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How far in advance to book?


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#21 niemi24s

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 12:52 PM

Be aware that when and if you get your fare modified to the lower fare, the new booking may be in a different room (of the same type) and also in a different car.  Use the Fare Watch feature of Version 2.02 of AmSnag...  http://biketrain.x10...g2.0/amSnag.php  ...to help you look for a fare decrease.



#22 cpotisch

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 12:58 PM

Be aware that when and if you get your fare modified to the lower fare, the new booking may be in a different room (of the same type) and also in a different car.  Use the Fare Watch feature of Version 2.02 of AmSnag...  http://biketrain.x10...g2.0/amSnag.php  ...to help you look for a fare decrease.

I would add (as I always do) that AmSnag Fare Watch is extraordinarily unreliable. Sometimes it won't notify you about price changes. Other times it will send you 10 emails at once claiming that in the span of one second, the price has gone up through every single bucket, then sold out, and then available again at the previous price. It's just too damn glitchy to be at all worth using, IMO.


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, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#23 niemi24s

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 03:03 PM

Cpotisch is correct in what was said, above.  However, I wouldn't let that keep me from using it.  Although it can send spasmodic and nonsensical notifications, if it comes through with a correct notification of a fare drop once in a while it's worth establishing a Fare Watch.  Who knows. . .

 

. . .that may be the day you would have forgotten to do a manual fare check. . .and maybe the fare would have gone back up some hours later . . . just before you finally remembered to do your daily manual fare check.

 

You can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to happen the most.   :blink:


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#24 niemi24s

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 09:55 PM

There seems to be a rule of thumb that the best time to book a sleeper is 2 to 5 months or maybe 3 to 5 months in advance of the trip in order to garner the lowest sleeper fares.  Did a check of two LD trains for the total number of days when low bucket Roomettes were available for each of the 11 months starting tomorrow and found (in chronological order):  9,38,32,16,18,24,28,30,34,39,42.

 

•  As expected, the fewest days when low bucket Roomettes were available was during the 30 days hence.

•  The next fewest were available during the January & February periods

•  The most days when low bucket Roomettes were available was during the November, July and August periods

 

Of course this was only for 2 of the 32 possible LD trains with sleepers (both directions) so is but a small sample of the whole.  But based on this small sample I'd venture a guess that the "best time" to look and book is 10 or 11 months out - or as soon as you know when you want to go.  Methinks this much-touted rule of thumb has little merit.  Others are cordially invited to use AmSnag to conduct their own checks and post their results - with data of course.   


Edited by niemi24s, 08 October 2018 - 06:49 PM.


#25 tricia

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 06:21 AM

There seems to be a rule of thumb that the best time to book a sleeper is 2 to 5 months or maybe 3 to 5 months in advance of the trip in order to garner the lowest sleeper fares.  Did a check of two LD trains for the total number of low bucket Roomettes available for each of the 11 months starting tomorrow  and found (in chronological order):  9,38,32,16,18,24,28,30,34,39,42.

 

•  As expected, the fewest low bucket Roomettes were available during the 30 days hence.

•  The next fewest were available during the January & February periods

•  The most low bucket Roomettes were available during the November, July and August periods

 

Of course this was only for 2 of the 32 possible LD trains with sleepers (both directions) so is but a small sample of the whole.  But based on this small sample I'd venture a guess that the "best time" to look and book is 10 or 11 months out - or as soon as you know when you want to go.  Methinks this much-touted rule of thumb has little merit.  Others are cordially invited to use AmSnag to conduct their own checks and post their results - with data of course.   

 

Which two trains?



#26 cpotisch

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 08:51 AM

Cpotisch is correct in what was said, above.  However, I wouldn't let that keep me from using it.  Although it can send spasmodic and nonsensical notifications, if it comes through with a correct notification of a fare drop once in a while it's worth establishing a Fare Watch.  Who knows. . .

 

. . .that may be the day you would have forgotten to do a manual fare check. . .and maybe the fare would have gone back up some hours later . . . just before you finally remembered to do your daily manual fare check.

