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Date: 04/18/13 09:54
Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: houstonguy2010

My son wants to ride the Wolverine so I have planned a trip for us tomorrow to do that. We are taking the Megabus to Detroit tomorrow and will ride The Wolverine to Chicago and overnight in a hotel and take 30 back to Pittsburgh in a roomette on Saturday. What puzzles me is this. I wanted to take 29 to Chicago tonight and ride the Wolverine round trip CHI-DET but Amtrak is showing "A" bucket fares for sleepers tonight from Pittsburgh. Both family bedrooms are available. 2 Bedrooms and more than 4 roomettes. Do they really think they are going to sell those today at a premium fare?

I would have readily booked at a D or even a C fare to Chicago tonight in a sleeper on train 29. Instead I booked two seats on Megabus for a total of $24.00 to Detroit and one way on the Wolverine in business class. Amtrak could have had a sleeper sold from PGH to CHI tonight, a round trip in business class for us on The Wolverine and the sleeper from CHI to PGH for our return.

I am sure that the powers that be at Amtrak have a reason for allowing sleepers to remain empty when there are those who would be willing to pay a lower bucket and fill them. If you have not sold them by the departure date the odds are you are not going to. They need to implement the old hotel strategy of "heads in beds" in relation to sleeper fares on day of departure. I refuse to pay more to ride from PGH to CHI in a roomette at the "A" bucket than it costs to ride from CHI-SEA in a D bucket roomette.

Again I do not set Amtrak fares and maybe they have some master plan that I am not aware of. But if I had allowed hotel rooms to sit empty on the day of arrival while selling an "A" fare I would have been fired ASAP. Sleepers are like hotel rooms, if that room sits empty that revenue is lost forever. Better to sell it at a D bucket than lose that money forever. By the way I spent over 20 years in revenue management at Westin Hotels. So I do have experience in yield management. And please do not say to upgrade onboard from Pittsburgh. I tried that twice while in coach a couple of years back. The conductors both times told me that would not be doing any upgrades until after they left Cleveland. Why bother at that point?

Just my opinion.

Keith Hunter
FOREST CITY, IA



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/13 11:23 by houstonguy2010.



Date: 04/18/13 09:58
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: andersonb109

Buy a coach ticket and ask the Conductor what's open and how much. Normally sold for a deal on board.



Date: 04/18/13 10:02
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: P

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Buy a coach ticket and ask the Conductor what's
> open and how much. Normally sold for a deal on
> board.


THAT didn't take long! lol



Date: 04/18/13 10:13
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: rickycourtney

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Buy a coach ticket and ask the Conductor what's
> open and how much. Normally sold for a deal on
> board.

Incorrect. With eTicketing the conductors now do onboard upgrades for the exact same price as listed online. You don't save any money waiting.

Back to the original post... I agree it's a problem. They should be offering discount upgrades if a sleeper is has open rooms hours before a trip (as long as a discounted rate still covers Amtrak's expenses.)

Posted from iPhone

Ricky Courtney
Seattle, WA



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/13 10:15 by rickycourtney.



Date: 04/18/13 10:17
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: houstonguy2010

Have tried that twice from PGH at midnight. Told both times to ask after leaving Cleveland. And why should a passenger have to do that? Wide open sleeper space should not be sold at an "A" fare on departure date. Makes no sense from a revenue standpoint.

And I am not going to put my son in coach overnight and "hope" the conductor will sell open sleeper space before Cleveland.

Posted from iPhone

Keith Hunter
FOREST CITY, IA



Date: 04/18/13 10:19
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: houstonguy2010

rickycourtney Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> andersonb109 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Buy a coach ticket and ask the Conductor what's
> > open and how much. Normally sold for a deal on
> > board.
>
> Incorrect. With eTicketing the conductors now do
> onboard upgrades for the exact same price as
> listed online. You don't save any money waiting.
>
> Back to the original post... I agree it's a
> problem. They should be offering discount upgrades
> if a sleeper is has open rooms hours before a trip
> (as long as a discounted rate still covers
> Amtrak's expenses.)
>
> Posted from iPhone

Good point. The onboard upgrades are no longer at the "D" bucket rate automatically like they used to be.

