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The Official Onboard Sleeper Upgrade Thread


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#41 Railbender

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 09:55 PM

My family upgraded to two roomettes on the Chief during the summer of 2003 or 2004 for $250.00 for five of us...to Chicago...total... Five of us, 4 beds, 5 meals each...it was too good to pass up...Winslow, AZ to CHI

I have upgraded, but my success rate is about 1/6 on the Lake Shore. I get on in the middle of the night so if the Conductor is in a good mood and wants the little extra revenue...it works.

I upgraded once on the EB but don't remember the details...March, 2004.

Last March I upgraded after a total stranger and I were seated on the Silver Meteor. After we talked a while and found out we both snored and were both of larger stature, 6' and 250 lbs., I told him about upgrading. (We also both realized we had wives and kids and were around the same age.) We went for it and shared the cost. He got off in JAX and I in Palatka. I wouldn't reccomend this practice, but for this one time it was okay. And the guy takes the train regularly but never even saw a sleeping compartment. Now he will try to upgrade ahead of time or onboard.

I adopt the attitude that I will be content in coach. I always ask about an upgrade and use some of the tactics already mentioned. Be sure to notice the conductor's name in case you need to find him/her later to follow up on your initial request. Seems to help.

Interestingly I tried to upgrade last weekend on westbound Lake Shore Ltd. out of Erie to Chicago with my sons. The conductor checked...came up with nothing...but informed me it would have been $130. for a roommette. At 3 a.m. boarding in ERI with only breakfast it seemed high. I had upgraded for $60 or $70 not too long ago.

Bottom line...you have to know your stuff. And be content with coach... Or book a sleeper ahead.

Edited by Railbender, 01 February 2007 - 09:58 PM.

Joseph
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Along the Lake Shore Limited

#42 jamesontheroad

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 11:31 AM

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It's some time ago, but on 28 August 2006 I rode train # 19 the Crescent from Washington, DC to Tuscaloosa, AL in coach. On request the conductor offered me a roomette for $111.00. That was the absolute lowest price he could quote for that city pair, taken from his handbook (has anyone ever seen one of these? it seemed to have a complete listing for upgrade fares for all city pairs... that would tell you exactly what you should expect to pay for an onboard upgrade) Since I'd nabbed my ticket in a seat sale for $66.00 I was tempted, but decided to decline the offer and continue roughing it.

As you can see from the pic, I took a handful of trains on that trip, mixing some AGR point redemptions, a seat sale and some certain (ahem) discount codes. $192.75 for more than 2,900 miles of travel... another cheeky discount code got me seven day's car rental in Tuscaloosa for $150. What can I say, I'm a student... :rolleyes: :blink:

*j*

Edited by jamesbrownontheroad, 06 May 2007 - 11:41 AM.

USA/Canada trains traveled: Adirondack, California Zephyr, Canadian, Capitol Limited, Cascades, Coast Starlight, Corridor (VIA), Crescent, Hudson Bay, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional, Ocean, Maple Leaf, Vermonter


#43 Trogdor

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 05:28 PM

Two questions:

1) How'd you get MTR-NYP-WAS for $0.00 fare?
2) How come you have two guest rewards numbers?
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#44 AlanB

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 05:49 PM

1) How'd you get MTR-NYP-WAS for $0.00 fare?


mixing some AGR point redemptions,


Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#45 Trogdor

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 09:39 PM

Duh. Well, that answers question 1.
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#46 jamesontheroad

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 05:29 AM

1) How'd you get MTR-NYP-WAS for $0.00 fare?


As AlanB said, they were AGR points.

2) How come you have two guest rewards numbers?


I think it was when I made a failed attempt to profit on a new enrollment promotion or something like that. I was moving house so I just used a different address and double barrelled my surname to get a second account. However (for all the AGR police out there) I now only use one account.

That was a great trip, incidentally, loved riding the Crescent and exploring Alabama / Louisiana by car. Seemed to be quite a few Alabamans who surprised when I told them I was there on holiday :D

*j*

Edited by jamesbrownontheroad, 07 May 2007 - 05:29 AM.

