership. Are they truly in a bubble or just don’t care?

I get the reasons posted above by others for not having a true fire sale. Possible refunds, etc but these fares are not appropriate now or at anytime by this version of Amtrak.
This seems to me like a sort of price gouging: Amtrak waives cancellations fees ... then raises prices so that many or most folks will have to pay more (perhaps a LOT more) to buy tickets for the same itinerary later.

Edit to add: Or maybe this is Amtrak's way of saying "we have no idea what demand will be like later this year, so we'll price tickets high enough to discourage you from buying them until we can figure out how much we can get away with charging you then."
 
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lonewolfette9847

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When I bought my August biz class tix they were the exact same price as my tix had been. Maybe it’s the seats or the NEC?
 

IndyLions

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Maybe the airlines are having fire sales because they are desperate for operating cash now. Remember, their cash flow model is to take everybody’s money now and use it, months before (at least for tourists) they have to actually transport them. For business travelers, it’s probably more like 2-4 weeks in advance.
 
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