 

You can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to happen the most.   :blink:

I just checked, and it looks like Paul finally shut down Fare Watch. He had said a few weeks ago that it was just too glitchy for it to be worth keeping out there, and now the page just says "under construction", so at least for the time being, Fare Watch is gone.


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, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#27 cpotisch

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 08:54 AM

Of course this was only for 2 of the 32 possible LD trains with sleepers (both directions) so is but a small sample of the whole.

32 LD trains with sleepers? There are only 13.

  1. Lake Shore Limited
  2. Cardinal
  3. Silver Star
  4. Silver Meteor
  5. Crescent
  6. City of New Orleans
  7. Capitol Limited
  8. Texas Eagle
  9. Sunset Limited
  10. Empire Builder
  11. California Zephyr
  12. Southwest Chief
  13. Coast Starlight

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, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#28 niemi24s

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 09:33 AM

 

There seems to be a rule of thumb that the best time to book a sleeper is 2 to 5 months or maybe 3 to 5 months in advance of the trip in order to garner the lowest sleeper fares.  Did a check of two LD trains for the total number of low bucket Roomettes available for each of the 11 months starting tomorrow  and found (in chronological order):  9,38,32,16,18,24,28,30,34,39,42.

 

•  As expected, the fewest low bucket Roomettes were available during the 30 days hence.

•  The next fewest were available during the January & February periods

•  The most low bucket Roomettes were available during the November, July and August periods

 

Of course this was only for 2 of the 32 possible LD trains with sleepers (both directions) so is but a small sample of the whole.  But based on this small sample I'd venture a guess that the "best time" to look and book is 10 or 11 months out - or as soon as you know when you want to go.  Methinks this much-touted rule of thumb has little merit.  Others are cordially invited to use AmSnag to conduct their own checks and post their results - with data of course.   

 

Which two trains?

 

Are you asking because you don't want to duplicate my efforts - or because you want to churn up reasons why my data is not representative of the whole (which I already alluded to)?

 

Whatever the reason, I'll not say simply because I fully intend to check for low bucket Roomettes out 11 months on all 32 numbered trains within the next week - some day when the weather is lousy.  Had our first snow last night, so it won't be too long from now.   



#29 Maglev

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 09:49 AM

I think niemi's 32 trains includes Auto Train, Palmetto and both sections of the Empire Builder.

 

I have been watching fares for a trip in January since I booked in May.  I have been able to modify my fare on one leg to a lower bucket, and upgrade on another leg.  Even though the whole trip is now at low bucket, I continue to watch the fares.

 

They make no sense, except that sometimes the count of rooms goes down and if it was one room available, the fare will go up.  But when to find the best fare is anybody's guess.


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#30 cpotisch

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 10:48 AM

 

 

There seems to be a rule of thumb that the best time to book a sleeper is 2 to 5 months or maybe 3 to 5 months in advance of the trip in order to garner the lowest sleeper fares.  Did a check of two LD trains for the total number of low bucket Roomettes available for each of the 11 months starting tomorrow  and found (in chronological order):  9,38,32,16,18,24,28,30,34,39,42.

 

•  As expected, the fewest low bucket Roomettes were available during the 30 days hence.

•  The next fewest were available during the January & February periods

•  The most low bucket Roomettes were available during the November, July and August periods

 

Of course this was only for 2 of the 32 possible LD trains with sleepers (both directions) so is but a small sample of the whole.  But based on this small sample I'd venture a guess that the "best time" to look and book is 10 or 11 months out - or as soon as you know when you want to go.  Methinks this much-touted rule of thumb has little merit.  Others are cordially invited to use AmSnag to conduct their own checks and post their results - with data of course.   

 

Which two trains?

 

Are you asking because you don't want to duplicate my efforts - or because you want to churn up reasons why my data is not representative of the whole (which I already alluded to)?

 

Whatever the reason, I'll not say simply because I fully intend to check for low bucket Roomettes out 11 months on all 32 numbered trains within the next week - some day when the weather is lousy.  Had our first snow last night, so it won't be too long from now.   