USA/Canada trains traveled: Adirondack, California Zephyr, Canadian, Capitol Limited, Cascades, Coast Starlight, Corridor (VIA), Crescent, Hudson Bay, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional, Ocean, Maple Leaf, Vermonter


#47 had8ley

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 07:34 PM

Posted Image

It's some time ago, but on 28 August 2006 I rode train # 19 the Crescent from Washington, DC to Tuscaloosa, AL in coach. On request the conductor offered me a roomette for $111.00. That was the absolute lowest price he could quote for that city pair, taken from his handbook (has anyone ever seen one of these? it seemed to have a complete listing for upgrade fares for all city pairs... that would tell you exactly what you should expect to pay for an onboard upgrade) Since I'd nabbed my ticket in a seat sale for $66.00 I was tempted, but decided to decline the offer and continue roughing it.

As you can see from the pic, I took a handful of trains on that trip, mixing some AGR point redemptions, a seat sale and some certain (ahem) discount codes. $192.75 for more than 2,900 miles of travel... another cheeky discount code got me seven day's car rental in Tuscaloosa for $150. What can I say, I'm a student... :rolleyes: :blink:

*j*


James Brown;
Did you get a chance to meet the station agent at Tuscaloosa? He boards quite a few people going north and detrains quite a few coming back.

#48 NativeSon5859

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 09:51 PM

I've only upgraded once on board.

January, '04, Sunset Limited, ORL-NOL.

Once we departed ORL I asked the Conductor about an upgrade and he told me to check back again with him when we got to JAX...he thought some rooms would be open upon leaving JAX.

So I did as he said, and sure enough there was a Roomette available on the lower level for $60. That was 50% off the published rate. Quite the bargain for a restful nights sleep plus dinner and breakfast!
U.S: Acela Express, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Cascades, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, Three Rivers, Twilight Shoreliner, Vermonter

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#49 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 09:48 PM

Upon an evening departure, I asked a station agent if there were any empty sleepers and he said no (he also denied my active duty military discount). Having established his character (and apparently his political leaning), I called Julie/live agent while awaiting boarding but after the majority of passengers had been through the line. He told me that 2 were available. On board, I told the ticket-collecting Asst. Conductor that the reservations system said 2 were available and he said he would check back in 30 minutes. He did, went through his lengthy checklists, found one, upgraded me and when I told him to put another passenger (injured female soldier) in with me, he upgraded to her city which was farther than mine but for the same price.

Boarding the return trip was during the wee hours. I told the ticket taker (not a conductor) that I wanted an upgrade and never heard back. With only a 5 hour trip it didn't make sense to pursue it and miss out on some sleep, even if it was the kind that only a tall pretzel could love.

Help the conductor out by not boring the devil out of him with chitchat or questions the attendant can answer and try to make his job easier by making the calls.

Don't you just love it when you get those super duper employees who erase the bad taste of others!

Military Wife

#50 gswager

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 10:12 PM

Perhaps you should call Amtrak to bring a complain against the station agent.
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)

#51 pmacbee

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 09:36 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?



FYI, Bedrooms and Family Bedrooms are already selling out in July on the Capitol Limited, and Bedrooms were already sold out on the date I wanted to travel (July 28) as of September 10.

#52 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 03:07 PM

I tried to upgrade on board from Chicago to Ashland and was told there was no rooms when the agent said there was a room in Chicago. The conductor said there was none {I know he was lying.} On the way back I called and there was two rooms When I boarded I told the conductor he said that there was none till Indianapolis then I wouldn’t want to up grade at Indianapolis’s but i did so I could go to the lounge in Chicago . At Indianapolis I called and there was two rooms still. I went the conductor and he said that he sold them .What a lie. I called customer relations when I got home and was told that the two rooms were available on the return trip she couldn’t tell on the way out. I was told in Chicago that there was only one sleeper car with the crew in it also. In my opinion I don’t think the crew wants to sell it. Don’t whine to me about funding when things like this go on and no one seems to care. The train on the way back was dirty the crew was rude . Get another job if you hate yours . I ride often and have never tried to upgrade. If this had been my first trip it would have been my last. Wake up Amtrak

#53 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 01:55 AM

These are great tips, thanks all for sharing on the Web. I've done the Zephyr (Reno-CHI), the Lakeshore Limited (CHI-NYC) and Coast Starlight (San Jose-LA) a couple of times. I've never asked for an upgrade (have always just paid the sleeperette price). A few months ago on a trip from San Diego to San Jose, I did have a nice conductor on the Pacific Surfliner change tickets for me mid-journey since I was inadvertantly going the long way. She had to call ahead to an agent at the next stop, jump off the train and run in and pick up my new tickets. She was a total rock star! Funny enough, the station agent at my point of origin said it "couldn't be changed" since I had already been ticketed. So yes, some of these folks do have the power to think for themselves.

