When do buckets change?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by joelkfla, Apr 15, 2019.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Apr 15, 2019 #1

    joelkfla

    j

    joelkfla

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Checking CZ on Amsnag, it seems that the lowest fares on bedrooms are only available within the coming month or so.

    Is there a particular day of the week or month that buckets are reallocated based on demand to date, and would therefore be the best time to grab a lower fare?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Apr 15, 2019 #2

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,207
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    Buckets are based on availability. So supply and demand. As for the best time? That's up for debate according to some members here.
     
    pennyk likes this.
  3. Apr 16, 2019 #3

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    I found the EB to have the lowest bucket for a bedroom in January for a September trip Sea-Chi. The CL from Chi-Was at that time was way too high for a bedroom. Some on this forum suggested the price would come down at about the five month mark. Sure enough a couple weeks ago the bedroom price dropped dramatically. I booked. Now the Silvers from Was to my home in Wpb have not moved in price so I just booked a roomette instead of a bedroom.

    Just have to keep an eye on prices.
     
  4. Apr 16, 2019 #4

    Maglev

    Maglev

    Maglev

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    666
    Location:
    Orcas Island, Washington
    I would think that after the next month or so and until fall, it would be wise to book as soon as possible because the trains might sell out.
     
  5. Apr 16, 2019 #5

    niemi24s

    n

    niemi24s

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Messages:
    1,993
    Best thing to do is:
    • Forget the idea that there's a certain number of months ahead of your expected travel when the lowest buckets will be available. In my extensive experience they can be made available at any time - tomorrow, this month, next month, 5 months out or 11 months out.
    • Next, use AmSnag... http://biketrain.x10.mx/amsnag2.0/amSnag.php ...to make searches in increments of 30 days starting tomorrow in order to find and record all 5 buckets for the sleeping accommodations you might want to get and for the end points you will use. (Be advised you may not be able to find all 5 buckets even if you make 11 months worth of searches)
    • Once you know what the buckets are, you can see if they're available when you want to go:
    ▲ If low bucket fares are available when you want to go simply book it - all they can do if you wait is increase or become sold out!
    ▲ If low bucket fares are NOT available when you want to go, you can either:
    ♦ book now and hope the fares decrease. If they do, call and have your reservation modified to the lower fare or
    ♦ Wait and see if the fare decreases, and if you'be got a good Fairy Godmother the decrease will be to the low bucket. However...
    ♦ The fare may never decrease or it may increase or become sold out.

    I'm firmly convinced the only hard and fast rule about the best time to look for low bucket fares or when the buckets change is that there are no hard and fast rules. I've seen some routes with lots of low bucket sleeping accommodations scattered out among the 11 month availability period - and other routes that NEVER have low bucket sleeping accommodations offered.

    I've heard here that bucket changes are all made more or less simultaneously at 2am PST when they're programmed into Arrow, the Amtrak computer. However, my experience (based on receipt of 34 Fare Watch emails from AmSnag) shows bucket changes - at least the notifications of them - can occur at any time of the day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
    BuffaloBoy and Tony in Ann Arbor like this.
  6. Apr 16, 2019 #6

    Trogdor

    Trogdor

    Trogdor

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Messages:
    5,279
    Location:
    Here
    The only relevance that a specific time cutoff has (I forget if it's really 2 am PST, or midnight PST, but whenever, exact time doesn't matter) is that is when any "held" reservations that have exhausted their hold time will expire, and their inventory is released back into the system. However, this is less and less relevant today, as the vast majority of bookings are done online, which doesn't give you a "hold reservation" option (holding a reservation was most relevant for those who needed to reserve on the phone but actually pay for the tickets in person). Therefore, the number of held reservations that expire at whatever-am is going to be next-to-nil, and thus the change in availability and price at that time will not be particularly noticeable.
     
  7. Apr 21, 2019 #7

    troo troo tcrane

    troo troo tcrane

    troo troo tcrane

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Messages:
    39
    If the fare decreases do I get a refund of the difference or a credit of the difference?

    My fare on Silver Star just decreased by about $30. However the fare on the same day for the Meteor decreased by $150 and I can move to meteor at almost no cost.

    Trying to see what my options are. :)
     
  8. Apr 21, 2019 #8

    pennyk

    pennyk

    pennyk

    Conductor Staff Member Administator Moderator Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2009
    Messages:
    8,647
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I would call Amtrak and ask to modify your reservation from the Star to the Meteor. They should charge you the difference in what you paid for the Star and the current fare for the Meteor. I did this with no problem a couple of months ago.
     
    troo troo tcrane likes this.
  9. Apr 21, 2019 #9

    joelkfla

    j

    joelkfla

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Just for the record -- How far out was your travel date when the fares dropped?
     
  10. Apr 21, 2019 #10

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,207
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    You'll normally get the difference refunded to the CC you paid with. I don't know if it's possible to get a voucher in this situation.

    In the past I've booked a trip and noticed the bucket went down 2 or 3 weeks later. I called and got the difference refunded. :)
     
    troo troo tcrane likes this.
  11. Apr 21, 2019 #11

    troo troo tcrane

    troo troo tcrane

    troo troo tcrane

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Messages:
    39
    Thanks all. I think I will move to the Meteor. It's only about $50 more than the Star.

    The trip is for early September and I originally booked about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Checked the price last weekend and it had no change. So the price drop happened some time last week and at around 4.5 months out.
     
  12. Apr 21, 2019 #12

    joelkfla

    j

    joelkfla

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Yes, but how long before the travel date did you see them decrease? I'm trying to figure out about when Amtrak starts moving cabins to the lower buckets.
    Thanks!
     
