You can now upgrade your next Amtrak trip with new bidding system, but is it worth it?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
There’s an exciting new way to upgrade on Amtrak today. The passenger rail company confirmed to TPG that it is offering customers the option to upgrade to business or first class via paid bidding. There’s a chance it could eventually be possible to upgrade to a sleeper car and/or a bunk.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Amtrak’s new “BidUp” system allows customers to bid on upgrades with cash. Right now, unfortunately, you can’t use your Amtrak Rewards points.
According to Amtrak, “Customers with existing reservations can visit Amtrak.com/BidUp, check eligibility up to two hours prior to departure and place a bid to upgrade their reservation into our premium classes of service: business class (most corridor routes) and first class (Acela).”
Rail passengers only get billed if their bid is accepted. There is no fee for bidding.
In a press release, Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Roger Harris said, “BidUp is a great way for more Amtrak customers to enjoy our premium services.”
So, what do you get when you are upgraded?
Related: Acela business class review
Related: Acela first class review
Business-class customers get dedicated cars or sections on the train with more legroom and reserved seating on the Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Carolinian and Vermonter train lines. They also get 25% bonus points.
First-class riders get access to reserved seating in the first-class cabin (could be great for the Boston-New York-Washington Acela line). They also receive complimentary meals, beverages, lounge access and a 50% points bonus.
Is it worth it? Travel industry analyst and rail fan Jamie Larounis says, “The upgrade offers aren’t a great deal.”
I spoke to Larounis after he had posted a few of his offers on Twitter. He told me that, for the most part, the deals weren’t great because the hard product and service on first and business class on most routes weren’t worth spending much extra for. He said:
“The best upgrade scenario in the Northeast would be from Acela Express Business Class to First Class, where there are fewer seats, at-seat food and beverage service, and lounge access in major stations — still, this upgrade would only be worth it on the lower end of the range Amtrak is accepting bids for (the “poor” range).”
Still, some folks won’t mind paying a small upgrade fee for those kinds of perks. Extra legroom is worth at least $15 to me, even on a short trip.
Amtrak says, “Bidding for an upgrade to a private room will be offered at a later date.” In other words, you can’t yet bid for a bed or private bunk on any of Amtrak’s longer routes.
Larounis told me that is where the real value could eventually lie: “There could be value on longer routes where there are sleeping car accommodations, though if you’re wanting a bed, you’re likely to purchase this at booking instead of hoping for space to still be available for bid. With sleeper accommodations, this is where you’re likely to get the most value out of any train Amtrak operates — simply because of the privacy and flat-bed offering that is important on daylong or more train rides.”
Related: The brand new high-speed Acela cars
Let’s hoping that’s the next iteration of this interesting new feature.
Featured image courtesy Amtrak.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees