Just got a fare alert from Amsnag for the Auto Train for travel from Lorton to Sanford in May 2018. I already paid for our trip but called Amtrak to get a refund voucher. Their website doesn't reflect the lower fare nor does Amtrak by phone. The fare I paid is $95.00 x 2 people = $190.00. Amsnag's fare said $110.00 for 2 people. That being said, that's $55.00 per person. I've NEVER seen the price that low! The $95.00 remains the lowest at this time. Where does Amsnag get their info???
Amsnag fare alerts
Posted 03 September 2017 - 12:36 PM
As far as I know, the information is from daily inquiries into the Amtrak ticket system. That price could have been available for just hours until someone took advantage of the low price, thus causing the price to return to the higher level. This happened on my trip this summer, the CZ fare dropped very low, I saw it, but it changed before I could do anything.
Posted 03 September 2017 - 05:19 PM
The system polls for information at various times (often during the overnight hours). As Lonestar648 noted, a sale could have been made at the lower price after the information was received and distributed. But also recognize that the information which is publicly available is not always accurate.
Case in point: this past week I attempted to purchase a roomette on the California Zephyr for departure this coming week. I made the booking via amtrak.com and got to the point where the pop-up overlay came up asking me to 'Confirm Purchase'. I hit the button and after the standard electronic whirling of gears received the Payment Details screen with the red "Problem with availability" error message. When I've encountered this message in the past, I've found it usually means that the room is sold up to a certain point [ie, station] within the city pair I've requested. A call to the reservations center usually clears it up and then I can decide if I want to purchase another type of ticket [eg, Coach] up to the point the room becomes available or just bail on the reservation.
However, this time when I called, the agent said that all roomettes were sold out between my city pair and there was not a split availability at all between departure and arrival stations. She advised calling back after operation day change to see if there were any cancellations. In the meantime, I decided to book a Family Bedroom (as the next most economical alternative in the sleepers) just to be on the safe side.
The next day I checked amtrak.com and found that a roomette was still listed as being available between the city pair---but the price had increased around $150, to the point where it was now $5 more than the Family Bedroom I had already booked. I was curious to see whether a roomette actually opened up or whether it was more of the same situation just higher priced, but decided there was no advantage for me to make that call. (As of this writing, there is still a roomette listed as being available at the same increased price, with the remaining Family Bedroom also available as the next cheapest option.)
Moral of the story: if you see a price or availability which seems too good to be true, verify it with a reservations agent as they have more information than what is provided to the public.
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