Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets)

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Cal

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So, is there no rhyme or reason on how to find out what the low bucket fares actually are, or when they are going to be offered? IF they are going to be offered? It may have been mentioned previously and my apologies if it has but I thought that in years past, it was based on supply and demand: example: they have 5 bedrooms, priced low bucket to high bucket, and when low bucket sells then it goes to the next tier up and so on? It seems that now Amtrak is just going right for the kill and pricing everyone out even if you are planning months out ahead. So then this garbage about "book ahead" and "book early for the best fares" is just that, garbage. It might hold some truth to the coach fares, but not at all to the roommettes or bedrooms. You mileage may vary.
I believe yield management currently starts them off at high bucket, then a few months in they will change based on sales.
 

Ryan

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So, is there no rhyme or reason on how to find out what the low bucket fares actually are, or when they are going to be offered?
Depends on the train, but basically yes. If a train is going to sell out at top prices, there's no reason to sell rooms for cheaper.

Sometimes, some trains, a few months out (5-6) you may see cheaper prices if sales are behind what the revenue managers predict.
 

JC_620

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I believe yield management currently starts them off at high bucket, then a few months in they will change based on sales.
I see. Interesting. One could argue that they are just trying to maximize profits especially after the pandemic. But, the savvy Amtraker who knows about low buckets and high buckets will still try and search for the best fares.
 

sttom

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I see. Interesting. One could argue that they are just trying to maximize profits especially after the pandemic. But, the savvy Amtraker who knows about low buckets and high buckets will still try and search for the best fares.

Another reason why yield management algorithms price things high and lower them is to prevent capacity from selling out immediately. Airlines do this too to some extent. For example it being high at one point, lower say 6 months out or when they think tourists are buying space, adjust then based on capacity, and then increase to extremely high as the date approaches and then go cheap on the day of just to sell the space. And all of this is based on hsitorical sales and market research.
 

JC_620

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Another reason why yield management algorithms price things high and lower them is to prevent capacity from selling out immediately. Airlines do this too to some extent. For example it being high at one point, lower say 6 months out or when they think tourists are buying space, adjust then based on capacity, and then increase to extremely high as the date approaches and then go cheap on the day of just to sell the space. And all of this is based on hsitorical sales and market research.
I understand what you are saying. But have you ever checked out the bedroom prices on the day of or on a next day departure say on the Zephyr or the Builder? I have, just out of curiosity and lately for the dates that I had looked at, they were all that high bucket fare.
 

JC_620

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Another reason why yield management algorithms price things high and lower them is to prevent capacity from selling out immediately. Airlines do this too to some extent. For example it being high at one point, lower say 6 months out or when they think tourists are buying space, adjust then based on capacity, and then increase to extremely high as the date approaches and then go cheap on the day of just to sell the space. And all of this is based on hsitorical sales and market research.
Example: Checked #6 between Emeryville and Chicago for Tuesday. Bedroom is $2,485 or so. They haven't dropped it. Not yet anyways. I doubt they will either.
 

sttom

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Example: Checked #6 between Emeryville and Chicago for Tuesday. Bedroom is $2,485 or so. They haven't dropped it. Not yet anyways. I doubt they will either.
Amtrak doesn't do the last step. Airlines tend to depending on what the yield managing spirits say on any given day.
 

niemi24s

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Amtrak doesn't do the last step.
If by "last step" you mean offer the low, lower or lowest bucket just before departure, I'd not be too hasty with such a statement.

F'rinstance, Amtrak is now offering a Bedroom on the LSL departing NYP about 2 hours from now for $858. While that fare is not the low bucket fare (I estimate the low bucket fare to be about $678) I have never seen that low bucket fare offered. I've seen all four higher buckets offered for a Bedroom ($858, 1034, 1215, and 1397) but not once have I seen anything less than $858 offered after 3 or 4 months of searches entailing what must be many hundreds of Arrow searches.

But perhaps you meant something else when writing "last step"?

