Dissecting Amtrak's roomette sale

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A Viewliner roomette rolls through Florida on the Silver Meteor in May 2018.
Bob Johnston

WASHINGTON—When two people ride together in an Amtrak roomette, the total fare is normally comprised of one room charge and two rail fares, each generally similar to what the travelers would pay riding in coach.

Through Tuesday, Dec. 11, Amtrak’s latest internet-only sale allows the second person to ride without paying the rail fare. The offer is good for travel on all Amtrak sleeping-car trains except Auto Train departing Jan. 7 through May 23, 2019.

In order to get the deal, it is necessary to start the booking from the “Buy One Roomette and Bring a Companion for Free” website landing page here.

Entering through the landing page is important, because the normal reservation page won’t automatically calculate the discount. A “promo applied” notation appears below the roomette fare; if you don’t see it, you are not getting the “buy one, get one free” fare.

While the sample destination city-pairs displayed are one-night trips to emphasize lower prices, Trains News Wire found that the best cost savings occur for multi-night itineraries. Because rail fares continue to be yield managed, according to the percentage of coach inventory sell-out (which in turn is a function of how many coaches are assigned to a train), fares can vary widely depending upon whether a “saver” or “value” fare applies for a particular date. The higher the coach fare, the greater the savings, although some peculiarities surfaced when pricing the same trip on the different “regular” and “promo” booking platforms (see table).  

Unlike previous “flash” sales, which have focused solely on price under Amtrak’s current marketing regime, the roomette companion fare promotion provides a platform to explain unique aspects of overnight train travel.

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