Sudden roomette price increase

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I’ve been eyeing the prices for roomettes on the Empire Builder from Glacier National Park to Chicago and last week the price for two adults and two children was under $1300 (for 2 roomettes), 11 months out. Just a couple of days ago I checked and the price increased to $2300, also 11 months out. I can’t even buy my tickets yet because we’re planning this for mid summer of next year. I’ve been reading all about the need to book as soon as possible, and discussions about buckets. Any insights on why the sudden increase? (In two days, I should finally be able to buy tickets based on the dates of travel.) Thanks!
 

Cal

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Some people have already bought roomettes and another fare bucket increase? Gosh, amtrak is going to put price everyone!
 
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So when I see a price 11 months out, is that the low bucket fair that is not going to drop? Most people have said that you should book with Amtrak as far in advance as possible, although I’ve seen other threads in this forum saying that the price may fluctuate, like airline tickets do.
 

zephyr17

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So when I see a price 11 months out, is that the low bucket fair that is not going to drop? Most people have said that you should book with Amtrak as far in advance as possible, although I’ve seen other threads in this forum saying that the price may fluctuate, like airline tickets do.
They do. Amtrak has gotten more sophisticated in their yield management and no longer routinely releases inventory in the lowest bucket 11 months out as they used to. They introduce inventory based on historic demand for that period and somewhat optimistic forecasts and then will reallocate inventory among the buckets as actual demand develops or doesn't develop as anticipated. My own experience is the sweet spot is generally 4-6 months out, more like 6 for high demand periods. This isn't a scientific measurement, merely my own pre-pandemic experience. I'll also note that coming off of triweekly frequencies, shortened consists, and post-pandemic travel demand have skewed things and the old rules may not apply, or not apply for some time until things settle down.
 
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Ok thanks. That’s really helpful! I was hoping that if I was on top of things well in advance I’d get the lowest price, but now I’ll rethink that.
 

OBS

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Ok thanks. That’s really helpful! I was hoping that if I was on top of things well in advance I’d get the lowest price, but now I’ll rethink that.
You can always try some different dates near your date of travel to get an idea of possible price differences. It may also be possible someone else booked on your days and temporarily drove up the price. If so, it may drop again in a few days.

Finally, try pricing one roomette vs two and see if you get a cheaper rate at least on one...
 
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Oh neat idea. I tried booking for 1 adult and 1 child and it was $1154, so just half of the 2 roomette deal for the 4 of us. I've been looking at the very last date available to book 11 months in advance when the train says it's 0% full. So it doesn't seem to be an issue of other people booking roomettes. I'll keep trying....
 

niemi24s

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If you've not considered this option, it looks like the cheapest Family Bedroom for 2 adults and 2 children would be $1279 for your trip. Just make sure your children would fit in the shorter bunks:

Superliner Family Bedroom.jpg
 

niemi24s

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Some people have already bought roomettes and another fare bucket increase?
Don't steam your cookies. Roomettes have had the same five bucket values for at least a year. What they're reporting above is a jump from one bucket to another - and that happens quite frequently.
 
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Cal

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Don't steam your cookies. Roomettes have had the same five bucket values for at least a year. What they're reporting is a jump from one bucket to another - and that happens quite frequently.
Sorry, I thought the low buckets jumped a few months back.
 
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Thanks! The family room has been on my mind. I think that I'll at least book that and then see if I can change it if the roomette price goes down. As a family, we had decided that the 2 roomettes would be better (better windows, opportunity to ask for upper level rooms, etc.) but it's not worth an extra $1,000 over the family room!
 

Cal

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Thanks! The family room has been on my mind. I think that I'll at least book that and then see if I can change it if the roomette price goes down. As a family, we had decided that the 2 roomettes would be better (better windows, opportunity to ask for upper level rooms, etc.) but it's not worth an extra $1,000 over the
Good choice!
 

danasgoodstuff

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What I noticed playing around was that Roomettes on the EB, the CZ, and elsewhere hadn't gone up just one step but had more than doubled, so a family bedroom (for 1) was cheaper than a roomette. And I had different prices for the same dates displaying in different tabs - but I'm afraid to refresh! Seems weird - an increase to the next bucket (say from $505 with the senior discount for a roomette PDX to CHI might plausibly go up to $6XX the next day on a 10% full train... but this seems weird.
 