FWIW, the companion train of the LSL with the same buckets is the Cardinal and after a similar huge number of searches I have never seen any Bedroom fare other than high bucket ($1397) offered.

Maybe those lower/lowest bucket fares are out there somewhere, but I've never spotted them.
 
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niemi24s

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Below find the latest fare bucket chart with estimated fares in square brackets:
36 - 2 Nov 2021 Amtrak Fare Buckets.jpg
Note that 32 of these fares are estimates. Glad to hear from anybody who can either confirm or pin down any of them so the [ ] can be removed.

Coach fares for NER 66/67 are beyond my comprehension: have seen $35, $46, $58 and $81 labeled as Saver fares; $166 is what's added for the second person in a room, so it gets the > symbol; but $166 is close to the highest bucket yet seen of $171; and 10 (not the usual 6) different Coach buckets have been observed!
 
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cheerose

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@niemi24s - First of all, love the chart -- I think that I have been going a bit cross-eyed reviewing fare for a potential trip next year and this clears some things up.

Couple of updates that I've noticed (couple of days ago) -- For Coach, CS is 98 / 123 & Cres is 137 / 171

I do have some questions regarding the chart -- mainly How would you use this chart in trip planning?
For example, if I see a Sleeper at a High end of the price range, I should wait (or buy and plan to re-book at a lower price later) and, conversely, if it is at the Low range, buy now and don't expect it to drop ?

How about with different dates (close to each other), where a sleeper class might be high price on some days, but low price on a couple ?

Apologies if these/similar questions were asked earlier in the thread.
 

niemi24s

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Thanks for the kind words and for the fare updates.

If the sleeper you want is is at, say, middle bucket there's some chance it may never go go down. It could stay the same or go up and I know of no way to know which of the three will occur. If it's at low bucket buy it because it can't go any lower - Amtrak sales don't apply to sleepers.

If it's high priced some days then low priced the next few and your dates are flexible - take your pick! If there's no flexibility either buy the ticket at the current high rate, wait for a possible fare drop or pick another mode of travel.

If you buy a sleeper at one of the higher fares, check periodically for price drops. If the price drops call AGR and have the fare MODIFED to the lower one. They'll refund you the difference.
 

niemi24s

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Please take note of the following errors on the chart in Post #84:

• Change CS Saver Coach fare from 99 to 101
• Change EB (PDX) middle bucket Roomette fare from 884 to 769
 

niemi24s

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I believe they are, but not perfectly so. That's because I don't think the ratio of points/dollar remains constant across the board. However, as a general rule, it seems the points/dollar ratio is 35.5/1.
• But on days when Saver Coach fares are offered, that ratio is higher because it seems like points are charged on the basis of the next higher bucket or the Value Coach fare
• For sleeper fares, that 35.5/1 ratio holds true except when it doesn't hold true. F'rinstance on tomorrows CONO from CHI to NOL, the Bedroom fare for one adult is $534 or 37, 914 points for a ratio of 71.0/1 - twice the norm. But for the next day (4 Jan) the ratio is back down to the 35.5/1 norm.

But perhaps someone else has a better answer for you. AGR points have always mystified me.

[edit] Re-checked the CONO fares this (next) morning of 3 Jan 2022 for travel today and the same situation exists. Bedrooms are still 37,914 points and even worse is a Roomette for 50,481 points, as shown below:
CONO 3 Jan 2022 Points.jpg

The Coach fare is also terribly inflated because the Value fare is $138 which at the customary 35.5/1 ratio would be 4899 points. But after this initial selection, if a different accommodation is selected and a return made to Roomette, the point values in the box to the right of the illustration appear to return to normal while that inflated "Rooms from 50,481 pts" figure remains the same. That 50,481 point cost shown above works out to $1422 which is more than four times the high bucket!

Tried a dummy booking to see if Arrow would actually charge me 50,481 for a Roomette, but didn't have enough points to proceed with the transaction.

Anyhoo, this might be the only time anything like this has ever occurred. Then again, . . . . .
 
