Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:11 pm

Hamhock wrote:Anecdotally, I can say that my mother very much enjoyed her recent round-trip Business Class experience on the Crescent from New Orleans-Newark.


For that length of trip and price, why not fly?

Can Business Class passengers use the shower in the sleeping car?
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby electricron » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:16 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:
Hamhock wrote:Anecdotally, I can say that my mother very much enjoyed her recent round-trip Business Class experience on the Crescent from New Orleans-Newark.


For that length of trip and price, why not fly?
Can Business Class passengers use the shower in the sleeping car?


I hope they can't, the shower should be reserved for First Class passengers only.
I avoid flying because I can't stand the long walks and standing in the long lines at airports anymore.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby Hamhock » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:47 am

Goodness; my mother would be flattered by such interest in her travels.
SouthernRailway wrote:For that length of trip and price, why not fly?

A combination of: The price of flying was exorbitant at the time of booking; she doesn't enjoy flying and no longer enjoys driving long distances in a car; she wanted to see a different stretch of the country on her way; she's comfortable with train travel.

Arlington wrote:How much cheaper would the roomette have to be (and assuming that to make it cheaper, they'd not include meals)? Or put another way, how much *more* than BC would she have paid to get a roomette (but no food)?

At the time of booking, the cost of a roomette NOL-NWK was nearly $500; her Business Class seat was a little shy of $200. If I had to hazard a guess, she would have paid $50-70 more for the comfort of a lie-flat seat/bed, a pillow, a blanket and a door. Meal cost was irrelevant, as she was content to pay for her Dining Car meals.

Also, I erred in my recollection, as she did not travel back directly on the Crescent, but instead took the Carolinian to Raleigh for a few days, then the Carolinian to Charlotte, then the Crescent to New Orleans.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby jamesinclair » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:46 pm

Amtrak at the very least should offer a dedicated business wifi connection.

Additionally, airlines fill business class with upgrades.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby electricron » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:57 pm

jamesinclair wrote:Amtrak at the very least should offer a dedicated business wifi .


Are you suggesting Amtrak should get into the business of providing wifi towers in rhe middle of nowhere so it could provide business class passengers this service uninterrupted on long distance trains?
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby Arlington » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:13 pm

I wouldn't say that, but there is a huge amount of unused fiber bandwidth strung all along every route, and PTC means crews will be everywhere installing wireless.

AND Amtrak has an RFP out to see who can best monetize the telecom potential of 700+ miles of Amtrak owned right of way.

I don't think this is the right thread to get into details of telecoms but it is an interesting thought that enhanced telecoms could be a money making differentiator for Amtrak business class on certain routes or everywhere.

Here we come back to the product consistency problem: is BC
2-1 seating or just 2-2 with longer pitch?
Blue leather, red or grey?
Drink or meal?
Roomette?
Better Wi-Fi in a BC car?

The airlines are fairly disciplined in branding their business class and making it consistent such as Envoy class and giving it the same trade dress everywhere it goes. Just about the only exception to this rule is when they use a domestic airplane to fly short International trips such as to the Caribbean and call their domestic first-class cabin "international business class"

There is probably good money to be made by giving all Amtrak operated business class a consistent look and feel and calling any state operated business class something like Carolina Business if the state has control of the Rolling Stock.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby Greg Moore » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:57 pm

So, I was looking for my annual trip to Atlanta, I looked at Business Class on the Crescent and again, I have NO clue what I'm getting. Why would I bother upgrading when I don't know what I'm paying for.

Bad business and marketing model here.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby jamesinclair » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:08 am

electricron wrote:
jamesinclair wrote:Amtrak at the very least should offer a dedicated business wifi .


Are you suggesting Amtrak should get into the business of providing wifi towers in rhe middle of nowhere so it could provide business class passengers this service uninterrupted on long distance trains?


Nobody is suggesting that.

"Middle of nowhere" is no longer a barrier.

Both airlines and cruise ships offer wifi in the "middle of nowhere"
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:56 am

jamesinclair wrote:Amtrak at the very least should offer a dedicated business wifi connection.

Additionally, airlines fill business class with upgrades.


First, Mr. Sinclair's posting is quoted in its entirety as I will be addressing both points.

Really, does anybody's transportation wi-fi work as well as.mine as I sit here ten feet away from my router? My experiences with it since 2014 (first time having a mobile device) suggest otherwise.

While I have not been near the Corridor with WiFi, I have used it into town on METRA. My one experience to date on Auto Train suggested on Google Maps that such had never left Sanford. On the OBB which also touts free Wi-Fi, Maps thought we were in Ireland when the station sign said Linz.

Aboard JetBlue, such was free but a hit or miss when I tried to post to this Forum. All the Attendant could say was "we're still working on it". Sorry United, but I'm not about to pay for yours.

Now so far as airline premium cabins go, I have to wonder how many are paying for it - especially First. One year, returning from overseas in "paid-for" Business Class, this not very nice lady sitting next to me and of the "if you have to get out, bother me; otherwise don't" varietal, did say to me to me "oh, you showed up (fifteen minutes to spare); they were going to upgrade my Son from Coach if you didn't".

Now last year, and with a nevermind who knows who, I got upgraded from Business to Global First. Looking around the twelve seat cabin on a 772, I think one guy, a Chinese fellow, was paying for it. The remainder was the Captain's "other", Officers on break, a thirty something couple that I'll bet were on points, and me.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:48 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
Now so far as airline premium cabins go, I have to wonder how many are paying for it - especially First.


I think that the percentage of people who pay for upgrades has increased. I pay for first class domestically about 1/2 of the time when I fly and I see from a recent Wall Street Journal article that lots more people than before do so, since the cost of upgrading now is relatively low (about $120 for a 600-mile flight, compared to hundreds of dollars just a few years ago).