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Strange. I found that the price for 2 roomettes jumped $1000 within one day without any change in how full the train was.
 

PaTrainFan

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I think the percent full only measures coach.
I don't get how they determine that given the constant churn of passengers on and off. Can be far different load factors between any two stops. Easy on a plane flight point to point, not so much on a train. I am sure there is an anaswer, but I was an English major, not a math major.
 

niemi24s

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Sorry, I thought the low buckets jumped a few months back.
There have been two increases in all the buckets for Family Bedrooms and Bedrooms so far this year. Those for Coach and Roomettes have not increased since about the middle of 2020.

Each of these (including what didn't increase) have been reported here (somewhere).
 
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jis

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I don't get how they determine that given the constant churn of passengers on and off. Can be far different load factors between any two stops. Easy on a plane flight point to point, not so much on a train. I am sure there is an answer, but I was an English major, not a math major.
I don't know what they do, but a pretty clear average estimation would be provided by the metric (booked passenger miles/total seat miles) * 100. In principle this could be computed for any segment, but when a single number is given for a train I suspect it would be computed for its entire journey.

And yes, for various reasons the number provided I believe is for Coach and excludes Sleeper occupancy.
 

dlagrua

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Due to cost we were shut out of rail travel for our Grand Canyon trip in early August . We tried to book a BR trip from PHL to FLG 8 months out. Prices were coming in at near $4976 R/T-. OK that's old news posted a few times before but thats not the end of the story.
UPDATE: We checked the price yesterday and the trip is now near $5675 R/T with bedrooms still available 3 weeks out. We wanted to take the train but for $1600 first class air to PHX was the far more affordable choice. If Amtrak believes their sleepers are worth nearly 4X first class air and they can sell out at those prices, then we are shut out of their customer base. Since sleepers are still available, this has got to be part of Amtrak's plan to remain non-competitiive and discourage LD ridership. What else could it be?
We have used Amtrak for our LD trips for over 18 years but sadly not this year.
 

Sidney

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Low bucket fares can still be found,$525 from Chi to Sea and $560 from Chi to Sac,but you have to book way ahead. The extremes :$299 for a ten segment thirty day rail pass when it was on sale and $2500 plus for a bedroom on a two and and a half day trip from Chicago to Seattle Sacramento and LA.
 
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Sorry if this is ignorance on my part, but I don’t quite understand. I’m looking at the maximum in terms of advance ticketing. So that’s June 29, 2022 right now. Roomettes are $2,300 for that date , when last week at 11 months out they were under $1,300. So $2,300 is considered a low bucket fair?
 

zephyr17

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If the fare jumped up, it is not low bucket almost by definition.

According to Niemi24's chart roomette buckets CHI-SEA for accommodation charge only are:
282
406
522
688
829

While I don't have GPK fares, once you factor in 2 adult rail fares and 2 half price child fares even taking into account the shorter distance, it looks like high bucket to me. Maybe mid-high.

Traveling 11 months from now is absolutely peak season. Under the more sophisticated yield management practices Amtrak is now using, they probably released no inventory at all in the low bucket. It looks to me like there may have been a little inventory in the mid bucket initially, but that was scooped up.

The good news is, assuming my educated guess that you are looking at high bucket is true, it is unlikely the price will go higher. It might drop at some point if bookings don't materialize, but that point is probably some months away, if ever. They are unlikely to reallocate their inventory this far out. Also, the fact that the inventory at the lowest initially offered bucket was quickly taken would indicate to the yield management folks that they guessed right
 
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zephyr17

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Oh neat idea. I tried booking for 1 adult and 1 child and it was $1154, so just half of the 2 roomette deal for the 4 of us. I've been looking at the very last date available to book 11 months in advance when the train says it's 0% full. So it doesn't seem to be an issue of other people booking roomettes. I'll keep trying....
Per Niemi24's chart, CHI-SEA high bucket for an adult and 1/2 price child would be 829 accommodation + 245 adult rail + 122.50 child rail = 1201.50.

That 1154 is almost certainly high bucket.
 
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