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Return trip twice as much?

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Trying to book a roundtrip from PGH to Fort Lauderdale in mid-May, using points if I can.

I don't "get" a lot of why prices are as they are on Amtrak... so why might my return trip be twice as expensive as the trip down there? (I have several routes to choose from and all seem to be twice as much coming home as going down there.)

Thanks for helping me understand the logic here (or lack of it).

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How close to Memorial Day is the return trip? You might be encountering holiday travelers and snowbirds.

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Apparently more people want to go one way than the other.  I believe it is more pronounced on the Auto Train. 

I am going down to South Florida next week.  Southbound is almost twice as expensive and northbound.  Snowbirds going South? South Floridians coming home after the holidays?

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The trip runs from May 9 (Pittsburgh to Ft. Lauderdale) and I hope to return on May 20 (Ft. Lauderdale back to Pittsburgh)… so that's a full week before Memorial Day weekend.

 

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I'm told here it's nothing more than supply & demand and something called yield management that determine which fare is charged for travel on a certain train on a certain day in a certain type of sleeping accommodation - or even in plain old Coach.  F'rinstance, on the Silver Meteor:

•  There are six different Coach fares (including the Saver fare) and the highest Coach fare (perhaps $434) is about 3+ times the lowest Saver Coach fare ($126).

•  The highest of the five Roomette upcharges ($608) is 2 1/3 times the lowest Roomette fare ($261).

Those are the established normal limits of those charges - and what you pay depends not only on your travel date but how many others have already booked the same accommodations on that same travel date.

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I just checked Amsnag for 5/9 PGH-FTL and 5/20 FTL-PGH.  For a roomette both trains, both ways, the prices are nearly the same: $524 going and $585 return.  Both ways on the Silver Meteor.   The Silver Star is also possible southbound at $451 (no diner on the Star), but not doable northbound.  At least, it isn't offered. 

I'd probably opt to save some money and go coach both ways on the Capitol Ltd PGH-WAS.  That way, you can enjoy the scenery on both sides of the train through the most scenic part of the route as it's mostly daylight. 

I didn't check what bedroom charges would be, but given there's only 2 bedrooms and 12 roomettes in a Viewliner sleeper, the 6 bedrooms (total) on the Meteor probably sell out far sooner than does the 36 roomettes, accounting for the price jump you may have noticed.

 

 

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I have noticed on round trip ticket they are charging higher prices for the return portion.  Have not full tested this out.  I gave up and booked a Airline.

 

Try booking the return first, if possible use a phone for one, then use a internet device for the second one.

 

Not 100% sure.  Always check with AmSnag first.

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11 hours ago, Just-Thinking-51 said:

Always check with AmSnag first.

This. I used AmSnag to determine the dates of my upcoming Florida vacation in February. I wanted to do Auto Train one way and it turns out that in all of January and February, no day in either month had Roomette pricing at the lower buckets southbound. This was booking in November. However, northbound had most of February at the lowest bucket. That's why I'm driving south and riding AT north.

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I have noticed on round trip ticket they are charging higher prices for the return portion.  Have not full tested this out.  I gave up and booked a Airline.
 
Try booking the return first, if possible use a phone for one, then use a internet device for the second one.
 
Not 100% sure.  Always check with AmSnag first.
That's not how the pricing works with Amtrak. They do not raise the prices if you only book a one way or roundtrip ticket. As it has been said, the fares fluctuate solely on supply and demand for that train and particular accommodation type. This is the reason why a bedroom and can sometimes be cheaper than a roomette.

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On 1/4/2019 at 9:01 AM, Just-Thinking-51 said:

I have noticed on round trip ticket they are charging higher prices for the return portion.

Then too, the return portion could be the same or lower.  Don't form any hard and fast opinions based on just a few instances.  Each different sleeping accommodation has five possible upcharges and fares are posted for travel out as far as eleven months (330 days).  All that makes for lots and lots of instances or possibilities for a round trip on the 16 different LD trains with sleepers.  

Just for giggles and snorts (but mainly to prove my point)  I just did two 30 day AmSnag searches for fares in a Roomette on the SWC from CHI to LAX to CHI starting tomorrow and returning from LAX the day after arrival [and also 2, 3 and 4 days after arrival] .  The return portion was:

•  Higher for 8 of 29 trips [and 28 of 108 trips]

•  The Same for 6 of 29 trips [and 27 of 108 trips]

•  Lower for 15 of 29 trips [and 53 of 108 trips]

Your observation is not borne out in this tiny [and the slightly less tiny] sample of all the possibilities.

Edited by niemi24s
[include data for 2, 3 & 4 day layovers in LAX]

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5 hours ago, Triley said:
On ‎1‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 9:01 AM, Just-Thinking-51 said:
I have noticed on round trip ticket they are charging higher prices for the return portion.  Have not full tested this out.  I gave up and booked a Airline.
 
Try booking the return first, if possible use a phone for one, then use a internet device for the second one.
 
Not 100% sure.  Always check with AmSnag first.

That's not how the pricing works with Amtrak. They do not raise the prices if you only book a one way or roundtrip ticket. As it has been said, the fares fluctuate solely on supply and demand for that train and particular accommodation type. This is the reason why a bedroom and can sometimes be cheaper than a roomette.

I booked just now, and I ended up with roomettes on both legs going down from PGH to FTL because it was CHEAPER than the other choice that had me in Business Class for one leg. Crazy, but I'll take it! Very happy to have roomettes all the way.

Used points to book the return trip back to PGH and they were a little lower than when I first asked my question here, so someone must've canceled somewhere and freed up a little supply. Not complaining.  :) 

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4 hours ago, niemi24s said:

Don't form any hard and fast opinions based on just a few instances.

Your observation is not borne out in this tiny sample of all the possibilities.

What I was experiencing was a change of bucket when test booking a travel date.  I have some flexibility when I need to travel. By clicking on a certain date the bucket list jumped on the return leg.  It might of been someone else booking at the same time.  But it was noticeable difference than what AMSNAG was quoted me. It happened two days in a row.  Was unable to get it to do this right now, this evening but it was very noticeable before.

 

To have the computer raise the rates of your return trip when it can tell your booking a sleeper compartment for the first leg is not a unbelievable possibility.  If this passenger is booking a sleeper down to Florida than the computer can up the bucket price for the return portion since it can be programmed to “think” the passenger is going round trip in a sleeper.  So let’s maximize the income.

It did seem to happen two days in a row at the time.  But not tonight.

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On 1/5/2019 at 5:31 PM, Just-Thinking-51 said:

To have the computer raise the rates of your return trip when it can tell your booking a sleeper compartment for the first leg is not a unbelievable possibility.

While it is possible to program a computer to do this, we are 100% certain that Amtrak’s are not. 

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I travel to and from Florida quite often and usually the fare is the same both ways.  However, I recently made reservations to go to South Florida at the last minute and the fares on the Meteor southbound were much more expensive than northbound (thus the reason I was on the Star). I am convinced it was supply and demand.

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Remember that the fares found on Amsnag come from, and are the same as those, on Amtrak.com at the time of your search! 

You can not book on Amsnag, you must book with Amtrak directly, either online or by phone. It is possible that 10-20 other people also booked in the meantime - and the fare increased from what you saw!

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FWIW (practically nothing) the ratio of a high bucket Roomette to a low bucket Roomette on each of the sixteen LD trains ranges from about 1.42 for the Silver Star to 3.08 for the Auto Train.

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