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The Official Onboard Sleeper Upgrade Thread


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#61 Guest_iadis58_*

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 12:44 PM

Thanks for the information, this will be my second trip on the California Zephyr, first time we had a family bedroom and that was great. I guess it's just the luck of the draw whether my view will be the canyon walls or the mountain overlook. That was the nice thing about the familt bedroom, didn't matter since you had a window each side. Thanks again for the response

#62 GG-1

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 01:50 PM

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.

Aloha

From my trip they were on the front, but on the OTOL in both directions they were on the rear. Heck from the way the station in Emervile in the station, one end of the train is in Emervile and the other is in a different town. I saw the sign while walking to my sleeper. :lol:

Edited by GG-1, 22 May 2008 - 01:51 PM.

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#63 Guest_Guest_Liz_*_*

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 10:20 PM

We just got back from a trip to the mid-west. We had two roomettes reserved on the way out as far as Chicago and a standard bedroom reserved on the way back from Chicago to Albany. Unfortunately our train was late getting into Chicago and we missed our connection. We had to stay overnight in Chicago and when we went to exchange our tickets the next day there were no sleepers available on that night's train. We continued to ask throughout the day, right up to the point of boarding, but no go. However, we knew that the Lincoln Service train was even later that night and figured that someone might have had a sleeper reserved from Chicago. When the conductor came around to get tickets we asked about an upgrade. He didn't get back to us for over half an hour and we figured we were stuck with coach. Then he came back and asked how many of us were in our party (3). He said he had one bedroom, but he'd have to get the price from Amtrak, were we interested. Of course we were. He then came back and told us it would be $275. We took it of course. Ironically, the sleeper we were supposed to have the night before had cost us (before our refund of course) $784. So we saved $500 had a day in Chicago, a night in a nice hotel, and still got to ride first class to Albany. I wouldn't ever count on it, but sometimes an upgrade can apparently save you money over making a reservation in the first place. Of course some of the people who were on the LS had to ride coach all the way to their destination...., but they still got the night in a nice hotel and a day in Chicago.

#64 RRrich

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:22 PM

When the conductor came around to get tickets we asked about an upgrade. He then came back and told us it would be $275. We took it of course. Ironically, the sleeper we were supposed to have the night before had cost us (before our refund of course) $784. So we saved $500 . I wouldn't ever count on it, but sometimes an upgrade can apparently save you money over making a reservation in the first place. Of course some of the people who were on the LS had to ride coach all the way to their destination...., but they still got the night in a nice hotel and a day in Chicago.


I thought that saving money was one of the reasons to try an onboard upgrade :rolleyes:

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#65 darien-l

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 03:04 PM

Just returned from a round trip from Denver to San Francisco on the Zephyr, and have a couple of upgrade attempts to report.

Dec. 13, DEN-EMY, traveling in roomette

I got onboard and found my roomette still being cleaned. The attendant apologized, but said that there were several other roomettes available all the way to EMY, and suggested that I settle into one of them, which I did. I immediately headed to breakfast, where I met a nice couple who also just got on in Denver. They haven't slept at all the night before and looked like they could use a bed, so I suggested they see the conductor about getting an upgrade. As luck would have it, the conductor walked through the dining car as we were talking about this, so they flagged him down and politely asked him if they could upgrade to a roomette. His reply was "not right now, maybe after Grand Junction." Long story short, they never did get the upgrade. The sleeping car I was in was half-empty, and the roomette that I was originally supposed to occupy remained empty all the way to EMY.

Dec. 20 EMY-DEN, traveling in coach

Train was sold out in coach, but, according to amtrak.com, there were at least 5 roomettes available all the way to Denver. Tickets were collected by the coach attendant instead of the conductor, which I found a little weird. I eventually found the conductor and asked him if I could upgrade to a roomette. He looked at me like I had three heads and said "Absolutely not, it's the holiday season! There will be no upgrades for the next 2 weeks." I found it a little strange -- how could he know that there will be no upgrades, on any segments, in the next two weeks? Then I remembered the post by a conductor on this board (http://discuss.amtra...?...st&p=106700), where he mentioned that if the rooms are not tagged "Conductor-Sale," the conductor is not obligated to help you. Since it's unlikely that loads will be so light that some rooms would be tagged "conductor-sale" during the holiday season, it seems that the default position is that there's nothing available.