  13. Apr 22, 2019 #13

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    I have 3 different trains from Seattle to WPB in Sept. Booking in January has been best price for bedroom from Sea to Chi. April was best price (so far ) from Chi to Was and Was to Wpb hasnt moved in price in last month or so whenever I booked it. No rhyme or reason to the prices. Just book it and like others suggest keep an eye on prices and if it goes lower call and modify the reservation.

    Have found the CZ very hard to get the low bucket. Last year nine months before travel i found a semi decent bedroom points rate. I took it. This year the least expensive bedroom long distance was on the EB.

    For me its been this way for years and years.
     
  14. Apr 22, 2019 #14

    joelkfla

    j

    joelkfla

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Thanks. I guess I'll just have to take the best I can get and hope it goes down.

    What I'm fearing is that the fare for a week or a few days before or after will go down but not the one I'll have booked, but by then it will be too late to change all the connecting trains, planes, and hotels without wiping out any savings. I have to stop obsessing about price so much! :)
     
    Sauve850 likes this.
  15. Apr 22, 2019 #15

    F900ElCapitan

    F

    F900ElCapitan

    Service Attendant AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2018
    Messages:
    130
    Location:
    Frisco, TX
    The fares can change at any time. But 5 months out definitely seems to be a readjustment point where the bucket is oftentimes dropped. It also seems best to book as early as possible (11 months out is max) and adjust if a lower bucket becomes available.
     
  16. Apr 22, 2019 #16

    niemi24s

    n

    niemi24s

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Messages:
    1,993
    And how many instances of fares dropping is this based on?

    This asked because many forget there are 32 different numbered (directional) LD trains with sleeping accommodations and there are 11 months worth of days than can have any of the various buckets offered. That alone (not including trips less than the entire route) leads to over 10,500 instances when fares may possibly drop - if not already at low bucket. I'm pretty much convinced that any conclusions (such as the "5 month" one) based on only a handful of instances is ill-founded.
     
  17. Apr 22, 2019 #17

    F900ElCapitan

    F

    F900ElCapitan

    Service Attendant AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2018
    Messages:
    130
    Location:
    Frisco, TX
    So I’ve used Amsnag extensively and have actually been watching this for quite a while now, and I’ve seen it to be very consistent. Just for one instance, I’m booked on 22 from FTW-CHI this coming September, for some reason in Amtrak’s wisdom they initially (11 month mark) offer low bucket roomettes on 422 days but low bucket +1 on 22 days. So sure enough the other day...right at the 5 month mark...the roomette price dropped to low bucket. The bedroom was also dropped to low bucket, another instance where low bucket won’t be offered until this point, if it’s offered. Bedrooms on 7, 27, and 28 are typically initially offered at low bucket +2, and I’ve never seen a low bucket until the 5 month point, yet for some reason, 8 usually offers one low bucket bedroom at the start. This is of course all based on demand and current bookings, if they fill whichever class your looking at at the higher level, then no, they probably won’t drop the price. On our next CZ leg we were able to get 2 bedrooms early on for low bucket +1, now they are at high bucket with 2 rooms available (it was 1 the other day but another has just freed up), with this much booked there was no price change on the bedrooms, but the roomettes dropped a bucket level, again right at the 5 month mark.

    So all in all, I’m not saying buckets can’t be adjusted at other times (people cancel, pricing policy can change, etc), I’m just saying that the 5 month point an assessment is made and fares adjusted accordingly. And yes, I've seen it happen many times.
     
  18. Apr 23, 2019 #18

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    My CL eastbound from Chi-Was bedroom rate for a Sept trip dropped to low bucket right at the five month mark as some had suggested to me earlier in the year. That's the only one of the three trains Im riding this fall that dropped.
     
  19. Apr 23, 2019 #19

    niemi24s

    n

    niemi24s

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Messages:
    1,993
    There may well be something to this "5 month" business, but I hope blindly following it doesn't preclude someone from checking fares 11 months out on the chance that a low bucket ride is available. It's not impossible for that same trip to be at some higher bucket if you wait until the 5 month point.

    It costs very little to check fares as soon as they're made available.
     
  20. Apr 23, 2019 #20

    F900ElCapitan

    F

    F900ElCapitan

    Service Attendant AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2018
    Messages:
    130
    Location:
    Frisco, TX
    I agree niemi24s. As I’ve always said, look as early as possible and book if you like or can live with the fare and watch it. But that wasn’t the OP’s question.

    My five month date comes up in a few days for my SWC leg, last September they quit offering a low bucket bedroom 11 months out, and I booked in October. So I’m curious if that fare goes down but I don’t see many low bucket bedrooms on The Chief during the high months. I’m also curious why they do this, I wonder if they make tour companies release any unsold inventory?
     
  21. Apr 24, 2019 #21

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,207
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    So funny story that actually relates to this. Last Wednesday night I went to book tickets for a Round Trip to Boston from Philly. The fares on Regionals were all lowbucket. But a few Acela's were higher buckets and a few were low bucket. I was going to book 2166 and that was Low Bucket. For the return every Acela except the 9am departure was fairly high priced. So I chose the 9am Acela. Put my CC information in etc. My Card was declined. Which has been a common theme in my life lately. My bank picks up certain transactions over $100 and flags my card. Monday I tried to book again. The same story with trains to Boston. But all but one Acela was low bucket. And that one Acela was the highest bucket and a 1pm departure from beantown. Which puts it through NYP at 5pm. So sometime between Wednesday and Monday the buckets dropped significantly. But I was not complaining at all! Lol!
     
    F900ElCapitan likes this.

Share This Page



arrow_white