Amtrak should consider giving otherwise-unused Viewliner rooms, perhaps without meals, to Amtrak Guest Rewards elite members.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:26 pm

I like Mr. Sinclair's idea, perhaps with a dedicated, high-data-rate cellular modem in each BC car capable of handling multiple video calls or streaming movies at once. Perhaps multiple modems, if one can't handle the load. The "plebes" :wink: can get low-speed internet, or use their own devices.

If we are going to get crazy here, I'd also ask for a reasonably-sized table sturdy enough for a lightweight laptop, an additional task light or at least an adjustable-intensity overhead with at-seat controls, and a cupholder for free nonalcoholic drinks. More legroom and 2+1 seats would be a big bonus, especially for overnight travel, but I'd settle for an armrest where two people can have their own separated-by-a-ridge halves.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby electricron » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:56 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:Amtrak should consider giving otherwise-unused Viewliner rooms, perhaps without meals, to Amtrak Guest Rewards elite members.

As long as every long distance trains including the Auto Train requires subsidies, with most of the trains having fares covering 50% of the cost, I can't see Amtrak giving away rooms or roomette away free to anyone politically. That would be the quickest and surest way to lose political support it has with Congress. Golly, they are already giving away all the rooms and roometts away at half price as is. How much of a discount do you need?
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby leviramsey » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:21 pm

electricron wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:Amtrak should consider giving otherwise-unused Viewliner rooms, perhaps without meals, to Amtrak Guest Rewards elite members.

As long as every long distance trains including the Auto Train requires subsidies, with most of the trains having fares covering 50% of the cost, I can't see Amtrak giving away rooms or roomette away free to anyone politically. That would be the quickest and surest way to lose political support it has with Congress. Golly, they are already giving away all the rooms and roometts away at half price as is. How much of a discount do you need?


The AGR elite tiers (Select, Select Plus, Select Executive) may already include upgrades to roomettes from coach on the business-classless LDs. Select touts 2 one-class upgrades per year and Plus/Executive have 4, with Executive getting an extra upgrade for every 3,000 points over 20k per year. Ignoring the credit card points, one gets 20k points in a year by dropping:

$10,000 a year on coach (and, I suppose LD sleeper) [3000 points for every extra $1,500 spent]
$8,000 a year on business class [3000 points for every extra $1200 spent]
$5,000 a year on Acela first class [3000 points for every extra $1000 spent]

All Acela first class travel is by definition on the NEC. Most of the business class travel is on the NEC and the state-supported routes. It's hard to spend $200/week on coach fares on the LD network: that's a weekly trip between Chicago and Salt Lake City on the Zephyr, for example. Nearly all AGR points for Select Executive members get accumulated on the NEC (both due to the higher per-passenger-mile fares on the NEC and the volume).

The notional value of an AGR point is about 1 cent (that's basically what Amtrak gets from the credit card), so the average value of an upgrade is perhaps somewhere in the 3-5k point range, so the upgrade is $40. Consider an upgrade from coach to roomette on the Zephyr from CHI-EMY. That looks like a $265 upgrade, but around $160 of that seems to be the food (since that's the difference between 2 in a roomette and 1). Consider also how rare the elite upgrades on LDs are likely to be (if their members are earning most of the points on the NEC higher classes, most elites will never set foot on a LD, and probably not more than twice a year). The LD upgrade starts to look more and more like a 10k point value or higher proposition, which covers the upgrade. That LD upgrade was prepaid a year in advance and effectively transfers fare revenue from Acela First Class to the LD train.
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:45 pm

Ok, so I took Business Class on the Crescent to Atlanta (leaving NYP on Thursday).

I'll admit I was VERY dubious about the cost benefit, but to me and to Amtrak.
At $75 it's a big upsell for... basically free drinks and maybe less traffic, fewer passengers.

I believe one person above said they had been on the Crescent business class with only 3 people.

So I wondered if it was worth it to Amtrak when in theory they could probably get far more passengers as a simple coach.

And of course I can't drink $75 worth of soda.

That said... for my trip to Atlanta, it was worth it.
This time I'd say the coach was just under 1/2 full. So from Amtrak's perspective, that's not too bad of a deal. And most were on for most of the way I think.

And for me.. having both seats to myself and a much quieter environment was a clear win.
The fact of having both seats was a win for two reasons. The first is obvious a bit easier to spread out and sleep (I can't sleep in the current reclining position the seats offer).
The second, less obvious, but equally important. I can't sit in the same seat all the way from NYP to ATL.

I have to get up for dinner, at least once or twice for the bathroom and then before I go to bed, I like to chance into some fleece pants and a different shirt for sleeping.
This means getting up and getting to my luggage, going to the bathroom, etc.
Since I travel with my laptop, I prefer to sit/sleep closest to the window. So, this means I'm "that guy" the one you don't want to be sitting in the aisle next to because, even though I try as hard as possible not to annoy you, I feel like I probably am.
So.. this way I didn't annoy anyone.

Now, on this particular ride, the conductor said the coach cars were are full, so there was really zero chance I'd have had both seats to myself. This helped increase that quite a bit. It was worth it.

I'd do it again.

That said, I really wish the Amfleet II seats would recline back about 15 degrees further and the tray tables would extend another 6 inches.

I think reclining further would still give the passenger behind the seat plenty of room but make sleeping MUCH easier.

So, when I head down again next year, I'll spring for business class.

That said, I do think Amtrak should up the value a bit more (if not free dinner, SOMETHING.. perhaps a $15 voucher towards dinner or something.)
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Re: Business class on LD trains: how are ticket sales?

Postby Arlington » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:13 am

^ That coach was sold out (for which segment?) Seems to confirm that the reason for creating business class was to create a higher fare bucket that people would have to buy when coach was sold out.
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