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Procedural change?


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#1 Guest_Customer_*

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 11:12 AM

If there are any Res agents reading maybe they can shed some light on this..

 

Old days (say, a few years ago or so) Book 2 roomettes, if system does not place them in the same car, call Res, agent takes care of it.

 

A year ago:  System placed my son in a different car than daughter and me.  Called Res.  No way to make the change without charging me additional $500.  Supervisor agreed.  This is obviously not acceptable.  We travel in different cars.  Difficult to coordinate having meals together.

This year:  System placed us in different cars again.  I called and explained that traveling as a family we would like to be in the same car.  Agent explained that the cars farther away from the diner are less desirable.  To me every roomette is like every other roomette, so asked to please put us in the less desirable car.  Agent complied (involved cancel and rebook).

 

I got the feeling there is something new in the system that presents this odd and decidely not customer friendly scenario.  It really shouldn't be an issue to put rooms together when there are empty rooms.  I could understand if there wasn't inventory to work with.  

 



#2 cpotisch

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 11:43 AM

If there are any Res agents reading maybe they can shed some light on this..
 
Old days (say, a few years ago or so) Book 2 roomettes, if system does not place them in the same car, call Res, agent takes care of it.
 
A year ago:  System placed my son in a different car than daughter and me.  Called Res.  No way to make the change without charging me additional $500.  Supervisor agreed.  This is obviously not acceptable.  We travel in different cars.  Difficult to coordinate having meals together.
This year:  System placed us in different cars again.  I called and explained that traveling as a family we would like to be in the same car.  Agent explained that the cars farther away from the diner are less desirable.  To me every roomette is like every other roomette, so asked to please put us in the less desirable car.  Agent complied (involved cancel and rebook).
 
I got the feeling there is something new in the system that presents this odd and decidely not customer friendly scenario.  It really shouldn't be an issue to put rooms together when there are empty rooms.  I could understand if there wasn't inventory to work with.

I don't think the system has changed, so much that the agents aren't trained as well, and that USA-RAIL seems to care less about customer service...

Edited by cpotisch, 02 May 2018 - 11:44 AM.

Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome, Downeaster


#3 pennyk

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 11:58 AM

The best way to get rooms next to each other or across the aisle from each other is to make the reservation through a telephone agent.  I am particular about the location of my room, so I almost always phone and speak to an agent while making reservations.  Most of the time when I call to change a room, I get told that it will cost more. A more experienced agent will know how to change a room without an additional charge.  Although I have paid extra points/cash to change a room a couple of times, I usually keep phoning back until I get an experienced and patient agent.  

 

I disagree with the generality that USA-RAIL agents seem to care less about customer service.


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Amtrak miles: 244,301; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion, Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, NE Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto.  VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian, Ocean; Alaska RR Denali Star: 356 miles


#4 bratkinson

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 12:26 PM

The best way to get rooms next to each other or across the aisle from each other is to make the reservation through a telephone agent.  I am particular about the location of my room, so I almost always phone and speak to an agent while making reservations. 

As Pennyk stated, the best way is to book your reservations with a real person.  SOME of  the agents are skilled enough to 'look' at which rooms are and are not booked in each car and are knowledgeable enough to 'force' your booking to be across the hall from each other, etc.  I suspect that the 'automatic' (online) booking system 'ping pongs' from car to car when there are multiple sleepers.  That way, the lowest number (most desirable) roomettes iin each car get booked first and the 'late comers' get roomettes 9  & 10 on a Superliner, or 11 & 12 on a Viewliner.

 

Unfortunately, not all agents are skilled enough to even get my specific roomette #14 request on all Superliners.  I suspect that the latest 'rules' regarding reservation changes treat even a room number switch to be treated as a 'change' thereby triggering the added expense.  Nor would it surprise me if the 'change a reservation' mechanism is really a 'delete and add' operation, thereby triggering the 'current price/bucket' which may not be the same as what was originally booked. 

 

I was stunned a couple of years ago after CSX derailed outside of Washington DC blocking the path for the Capitol Limited from WAS that I was to take the next day.  I called to change my reservation to board #29 at Pittsburgh and she couldn't put me in 'my' original room, even though the train originated that night at PGH!  Most will say it's their antiquated reservation system to which I say: 'what have they been doing the past 47 years with their system?'  47 years is enough time to have completely redesigned and rewritten it 10 times over...even in a big government organization!     



#5 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 01:33 PM

This is all helping me think it through. 

 

So if the customer wants to ensure the lowest fare, and books early, the lowest fare actually coincides with the least "desirable" cars.  In my case it's a win simply to get the lowest fare, I'm not concerned which of the 4 cars we land in.  Other people might care, though.  People my parents' age who might have more difficulty getting about and want to minimize risk of falling, might well prefer to be closer to the dining room.  If they ask to change cars this would involve an extra charge (that's why I'm thinking this is something new in the system).  When I travel with the kids we need not be across from each other, or adjacent to each other, just in the same car.  That way when the person comes through to take the dinner reservations, it's a simple matter to tell them that rooms 6 and 10 will be dining together.  I guess that the answer, ultimately, is that for any kind of request it's better to call the 800 number at the outset instead of booking online and then trying to make a change. 



#6 Ryan

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 01:45 PM

Fares are in no way connected to desirable cars/rooms*.

The system does assign rooms from "most desirable" to "least desirable" and attempts to balance passenger load between cars, but a savvy phone agent can pick whatever rooms are available and sell them to you at the outset. (*)Less than savvy agents try to brute force the system to get rooms in the same car, which can then cause fares to get involved.

I think that you have found the right answer, getting it the way you want up front is easier than making a reservation and then trying to change it to meet your needs.

Edited by Ryan, 02 May 2018 - 01:45 PM.

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#7 oregon pioneer

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 02:39 PM

I usually make my reservation on the phone with an agent. I always make my reservation early, trying to get "low bucket." Last trip I called early, fare was low-bucket, and I wanted a roomette other than #2 (the default first-assigned). On the first leg, I let the system assign the room for the agent, and then I asked for #3, 4, 5 or 6. She could not make the change and keep the low-bucket fare until she released roomette #2, as there is only one on the one-and-only Portland sleeper at low-bucket, and the system had just given it out.

 

Luckily, while this phone call was going on, no one else wanted my low-bucket roomette, so we had plenty of time to figure it out without me losing me "deal." After the first segment, she figured out how to get me the sleeper I wanted without first accepting the default. Of course, I told the agent how much I appreciated the service! Some agents are wonderfully helpful.

 

So you are right, calling is the best way to get what you want. And some agents will go the extra mile to figure out how to get it for you if what the system gives them does not seem logical. If at first you don't succeed, try another agent (on another call), or a supervisor.


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Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#8 pennyk

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 03:52 PM

We are locking this thread since it appears that the OP's question has been answered.  Extraneous comments were removed.


Amtrak miles: 244,301; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion, Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, NE Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto.  VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian, Ocean; Alaska RR Denali Star: 356 miles



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