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The Official Onboard Sleeper Upgrade Thread


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#1 DaveKCMO

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 07:51 PM

i'm planning to upgrade onboard for my entire cross-country trip, except for the empire builder. would love to hear the scoop on what experiences others have had. specifically:

- when is a good time to ask the conductor for the upgrade?
- what's the lowest you've paid for a roomette? for a bedroom?
- what other routes frequently sell out?
- what form of payment is preferred/easier?

#2 caravanman

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 08:14 PM

This topic could be interesting. I wonder if there is a minimum charge for sleepers? I imagine that one could get a low price from the conductor/assistant, but would it be any lower than the lowest price available on the internet? Can conductors make up a price, or are they set?
Ed B)

#3 AlanB

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 08:53 PM

I'm not real sure about the best time to ask, but I'd guess that it would be as the conductor comes around to collect your ticket. I suppose that if you see him/her on the platform while boarding you could quickly mention something, but don't expect anything to happen right then as they have many other things to worry about at that point.

The lowest price would be determined by what route and what distance you are planning to travel. So there is no easy way to answer that question. If you look in the back of the Amtrak Timetable for the table that lists sample fares, you should pay the lowest amount shown for a roomette or a bedroom for that train between the city pairs that are listed and most closely mirror your boarding and departure stations.

The conductor cannot make up the fare on his own, so unless he/she makes a mistake, you'll pay close to what's in that table. You'll never get a lower fare from the internet than what you'd pay onboard. It could however be the same fare if you've booked early enough. I'd imagine that the conductor would most prefer a credit card, but they certainly can take cash if you like.

Sellouts can occur on any route and during the holidays and summer months occurs on most routes. During the rest of the year, the Lake Shore and the Empire Builder seem to be semi-regular sellouts. Additionally the Silver Service trains often run on the full side for most of the year, but especially during the semi-annual snow birds migration.
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#4 DaveKCMO

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:37 PM

so the first example would be the westbound southwest chief, boarding in KCY through to LAX. the timetable says the lowest roomette between LAX and KCY is $275. does that mean i'll never get a better deal? amtrak.com currently states $374 on 2/16/07 for that city pair. also, could i upgrade on the second night only, say, in flagstaff?

#5 AlanB

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:43 PM

so the first example would be the westbound southwest chief, boarding in KCY through to LAX. the timetable says the lowest roomette between LAX and KCY is $275. does that mean i'll never get a better deal? amtrak.com currently states $374 on 2/16/07 for that city pair. also, could i upgrade on the second night only, say, in flagstaff?


That is correct Dave, you won't get a better price than that $275, unless someone makes a mistake during the onboard upgrade process or if it takes the conductor several stops to get it done.

And yes, assuming that there are still rooms available by Flagstaff, then one could upgrade from there for the second night at a price of $114 for a roomette.
Alan,

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#6 gswager

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:49 PM

If you want to upgrade in middle of journey, the best chance would be when a lot of passengers deboarding the train at major station, like Albuquerque, then more rooms will be available. Again, it's gambling.
Entire length in segments- Southwest Chief (LSV-LAX & CHI-LSV), Pacific Surfliner (SLO-LAX & LAX-SAN) & San Joaquin (Oakland stub)
Entire length, end to end- Lake Shore Limited (Boston stub) (11/09), Downeaster (11/09) & Coast Starlight (10/11)
Partial- California Zephyr (SLC-EMY), Hiawatha, Cascades (SEA-PDX) & Acela (BOS-PVD)

#7 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 12:01 AM

April of `05 I Boarded the Silver Star in D.C.
After initially being re-seated no less than 7 times by a female conductor who evidently was trying to acheive feng shui in our coach, I inquired about the availability of a sleeper. 15 minutes later another conductor came through the train announcing sleepers were available.
I whipped out cash and paid $125.00 for a Viewliner Sleeper compartment all the way to Deerfield Beach, Fla.
What might have been a horrible 23 hours in coach turned into the best sleeping car experience I have had to date.

#8 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 10:06 AM

If you want to upgrade in middle of journey, the best chance would be when a lot of passengers deboarding the train at major station, like Albuquerque, then more rooms will be available. Again, it's gambling.



Yes, and the gamble might involve more people getting on in Albuquerque that already have tickets for the sleeper.

#9 Bill631

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 10:10 AM

I began riding Amtrak regularly in January 2003. I take the Texas Eagle, Lakeshore Ltd, Capitol Ltd, and the Crescent to get to Houston, TX several times a year.
For the last couple of years I have always traveled in a reserved roomette. But on my first few trips with Amtrak I traveled in coach. On all of these trips, I attempted to upgrade to a roommette. I asked the conductor when he came around collecting tickets if there were any roomettes available.
He always said he would check and get back to me. In each case, the conductor never returned with an answer. This happened on about 12 different trips in 2003 & 2004. I was never, ever able to upgrade on any trip. I of course asked repeatedly, and no one ever came back with an answer.So, I now just reserve a roommette. I'm glad other had better luck than me.


Bill B)

#10 Chi_Train_Fan

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 10:39 AM

I have three upgrade attempts:

1. Cardinal October 2004 Washington to Chicago - Asked the conductor to upgrade during ticket lift in Washington, DC. He said he would get back to me and never returned to let me know if there was space available. Later I asked him at his desk in the dinnette and he said there was no space available.

2. Lake Shore Limited April 2005 New York City to Chicago - Asked the conductor to upgrade when she lifted tickets while we waited for departure from Penn Station. She said she believed there were a few spaces available and that I was first in line, as I was the first person to ask for an upgrade. Two people after me also asked. She came back about 10 minutes later explaining that there were two spaces available and that they would go to the first and second people to ask for them. I paid the $150 price with my credit card and was politely escorted through the train to the sleeper where I was introduced to the sleeper attendant who made me comfortable.

3. City of New Orleans - New Orleans to Chicago August 2006. I was booked in a roomette with a friend and thought it would be great to have additional room for the trip. I asked the conductor if I could upgrade to a bedroom. He replied that he believed the cost was $50, but he'd have to check to be sure that space was available in the single sleeper in the consist. He came back saying that he only had room A to offer and suggested that I look at it first because it is smaller than the other bedrooms. I replied that I was familiar with room A and that the price was right. I paid $50 in cash on the spot and the car attendant set my friend and I in room A for the rest of the trip.

David Z

Edited by CHI_Amtrak_Fan, 04 January 2007 - 10:39 AM.

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#11 Rafi

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 10:41 AM

I began riding Amtrak regularly in January 2003. I take the Texas Eagle, Lakeshore Ltd, Capitol Ltd, and the Crescent to get to Houston, TX several times a year.
For the last couple of years I have always traveled in a reserved roomette. But on my first few trips with Amtrak I traveled in coach. On all of these trips, I attempted to upgrade to a roommette. I asked the conductor when he came around collecting tickets if there were any roomettes available.
He always said he would check and get back to me. In each case, the conductor never returned with an answer. This happened on about 12 different trips in 2003 & 2004. I was never, ever able to upgrade on any trip. I of course asked repeatedly, and no one ever came back with an answer.So, I now just reserve a roommette. I'm glad other had better luck than me.


Bill B)


I've often encountered the same thing. In my experience, it seems that most conductors are annoyed by on board upgrades, but that's just my impression. In a few cases, I've had them actually encourage the upgrade, but in most cases, I'll mention something to the conductor when he collects the ticket, and I usually have to go track him down in the cafe car about 30 mins to an hour later to "seal the deal," as it were. In once case on the Capitol, he was "holding" a deluxe bedroom "in case of complaints about other rooms." I don't know if that's technically allowed, but he was doing it, until I asked, "so you're deadheading a room indefinitely as a contingency when someone is willing to pay for it now?" I was in the room in short order. ;-)

But in all cases, I've been able to get a yay or nay as to room availability simply by doing the following:

1). Ask the conductor about upgrading when he collects the ticket
2). He'll most likely say that he has to take care of some paperwork first, so I'll ask when I should check back with him. He'll usually say about 30 minutes.
3). 30-60 minutes later I'll head into the cafe to track him down.

And that usually works for me.

-Rafi

Edited by Rafi, 04 January 2007 - 10:44 AM.

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#12 DaveKCMO

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 06:03 PM

very helpful responses! thanks so much! i think i'll be fine to upgrade onboard the SWC and CS in late february. i will probably reserve on the EB. the rest of my route is corridor service.

#13 tourlink99

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 07:27 PM

[I was on the Star in November and tried to upgrade to roomette and the conductors in both directions told me they have to call to get the prices for onboard upgrades. Even though there were sleepers available in both directions,the price was out of their hands.

#14 had8ley

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 07:36 PM


I began riding Amtrak regularly in January 2003. I take the Texas Eagle, Lakeshore Ltd, Capitol Ltd, and the Crescent to get to Houston, TX several times a year.
For the last couple of years I have always traveled in a reserved roomette. But on my first few trips with Amtrak I traveled in coach. On all of these trips, I attempted to upgrade to a roommette. I asked the conductor when he came around collecting tickets if there were any roomettes available.
He always said he would check and get back to me. In each case, the conductor never returned with an answer. This happened on about 12 different trips in 2003 & 2004. I was never, ever able to upgrade on any trip. I of course asked repeatedly, and no one ever came back with an answer.So, I now just reserve a roommette. I'm glad other had better luck than me.


