Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets)

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river

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I just use my laptop and go to the Amtrak.com page for tickets and reservations and type in my 'from' and 'to' and my depart date. I prefer using my laptop rather than my iphone. Much quicker, larger page, and easier to read. Also easy and quick access to modify reservation tab at the top of the screen.

Also I've read that you need to call Amtrak on the phone to make changes or get price adjustments in circumstances like this. I've often had a long wait to get an agent, so I attempted to make room changes with price adjustments like these on the modify reservation page and was successful in doing so twice now in recent months. (First time I got a refund to my credit card; second time when trip was within 10 days or less I received a voucher. Both times it was immediate.)
 
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joelkfla

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Nice grab! That might become less lucrative when the change fee kicks in next month.
I thought sleeper fares were always exempted from change fees.

Here's what was on the web site in April 2020:
Class of Service: Sleeper Accommodations

  • Refunds: Refund to original form of payment with 25% fee if canceled 15 or more days before departure. Within 14 days of departure only refundable to non-refundable eVoucher with a 25% cancellation fee.
  • No change fee
 

JC_620

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Just took a look at #6 out of Reno to Chicago for December for a bedroom. All high bucket fares at $2239. Roomettes are flexible but bedroom are mostly high bucket firm.
Even upcoming departures next week are all high bucket. My guess is if they can get away with selling them at high bucket, then they are going to maximize their profits and do just that.
 
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EB from PDX: Today, 3/24, there is a bedroom available on 3/27 for $929. Looks like low bucket.
And on 3/28 there are 3 Rooms available at the low bucket of $529
Interestingly, on 3/27 a room is available at $935 while a bedroom as noted is available at $929
 
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JC_620

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EB from PDX: Today, 3/24, there is a bedroom available on 3/27 for $929. Looks like low bucket.
And on 3/28 there are 3 Rooms available at the low bucket of $529
Interestingly, on 3/27 a room is available at $935 while a bedroom as noted is available at $929
Funny, I just checked and now it says that 3/29 bedroom is $1176.
They don't last long at all...
 

niemi24s

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Here's an updated version of the fare bucket chart:
36.2 - 14 Apr 2022 Amtrak Fare Buckets.jpg
Still not sure what to make of the fares for NER 66/67. When they did show up in months past they were illogical and seemed to have no set pattern. Lately, they don't even show up. May delete it the next wholesale fare increase.
 
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daybeers

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Here's an updated version of the fare bucket chart:View attachment 28096
Still not sure what to make of the fares for NER 66/67. When they did show up in months past they were illogical and seemed to have no set pattern. Lately, they don't even show up. May delete it the next wholesale fare increase.
Thanks for the update! I really appreciate this work. Like I've said before, if you ever need help finding fares, let me know. The high bucket LSL NYP-CHI bedroom fare is $1,497, BOS-CHI bedroom high bucket is $1,512!! 😭 The LSL BOS bedroom fares on your chart are also slightly out of order.
 

niemi24s

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Thanks for those corrections. Did you happen to spot anything but high bucket Bedrooms on either of those LSL's?

I just spent about 30 fruitless minutes looking for some. Like a lot of other trains, looks like lower bucket Bedrooms are scarce as hens teeth. Hope to correct the chart before edit time is up tomorrow.

[Edit: Errors noted by daybeers corrected on chart in Post $107. There may be others.]
[Edit 2: While doing some spot checks, just discovered the R and FB buckets for the CL are now invalid! And because all I could find were the high bucket fares any estimates for the four lower buckets would be pretty iffy. If anyone spots a Roomette fare lower than $643 or a Family Bedroom fare lower than $846 on the CL please let me know and I'll derive some estimates. Thanks in advance.]
 
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daybeers

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Thanks for those corrections. Did you happen to spot anything but high bucket Bedrooms on either of those LSL's?

I just spent about 30 fruitless minutes looking for some. Like a lot of other trains, looks like lower bucket Bedrooms are scarce as hens teeth. Hope to correct the chart before edit time is up tomorrow.

[Edit: Errors noted by daybeers corrected on chart in Post $107. There may be others.]
No, not for bedrooms. You're right they are incredibly rare.
 

niemi24s

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Here's the chart with fares for the SL and CL amended:
36.3 - 17 Apr 2022 Amtrak Fare Buckets.jpg
With only a single FB fare found on the CL, those 4 other FB estimates are quite iffy.
 
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ja5151

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That chart is really helpful. I appreciate being able to see all of the possible bucket prices in one place.

I have 88,000 AGR points and am always looking for lower bucket fares on the roomettes (on the western LD trains), although it seems they've been near impossible to find lately. Is there any "sweet spot" of X number of months ahead of time where you're more likely to find a good deal?

Believe it or not, early last year I was able to book 2 roomettes for 4 people, using a single Companion Coupon code to give 2 of us a free ride. Which is weird because everyone tells me that you can never use coupons when redeeming AGR points. Maybe it was a glitch in the system when they were extending coupons due to COVID?
 

niemi24s

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That chart is really helpful. I appreciate being able to see all of the possible bucket prices in one place.
Thanks for the kind words.
Is there any "sweet spot" of X number of months ahead of time where you're more likely to find a good deal?
Nowadays, for most trains, it seems like low bucket fares are only available within a few days of departure and then mainly for Roomettes. There are some trains (Crescent and Zephyr come to mind) where Bedrooms are consistently high bucket anytime during the 11 month availability period.