Overall, I must say I'm somewhat disappointed with these experiences. It appears that the conductors are likely to brush off your upgrade requests if they're not obligated to help you, which is unfortunate. I understand that they're dealing with a lot of crap already, particularly during the holiday season, and the current onboard upgrade system seems to be a major pain in the butt. It really should be streamlined: there's no reason for sleeper cars to ride half-empty if there are coach passengers wanting to upgrade.

#66 PRR 60

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Posted 24 December 2008 - 10:07 AM

The preceding post shows a pretty pathetic business sense by Amtrak. Amtrak is constantly begging for more money, and yet they allow this and other potential sources of revenue to sit untapped because they don't want to be bothered.

Here's my idea - no charge for Amtrak to adopt it. For each long distance train and at each station served by that train that has an attended ticket window, at one hour prior to the scheduled departure of the train all unsold sleeping car rooms would become available for upgrade a the low bucket price. At T-59 you would simply take your coach ticket to the agent, pay the upgrade fare, and then get a new ticket for your sleeper. This way all the funds change hands at the station, not on the train. Your booking goes straight to the computer system and the booked room is immediately blocked. And you board the train right to your room, not to coach first and then move to your room. It also takes the upgrade effort away from the Conductor who, in many cases, does not want to be bothered dealing with such things.

I have no expectation that Amtrak would ever do such a thing. They are to firmly entrenched in the 1970's.

#67 MrFSS

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Posted 24 December 2008 - 10:14 AM

The preceding post shows a pretty pathetic business sense by Amtrak. Amtrak is constantly begging for more money, and yet they allow this and other potential sources of revenue to sit untapped because they don't want to be bothered.

Here's my idea - no charge for Amtrak to adopt it. For each long distance train and at each station served by that train that has an attended ticket window, at one hour prior to the scheduled departure of the train all unsold sleeping car rooms would become available for upgrade a the low bucket price. At T-59 you would simply take your coach ticket to the agent, pay the upgrade fare, and then get a new ticket for your sleeper. This way all the funds change hands at the station, not on the train. Your booking goes straight to the computer system and the booked room is immediately blocked. And you board the train right to your room, not to coach first and then move to your room. It also takes the upgrade effort away from the Conductor who, in many cases, does not want to be bothered dealing with such things.

I have no expectation that Amtrak would ever do such a thing. They are to firmly entrenched in the 1970's.


Sounds like an idea you should submit to them, though. Who knows, maybe someone would read it and understand it is a good idea. On;y problem I can see is what about folks who want to board at an unstaffed station and would like an upgrade? If you take it out of the conductor's hands they have no chance at all.

#68 Long Train Runnin'

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Posted 24 December 2008 - 11:31 AM

The preceding post shows a pretty pathetic business sense by Amtrak. Amtrak is constantly begging for more money, and yet they allow this and other potential sources of revenue to sit untapped because they don't want to be bothered.

Here's my idea - no charge for Amtrak to adopt it. For each long distance train and at each station served by that train that has an attended ticket window, at one hour prior to the scheduled departure of the train all unsold sleeping car rooms would become available for upgrade a the low bucket price. At T-59 you would simply take your coach ticket to the agent, pay the upgrade fare, and then get a new ticket for your sleeper. This way all the funds change hands at the station, not on the train. Your booking goes straight to the computer system and the booked room is immediately blocked. And you board the train right to your room, not to coach first and then move to your room. It also takes the upgrade effort away from the Conductor who, in many cases, does not want to be bothered dealing with such things.

I have no expectation that Amtrak would ever do such a thing. They are to firmly entrenched in the 1970's.


Sounds like an idea you should submit to them, though. Who knows, maybe someone would read it and understand it is a good idea. On;y problem I can see is what about folks who want to board at an unstaffed station and would like an upgrade? If you take it out of the conductor's hands they have no chance at all.