I will try an upgrade on a May Reno-Chicago Zephyr trip and report back. I have a sleeperette booked for a decent price ($216), but was hoping for a full bdrm (which on the web is over $1200!!). I am even tempted to change my tix and go through Portland via the Empire Builder, which has a full bdrm for $400 to Chicago. I've never done that route,
but being so remote makes me a little nervous (I have some health issues). We'll see!

#54 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 02:30 AM

Hi, I'm one of those guys who makes a living doing things like saying "all aboard" and punching little holes in pieces of paper. Let me tell you how this onboard upgrade thing actually goes down when you're on my train.

1. You pull me aside and ask about it. Ideally, this is during a mundane activity like inventorying the coaches. If I'm in the middle of something fairly urgent, I will make a note of your car and seat number and come back to you. Otherwise, let's talk.
2. I ask how far you are going, and look at my paperwork to get a preliminary idea of what's open. (I always carry the sleeper lists with me - it's only a few pages. Your mileage with other trainmen may vary - worst case, they need to wander up to the crew car to check.)
3. I let you know that I may have a room available but I need to make sure. Give a quick look/tour, only if you ask.
4. I call up just to make sure that the room in question has not been sold by anyone else yet.
5. If it is indeed still open, I go talk to the sleeper attendant to make sure he knows about this potential new arrival, and is willing to accomodate.
6. If we've made it this far, then and only then will I come back to you with good news. If I haven't given you a price quote yet, I'll do so now.
7. I'll usually wait until you're settled into your room before "taking care of business". However, it would be nice if you could play along for a moment at the coach seat and start trying to pull out the cash/card, just so I know you're good for it. ;)
8. I help you get moved along with your baggage, collect payment, and call up to finalize the transaction in the system.


Some of you have posted about calling up Julie, or stations, or whomever else, and then using your new-found knowledge to try and get the upper hand on me. Please do not do this; it is very rude. If you give me an accusatory statement like "well I know that room X is open", then I will not be very inclined to help you out. Here's how the system works. Every trip, a few hours before departure, someone (or some bot) will look at the train's sleeper load. If it is very light, then a certain number of the open rooms (not all) will be tagged as "Conductor-Sale." Then, and ONLY then, is when I am actually obligated to try and sell those spaces. On the other hand, if the train is reasonably well patronized on that day, and there are only a few rooms left, then they will not be 'tagged.' In this case, I am still able to sell them, but I am not obligated to - in fact, Amtrak would probably rather that I not, because a free room represents not only a safety net in case of a bad-order but also a potential last-minute high-ticket sale at a station down line. BUT, if you are nice to me, and hold off on the "matter of fact" attitude, then I will absolutely invite you to buy one of those very-limited rooms. The Golden Rule, folks, that's all it is. If you come across a less savory trainman who you think is being lazy and BSing you, don't always assume that this is the case. It might be, but you don't know for sure. And hey, no one's going to stop you from asking the other trainman on the crew, or one of the next guys after the crews change hands.


And just to get the matter straight on the rate. When upgrading on board, you always pay the lowest bucket available for the applicable accomodation. There are no discounts (senior, military, etc.) on upgrade fees. You pay the fee from the train's current location (if between stations, round up to one station in the future) to your destination station. You do not pay for the portion of the trip that is already complete (likewise, if you have already paid for any meals, you are not reimbursed for them). If you are upgrading from a roomette to a bedroom, you only pay the difference between the low-bucket bedroom and the amount already paid for the roomette (regardless of bucket) - or $50.00, whichever is greater. So in essence, 50 bucks is the absolute lowest you should ever pay for any onboard upgrade, and the only way that can happen is if you have a high-bucket roomette booked on a full train, and you manage to get into a vacant bedroom that cancelled or no-showed.


Finally, folks, I wouldn't recommend relying on the onboard upgrade method as a means to save money, unless you really do your homework or are a seasoned rider. If you think you know when the slow times of the year are for your particular train, then it may make sense for you to take the chance. But remember that these trains are more popular than ever, and as such are filling up faster than in years past. So if you REALLY need that sleeper, without any shadow of a doubt, then please book as far ahead as possible!

#55 jackal

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 03:32 AM

Hi, I'm one of those guys who makes a living doing things like saying "all aboard" and punching little holes in pieces of paper. Let me tell you how this onboard upgrade thing actually goes down when you're on my train.


