Go Back   FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Other Loyalty Programs/Partners > Amtrak | Guest Rewards
Sign in using an external account

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Oct 23, 10, 7:00 pm   #1
LAX
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia, PA
Programs: OZ Diamond
Posts: 4,822
Amtrak pricing structure

Not sure if this has been discussed before (did try to search), but I just found out that Amtrak actually charges more for someone getting on the same train going to PHL (30th St station for Amtrak, not the airport) from EWR than NYP. I know about the AirTrain access fee when using EWR, but the difference is more than the $5 or so access fee. Does Amtrak play the same game the airlines play, pricing based on market as opposed to the distance travel? Perhaps they also have different fare buckets as well? Maybe the lower fare bucket has already run out on EWR-PHL while it was still available for NYP-PHL?

LAX
LAX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 26, 10, 5:34 am   #2
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New Mexico...USA
Programs: WN, F9, DL
Posts: 59
The short answer is Yes. I am not sure about the Newarl/NYP market difference, but Amtrak does a pretty aggressive job at yield management. I belive they have 5 different sleeping car buckets also, FWIW.
Mudhen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 15, 10, 1:08 pm   #3
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: n.y.c.
Programs: I have elite status. Yaay for me.
Posts: 12,206
I am seeing something like this for travel during Thanksgiving week. I need to get to Amsterdam, NY. For the same train:

NYP -> Amsterdam, NY = $71
NYP -> Utica, NY = $57 (Utica is one stop after Amsterdam)

I guess the trick is to buy a ticket to Utica and just get off in AMS.
nerd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 16, 10, 8:49 am   #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: NYC
Programs: BA Silver, AA Gold, *wood Platinum, Hyatt Platinum
Posts: 1,236
ime the pricing anomalies are quite common as departure time approaches, as lower fare buckets are sold out to your destination but perhaps not to another further along the line. Southbound passengers heading to D.C. can sometimes save sizeable amounts by purchasing tickets for Virginia destinations (assuming your desired train continues there).
jbalmuth is online now   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 16, 10, 9:45 am   #5
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: United States
Programs: UA, AA, DL, Amtrak
Posts: 4,245
So what are the ethical considerations here? If this was an airline forum, everyone would immediately chime in that hidden-city ticketing (or whatever you would call the variation here) is not practical since the airline would (a) cancel your return ticket, or (b) you might get re-routed in an IRROPS situation meaning the airline would send you to your ticketed destination, not your intended destination, or (c) the airline would eventually figure it out if you did it too often and penalize you financially or by docking FF miles.

Those aren't really concerns with Amtrak. For (a), you can easily avoid this by purchasing a one-way ticket, not to mention the fact that Amtrak doesn't really have a way of tracking where you get off the train. For (b), the chances of truly getting re-routed on Amtrak are virtually zero. And (c)...well, the answer to (a) basically applies here too. They can't penalize what they don't know about.

So from a practical standpoint, there is essentially nothing to worry about by purchasing a ticket from Point A to Point C and getting off the train at intermediate Point B. (Unless you are checking a bag, which is a complication easily avoided for most passengers, and isn't even possible for many destinations.)

But what are the ethical implications? By doing this, you are knowingly purchasing product "A" and using product "B". You are not only denying Amtrak the extra revenue they would have received had you purchased the correct ticket, but you are also denying them the revenue they (potentially) could receive by selling a fare to a different passenger who would have boarded at the intermediate point, in a sold-out scenario (applicable, since we're talking about busy travel periods). In fact, if you were denied the chance to buy a ticket because someone was "occupying" a seat but had actually de-boarded, how would you feel?
__________________
This space for rent
fairviewroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 16, 10, 2:27 pm   #6
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: BOS
Programs: UA 1K_MM AA EX_PLT Hyatt Dia IHG PLT Mar/Hilton Gold Amtrak S++ Hertz 5Star, Avis First
Posts: 730
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
In fact, if you were denied the chance to buy a ticket because someone was "occupying" a seat but had actually de-boarded, how would you feel?
I won't know for sure if it happened, right? Therefore I probably will feel nothing.
JT_BOS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 16, 10, 5:38 pm   #7
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: United States
Programs: UA, AA, DL, Amtrak
Posts: 4,245
Quote:
Originally Posted by JT_BOS View Post
I won't know for sure if it happened, right? Therefore I probably will feel nothing.
Okay, but that doesn't really address the question of whether it's an ethical action.
__________________
This space for rent
fairviewroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 10, 1:29 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Federal Way, WA
Programs: Mileage Plus 2P, Marriott Silver, many others
Posts: 1,076
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
Okay, but that doesn't really address the question of whether it's an ethical action.
From my standpoint as a passenger, it's as ethical as charging different prices for exactly the same product based solely on when the ticket is purchased.
dliesse is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 10, 5:42 pm   #9
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Not here; there!
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold
Posts: 12,780
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
So what are the ethical considerations here? If this was an airline forum, everyone would immediately chime in that hidden-city ticketing (or whatever you would call the variation here) is not practical since the airline would (a) cancel your return ticket, or (b) you might get re-routed in an IRROPS situation meaning the airline would send you to your ticketed destination, not your intended destination, or (c) the airline would eventually figure it out if you did it too often and penalize you financially or by docking FF miles.

Those aren't really concerns with Amtrak. For (a), you can easily avoid this by purchasing a one-way ticket, not to mention the fact that Amtrak doesn't really have a way of tracking where you get off the train. For (b), the chances of truly getting re-routed on Amtrak are virtually zero. And (c)...well, the answer to (a) basically applies here too. They can't penalize what they don't know about.

So from a practical standpoint, there is essentially nothing to worry about by purchasing a ticket from Point A to Point C and getting off the train at intermediate Point B. (Unless you are checking a bag, which is a complication easily avoided for most passengers, and isn't even possible for many destinations.)

