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Passenger Trains > Pricing for Amtrak rooms


Date: 01/05/10 15:18
Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: TipsyMcStagger

Is there any sort of rhyme or reason to booking a room for the best price?

I came out on the LSL on the 2nd from CHI-ALB, and the roomette was 331. When I was booking at the time the price for my return trip tomorrow was exactly the same. Looking at the site now, its offering me the room for 220. I kind of figured it's because of the train leaving in less than 24 hours, and the trip out of Chicago was on a holiday. But looking at reservations a few months out on the same trains, rooms go for anywhere between 165 all the way up to 335, regardless of day and destination.

I imagine demand might play into it as well, but does anyone have any experience in getting the lowest rates on LD trains?



Date: 01/05/10 15:24
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: TheOssman

1. Do not book for Friday arrivals or departures (usually most expensive).

2. Sunday-Tuesday departures are usually your cheapest bets.

3. If you're planning a vacation, check days before and after and weeks before and after. I scored a nearly free extra day on a previous Amtrak trip with an upgrade to a family room for just myself by waiting a day. The price was slightly less than my original planned day, and the room is obviously larger than the standard roomette. I just had to leave on Monday instead of Sunday, so I extended my hotel stay another day, which was mostly made up for by the price difference.

4. Avoid holiday weekends if possible.

5. Plain old dumb luck helps too.



Date: 01/05/10 16:30
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: krapplem

Amtrak prices rooms in "buckets" which means that as fewer rooms are available, the higher the price goes. Since low-level Viewliners have fewer rooms than bi-level Superliners, the prices start out higher and increase more rapidly.

My keys to the "game" of room reservations:

1. Reserve as far in advance as possible. For December travel, that might mean reserving in August or September.

2. Avoid travel on key dates like holidays, spring break and graduation time if possible.

3. Learn what the lowest possible price is on your favorite routes by checking several months out. This will show you the rock-bottom pricing. You can use this information in the next step.

4. If you have no choice but to reserve at a higher than rock-bottom price, do NOT ticket the reservation. Keep checking your route right up to a week in advance of the trip. Sometimes cancellations occur that might drop the room charge to a lower bucket. This drop can be dramatic if a travel agency has booked a number of rooms together and then cannot sell enough of the trips to make it a profitable venture. When that occurs, several rooms will become available at once. I've seen it happen.

Call the Amtrak reservation line and cancel the reservation then go online or call again and book a new reservation at the lower rate. Note: You must do this more than 7 days in advance of the day of travel or Amtrak will not refund the room charge and issue you a voucher instead. If you travel often on Amtrak then the voucher won't matter as you will use the money up eventually anyway.

Amtrak's stated policy is that they will charge you 10% for a cancellation but as long as you haven't ticketed the reservation I have yet to see them enforce that rule.



Date: 01/05/10 17:52
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: rosethornil

I just spent $500 for a "roommette" on the Cardinal (from NY to Chicago) and I had NO idea you could pick your room. Is it too late to call the 1-800 number and do this? Any suggestions as to what room is best?

I'd be so grateful for any and all help.

Rose Thornton
former frequent flier



Date: 01/05/10 18:17
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: krapplem

rosethornil Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I just spent $500 for a "roommette" on the
> Cardinal (from NY to Chicago) and I had NO idea
> you could pick your room. Is it too late to call
> the 1-800 number and do this? Any suggestions as
> to what room is best?
>
> I'd be so grateful for any and all help.
>
> Rose Thornton
> former frequent flier

Here is a link to diagrams of Amtrak Viewliners (which the Cardinal uses) and Superliners.

http://trainweb.org/crocon/sleeperplans.html

Generally, rooms in the middle of the train give a better ride and less road noise. You might be able to change your room or maybe not. Best thing to do is to call the reservation center and ask. If the agent says that you can't, call back a few minutes later and ask a different agent. Some agents will follow the rules to a "T" and others will bend the rules. Depending on what rooms are available it might be more expensive to go to a different room as they have price buckets assigned to them. Doesn't hurt to ask though. I changed my room on a Superliner just last week with no problems. If you already have your tickets it might be harder to change the room.



Date: 01/05/10 19:01
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: cutboy2

Timetable and travel planner have car diagrams. Virtual tour of sleepers at Amtrak .Com. You want the middle.



Date: 01/05/10 19:32
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: TipsyMcStagger

It would also probably be in your best interest Rose, providing your travel is more than 7 days away, to go out on the Lake Shore Limited. It's faster, and less prone to delays than the Cardinal is.

Thanks all for your responses.



Date: 01/06/10 06:37
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: rosethornil

You guys are 100% awesome. I'm in love. I just found this website a couple days ago. I had no idea there were railroad NUTS like me who had a website to call their very own. You wanna know what a sick puppy I am? I've been known to go down to the local Amtrak station and just sit there and watch the trains come and go. True story.

Thanks for the insights. BTW, I'd love to take the Lake Shore Limited, but I'm picking up the train (Cardinal) in Charlottesville, Virginia and taking it to Chicago. And I'm embarrassed to tell anyone this, but I'll be driving THREE HOURS to catch the train in Charlottesville (I'm in Norfolk). It's a direct trip from there to Chicago, with no layovers. I don't like Amtrak's layovers.

I booked a sleeper (roomette) and I can hardly wait for the trip to begin! This will be my fourth Amtrak trip in a sleeper car and my 14th train trip.

Rose Thornton



Date: 01/06/10 08:20
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: krapplem

Enjoy your trips. Please post reports of how they went when you get back.



Date: 01/06/10 08:43
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: milwrdfan

I made reservations for April on the Empire Builder, and had no problems getting specific rooms in the sleeper when I called Amrtak and spoke with one of their agents personally.



Date: 01/06/10 09:53
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: rosethornil

I did the Empire Builder in Summer 2005. We had a sleeper (the extra big room) and it was heaven on earth. I could hardly believe it, but the train arrived *early* at its destination on the West Coast. EARLY! That was one trip I wanted to have stretch on forever.

That 46-hour train ride was one of the happiest two days of my life. It was so fun and the scenery was so beautiful. Just incredible.

Thanks again for the insights and the practical help.



Date: 01/07/10 06:54
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: santafedan

I booked a June trip last October. I was going to do it on line but hit a snag when I would be crossing the US/Canada border. Then went "live" and got every room I wanted. The snag was ID info needed.



Date: 01/07/10 23:05
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: Allred

Be careful. I come from a family that used to go down and park at the "throat" at Union Station in LA and watch the trains go in and out as an evening's diversion. No lie.
You could get hooked.
I've worked for Amtrak for 12 years now. No end in sight.
Maybe you will also become an addict.
Beware.



Date: 01/08/10 09:36
Re: Pricing for Amtrak rooms
Author: jp1822

Sleeper space on Amtrak is all about the economics of supply and demand. Short supply and high demand = higher sleeper prices. High supply and low demand = lower sleeper prices. Amtrak has been on this "general" principal for years!!!



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