Keith Hunter
FOREST CITY, IA



Date: 04/18/13 10:31
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: robj

How much was the coach fare?

Generally when I price Amtrak, for one or even two, the coach fare makes economic sense and the sleeper almost never but then
I don't know about buckets and don't care. Just as an aside, what a ticket cost last year to X has no bearing on going to Y today.
If you apply that to airline fares you would go absolutely nuts. That was Yesterday and Yesterday's gone.

Bob



Date: 04/18/13 11:22
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: houstonguy2010

The point to my post here is strictly from a revenue management standpoint. Our bodies will not be onboard 29 tonight when they would have been if the fare structure had been different. Now if they had only 1 or 2 rooms left I could see selling a premium fare for sleeper space. A sleeping car is like a moving hotel and from a revenue standpoint should be treated as such.

I have been in coach before when the sleepers were sold out and simply do not like traveling in coach overnight. Especially with my son. I am not degrading coach travel but I simply do not like it unless it is a short day trip.

But regardless we are going to have fun tomorrow. Leaving on Megabus at 7am in the morning with a 2:25pm arrival into Detroit. Taking a cab from The Rosa Parks Transit Center (Detroit Megabus stop) to Amtrak. Never ridden Amtrak either to or from Detroit before. Actually never been on any Michigan service trains before so looking forward to that. Spending the night at Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and will enjoy a wonderful day in Chicago and return on 30 on Saturday. Never stayed at Trump Hotel in Chicago either and looking forward to that also.

Keith Hunter
FOREST CITY, IA



Date: 04/18/13 11:31
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: Lackawanna484

The yield managers should be adjusting the available bucket price on a regular basis, esp as the departure date looms. That's pretty standard practice. And if the rooms were being held for down-line originations, open that up as well as departure time nears.

I waited out JetBlue for a very good fare (Newark - West Palm Beach) last week. Got it the day before the flight took off...



Date: 04/18/13 12:07
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: houstonguy2010

As of this posting the bedroom has dropped to a "C" bucket fare. The roomette and family bedrooms (both family rooms are vacant) are still at the "A" bucket fare.

Keith Hunter
FOREST CITY, IA



Date: 04/18/13 12:39
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: WP707

How can I learn more about "bucket fares"...???

I'd like this info for the next time I book a trip...



Date: 04/18/13 12:52
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: joemvcnj

How do you know which letter bucket your fare is in ?



Date: 04/18/13 12:59
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: andersonb109

I hope you have a nice ride in Michigan. Currently we have tornado warnings and some flooding. Note the train can be very late at times in spite of fast running between Kalamazoo and Porter. Thanks for the correction on the unsold sleeper space to the poster that provided. I didn't know about the changes...which make absolutely no sense. If the rooms are empty, sell them at a deal. Airlines always upgrade premium flyers to first at NO additional cost if seats are available. I never pay for first class but can't recall the last time I sat in the back of the plane. The airlines make out because someone else pays for the vacated coach seat at a high last minute fare. Amtrak could learn a lot from the airlines.



Date: 04/18/13 13:03
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: Tominde

To learn about bucket fares....you make a bucket list. Then as you do things on the bucket list you cross them off and hope everything thing is crossed off before you kick the bucket.



Date: 04/18/13 13:26
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: chakk

Amtrak is not going to sell those remaining rooms last minute at the lowest fare, because once the word gets around EVERYBODY will decide to wait until the last minute to purchase rooms at the lowest fare. And perhaps the onboard conductors will spend all of their time writing up on-board purchases of rooms to coach passengers at this lowest fare.

So -- like the airlines -- if you want a low fare, purchase your ticket well in advance. And if you are desparate to travel at the last minute, expect to pay a higher fare.



Date: 04/18/13 13:29
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: stuporchief

I'd like to know how Amtrak manages last-minute unsold sleeper space with regards to providing space for "company business". Is there an incentive for Amtrak managers to keep rooms in more expensive buckets so they won't sell and so management can obtain them free or at a reduced rate? And I'm not suggesting this is true ... I have no knowledge either way. I'd just like to know.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/13 13:33 by stuporchief.