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This is going back at least a decade or more. But I was told at the time that if a roomette or bedroom was sold at a higher bucket level, and then the passenger cancelled, the roomette or bedroom was made available at the lowest bucket price, even if it had been sold at the highest bucket level.

The phone representative (I don't think Julie was even a gleam in her creator's eye at the time) told me to call each day at a specific time after midnight (1:30 AM? 3:00 AM?), which was when the cancellations all got put back on to "available status." I recall doing this for days and finally scoring a roomette at a cheaper price.

My guess is this is no longer the case. Anyone?
 

Keith1951

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I don't know if that's true or not. We made plans to take a train to San Fran and I started checking every day during fall of 2021 for superliner bedroom prices on the CZ, CHI to EMY for May 2022. Prices were too much. Then one day I said I was going to wake up in the middle of the night and check the website and out of the blue I caught one for $1194. Almost a thousand dollars cheaper. Thats a good deal as far as I am concerned. But the closer the date gets I worry because of all the cancellations going on. I just hope they don't take this away and make me pay more for a different date.
 
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I don't know if that's true or not. We made plans to take a train to San Fran and I started checking every day during fall of 2021 for superliner bedroom prices on the CZ, CHI to EMY for May 2022. Prices were too much. Then one day I said I was going to wake up in the middle of the night and check the website and out of the blue I caught one for $1194. Almost a thousand dollars cheaper. Thats a good deal as far as I am concerned. But the closer the date gets I worry because of all the cancellations going on. I just hope they don't take this away and make me pay more for a different date.
If Amtrak cancels your train they will provide same accommodations on a different date with no cost difference. This has been their policy and all agents should know it... especially if they are fielding many calls from folks needing to reschedule due to those cancellations.
 

river

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Regarding sleeper prices dropping due to cancellation or at the last minute:
Our trip was earlier this week on the Southwest Chief from LAX to CHI. For a week or two before we left, I checked several times every day to see if my highest bucket reserved family bedroom or possibly a bedroom might happen to become available at a lower bucket. (When I needed to purchase, they were all at the highest bucket as the chart above indicates. I reserved the family bedroom for the two of us as it was a few hundred $ cheaper than the bedroom.)
About a week before departure a bedroom popped up at the LOWEST bucket. So I promptly modified my reservation online to switch from the family bedroom to a bedroom. I was assigned Bedroom D. Happily I also got an immediate and very substantial voucher of more than $800. And after I successfully made the switch the bedrooms remaining were listed at the highest bucket again. The returned family bedroom also remained in the highest bucket.
So it's very possible that the cancellation brought the cancelled room to the lowest bucket. Also possible (and I think most likely) is that the cancelled bedroom was purchased at the lowest bucket rate and that's how it returned into the available rooms.
Happy it happened and always worth checking throughout the day to see if you can score a good last minute deal like I did!
 
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Michigan Mom

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Regarding sleeper prices dropping due to cancellation or at the last minute:
Our trip was earlier this week on the Southwest Chief from LAX to CHI. For a week or two before we left, I checked several times every day to see if my highest bucket reserved family bedroom or possibly a bedroom might happen to become available at a lower bucket. (When I needed to purchase, they were all at the highest bucket as the chart above indicates. I reserved the family bedroom for the two of us as it was a few hundred $ cheaper than the bedroom.)
About a week before departure a bedroom popped up at the LOWEST bucket. So I promptly modified my reservation online to switch from the family bedroom to a bedroom. I was assigned Bedroom D. Happily I also got an immediate and very substantial voucher of more than $800. And after I successfully made the switch the bedrooms remaining were listed at the highest bucket again. The returned family bedroom also remained in the highest bucket.
So it's very possible that the cancellation brought the cancelled room to the lowest bucket. Also possible (and I think most likely) is that the cancelled bedroom was purchased at the lowest bucket rate and that's how it returned into the available rooms.
Happy it happened and always worth checking throughout the day to see if you can score a good last minute deal like I did!

Do you check using the App or on the Desktop site?
 
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