Amtrak Riders Can Now Bid for Premium Upgrades

Amtrak has introduced a new upgrade bidding program and it’s called BidUp. Basically, just like with other travel programs where you place a bid, with Amtrak’s BidUp, you could find yourself in Business or First Class on your train ride.

Amtrak BidUp for Premium Service Upgrade

If you’ve ever traveled in a coach seat on Amtrak, you know that the seats are spacious. There’s plenty of room to stretch out your legs and wide enough to not bump elbows with your neighbor. But if you want a more premium train experience on your Amtrak trip, try BidUp.

Typical Amtrak coach car.
Typical Amtrak coach car. With BidUP, you could have even more room and special amenities. 

If you’re booked in coach on select routes, you can have a try at bidding up for an upgrade to Business or First Class. Currently, Business Class seats are available on 17 Amtrak trains. First Class is a feature aboard Amtrak’s Acela fleet between New York and Boston. 

What Amtrak Trains Have Bidding?

The initial roll-out of BidUp covers several train routes in the Northeast. These include the Northeast Regional running between Boston and Virginia Beach, the Palmetto between New York and Savannah, Georgia, the Carolinian for travel between New York and Charlotte, NC and the Vermonter running between New York and St. Albans, Vermont.

Business Class offers riders a dedicated car or section on the train, even more legroom and reserved seating. If you belong to Amtrak Guest Rewards, you’ll receive a 25% point bonus if you win your bid to upgrade to Business Class.

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How to Bid With Amtrak BidUp

  • If you have an existing reservation, visit Amtrak.com/BidUp. Check eligibility up to two hours prior to departure. If eligible, place a bid to upgrade your reservation into one of the premium classes of service: Business Class (most corridor routes) and First Class (Acela).
  • You can view upgrade options for your scheduled trip and then submit a bid for an upgrade to your itinerary. Amtrak does not charge a fee to place a bid and will also will provide tips on how to increase the chance of winning an upgrade.
  • You can modify or cancel your bid and will not be charged unless the upgrade is awarded. 
  • If you have a winning bid, you’ll will receive a new ticket prior to the scheduled departure.
  • Other terms and conditions could apply. More details can be found at Amtrak’s BidUp page.

Amtrak Guest Rewards members will be able to earn two points for every dollar spent on their trip. This is in addition to bonus points for Business Class and First Class tickets.

“BidUp is a great way for more Amtrak customers to enjoy our premium services,” said Roger Harris, Amtrak Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer.

Upgrades on Acela Trains

Amtrak Acela first class menu
For First Class Acela riders only includes

All Acela First Class and Business Class ticket holders receive some very nice amenities.

  • Reserved seating
  • You can arrive at the station just minutes before departure
  • Convenient electrical outlets and conference tables
  • Adjustable lighting and large tray tables

However, with a First Class Acela ticket, you’ll receive priority boarding a select stations, complimentary meal service at your seat, access to Acela and Metropolitan Lounges. Guest Rewards members will receive a 50% point bonus, too.

The only thing you can’t do at this time is to use your Guest Rewards points if you win the bid. You can’t pay with points.

The Future for Amtrak BidUp

There is talk of expanding Amtrak BidUp to more routes. Not only to coach seats, but there’s also rumor that soon you might be able to bid on sleeping accommodations, too. If that should happen, I know the first person who’d place a bid! There’s nothing better than having your own sleeping compartment on a long-haul or even a one-overnight train trip. 

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Mike,
    Wow! I’m so glad that Bid Up worked for you! It’s really sort of a quiet program and it’s a great perk when your bid is accepted! May I ask, did you bid up from coach to roomette or bedroom sleeper or did you use Bid Up to go from a roomette to a bedroom? Just curious if you have the time to reply.

    Thank you for your kind words and for reading my article! Much appreciated!

  2. Used your advice earlier this year to go from Jacksonville to Miami. We bid on a sleeper room both ways and our bids were excepted. Thank you for all your great articles!

    We are going fro Jacksonville to NY next year and already have our bids in.

  3. Hi Rich,
    Thank you for reading my article and taking the time to comment. I’m going to keep trying to get Bid Up to work for me. My conclusion is that it’s at its most advantageous when going from coach to sleeper. But who knows? Luck and timing. Enjoy your train ride! Happy travels.

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