Awesome advice, Guest! Thanks for the post and for reminding us that respecting your position goes a lot further than arguing with you... (Sort of like what, in airline enthusiast circles, is known as The Speech--the bribery of the gate agent to try and get an operational upgrade...there was an extensive post on FlyerTalk by a former United gate agent detailing how operational upgrades work and soundly denouncing The Speech...)

I can think of many other people who would love your perspective on this site if you choose to become a regular contributor! Feel free to hang around (and maybe register) and join in the fun!

Edited by jackal, 22 April 2008 - 03:35 AM.

Amtrak trains traveled: Acela Express, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Coast Starlight (and used to live next to its tracks!), Crescent, Empire Builder, Keystone, Northeast Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins...total mileage: 8,354 [massively out-of-date; to be updated soon!]
Other major trains traveled: Alaska Railroad (former TY&E employee), SNCF TGV (Paris-Poitiers, Paris-Dijon-Paris @300kph/187mph!) and TER (Beaune-Dijon), VR Sibelius (Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Helsinki), DB ICE (Stuttgart-Frankfurt Airport), Vietnam Railways Reunification Express (Hanoi-Hue-Saigon), CountryLink North Coast Line XPT (Sydney-Casino), Queensland Rail Sunlander (Brisbane-Proserpine-Cairns), Machu Picchu Train (Ollantaytambo-MP) subways/light rail/commuter rail/any other rail every place I can!
Coast Starlight trip report with Pacific Parlour Car dining menu
How Amtrak fare buckets and on-board upgrades work (a work in progress)

#56 PhilaBurbTom

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 04:37 AM

And just to get the matter straight on the rate. When upgrading on board, you always pay the lowest bucket available for the applicable accomodation. There are no discounts (senior, military, etc.) on upgrade fees. You pay the fee from the train's current location (if between stations, round up to one station in the future) to your destination station. You do not pay for the portion of the trip that is already complete (likewise, if you have already paid for any meals, you are not reimbursed for them). If you are upgrading from a roomette to a bedroom, you only pay the difference between the low-bucket bedroom and the amount already paid for the roomette (regardless of bucket) - or $50.00, whichever is greater. So in essence, 50 bucks is the absolute lowest you should ever pay for any onboard upgrade, and the only way that can happen is if you have a high-bucket roomette booked on a full train, and you manage to get into a vacant bedroom that cancelled or no-showed.

I understand the fare structure on cash/credit card upgrade. My question is if you are travelling in a roomette on AGR points and wish to upgrage to a bedroom, how is that calculated or can it be done in the first place. I guess the answer would be what cash value AMTRAK places on a sleeper that is redeemed for points Is it high bucket or low bucket or somewhere in between as this would depend on the difference in fare upgrade to the bedroom or a $50 increase.

#57 had8ley

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 02:31 PM

Hi, I'm one of those guys who makes a living doing things like saying "all aboard" and punching little holes in pieces of paper. Let me tell you how this onboard upgrade thing actually goes down when you're on my train.

5. If it is indeed still open, I go talk to the sleeper attendant to make sure he knows about this potential new arrival, and is willing to accomodate.


If what you say is true, and I do believe you, the sleeping car attendant has the power to turn down potential revenue if he cannot "accomodate" the pax. Try telling that to a stressed out business man on a packed plane with one seat left and see what reaction you get. I think their CEO would have a few choice words to say about it also. Again, I say, just where are the Product Line managers when you need them?

Edited by had8ley, 05 May 2008 - 07:12 AM.


#58 Guest_Michael Siehl_*

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:46 PM

First you should ask at checking baggage or the conductor

#59 Guest_iadis58_*

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 06:39 AM

I will be taking The California Zephyr over the fourth of July and have a roomette. Could someone please tell me if the odd number rooms are on the right or left hand side of the train. I want to make sure my room will be on the rights side going through the Rockies going west. Any information would be greatly appreciated. I currently am scheduled for room 002. Thank you

#60 MrFSS

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 06:58 AM

Could someone please tell me if the odd number rooms are on the right or left hand side of the train.


YES.

That is, your room could be on either side. Until you board the train you never know which way the sleeping car is facing, could be either way, so your room may be on the left or the right (with the direction of travel).

Normally, but not always, the bedrooms are toward the rear of the train, but they may not always be.




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