Sleeper Pricing

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choochoodood

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Although I've traveled by Sleeper a number of times, I've never been able to figure how the pricing is established. I just book as early as I can, figuring that's the lowest price I'll receive. I'm hoping that someone with more experience in this area can help me. My question is this:

I am currently booked in Coach for the first (and shortest) segment of a cross-country trip. I would like to upgrade to Sleeper, but find the pricing (as it stands today) not worth it due to the brevity of the trip (about 5 hours).

If there are Bedrooms or Roomettes still available a couple days before my departure date, does the price drop dramatically in order to fill the space? Or is there a set minimum price that Amtrak will never go below?

Thanks.
 

the_traveler

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At one time, the lowest bucket (fare) was available 11 months out. Now, Amtrak uses yield management. Thus, at 11 months out, the bucket may be the 3rd or 4th. The bucket may drop at a later time once they discover that rooms are not selling. Use Amsnag to find the lowest the fare.

As far as the fare being high for a short segment, remember that if they sell it to you for a few hours (say GBB to FTM), that same room can not be sold for a longer trip (say CHI to KCY or LAX). The supplement for a roomettes for SDY to ALB (~30 minutes) is well over $100 - nearly the same as BUF to NYP.
 
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HARHBG

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It really is impossible to tell what Amtrak is doing with sleeper pricing. A recent trip on the Capitol Limited I booked a roomette. A screaming kid was next door and since I'd walked the two sleepers and saw several bedrooms (and empty roomettes) available in each sleeper car, I called and asked how much to upgrade from the roomette to the bedroom.

Understand at this point we had pulled out of DC Union Station.

Customer Service quoted me $850.00 to upgrade to the bedroom. I asked if I could be moved to the other sleeper because of the screaming kid and they told me $128.00 TO MOVE from one roomette to another roomette. I watched the bedrooms all the way to Chicago and they were never sold along with several roomettes in each sleeper remaining empty.

Crazy, in my opinion and a ridiculous waste of potential revenue. Conductors could have easily offered bedroom upgrades to the passengers in roomettes once Amtrak knew those bedrooms hadn't sold, IF they had been reasonable about how much money they would take for the upgrades. It wouldn't have cost Amtrak one cent AND they could have increased revenue for that run. Just plain stupid, in my way of reasoning.
 

the_traveler

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You could have asked your SCA or conductor to be moved to another room - and it would have been $-0- additional! When you call reservations, they can only quote you the price for the current bucket.
 

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You could have asked your SCA or conductor to be moved to another room - and it would have been $-0- additional! When you call reservations, they can only quote you the price for the current bucket.
Why couldn't reservations suggested asking the SCA or conductor to move to another room?

You looked and watched every car throughout the whole trip? You didn't sleep more than an hour or so and walked the train after each stop?
I bet he didn't even check under the seats or feel around for invisible passengers.
 

PaulM

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You looked and watched every car throughout the whole trip? You didn't sleep more than an hour or so and walked the train after each stop?
Doesn't sound like a forum manager caliber post. If you have an explanation for what HARHBG experienced, let's hear it.
 

jebr

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You looked and watched every car throughout the whole trip? You didn't sleep more than an hour or so and walked the train after each stop?
Doesn't sound like a forum manager caliber post. If you have an explanation for what HARHBG experienced, let's hear it.
Moving roomettes costing $128: customer service rep not trained on how to switch room without forcing change in fare. Fare for roomette was higher on day of departure than on day ticket was purchased.

Bedrooms significantly higher: again, higher cost bucket for bedrooms.

Bedrooms looking open throughout trip: possible that most rooms were sold over a portion of the trip, and HARHBG saw them open at the beginning and end of the trip (or, potentially, saw some bedrooms open at the beginning of the trip and some other bedrooms open at the end of the trip.) Between times that HARHBG checked, some rooms were sold and occupied (perhaps during times when HARHBG was in their room or sleeping, and thus not checking whether these rooms were occupied.)

Now based on the fact they could be sold, there was at least one empty roomette and one empty bedroom the whole way. There may have been more, and it's possible that there were a lot. But even someone on the train, unless they're taking very good stock at the situation on board throughout the trip (including overnight hours,) may not see every room change and use of rooms, and the rooms may have been more sold than a simple walk through of the train could account for.