And as Arrow limits searches to about 30 consecutive single day searches before halting the process with its...
We've experienced an unknown error. Try again later or call us at 1-800-USA-RAIL.
... searching all 11 months for a low bucket fare is an absolutely mind-numbing process.
 
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joelkfla

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Thanks for the kind words.

Nowadays, for most trains, it seems like low bucket fares are only available within a few days of departure and then mainly for Roomettes. There are some trains (Crescent and Zephyr come to mind) where Bedrooms are consistently high bucket anytime during the 11 month availability period.

And as Arrow limits searches to about 30 consecutive single day searches before halting the process with its...

... searching all 11 months for a low bucket fare is an absolutely mind-numbing process.
H-rooms on the Silver Star at the handicapped rate dropped about 3 weeks before the departure date. I didn't check Roomettes, but I would guess they probably dropped at the same time.
 

niemi24s

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H-rooms on the Silver Star at the handicapped rate dropped about 3 weeks before the departure date. I didn't check Roomettes, but I would guess they probably dropped at the same time.
It's pure folly to guess about Amtrak fares. A crude spot check just now for Roomettes on the Silver Star indicates they're first offered at the low bucket rate of $492 and remain at low bucket until several weeks before departure - then rise a bucket or two.

You can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to happen the most.
 

jis

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It's pure folly to guess about Amtrak fares. A crude spot check just now for Roomettes on the Silver Star indicates they're first offered at the low bucket rate of $492 and remain at low bucket until several weeks before departure - then rise a bucket or two.

You can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to happen the most.
Right. In general it is possible to get a RT from Florida to New York for around $1000 in Roomette. I have noiw traveled at that fare point a couple of times, and will be doing again around the last weekend of June.
 

niemi24s

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New and much faster computer makes fare searches less tiresome, so found the following trains were the only ones for which all sleeper fares were initially offered at high bucket in both travel directions for travel on either 19 or 20 April 2023: LSL (NYP or BOS), CS, EB (SEA or PDX), CL and AT.

Only the TE, SL and CRES lacked any high bucket offerings on those dates, the farthest out.

Note that this is a time-sensitive snapshot of fares - could be all different tomorrow.
 
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zephyr17

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Just a short note, if booking through on multiple trains there IS a break on the rail fares. On my upcoming trip in November between NYP-SEA, the two segments LSL and EB come up to 1740 searched separately (all high bucket now). If booked on one reservation, even if booked as separate segments on Multi-City, it comes up to 1705, difference all in rail fare, no change in accommodation charges. It only works on a direct, same day connection. If you want to layover (always the safe option), you'll be hit with the full rail fare.

BTW, since still 6 months out, I am still monitoring, hoping for Amtrak yield managers to reallocate some inventory out of high bucket since we just entered the period when they might do it. I am kinda willing to accept high bucket for the LSL, since it so often is, not so much for the Builder.
 

zephyr17

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Also, one little, and obvious, trick to check whether they have actually sold space when it is high buckets is to put more travelers and select a roomette for each (it'll default to 2 in each, but you can add roomettes up to the number in the party). The max appears to be 8 on one web reservation attempt.

I just tried this on the Builder for my November trip and there are at least 8 roomettes available on that date. Given that the train is likely only running one revenue sleeper and a transdorm, that means out of 18 possible roomettes (14 in 30, 4 in transdorm) at most 10 have sold, which I do not find likely this far out. So I will continue to take my chances on waiting.

I may try to trick it and log on using one device on my VPN and another on my home network and try a second reservation while the first is in process and possibly holding the rooms. I don't know if they block space while a reservation is actively underway or not, but it is an interesting experiment. Possibly I'll try it on a train like the Eagle where I know there is only one sleeper with rooms blocked for crew. That should show me (if I can do 8 on one and 8 on the other, then I will know it doesn't hold rooms on an in process reservation, since there aren't 16 roomettes on the Eagle.)😈
 

zephyr17

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Yeah I found one on the 7th for $804 but I would spend that in hotels waiting for an affordable option from EMY back to DAL. Sorry, didn't mean to de-rail the thread.
Based on my luck that my watchful waiting for my NYP-EVR trip turned out, now booked, with fares inventory being allocated from all high bucket to lowest bucket on the Lake Shore and second lowest on the Builder, I did a check on days in October that the Zephyr arrives in Emeryville one day before the Sunset/Eagle leaves LAX. It appears that some inventory reallocation has taken place, because the fares vary quite a bit now:

10/2 high bucket
10/4 high bucket
10/6 second highest bucket
10/9 high bucket
10/11 middle bucket
10/13 middle bucket
10/16 middle bucket
10/18 middle bucket
10/20 second lowest bucket
10/23 second lowest bucket
10/25 second lowest bucket
10/27 second lowest bucket
10/30 low bucket

To me, that indicates at least a first round of inventory distribution adjustment has taken place. Only 3 of 13 departures are now high bucket.

I don't know your planned itinerary, but October and November now appear to have been reallocated and it is the time to strike if any of the middle or second lowest bucket dates appeal to you. They typically only have a couple of rooms in the lowest allocated bucket, and I would never hold out waiting for a low bucket when a second lowest is available. Of course, you could score on 10/30.

That kind of search is what is needed to track down good fares. Amsnag made such searches easy, now they have to be done by hand. It isn't worth doing until there is a good chance that they've done an inventory adjustment after the initial allocation, spot checks are good enough in the first few months.
 
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