Date: 04/18/13 15:13
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: Lackawanna484

chakk Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Amtrak is not going to sell those remaining rooms
> last minute at the lowest fare, because once the
> word gets around EVERYBODY will decide to wait
> until the last minute to purchase rooms at the
> lowest fare. And perhaps the onboard conductors
> will spend all of their time writing up on-board
> purchases of rooms to coach passengers at this
> lowest fare.
>
> So -- like the airlines -- if you want a low fare,
> purchase your ticket well in advance. And if you
> are desparate to travel at the last minute, expect
> to pay a higher fare.

Perhaps. But I scored an exceptionally good fare last week on a competitive route by waiting literally to the 23rd hour.

The key is keeping the customer in the dark, and mixing things up a bit. Maybe not even revealing the total number of unsold bedrooms available at this price. Just that there is a bedroom. And, like Southwest offering refundable and non-refundable tickets.

Lots of ways that Amtrak can increase revenues if they want to. With the new management information system, that should be doable.



Date: 04/18/13 15:22
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: GettingShort

stuporchief Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'd like to know how Amtrak manages last-minute
> unsold sleeper space with regards to providing
> space for "company business". Is there an
> incentive for Amtrak managers to keep rooms in
> more expensive buckets so they won't sell and so
> management can obtain them free or at a reduced
> rate? And I'm not suggesting this is true ... I
> have no knowledge either way. I'd just like to
> know.

In a word, NO, rooms aren't held out so managers can travel around for free. On the Superliner trains four rooms in the dorm are designated as business travel rooms for this purpose. Any Amtrak employee or retiree may reserve them 24hours before departure. Pass travel by management or the rank and file in revenue sleepers isn't that common, the discount is small and just not worth the trouble anymore.



Date: 04/18/13 16:47
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: houstonguy2010

chakk Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Amtrak is not going to sell those remaining rooms
> last minute at the lowest fare, because once the
> word gets around EVERYBODY will decide to wait
> until the last minute to purchase rooms at the
> lowest fare. And perhaps the onboard conductors
> will spend all of their time writing up on-board
> purchases of rooms to coach passengers at this
> lowest fare.
>
> So -- like the airlines -- if you want a low fare,
> purchase your ticket well in advance. And if you
> are desparate to travel at the last minute, expect
> to pay a higher fare.

I highly doubt that everybody will wait until the last minute to purchase travel in a sleeper. Then you take a chance. And I have booked 3 weeks out on the Builder and got a D bucket roomette when another person booked 6 months out and got a B bucket fare. So simply booking in advance does not assure you of the lowest price on Amtrak. As I have said the empty room is lost revenue that you will never be able to sell again.

And as far as onboard upgrades I once saw someone trying to upgrade on the California Zephyr. Now multiple rooms were showing available all the way from Reno to Chicago and the female conductor told him that no rooms were available. I could have booked a room on my iPhone but he could not upgrade. So the passenger booked a room on his phone and then took his phone to the Conductor and did she become angry. But she showed him to his room. He was that desperate for a room. And he got one. Sometimes conductors simply do not want to take the time to upgrade. It was like that once on the Capital Limited with me. Sold out of sleepers in the station. I knew the LSA and she asked me why I was in coach. I told her I had already asked the conductor and was told no rooms were available. But when she asked and told him that she knew me he told her he had one no show out of CHI. Then I got the room.

All I am saying is if a hotel sold rooms like Amtrak sells rooms they would go broke. It is all based on supply and demand. When demand is low so is the price. A very small percentage of Amtrak sleeper travel is booked less than 24 hours to departure.

Keith Hunter
FOREST CITY, IA



Date: 04/18/13 17:35
Re: Amtrak Fare Bucket Pricing Makes No Sense
Author: CP8888

There is no cost advantage to purchase rooms onboard.
Conductors have no obligation to sell unsold rooms. It is not enforced.
They are not ticket agents. Some will tell you
to buy on line using an iphone. Conductors can't do better.

Airlines overbook and then pay passengers to stay away at the gate.
Amtrak does not overbook. The current logic IMO is sell most rooms at
a premium fare. If a few rooms go unsold no loss. All the others sold
at a high rate.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/13 17:44 by CP8888.



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