The roomette room change costing more is likely improper training and should be escalated to a supervisor as needed. However, it would also make sense to talk with the SCA and see if a room change is possible, especially if a call to customer service is leading to a dead end. I would hope Amtrak trains SCAs on the procedure for doing so, as it seems that it would be a situation that would come up enough to train on.

Whatever the stock of rooms were on the train, as long as there was another roomette open the entire ticketed distance (which I assume there was, based on the fact the room could still be purchased) on board personnel should be able to make that change if a passenger needs to make that change due to an issue with the room (and a screaming child next door should be enough for that change to be made.) However, it's possible that there's other reasons why the cost to upgrade to a bedroom was so high even though bedrooms appeared open throughout the trip than simply that Amtrak can't properly manage pricing for rooms.
 

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Bedrooms looking open throughout trip: possible that most rooms were sold over a portion of the trip, and HARHBG saw them open at the beginning and end of the trip (or, potentially, saw some bedrooms open at the beginning of the trip and some other bedrooms open at the end of the trip.) Between times that HARHBG checked, some rooms were sold and occupied (perhaps during times when HARHBG was in their room or sleeping, and thus not checking whether these rooms were occupied.)
It's not hard to imagine that a traveler might miss someone boarding or disembarking in the middle of the night. That being said your post was surprisingly snarky and defensive for a forum moderator. Your implication that someone would have to check every single room during every single hour of every single day and night to make their case is silly and nonsensical. Who do you think is out there reserving and silently occupying multiple sleeper compartments for one or two hours? In my experience Amtrak actively dissuades short distance (and thus short duration) sleeper reservations, both by price and by availability. Walking through a train as part of boarding, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacking, sightseeing, station breaks, exercise, and/or disembarking can give you a reasonable assessment as to which rooms are actually in use or were recently occupied.

The roomette room change costing more is likely improper training and should be escalated to a supervisor as needed. However, it would also make sense to talk with the SCA and see if a room change is possible, especially if a call to customer service is leading to a dead end. I would hope Amtrak trains SCAs on the procedure for doing so, as it seems that it would be a situation that would come up enough to train on.
It's not the passenger's fault if Amtrak can't properly train their own reservation staff. Regardless of the cause the outcome is the same. In the case of new and infrequent travelers the rule currently in effect is whatever they are told over the phone. Casually expecting the customer to ignore what they're being told directly by Amtrak staff and attempt to badger their way out of systemic problem and up the chain of command to an improved outcome is irrational.

However, it's possible that there's other reasons why the cost to upgrade to a bedroom was so high even though bedrooms appeared open throughout the trip than simply that Amtrak can't properly manage pricing for rooms.
Amtrak has been raising prices while reducing services and amenities for years. Is it so hard to believe that maybe they're at risk of pricing themselves out of the market and/or underserving their product relative to their fees? It seems perfectly reasonable to me.
 
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sechs

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That being said your post was surprisingly snarky and defensive
Pot, meet kettle.

Anyway, I am also confused as to why HARHBG called in rather than talking to someone on board. You wouldn't do that while sitting on a plane!
 

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niemi24s

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Here is a sample of fare changes for one itinerary:

http://biketrain.net/history.htm
That table of fare changes is interesting and prompts a few questions:

Q1: Is it like a compilation of Fare Alerts in the sense that it will compile changes posted after the date it's initiated, or can it retrieve changes that have occurred prior to the date it's initiated (or data from the past)?

Q2: If such tables are available to the casual AmSnag user, how is it done?
 

Lonestar648

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I have been watching the fares for a trip I am taking this June that involves multiple trains, thus multiple rooms. When reservations could be first be made, pricing was about $300 higher than when I did purchase several months later. I started a spreadsheet to track availability of rooms on the trains to give me an idea of what happening. The pricing went up for a while because several rooms must have been sold. Then what appeared to be little or no activity for a couple months, the price sliding downward until I purchased. Immediately after I purchased, pricing jumped by almost $200. So it appears the closer you get to departure date and the more rooms/seats that are available the lower the pricing. For example there is a CS train with very few rooms sold 60 days out, so rates a very low, but the days before and after where it is obvious rooms are selling regularly, the rates are much higher for the same accommodations. Availability and how much time remains to sell plus recent activity seem to work into the Amtrak formula. Bottom line I never purchase early unless it is a high demand holiday period where availability goes quickly, I generally wait, checking back regularly to see if the fare drops, then see when I get cold feet and make the purchase.
 

