I belive they meant car rentals but even that has become a lot more tedious and frustrating in the last few years.It would be difficult to drive my car from St. Paul to Philadelphia, then take the train to SC, then take my car that is in Philadelphia, from SC to Denver.. etc...
And more difficult to get, the car rental companies having sold off large parts of their fleets early during COVID to raise cash to survive the downturn. Now they don't have enough cars and are finding it difficult to get new ones because the car manufacturers have slowed production because they can't get chips.I belive they meant car rentals but even that has become a lot more tedious and frustrating in the last few years.
Great information, thanks!If we're playing Amtrak Fare Golf: $4,827
I'm actually a bit surprised I could do an around-the-country trip in sleepers for under $5k.
All prices quoted in Roomettes for two Passengers, assuming Rail Passenger Association discount. (Family membership is $80). Prices searched on 9/12/21
Departing February 8, 2022, returning to MSP February 22.
MSP to PHL: $801
PHL to CLB: $478
SPB to DEN: $1,246
DEN to SAC: $917
SAC to PDX: $380
PDX to MSP:$1,005
You can go ahead and search these codes to play around with dates on the Amtrak website. Each segment itself will make Amtrak responsible for missed connections if booked as a separate segment. The only snag here is getting a ride from Columbia, SC to Spartanburg, SC. (I didn't know exactly where in SC your relatives were).
Leaving February 8:
St Paul (MSP) to Philadelphia (PHL): $801
28 Empire Builder
Depart MSP 8:00 AM Feb 8
Arrive CHI (Chicago) 3:55 PM Feb 8
Depart CHI 5:45 PM Feb 8
Arrive PHL 8:26 PM Feb 9
Philadelphia (PHL) to Columbia, SC (CLB): $478
91 Silver Star
Depart PHL 12:35 PM Feb 10
Arrive CLB 1:30 AM Feb 11
[Here's the tricky part: Can you get from Columbia SC to Spartanburg SC?]
Spartanburg SC (SPB) to Denver (DEN): $1,246
Depart SPB 3:04 AM Feb 12
Arrive WAS (Washington DC) 1:45 PM Feb 12
29 Capitol Limited
Depart WAS 4:05 PM Feb 12
Arrive CHI (Chicago) 8:45 AM Feb 13
5 California Zephyr
Depart CHI 2:00 PM Feb 13
Arrive DEN 7:15 AM Feb 14
Denver (DEN) to Sacramento (SAC): $917
5 California Zephyr
Depart DEN 8:05 AM Feb 16
Arrive SAC 2:13 PM Feb 17
Sacramento (SAC) to Portland (PDX): $380
14 Coast Starlight
Depart SAC 11:59 PM Feb 18
Arrive PDX 3:32 PM Feb 19
Portland (PDX) to St Paul (MSP): $1,005
28 Empire Builder
Depart PDX 4:45 PM Feb 20
Arrive MSP 7:43 AM Feb 22
I had some annoying delays and cancellations on Delta and American this summer but nothing came close to what we're seeing with Amtrak's service disruptions. When you only have one train per day you have to be skilled and efficient to make up the difference. Unfortunately Amtrak has the worst recovery process of any carrier I've used.The entire travel industry is challenged these days, not just Amtrak. Witness countless airline flights cancelled this summer.
My rental a couple weeks ago was ready in about ten minutes and the staff offered some premium SUV's while I waited. They claimed that all reservations were being honored (but no walk-ups) and on arriving back at the airport there was a glut of recent returns so maybe things are finally getting better with the domestic rental market.And more difficult to get, the car rental companies having sold off large parts of their fleets early during COVID to raise cash to survive the downturn. Now they don't have enough cars and are finding it difficult to get new ones because the car manufacturers have slowed production because they can't get chips.
I know it can be very confusing. If you call Amtrak and talk to an agent to book your trip, make sure you tell them if you are a senior, military, or have worked for the rail road. That will give you a discount. My friend and I always call Amtrak to book our trips. It is just easier. They send us an email with the trip details/confirmation reservation #. Have a great trip no matter which way you go-rail or drive.Thank you for your help, now I only have to look up those train names and routes and schedules to plan my trip on what is supposed to be a national rail system.
I think we will drive or fly.
It is much faster to use the app than than website. You can go back and change dates much easier and faster."These timetables, however, may be out of date. "
"However it simply lists all the possible fares - not which fare is offered on a particular date. "
" To see which fare is offered for a particular date and train your only recourse is to do a dummy booking on the Amtrak home page. "
How does this railroad stay in business?
If an airline made it this hard to find fares for dates and classes of service they would be laughed at and go broke.
I thank you all for your help, I realize you don't make the rules for Amtrak.
All these different answers may be quite confusing to you since you are new to this. Everyone, including my self, is telling you something different. I would suggest you just play with the online reservation system and figure it out on your own. It will be confusing at first but you will begin to understand it. I went thru the same problem myself on my first booking. But it will become clear. Just play with it and when a problem occurs, stop, and start over and try again, it costs nothing. You will figure it out.My partner and I like train travel but have never been on Amtrak. We are thinking of going on a long trip this winter and would like to do it by train but have so far found the Amtrak website not particularly easy to use for planning the trip.
We want to go from St. Paul Mn. to Philadelphia, then to South Carolina, to Denver to Sacramento to Portland and back to St. Paul. At each city we will be stopping to see relatives for a few days so we can do laundry there. We have a month to do the trip and are not locked in to specific dates.
We would like a roomette so we don't have to be masked 24 hours. Masked when we are out in the general population of the train is ok.
We are on somewhat of a budget, not cheap but we will just drive and use hotels if the price is more than we care for.
What is the best way to find the fare and compare fares for different dates?
A travel agent? Which one?
Amtrak by telephone?
What else do we need to consider when planning this trip?
Thank you for any help you can offer.
If I may offer a suggestion, posting this chart for an Amtrak newbie is more trouble than helpful. It’s more like “expert mode” for someone who really cares about arcane details rather than the simple mode of just looking up the fare for the trip they want to take. Especially since fares can change at any time, bucket availability is fluid, and the chart has a lot of code that makes sense to the person that created it but is otherwise meaningless for a person coming in “off the street” so to speak.Honestly, I feel like you will get a good amount of help about schedules here, rather than calling Amtrak (which can be a tiring process).
Amtrak has no option to show fares over a range of days, unfortunately. They do their fares by buckets based on availability. I've attached an image of fare buckets below, I don't think it's the most recent one but it will give you an idea as to what the prices can be. Do note that these are for end-to-end for each route.
View attachment 24348
Agreed. The other non-obvious thing is that the bucket chart refers to pricing across the entire route.If I may offer a suggestion, posting this chart for an Amtrak newbie is more trouble than helpful.