Well if its unstaffed I am pretty sure every station these days has a Quick-Trak machine so I don't see why you couldn't just do it right from the quick-trak this would just be the cost of developing and upgrading the software on the machine so you can do it from the Machine so if the there is no agent or the lines for agents are to long you could just use the machine.
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#69 AlanB

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Posted 24 December 2008 - 12:10 PM

Well if its unstaffed I am pretty sure every station these days has a Quick-Trak machine so I don't see why you couldn't just do it right from the quick-trak this would just be the cost of developing and upgrading the software on the machine so you can do it from the Machine so if the there is no agent or the lines for agents are to long you could just use the machine.


Not even close. Just look at the first page of the station listing in the TT, and clearly 3/4ths of the stations have no Quik-Trak machines.
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#70 DaveKCMO

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Posted 24 December 2008 - 01:22 PM

having personally experienced a snotty conductor who dismissed my upgrade request, i think this idea (or something similar) is great. airlines do something equivalent where they offer vouchers for people who give up their seats on oversold flights. in amtrak's case, they wouldn't even need to sell it for the lowest bucket price like they do today (since announcing a price lower than what others paid further in advance might ruffle some feathers). as for the snag with unstaffed stations, just don't attempt it at those places (which are likely to be light volume anyway).

here's a possible revision:

1) announce upgrade availability AFTER passengers board at staffed stations and the train is in motion (thereby lopping off any potential delays and giving advanced purchase customers some semblance of a benefit... first class boarding).
2) interested parties hit the attendant button (don't all LD trains have these? do they even work anymore?).
3) conductor comes by with handheld (credit card purchases only) to complete transaction.
4) sleeping car attendant meets upgrade customer in the cafe/dining car to take them to their room.

maybe even lop off the meal benefit, which on most routes is still a good deal if you discover you dislike coach. it's quite possible that people would even pay a premium to upgrade on board... especially newbies.

#71 RailFanLNK

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 12:21 PM

On National Train Day our return train (#6) was within two hours of Denver when a rockslide caused major problems. The train ended up being 6 hours late. When we boarded fortunately there was a conductor that was the one who turned me on to Amtrak. I asked for an upgrade for the 4 of us. We needed two roomettes. He ended up telling us that he was busy, but would come back through coach and get us when he was finished getting all the tickets. He sent the Asst. Conductor through and all of us recieved the upgrade. Allthough it wasn't the conductor doing the paperwork, it was the asst. and we all slept 1000 times better having a roomette and breakfast the next morning.

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#72 the_traveler

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 03:56 PM

interested parties hit the attendant button (don't all LD trains have these? do they even work anymore?).

AFAIK, the only attendant buttons are in the roomettes and/or bedrooms! And if you haven't yet upgraded, how would you ring it? :huh:
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#73 Neil_M

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 07:06 PM

Why cant the sleeper attendant deal with the upgrade? Surely they must know if they have empty rooms and it takes it out of the conductors hands. That's the way it works in the UK on the few sleeper trains, just approach the sleeper attendant and see what's on offer.
The sleeper attendant would have more incentive to sell any empty rooms as more punters in the sleeper would equal more tips!
A more proactive approach would bring in more revenue for Amtrak, why not announce the availabilty of any spare rooms over the PA? Seems like someone needs to get their act together!

#74 jmbgeg

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 05:06 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?


It appears that this thread has a long life, with four pages of posts.

My experience with upgrades has always been from roomettes to deluxe bedrooms or family bedrooms, not from coach to roomettes. Prior posts have suggested that the conductors don't have authority to (materially) deviate from the prevailing accomodation price for the rooms. I have been fortunate enough to experience situations where they have done so after the train departs (e.g. when the conductor is going through the train collecting tickets). This has primarily been in cases where I am not traveling to the train's final destination and there are one or more major destinations before the termination of the train after I detrain; for example if I am looking for a Seattle or Portland Coast Starlight upgrade to Sacramento or Emeryville (thus allowing Amtrak to still resell the room Sacramento or Emeryville to LA). In those cases I have already researched the accomodation price for the leg I want on line, and I have been quoted on board upgrade costs well below the on line numbers. Sometimes this works; others it doesn't. Frankly though, when I did not like the deluxe room price being asked when I originally buy the ticket, causing me to book a roomette, I have done better keeping close tabs of the on line accomodation prices for the deluxe room and then when the drop as they sometimes do, I grab the deluxe room then; not waiting to try for an on board upgrade.
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#75 ceblack

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 05:29 PM

His reply was "not right now, maybe after Grand Junction."