Walt

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In reading thru this, I thought Amtrak on-board upgrading policy changed a while back? Unfortunately, I can't seem to remember what it changed to.

Is it upgrading with the new accommodations priced at the current bucket? At the max bucket?

Or you can't upgrade at all (conductor doesn't handle such on-board)?
 

niemi24s

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Bottom line I never purchase early unless it is a high demand holiday period where availability goes quickly, I generally wait, checking back regularly to see if the fare drops, then see when I get cold feet and make the purchase.
What do you do if you fail to check fares one day, the fare drops (perhaps to it's low bucket value), and all available sleeping accommodations you want are sold prior to your next fare check? Are you aware that if a sleeper fare drops after purchase you can always call an agent and have your reservation modified to the lower fare? My idea of fare shopping goes like this: If your date of travel;

• Is chiseled in stone, I see no reason to wait wait for the price to drop. Early sleeper purchase guarantees you at least have the sleeper you want. If the fare later drops, call an agent and have your reservation modified to the lower fare.

• Is flexible, AmSnag can be used to find the date having the best fare within your travel window. But flexible travel dates add some uncertainty to the decision-making process. That's because the date with the lowest fare in your window of travel today may not be the date with the lowest fare a week or month from now.

• Is optional, in the sense your travel is just for "giggles" and it makes little difference whether or not you actually go, your method is as good as any.
 
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KmH

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In reading thru this, I thought Amtrak on-board upgrading policy changed a while back? Unfortunately, I can't seem to remember what it changed to.

Is it upgrading with the new accommodations priced at the current bucket? At the max bucket?

Or you can't upgrade at all (conductor doesn't handle such on-board)?
On-board upgrade is at max bucket, if available.
 
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Lonestar648

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there isn't a problem of availability since price rises significantly once you start selling spaces. I have developed a feel on how things go with certain trains. Like the EB sells faster than most. on that one you have to be early, but the CS adds the 3rd sleeper on so late spring they have trains with lots of rooms available less than 60 days before departure. there are always exceptions, like the CS 14 on 6/6 has all rooms sold.
 

PaulM

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Here is a sample of fare changes for one itinerary:

http://biketrain.net/history.htm
That table of fare changes is interesting and prompts a few questions:

Q1: Is it like a compilation of Fare Alerts in the sense that it will compile changes posted after the date it's initiated, or can it retrieve changes that have occurred prior to the date it's initiated (or data from the past)?

Q2: If such tables are available to the casual AmSnag user, how is it done?
Sign up at http://biketrain.net/amsnag/watch/

Add an itinerary

When price changes occur they are recorded

Click "history"

When the train departs, the data is purged.
 

erierail

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I wonder how the new sleepers will impact pricing? I know sleepers might be add back to the NEC over night train, but no real new services will be added.
 

Walt

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Customer Service quoted me $850.00 to upgrade to the bedroom. I asked if I could be moved to the other sleeper because of the screaming kid and they told me $128.00 TO MOVE from one roomette to another roomette.
On-board upgrade is at max bucket, if available.
So, in HARHBG's case, $850 would be the price difference between what they paid for their roomette, and the max bucket bedroom. Likewise, $128 would be the price difference between what they paid for their roomette, and the max bucket roomette. Yea, for the latter, I guess the CS should not be pricing that way, but I can also see why they might (CS clicked on "customer requesting on-board change/upgrade").
 

Ryan

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In reading thru this, I thought Amtrak on-board upgrading policy changed a while back? Unfortunately, I can't seem to remember what it changed to.

Is it upgrading with the new accommodations priced at the current bucket? At the max bucket?

Or you can't upgrade at all (conductor doesn't handle such on-board)?
On-board upgrade is at max bucket, if available.
No. Onboard bucket is at current bucket. The old policy was at low bucket.
 

niemi24s

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Customer Service quoted me $850.00 to upgrade to the bedroom.
That seems a bit odd to me because as of 17 Jan 2016 through today, the low bucket Roomette on the CL from WAS to CHI was/is $166 and the high bucket Bedroom was/is $702. As low bucket Coach was/is $98, the total fare for a high bucket bedroom should have been no more than $702 + $98 = $800 for one adult!
 
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