Sold out rooms/ Insane high fare buckets

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Sidney

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The low bucket price on the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles for one is $899,up from $623 last week. The other Western trains,the California Zephyr and the Empire Builder are still at $563 and $529 to their end points from Chicago.

Is there any logical explanation for the huge spike in prices? The Texas Eagle also has the same prices from Chi-Lax,but if you leave from Bloomington or ride to Palm Springs,two stations that are three and a half hours from Chicago and LA,the roomette price drops almost $250

I find it hard to believe the demand for sleepers on the Chief is that high,that it would warrant such an outrageous price. I really think Amtrak is pricing it that high to discourage ridership and eliminate it. No way would I even consider paying $900 for a roomette
 

Ryan

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The lowest price that you can find doesn't not mean that the low bucket has gone up that much.

How do you know that the low bucket price has increased by this amount?

Significantly cheaper prices from stations near (but not at) the end of the line has been standard practice for the decade-plus that I've been following prices.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Exact same increase on the TE from CHI to LAX. Very curious now to see if full service dining does indeed return to the SWC. Management has made it clear in the past they don’t want to operate the SWC or TE. Perhaps Flynn has learned from Anderson’s failed tactics. While Flynn is saying the right things Amtrak’s actions aren’t backing up his words.

These increases over the long term will decimate ridership. Sure now people MAY be paying the high prices I don’t really believe that though. Telling is Amtrak isn’t even offering roomettes for sale on the second sleeper on the TE, only the bedrooms. How can that be defended?
 
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Sidney

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I have been checking prices just about every day on the SW Chief and that $899 comes up from Chi to Lax. That price comes up next April as well,so I would assume that is low bucket
 

TheVig

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Some of this is demand. Lot’s a folks spent the last year living under a rock. Now they are coming out and traveling again. Booking before someone else does. Amtrak is also probably trying to see what the market is willing to pay because of it.

Me personally, I’ve got roomettes and coach seats booked for weeks and months out on various trains. When I go in and do dummy bookings, I’m seeing prices tick up across the board on the dates I’ve already booked.
 

Sidney

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That assumption is almost certainly flawed.

Edit to add: LAX-CHI, 2/8/22 is still $623. Your opening premise, and thus every conclusion you draw from it is wrong.
I have not found any $623 price from Chi-Lax. I checked pretty thoroughly
Even April 1 2022 is $899.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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That’s great you found a fare 7-8 months out that’s affordable.
Regardless there seems to be some shenanigans going on with certain trains pricing and amenities. If it’s truly revenue management it won’t work long term.


That assumption is almost certainly flawed.

Edit to add: LAX-CHI, 2/8/22 is still $623. Your opening premise, and thus every conclusion you draw from it is wrong.
 

Ryan

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I have not found any $623 price from Chi-Lax. I checked pretty thoroughly
Even April 1 2022 is $899.
There are not different buckets in different directions. The $623 low bucket still exists. The fact that you can't find it isn't a signal of a nefarious plot to destroy long distance service, but in fact perfectly normal revenue management that has been going on for years.
 

Sidney

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OK. My question is,why that $899 price on almost all the SW Chief trains and $529 to $563 on the other LD trains? Why the huge discrepancy?
 

Sidney

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More people want to go to Albuquerque than Denver or Whitefish? Maybe $100 more on the SW Chief but almost $300?
 

Sidney

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Point taken,Ryan,but my original question was why the $276 jump in prices in the last week on the Chief/Eagle and not the EB or CZ? Granted $623 is still low bucket but maybe 50 different dates from September to April comes up $899. Isn't that a bit steep?
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Who’s not to say the EB and CZ fares won’t increase this coming week. Amtrak is known to phase things in a couple trains at a time. Regardless I don’t think any of this bodes well and they know it. Time will tell.
 

jis

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Point taken,Ryan,but my original question was why the $276 jump in prices in the last week on the Chief/Eagle and not the EB or CZ? Granted $623 is still low bucket but maybe 50 different dates from September to April comes up $899. Isn't that a bit steep?
Without condoning any of this, it is pretty obvious why the jump. The revenue manager thinks that s/he can possibly sell it for that price and if it doesn't pan out they will possibly drop down to a lower bucket at some point. One general change I see is that they have started the common airline practice of opening up reservations at a second or third from the bottom bucket, i.e. pretty high, and then adjust down from there (maybe) if needed, rather than starting at the lowest bucket. Airlines have been doing this for a while and there is quite a guessing industry as to when one can expect the lowest price For most international carriers it seems to be between four and six months out. That of course does not mean that Amtrak will be similar.

Or were you just asking the question rhetorically?
 