 

Seriously? She literally just asked you which two trains you're talking about, and you immediately jumped to the conclusion that she likely wanted to spite you or prove you're wrong. Sometimes people just ask an honest question with no ulterior motive and which don't reserve some nonsense snarky remark about the question not needing to be answered.


Edited by cpotisch, 06 October 2018 - 07:29 AM.

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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, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#31 niemi24s

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 07:55 PM

[Redacted.  Please see next post]


Edited by niemi24s, 06 October 2018 - 08:31 PM.


#32 niemi24s

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 03:23 PM

Finished gathering the data for all 32 numbered trains with sleepers.  Thought the best way to present the data was by showing the average number of days Roomettes were available for all the trains - whether or not they had any available - for each of the 11 thirty day periods.  This is, after all, a look at the merit of the rule of thumb about the best time to look for a sleeper so there was no need to show any data for the individual trains.  Rules of thumb here are put forth as if they apply to any and all trains.

 

Attached File  train barsB.jpg   41.79KB   5 downloads

 

While the greatest average number of days Roomettes were available was during the 4th and 5th thirty day periods ("months") from the present it can be seen that there's no reason not to start looking for one out at the 11 month limit.  But treat this info with caution so to not get misled.  Here are some observations from looking at all 352 items of raw data:

 

•  12 of these 32 numbered trains had no Roomettes available during the last 4 to 6 months of this period.  However,

•  3 had 22 or more Roomettes available during each of the last 6 months of this period and

•  9 had 22 or more Roomettes available during the very last (11th) month of this period.!

 

Conclusion:  please don't be misled by those who say they only look for Roomettes within 5 months of travel.  Start looking as soon as you want to - out to the 11 month limit.  Even if it's at high bucket for a fixed travel date at least you can book it and be assured of having it.  If the price drops, get the fare modified.  If it never drops...... :(


Edited by niemi24s, 08 October 2018 - 04:18 PM.


#33 cpotisch

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 03:41 PM

Conclusion:  please don't be misled by those who say they only look for Roomettes within 5 months of travel.  Start looking as soon as you want to - out to the 11 month limit.  Even if it's at high bucket for your fixed travel date - at least you've booked it and are assured of having it - if the price drops, get your fare modified. 

Nobody said that. We just said that in our experience, the low buckets tend to start showing up more at around the five month mark.


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, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#34 niemi24s

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 09:01 PM

I wonder who could have possibly written this back in Post #2?

 

". . . you probably won't find any benefits of booking much before the five month mark."


Edited by niemi24s, 06 October 2018 - 09:14 PM.

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#35 niemi24s

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 09:22 PM

Or the following from Post #4 in this thread:  http://discuss.amtra...per-prices-wow/

 

From what I've seen and heard, there's usually a price drop about five months in advance, so you'll often find the best prices around then. And when you think about it, when it's 11 months out, Amtrak is in no imminent danger of the room going unsold.

 

If you'd take the time to use AmSnag to examine sleeper price fluctuations from day to day, you'd see there are price drops and price increases all during the 11 month availability period and you wouldn't have to parrot that 5 month malarkey mentioned by others.  But don't feel bad - I've heard the same malarkey from several other AU members over the years.  Yours were just the most recent and, therefore, easiest to find. 

 

For a majority of trains you can find the best (lowest) prices at some time during any of the 11 months of availability.  F'rinstance, a low bucket Roomette on the SS is $187 and here's what AmSnag shows available as of about 10 minutes ago during the very, very last 30 days of the 11 month availability period:

 

Attached File  11th Month Of SS Fares.jpg   190.5KB   11 downloads

 

Please don't ever tell me or anybody else there's little use in looking ahead 11 months for the best (lowest) fares.  They're out there (depending on the train, of course).  And there are (at least, were) 8 others with 22 to 30 low bucket Roomettes available during the last, 11th, month of availability.  See for yourself.  Get the facts.  Please don't be an unwitting contributor to the malarkeyness of AU.


Edited by niemi24s, 07 October 2018 - 07:30 AM.


