Amtrak tickets cost more at the last minute

For several years Amtrak has been using revenue management techniques in the midwest. Now they’ve introduced the concept to the Northeast Corridor.

    Early last month, Amtrak began charging its Northeast Corridor passengers 15 percent to 25 percent more for tickets purchased close to departure than for the same tickets bought weeks in advance.

    The new structure is based on the level of sales prior to departure. The more popular the route, such as the Northeast Corridor Metroliner or Acela on a Friday afternoon, the higher the last-minute rate.

    “If a train is almost sold out, you may pay a higher fare if you book at the last minute,” said Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell.

My first reaction was that this is long overdue from a business prudence standpoint, but anathema to travelers. My second reaction was that a key competitive advantage that Amtrak has over the various airline shuttle products is convenience and price flexibility. It remains to be seen how this higher pricing will translate in terms of ridership.

Furthermore, alas, most current Amtrak discounts require a 3-day advance purchase.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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