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Guest Davemy

Purchasing multiple bedrooms on TE

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Guest Davemy

We have a group of 5 couples (10 people) traveling together on the Texas Eagle. I have looked at the pricing on the Amtrak website and I think I have a rudimentary understanding of the "bucket pricing"; my question is, should I book each room individually to get the lowest bucket or does the reservation system automatically do that? It appears to me that the system just puts all rooms purchased at the same time into the highest bucket. My group has agreed to paying the average of all the bookings, so there is no problem there.

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Amtrak's variable pricing scheme or algorithm is very mysterious. I have never seen a hard fast rule that can be followed in this case. I would do test bookings using combinations of your couples, (1, 1+2, 1+2+3, etc)., and use the one combination that results in the lowest average price. I suspect that separate tickets would be the way to go.

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From my experience, the 'rules' of how many rooms get sold at low price, then next higher price, etc, is a mystery.  So is the 'rules' of when they do across-the-board changes up or down.  They've both been discussed on this site in recent months.

As far as booking 5 couples, I'd lean towards having one person call the 800 number and book all five rooms at once.  Hopefully you'll be connected to a savvy agent that can get them in one small cluster vs spread out, possibly in 2 different cars.   If one person is an Amtrak Guest Rewards member, have them make and pay for all reservations.  With multiple AGR members, transfer points between yourselves after they get posted.  As far as paying goes, if everyone has identical accomodations (all roomettes, for example) simply divide the total cost equally.  Otherwise, you'll be in the 'trap' of one person buying diiner for 10, then trying to figure out who owes $5, who owes $7, etc...and possibly making enemies as a result.

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If you are booking two or more rooms on the same reservation, all the rooms will be priced at the highest of applicable buckets at the time of booking. For example, booking two rooms on a single reservation when there is one room priced at $200 and the next is priced at $250, a single reservation will price both at the higher bucket - $250.  If the rooms are booked on two reservations, one reservation will get the $200 room and the other will get the $250 room.

A good phone agent should be able to handle multiple reservation and assign rooms in close proximity.  Note that each AGR member traveling should have their number put into the reservation. While it is possible to transfer points between members, the transfer requires payment of a pretty hefty fee (1 cent per point). The points accrued for the rail fare are go to that fare's passenger, not to the purchaser.

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1 hour ago, bratkinson said:

Hopefully you'll be connected to a savvy agent that can get them in one small cluster vs spread out, possibly in 2 different cars.

The TE runs with one full sleeper and the Trans-Dorm,m, so if they all want Bedrooms, they will have to all be in one car.

And since there are only five Bedrooms in each Superliner sleeper (barring the Auto Train), the OP and his friends will have to book every Bedroom on that train. IOW, if even a single Bedroom has already been sold, they’re screwed.

Good luck. :unsure:

Edited by cpotisch

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cpotisch pointed out an interesting problem getting 5 bedrooms.  If everyone is only going CHI-SAS or intermediate points, AND if it's one of 3 days per week the through cars to LA run, then there's 2 full sleepers, at opposite ends of the train.  Beyond SAS to LAX, only the through sleeper from Chicago.

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Your party will take up all the bedrooms available on the whole train, since there is only one regular sleeper.  Book now, work with an agent to find a date that works, and make sure it is well in advance, since you'll be taking up the entire inventory.  Hopefully they'll work with you on splitting it up, but the rooms are going to skew towards the higher buckets regardless.

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15 hours ago, bratkinson said:

cpotisch pointed out an interesting problem getting 5 bedrooms.  If everyone is only going CHI-SAS or intermediate points, AND if it's one of 3 days per week the through cars to LA run, then there's 2 full sleepers, at opposite ends of the train.  Beyond SAS to LAX, only the through sleeper from Chicago.

@bratkinson

Incorrect!

THE EAGLE ALWAYS RUNS WITH ONE SLEEPER BETWEEN CHICAGO AND SAN ANTONIO.