Apologies for the late reply, but the above is just classic Amtrak.

Perhaps the conductor was busy and knew he would be less so after Grand Junction... especially since he would be off-duty! (For those not familiar with the route, Grand Junction is a crew change point for California Zephyr conductors and engineers). I'm sure he relayed the pending upgrade request to the next conductor during the crew relief process!

It seems like right after the conductor's reply might have been a good time to ask your tablemates to, "Pass the buck... er... I mean the salt, please!"

#76 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 05:04 AM

seams like they don't want to bother with the hassle of the paper work.
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#77 AlanB

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 01:39 PM

Sadly that is true, there are some that don't want the extra work.

Thankfully though there are also a good many who will do the paperwork and sell an empty room. :)
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#78 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 11:40 PM

Sadly that is true, there are some that don't want the extra work.

Thankfully though there are also a good many who will do the paperwork and sell an empty room. :)


is amtrak commission. so if a conductor sells a empty room doesn't that mean he gets a bigger paycheck.
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#79 AlanB

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 12:10 AM

Sadly that is true, there are some that don't want the extra work.

Thankfully though there are also a good many who will do the paperwork and sell an empty room. :)


is amtrak commission. so if a conductor sells a empty room doesn't that mean he gets a bigger paycheck.


No there is no commission paid to a conductor for selling a room. He/she gets paid the same amount whether they sell a room or not.
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#80 nyxlily

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 08:23 PM

I've looked into this topic in preparation for my trip and it helped me a lot, now I hope the following info will be of help to others! (Thanks, AlanB, for lifting the restriction)

For the Empire Builder from PDX to CHI, I couldn't get an upgrade until I reached Whitefish. Due to weather, the train never made it into my station and my first leg of the journey was taken via a bus.. for 7+ hours. Finally boarded at Spokane at near midnight but couldn't find a conductor anywhere (our ticket was checked before we got onto the bus and we only had to wave our little paper with our destination at a woman at the gate to board the train) nor any attendants anywhere (something about a crew change, but was unsure). I was asleep when the conductor finally walked by as the train pulled out.. about an hour late, woke briefly but was too out of it to ask for that upgrade. Woke at ~5am, went into dining car to look for the conductor, couldn't be found and was told to look for him at the next station (in about 30 minutes) but fell asleep once I got back to my seat. Went to dining car again 2 hours later, same story. It wasn't until Whitefish that he finally walked by and I was able to ask for an upgrade. Once found, though, he was very nice and quickly got back to me once he had taken cared of the new passengers. A fellow coach rider heard me asking and mentioned he's going to ask for one as well. I suggested we share the roomette to split the cost and he accepted.

Long story short: Whitefish to Chicago upgrade from coach cost us $208. I saw the conductor pull out his little book and it does look like all stations and fares are listed on there. Was able to squeak by the last call for breakfast!

For the Zephyr from CHI to EMY, there was less drama though I still had to hunt down the conductor. Went to the dining car again to look for him, dining attendant said she'd page him and asked that I wait in the lounge.. did so for twenty minutes before going back to see what was going on. Turned out she forgot to page him! After that it was easy, he came, quoted me the price, I went back to my coach car to hunt down a potential person to share the sleeper with and found a very nice older gentleman to take the offer. This time the cost was $262. They actually made us settle down into the room before doing the paperwork.. where I had to, yet again, hunt down that conductor. It almost felt like that if we hadn't exerted the effort, the room could have been given to us for free.. we had to explain to our attendant that we hadn't paid yet and I don't think I saw the conductor again after forcing them to take my money :P

I did notice, on both trains, that all the bedrooms seemed to be full. Some roomettes were empty on the EB and, on the CZ, was plentiful until we got to Reno, then every one of them filled up.

There was a free wine tasting for all first class passngers on the EB (won me a bottle of wine!) and, it being free and everything, had a strangely low attendence.

I got very very lucky that there were rooms available and, each time, a complete stranger was willing to share the room/cost with me.. and that they both didn't snore.. lol. But since my trip was very last minute, I wasn't going to pay the ~$500 upgrade they were asking on the website, especially since I was travelling alone. However, I doubt I'd try to chance it again in my future travels (unless I find myself travelling by myself again).




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