Up to Washington, Down to Business.
You know how it’s almost impossible to figure out the rationale behind airline fares? Well, based on my recent experience, the same can be said for Amtrak. Case in point:
The NARP board meeting was moved up to 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, so instead of taking a Regional train to Washington I had previously booked, I decided to take an earlier train, the Crescent (Amtrak’s daily train that runs between New Orleans and New York via Washington), which gets to Charlottesville just after 7:00 a.m. and would get me to Washington just about 10 o’clock.
I had work I had to do on the short three hour trip, so on Saturday night I went on line to see what it would cost for a roomette. To my astonishment, the Amtrak computer said the fare would be $245. That included the basic rail fare (which I had already paid, of course), but was still a swat for a fairly short ride.
Then, just because I was curious, I asked the computer what the cost for one of the big bedrooms would be. Imagine my surprise when $160 popped up. That was $85 cheaper than the roomette! So before the computer could change its mind, I paid the difference between my existing ticket and the bedroom. It was just over $100 … a deal!
But, as they say on TV, “But wait! There’s more!” Unlike the regional train I had been booked on, the Crescent has a full-on dining car. So I boarded, tossed my luggage into the bedroom, and went straight into the diner for a nice breakfast. As Amtrak regulars know, when you travel in an Amtrak sleeping car, dining car meals are included in your fare. I would have had to pay for my lunch had I stuck with the later train.
I suppose all this is only fascinating to serious rail fans, but I just can’t understand how the smaller roomette could cost $85 more than the big bedroom. To a rational, methodical mind, that makes no sense whatsoever. I suppose it does to the Amtrak computer, however . . . but I would really love to ask the damn thing a few questions!