On the three days a week that 421/422 runs, that sleeper is numbered 21/2230, and on the four days it doesn't run, it's 21/2220. But either way, sleeping accommodations consist of that one sleeper and the Trans-Dorm.

It's only west of San Antonio that you have two sleepers: the 21/2230 Eagle through-sleeper, and the 01/0230 Sunset Limited sleeper. But the latter car is obviously not an option for anyone traveling to/from any points between CHI and SAS (unless they're willing to transfer in the middle of the night).

And BTW, the Eagle actually typically runs with that sleeper directly behind the Trans-Dorm and in front of the diner; not at the rear of the train. Every once in a while, it will be on the rear of the eastbound, but that's usually just if the Sunset's late into SAS and they don't have enough time to switch the cars over. But for the most part, it is right behind the Trans-Dorm.

Edited by cpotisch

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7 hours ago, Davemy said:

Thanks for all the help!

Glad to be of (some of the) service, and welcome to AU! :)

Edited by cpotisch

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DAVEMY, please can you keep us informed on how your planning for this trip is working out ?  If this trip happens, please do a trip report here on AU.  

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16 hours ago, cpotisch said:

@bratkinson

Incorrect!

THE EAGLE ALWAYS RUNS WITH ONE SLEEPER BETWEEN CHICAGO AND SAN ANTONIO.

On the three days a week that 421/422 runs, that sleeper is numbered 21/2230, and on the four days it doesn't run, it's 21/2220. But either way, sleeping accommodations consist of that one sleeper and the Trans-Dorm.

It's only west of San Antonio that you have two sleepers: the 21/2230 Eagle through-sleeper, and the 01/0230 Sunset Limited sleeper. But the latter car is obviously not an option for anyone traveling to/from any points between CHI and SAS (unless they're willing to transfer in the middle of the night).

And BTW, the Eagle actually typically runs with that sleeper directly behind the Trans-Dorm and in front of the diner; not at the rear of the train. Every once in a while, it will be on the rear of the eastbound, but that's usually just if the Sunset's late into SAS and they don't have enough time to switch the cars over. But for the most part, it is right behind the Trans-Dorm.

Typing on a moving train (#97) is always a problem for me.  I tried to keep it short.  Thank you for expanding my remarks and clarifying it.

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So here is the outcome.  We had 2 couples drop out, which made things easier. I booked the first 2 couples in a Roomette on the Cardinal and a bedroom each on the Texas Eagle. Having signed up for the Amtrak rewards credit card, I was able to use the 2 free companion coupons to save about $50 per couple. I the had to wait for the points to post from the CC. (Thus the delay in posting this.) I did have to purchase some points to cover the 3rd couples ticket, but the final cost per couple worked out to $820. This was almost $150 less than the lowest bucket pricing for the roomette and bedroom combo from Cincinnati to San Antonio. Feel like we got a great deal and excited for the trip.

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Congrats! Enjoy your trip!

8 minutes ago, Davemy said:

I was able to use the 2 free companion coupons to save about $50 per couple.

How did you only save $50 per couple? Rail fare from Cincinnati to San Antonio is $192, so that's what you should have saved for each companion coupon used.

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15 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

How did you only save $50 per couple? Rail fare from Cincinnati to San Antonio is $192, so that's what you should have saved for each companion coupon used.

As I understand it the companion coupons are not valid for the saver fares. 

I was just happy to be able to use it booking a roomette and bedroom. 

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26 minutes ago, Davemy said:
43 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

How did you only save $50 per couple? Rail fare from Cincinnati to San Antonio is $192, so that's what you should have saved for each companion coupon used.

As I understand it the companion coupons are not valid for the saver fares. 

I was just happy to be able to use it booking a roomette and bedroom. 

Ah, I just remembered that Companion Coupons don't work for Bedrooms, which means you still had to pay for everyone's rail fare for the CHI-SAS leg, which explains the relatively mild savings.

But the fact that it doesn't work for Saver fares is not at all relevant here.

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That makes better sense.  Regardless, we were able to use the coupons and save some money. That was just a bonus savings. Getting the third set with points was the significant advantage. 

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