Price buckets for trip summer 2023?

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Jun 1, 2022
Messages
8
Location
Indiana
Hello all,

I'm thinking of planning my next long-distance Amtrak trip next summer, but I'm not sure if I should wait a few months before booking, to see if buckets drop, or if they're more likely to rise over that time period. I was wondering if anybody has any idea on when the buckets may be lowest for a June or July trip next year. For instance, I just checked the cost for 1 adult in a Bedroom on the California Zephyr on random dates next June, during the furthest week out in the booking system, and it keeps coming up with $2253. Is it possible that price buckets will drop between now and then, or is that just the lowest bucket already? I'm not set on the Zephyr, but would like to take one of the Chicago to west coast routes... I see the that the Southwest Chief is significantly cheaper, but I'm a little turned off to that thanks to the fiasco of Amtrak downgrading me from a bedroom to coach last month.

Thanks.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,374
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
The way I see it; if the historical data shows that the sleepers sell out on particular dates, the buckets will open high and stay there. We just booked a bedroom trip from PHL to WLO in May of 2023 and it certainly seemed like the buckets were at the high end. Now if for some reason the sales curve tails off, some the roomettes and bedrooms remain unsold, then I would say that the prices can drop as you get closer to the departure date. Amtrak is not a very affordable option as First Class air travel is sharply lower in price but with few sleepers available they seem to be getting their price. .
 
Last edited:

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
874
Booking four to six months out is the sweet spot. We just finished the Zephyr from Chicago to Sacramento last week.$555 roomette. We booked in February.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,305
Location
Washington State
My observation is inventory initially released at 11 months out tends to be allocated at high buckets now, and they do not look at it again for months. Then, at some point that appears to be very approximately 5-6 months out, they re-evaluate and may reallocate inventory into lower buckets. On an upcoming trip, roomettes on the Lake Shore went from highest bucket to lowest bucket and roomettes on the Builder went from highest bucket to second lowest bucket just about 5 months to the day before my intended departure.

I recommend that, first of all you familiarize yourself with @niemi24s' bucket chart at Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets) so you know what the bucket prices are.

Then, check prices occasionally from 11 months to 7 months before your travel date. No need to do it more than casually, because prices are unlikely to change during that period. About 7 months out, start checking more regularly. Also, at about 7 months, do a dummy reservation for 8 passengers, each with their own room, to check how much inventory there is. Have an idea of how many of your desired accommodation are in your train's consist, so you can judge. If it is high bucket with a lot of available inventory, chances of them reallocating some inventory into lower buckets are very good. Then keep checking, both price and open inventory. If you see a lower bucket, grab it. Do not hold out for lowest, they may never allocate inventory in lowest. Bear in mind they generally only allocate one or two rooms to the lowest open bucket. If you see a major inventory drop without a bucket drop, decide whether or not you want to suck it up and pay high bucket, because they are unlikely to reallocate, since they are selling.

Finally, while the SW Chief and the Builder got hit with consist cuts this summer, i would not consider any train exempt as long as this s show continues. Your safety does not lie in trying to guess which train comes up in consist roulette, but rather in making sure your reservation is in a car that they will not cut unless they cut sleepers from the train entirely (which they won't do, they'll spread the pain to other trains). For the Zephyr, that appears to be the 31 car, for all other western trains, it is the 30 car. Call to make your reservation so the agent can tell you what your accommodation will be before booking and have them change it if it not in the base sleeper. Do not be picky, accept room A in the base sleeper over room E in the other one.
 
Last edited:

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,636
Location
Nottingham, England.
Just playing with the Amtrak site, as one does, I notice a roomette is available on 14th August this year for $799 from Chicago to Los Angeles.
That may not be the cheapest bucket, but for a trip in a months time, it seems a lot more reasonable than prices I have seen quoted recently on AU. A roomette is not a bedroom, but still....
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,305
Location
Washington State
Just playing with the Amtrak site, as one does, I notice a roomette is available on 14th August this year for $799 from Chicago to Los Angeles.
That may not be the cheapest bucket, but for a trip in a months time, it seems a lot more reasonable than prices I have seen quoted recently on AU. A roomette is not a bedroom, but still....
Unfortunately, it is gone now. I just checked it because $799 doesn't immediately line up with the bucket chart and I wanted to see if I could recreate it and analyze how it was constructed (senior fares? Two passengers?) to see if there was a bucket shift. But the fare for one adult in one roomette CHI-LAX on train 3 on 14 August is $1185 now, which is high bucket.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
1,035
Location
QB 101
Rather than trying to get the lowest bucket for a trip 'out there' 6-10 months from now, my trick has been to start looking every day, even multiple times per day, to get a feel for what the going price is. Unfortunately, with the loss of the automated 30 days at a time search tool about a year ago due to Amtraks' web site changes, it's necessary to look at individual days. After a while, you might find that, for examples, Tuesdays might frequently be the lowest price day - the are on the NEC, especially during non-rush hour times.

So, when you're ready to pull the trigger, keep looking at days around your desired date and when you see what looks like a good price, take it. Like Lee Iococca used to claim as president of Chrysler Corporation..."If you can find a better car (price), buy it!" Put another way...as Zephyr77 found out the hard way..."he who hesitates, is lost".
 

PaunchyPirate

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
47
Location
Pennsylvania
I was able to find "low bucket" prices for a roomette on the Southwest Chief and California Zephyr with a booking made on June 22nd for a trip starting October 26th. So right about the 4-month out point. I snagged them while they were still there. I just checked pricing for the same dates and both of these routes are now in the second lowest bucket. So not bad pricing still, but not the lowest. Glad I got them when I did.
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,401
Location
Spring Creek, NC
I've been watching the Capitol Ltd for mid-November (four months out), and for the past month or so it's been stuck at $630 for a roomette, with a senior discount. It's also showing only 10% of the train's seats sold for the date I'm looking. ☹️ A few weeks ago, the Cardinal was going for $495 for that date, so I snagged a roomette on it. It's now going for the same $630 as the Cap.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,212
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
I've been watching the Capitol Ltd for mid-November (four months out), and for the past month or so it's been stuck at $630 for a roomette, with a senior discount. It's also showing only 10% of the train's seats sold for the date I'm looking. ☹️ A few weeks ago, the Cardinal was going for $495 for that date, so I snagged a roomette on it. It's now going for the same $630 as the Cap.
Keep checking. I'd been checking the CL for late Sept. & early Oct. until the Silver Meteor was canceled, and fares have gone both up & down on various dates. I actually snagged one day at low bucket westbound for the last week of September, a couple of weeks ago. Eastbound has been pretty much static or increasing slightly.

But checking all dates I was open for was a very labor-intensive effort.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,374
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
Amtrak says "book now for the lowest fares" so we booked our trip West for the end of May 2023 last month on the SWC. It seemed that buckets were at the high end and they may fall 4 months out but one needs to consider the risk vs reward. The SWC is a very busy train that often sells out. When you plan a trip the Grand Canyon North rim as we did you must reserve your cabin at least a year in advance as they sell out as well. The challenge was to get the Amtrak sleeper, the room at LaPosada (an Amtrak WLO station) and the lodging at the Grand Canyon to all go together.
 
Top