But what are the ethical implications? By doing this, you are knowingly purchasing product "A" and using product "B". You are not only denying Amtrak the extra revenue they would have received had you purchased the correct ticket, but you are also denying them the revenue they (potentially) could receive by selling a fare to a different passenger who would have boarded at the intermediate point, in a sold-out scenario (applicable, since we're talking about busy travel periods). In fact, if you were denied the chance to buy a ticket because someone was "occupying" a seat but had actually de-boarded, how would you feel?
It's not just that Amtrak can't punish you for getting off the train early because they won't know; it's that -- as far as I know -- nothing in Amtrak's conditions of carriage prohibits use of hidden-city ticketing. This is in distinct contrast of the policies of many (but not all) airlines. If the carrier's policies permit it, what makes it unethical?

Yes, it's true that by purchasing more travel (at a lower price) than one intends to use, there is a possibility that another passenger will not be able to purchase transportation on the desired train. But is it ethical to require passenger A to pay more for his transportation than he has to, in order to ensure against the possibility that passenger B will be shut out?
guv1976 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 10, 7:38 am   #10
H_X
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 34
Here's another anomaly that I've seen. For example, for travel next Monday on Train #80:

CLT-->RGH $42
RGH-->RMT $25

CLT-->RMT is $71 (so it's $4 cheaper to buy two separate one-way tickets -will Amtrak let you do this?)
H_X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 10, 9:35 am   #11
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Programs: AGR,CO,PC,AA
Posts: 410
There are hungry/homeless/sick people all over the world, all over america, and in pretty much every town out there. When all these problems are taken care of then I will worry about whether or not somebody is denied a seat on a train.
Upstate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 10, 10:02 am   #12
Ambassador, New England
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Maineiac, USA
Programs: Amtrak, SPG
Posts: 1,650
Quote:
Originally Posted by H_X View Post
Here's another anomaly that I've seen. For example, for travel next Monday on Train #80:

CLT-->RGH $42
RGH-->RMT $25

CLT-->RMT is $71 (so it's $4 cheaper to buy two separate one-way tickets -will Amtrak let you do this?)
I don't have any experience doing it, but I'm not sure how they could deny you staying on the train at RGH because you have a valid ticket from there to RMT.

Or just play dumb and tell the conductor when you get on in CLT "I dunno, the QuikTrak just gave me two tickets instead of one"
lo2e is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 10, 1:11 pm   #13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: United States
Programs: UA, AA, DL, Amtrak
Posts: 4,245
Quote:
Originally Posted by dliesse View Post
From my standpoint as a passenger, it's as ethical as charging different prices for exactly the same product based solely on when the ticket is purchased.
Amtrak doesn't do this, however. Amtrak does charge different prices based on remaining availability (i.e. the "bucket" system) but this is different than arbitrarily charging different prices based on time remaining until departure, as you suggest. A train with 20 available seats is a different product, arguably, than a train with 100 available seats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
It's not just that Amtrak can't punish you for getting off the train early because they won't know; it's that -- as far as I know -- nothing in Amtrak's conditions of carriage prohibits use of hidden-city ticketing. This is in distinct contrast of the policies of many (but not all) airlines. If the carrier's policies permit it, what makes it unethical?
Okay, now we're getting somewhere. I can see the logic here, and I think this is a fair take. Amtrak could easily prohibit this, but doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Upstate View Post
There are hungry/homeless/sick people all over the world, all over america, and in pretty much every town out there. When all these problems are taken care of then I will worry about whether or not somebody is denied a seat on a train.
Glad to hear your priorities are in order. Are you working to ameliorate these problems or is it just a handy excuse to trot out when you don't want to consider the consequences of your actions? I realize this is not the most pressing matter in the world, but I just wanted to point out that this kind of ticketing practice may inconvenience others. That doesn't mean I'm telling anyone not to do it, or that they're morally flawed if they do. But I think it's worth noting.
__________________
This space for rent
fairviewroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 19, 10, 1:26 am   #14
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: BOS
Programs: UA 1K_MM AA EX_PLT Hyatt Dia IHG PLT Mar/Hilton Gold Amtrak S++ Hertz 5Star, Avis First
Posts: 730
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
Amtrak doesn't do this, however. Amtrak does charge different prices based on remaining availability (i.e. the "bucket" system) but this is different than arbitrarily charging different prices based on time remaining until departure, as you suggest. A train with 20 available seats is a different product, arguably, than a train with 100 available seats.
On Acela, I really think "time till departure" is part of the pricing formula, especially if it is within a few hours. Every time I have to switch trains, it's either the same fare, or I have to pay a difference. Not one time did I get a partial credit good for future travel.
JT_BOS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 21, 10, 10:16 pm   #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Federal Way, WA
Programs: Mileage Plus 2P, Marriott Silver, many others
Posts: 1,076
Quote:
Originally Posted by fairviewroad View Post
Amtrak doesn't do this, however. Amtrak does charge different prices based on remaining availability (i.e. the "bucket" system) but this is different than arbitrarily charging different prices based on time remaining until departure, as you suggest. A train with 20 available seats is a different product, arguably, than a train with 100 available seats.
Actually, that's exactly what I'm talking about. There is absolutely no difference between the seat you buy in a lower fare bucket and the one in a higher bucket. None whatsoever. The only difference is the time you buy the ticket. Exactly the same product, different prices.

The only justifiable price differences are those based on fully refundable vs. non-refundable tickets. Regardless of what the bean counters at the airlines and Amtrak think, to the customer there is no difference just because we can purchase the ticket closer to departure.
dliesse is offline   Reply With Quote
 
 
Reply

Bookmarks


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 2:35 pm.