Sidney

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Simply put $899 for a one person roomette on a two night trip is outrageous. I would never pay it,but obviously other people would. To me it seems they are pricing sleepers on the SW Chief beyond what most people are willing to pay but as I said,some people will.

Another poster stated that the EB and CZ could be next for a steep increase. It would be nice to know when that would happen,so I can plan accordingly but of course that won't happen.
 

Ryan

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The price for any train can change on any given day as people buy tickets.

That's how the system works, and it's worked that way for years.

Even the "new reservations 11 months out don't open at low bucket" isn't a new phenomenon - people were complaining about it in the pre-COVID times.

There is literally nothing new happening here.
 

flitcraft

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Unfortunately, Amtrak is not in the business of pricing its scarce commodity--private sleeping rooms--at prices that most travelers will find acceptable, but instead at what price they can guarantee that most of them won't leave empty. And jis and Ryan are right--this has been going on forever with Amtrak. It's a form of what economists have called the Dutch auction (after the way traditionally Dutch bulbs were sold): You start at a high price, and only if you can't get buyers at that price do you drop to a lower price, till you've sold your inventory.

And, as also has been pointed out, airlines have long priced this way. I wonder if we'll see another airline tactic come to Amtrak--that is, if there are business class seats going unsold on an international flight, there will be last minute offers to 'upgrade' to business class made to existing passengers on lower fared tickets for less than the full business price would have been. That way, the airline maximizes its revenue--selling initially to those willing to pay the high price of business class, then if there are empty seats remaining near to take-off, they'll be sold at a discount to capture that revenue. Some airlines don't do this for fear of angering full fare business class passengers--but most do because the full fare business class is largely folks traveling on their employer or client's dime, so they don't care. The question for Amtrak is whether this pricing model will anger enough potential travelers who will stop traveling Amtrak to offset the higher revenue capture. Myself, I think it probably nets out for them.

Actually, this might be a pricing strategy that in the end is good for LD riders--the higher the revenue that Amtrak can get for its LD trains, the more valuable they look and the easier to justify keeping them and maybe even improving the amenities. Now, if only we still had Amsnag, those in the know could ferret out the lower bucket fares easily and beat the process. (RIP Amsnag...)
 
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BoulderCO

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I haven't been on Amtrak since before Covid, but find it interesting to compare how Amtrak and the Airlines are coping during this recovery period.

Obviously, as much as I like the train, I would never pay the kind of prices being reported here.

I'm sure there is a lot of variation among the airlines, but here is one data point that I find interesting. My wife is presently in the middle of a trip from Denver to Portland, OR for a Mother's day visit. We usually fly on United. Since it was a short trip, she decided to try their bare-bones coach service that doesn't even allow a full-sized bag to be stowed overhead. Her round trip fare was $60.

On the outbound trip on Thursday, she was surprised when they notified her the day before that she actually would be allowed to bring and stow a full-sized bag. It was still a coach seat toward the rear of the plane, but a very pleasant trip with an unexpected accommodation that put a smile on her face.

Today she downloaded her boarding pass for the return flight tomorrow. They moved her up to row 12 - either business or first class. She spent a total of $60 and yet United went out of their way to give her some unexpected perks. That is how you win and maintain customers!!

The point here is that at least some airlines are doing things to please customers. Amtrak isn't. Instead, we get HIGHER THAN NORMAL fares and no traditional dining. I am disappointed - they should and must do better.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I haven't been on Amtrak since before Covid, but find it interesting to compare how Amtrak and the Airlines are coping during this recovery period.

Obviously, as much as I like the train, I would never pay the kind of prices being reported here.

I'm sure there is a lot of variation among the airlines, but here is one data point that I find interesting. My wife is presently in the middle of a trip from Denver to Portland, OR for a Mother's day visit. We usually fly on United. Since it was a short trip, she decided to try their bare-bones coach service that doesn't even allow a full-sized bag to be stowed overhead. Her round trip fare was $60.

On the outbound trip on Thursday, she was surprised when they notified her the day before that she actually would be allowed to bring and stow a full-sized bag. It was still a coach seat toward the rear of the plane, but a very pleasant trip with an unexpected accommodation that put a smile on her face.

Today she downloaded her boarding pass for the return flight tomorrow. They moved her up to row 12 - either business or first class. She spent a total of $60 and yet United went out of their way to give her some unexpected perks. That is how you win and maintain customers!!

The point here is that at least some airlines are doing things to please customers. Amtrak isn't. Instead, we get HIGHER THAN NORMAL fares and no traditional dining. I am disappointed - they should and must do better.
I wonder if those “perks” were given as a way to balance the load. ;). (Just speculation)
 
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I am wondering about these so-called Amtrak "buckets"....why aren't the fares infinitely adjustable?
 
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