Bill B)


I've often encountered the same thing. In my experience, it seems that most conductors are annoyed by on board upgrades, but that's just my impression. In a few cases, I've had them actually encourage the upgrade, but in most cases, I'll mention something to the conductor when he collects the ticket, and I usually have to go track him down in the cafe car about 30 mins to an hour later to "seal the deal," as it were. In once case on the Capitol, he was "holding" a deluxe bedroom "in case of complaints about other rooms." I don't know if that's technically allowed, but he was doing it, until I asked, "so you're deadheading a room indefinitely as a contingency when someone is willing to pay for it now?" I was in the room in short order. ;-)

But in all cases, I've been able to get a yay or nay as to room availability simply by doing the following:

1). Ask the conductor about upgrading when he collects the ticket
2). He'll most likely say that he has to take care of some paperwork first, so I'll ask when I should check back with him. He'll usually say about 30 minutes.
3). 30-60 minutes later I'll head into the cafe to track him down.

And that usually works for me.

-Rafi



Rafi;
Just a suggestion that seems to work around the forgetful conductors. Head to the sleeper and ask the car attendant if he has any empty rooms. It's amazing to look on the train crew's faces, as they go through lifting tickets, when you tell them, Rooms 2 and 13 are empty. Then you have the upper hand.

#15 Rafi

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 08:18 PM

Rafi;
Just a suggestion that seems to work around the forgetful conductors. Head to the sleeper and ask the car attendant if he has any empty rooms. It's amazing to look on the train crew's faces, as they go through lifting tickets, when you tell them, Rooms 2 and 13 are empty. Then you have the upper hand.


had8ley,

Tell me about it. Actually—and I should have mentioned this above—I've taken to actually calling reservations either just before I board the train or as soon as I get on to get both car and room numbers, and inevitably get the preemptive strike, as it were. <grin>

-Rafi

P.S. Man, I feel bad about giving away all of my secrets here!
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#16 AlanB

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 08:28 PM

[I was on the Star in November and tried to upgrade to roomette and the conductors in both directions told me they have to call to get the prices for onboard upgrades. Even though there were sleepers available in both directions,the price was out of their hands.


That's exactly correct. The procedure is that the conductor must call Amtrak's space control for the price of the room based upon distance traveled, and to inform them that the room has indeed been sold so that it is now blocked out of the computer and not sold by some agent further down the line.
Alan,

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#17 Trogdor

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:22 PM

My only successful attempt at upgrading on board was in 2005 on the California Zephyr.

I had booked a Guest Rewards ticket from Vancouver to Denver (the zone boundary), and coach from Denver to Chicago. However, I wasn't feeling all that well, and didn't feel like moving to coach for the rest of the trip, so I asked about keeping my room to Chicago.

The upgrade price was $150, so I took it. Officially, they sold me a room down the hall, as mine was booked out of Denver, but they just put that passenger in the other room, and I stayed where I was.

For what it's worth, this particular Zephyr trip was one of the planned detours via Wyoming (which is why I took the trip in the first place).
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#18 had8ley

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 11:50 PM


Rafi;
Just a suggestion that seems to work around the forgetful conductors. Head to the sleeper and ask the car attendant if he has any empty rooms. It's amazing to look on the train crew's faces, as they go through lifting tickets, when you tell them, Rooms 2 and 13 are empty. Then you have the upper hand.


had8ley,

Tell me about it. Actually—and I should have mentioned this above—I've taken to actually calling reservations either just before I board the train or as soon as I get on to get both car and room numbers, and inevitably get the preemptive strike, as it were. <grin>

-Rafi

P.S. Man, I feel bad about giving away all of my secrets here!



Only thing I can add is the car attendant has a last minute manifest in his hands and knows what he's looking at down the line. I've actually had to change rooms to accomodate a passenger who bought my room just prior to train time at an intermediate stop. Unless the conductor calls Amtrak resevations I don't think there is anyway of preventing this.

#19 gswager

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 12:18 AM

I checked online for sleeper availability a day before departure two times. First time was putting conductor off-guarded. I had to explain the situation. Since my station is non-staffed and the conductor told me to pay the sleeper fare in ABQ which is a service stop since I already have the coach ticket. Second time is a breeze because my other station is staffed and she had my sleeper ticket on the counter waiting for me.
Entire length in segments- Southwest Chief (LSV-LAX & CHI-LSV), Pacific Surfliner (SLO-LAX & LAX-SAN) & San Joaquin (Oakland stub)
Entire length, end to end- Lake Shore Limited (Boston stub) (11/09), Downeaster (11/09) & Coast Starlight (10/11)
Partial- California Zephyr (SLC-EMY), Hiawatha, Cascades (SEA-PDX) & Acela (BOS-PVD)

#20 frj1983

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 08:44 AM

I have found

that it sometimes helps to get in line at the station on the day you are leaving and ask if there is any sleeper space available. While I cannot say that there is always space, space has been available often enough that I do check regularly. That way you do not have to deal with the Conductor.

Edited by frj1983, 05 January 2007 - 08:46 AM.





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