|Via Chris May/flickr|
This past weekend I took Amtrak for the first time since 2009 - which incidentally I took the train after visiting Mound Bayou, Mississippi in fall 2009. This past weekend I went to Memphis, Tennessee for a funeral. It felt great to get out of town to the point where no matter where I work it'll just have to be important to take a quick trip every now and again.
A few years ago I had some advice as far as making reservations for the train. Coach-class train travel is OK for the most part but sometimes it's better to travel first-class in a sleeper. The problem is that first-class will cost more depending on where you're going. On top of a coach-class ticket you will pay an up-charge for a sleeper car accommodation and that charge will depend on what size room you want. Cheapest likely would be a roomette. If you want more information on sleeper accommodations visit amtrak.com.
In any case we took coach-class to Memphis and then when making the reservations somehow we (well actually my mother) were able to get a sleeper for only $25 more although the ticket round-trip was still in the neighborhood of $600! While we made reservations at the last minute Amtrak was able to get in touch with a deal on a sleeper berth but only on the return trip. This happened when we returned from Dallas, Texas via Amtrak somehow we also got offered a sleeper at a discount.
Needless to say the sooner you make a reservation the better. You can always go ahead and make a reservation for a coach seat in the hopes that Amtrak may call you again offering first-class accommodations at a discount. As for making reservations for a sleeper you can check out this USA Today link one of those options for reserving first-class accommodations is to ask for an upgrade on the train. Although the likelihood of such a possibility is slim.
I would like to do LA via train again and when I did that in 2005 it was in a coach seat. I'm not planning on doing that again, but hopefully I can afford a roomette on the train round trip for the two night ride to the Golden State.