#36 cpotisch

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 07:24 AM

I wonder who could have possibly written this back in Post #2?
 

". . .[font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif] you probably won't find any benefits of booking much before the five month mark."[/font

 

Yes, I know. I said that.
 
And it's the same thing that I said here: 

 

Conclusion:  please don't be misled by those who say they only look for Roomettes within 5 months of travel.  Start looking as soon as you want to - out to the 11 month limit.  Even if it's at high bucket for your fixed travel date - at least you've booked it and are assured of having it - if the price drops, get your fare modified.

Nobody said that. We just said that in our experience, the low buckets tend to start showing up more at around the five month mark.

 

 
And the same thing that I said here:

It used to be that the cheapest fares were found the full 11 months in advance. Now from what I've seen and heard, the sweet spot is about five months in advance. It might vary between cases, but I would say all things being equal, you probably won't find any benefits of booking much before the five month mark.


You act like I've been contradicting myself, but I really haven't.


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, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#37 pennyk

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 05:30 PM

Please note that personal attacks on other members violate AU's rules and guidelines.  Posts containing such attacks may be removed.


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Amtrak miles: 248,633; 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


#38 niemi24s

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 06:15 PM

Personal attack?  YGTBSM!  I was simply trying to explain to him with cold, hard facts how his advice was flawed.

 

OK, I concede there's really little use in looking out beyond 5 months.

 

Even though 47% (2004 of 4272) of the the days when low bucket Roomettes were available was during the next (last) 6 months of the 11 month period.

 

I give up.

 

P.S.:  Second line is pure sarcasm - sorry. 


Edited by niemi24s, 08 October 2018 - 06:53 PM.


#39 Ryan

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 06:02 AM

How did you determine how many roomettes are available on each train? Amsnag doesn’t show inventory levels.
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#40 niemi24s

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 06:42 AM

I changed my mind about giving up.  Our Rules and Guidelines states...

 


" Debate the value of ideas, not the value of the person expressing the ideas."

 

...so here are the facts as gleaned from many AmSnag searches conducted over a three day period, taking about six hours to gather and another couple of hours to carefully analyze.  The idea being debated here is the one that asserts:

 


". . .  you probably won't find any benefits of booking much before the five month mark."

 

My own assertion is that this idea has no value whatsoever when it is applied to all 32 numbered Amtrak LD trains.  This assertion and its corollary (that there are indeed significant benefits in looking/booking beyond the five month mark) are supported by the following facts:

 

1.  There are 32 individually numbered Amtrak trains with sleeping accommodations.

 

2.  Fares are posted by Amtrak for the future 11 month period.

 

3.  As AmSnag (thanks, Paul) can only gather and display fare data from Amtrak in at most 30 day increments, the complete search for Roomette upcharges required 11 X 32 = 352 individual AmSnag searches containing 352 X 30 = 10,560 lines of fare data to scrutinize for days with low bucket Roomettes.

 

4.  Raw data (the number of days low bucket Roomettes were available) from each of these 352 searches showed that each 30 day period had a total number of days when low bucket Roomettes were available on all 32 trains of (in chronological order starting on either 5, 6 or 7 Oct 2018):  177, 434, 321, 646, 690, 290, 284, 313, 347, 347, 374 and 396.

 

5.  The total number of days when low bucket Roomettes were available during this 11 month period was 4,272.

 

6.  The total number of days when low bucket Roomettes were available during the first 5 months of this period was 2,268.

 

7.  The total number of days when low bucket Roomettes were available during the last 6 months of this period was 2,004.

 

8.  The percent of all days when low bucket Roomettes were available during the last 6 months was therefore (100 X 2,004) ÷ 4,272 = 46.9% 

 

CONCLUSION:

 

The idea that...

 

". . . you probably won't find any benefits of booking much before the five month mark."

 

...has no merit because it ignores facts clearly showing that heeding it will lead to overlooking, ignoring or failing to consider about 47% of the days with the best (lowest) available Roomette fares - those during the last 6 months of this period. 


Edited by niemi24s, 08 October 2018 - 04:33 PM.

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