I did just that (made reservation a coupla weeks ago for a trip from B'ham, AL to Washington DC for June 15-19). Got a roomette going but roomettes SO on return and I don't need/can't afford a larger room). With senior discount, total was only about $330. Amtrak site said you could email them and get a reply within 24 hrs. Only reply I got was automated, nothing else. Wanted to know about getting a roomette on return in case anyone canceled - so I guess Amtrak not only doesn't reply, but there's no way to know if someone cancels so I could get on a waiting list for a roomette, but have to ask the conductor when I get on for return? Thanks. As usual, I enjoy your blogs, esp. about trains!
As far as I know, Amtrak does not keep a waiting list for sleeper rooms. But there is another way to find out about cancellations: each night at 3AM EST, Amtrak's ticketing computer clears all the cancellations and the rooms are put back into the "bucket." If you call 1-800-USA-RAIL (or better yet, go online) shortly after 3 AM, you might be able to snag a cancelled room . . . if somebody else doesn't get there first.
This is GREAT advice. I travel on the train between DC and New London, CT all the time, and the coach fares range from $64 to $159. I was never able to figure out why.
I finally got an email reply from Amtrak, said yes, they DO have a waiting list for rooms, but you have to call. I did, and because of making my reservation 4 months in advance, I am #1 on the list for a roomette for my return trip. I really prefer to be in the lounge car (the Crescent has a low tunnel just N. of B'ham. so is only single level - no observation car) rather than in a room, but I sleep better in a room rather than in coach.
They have a waiting list? I never knew that! Useful knowledge to have. I presume you have to call only once to ask to go on the list, and they will contact you if and when a room opens up?I presume, however, that you have to purchase the room at the highest bucket fare if all other roomettes are sold out. Is that so? Or do you get the room at the fare the original booker paid?
I didn't know either 'til I e-mailed. Yes, you have to call only once. They pull up your reservation with your name, your phone number, etc. They will call you if/when whatever kind of room you want becomes available and offer it to you. And yes, I just bet it will be a high/er price. Since Feb. 19 when I made my res., the price for the regular room has gone up about $100 - and we're talking June 19! Looks like the price would come down! Better to sell at a lower price than not sell at all!
Also rail-savvy travel agents who book a LOT of train travel for their clients can get you on a wait-list for sleeping car accommodations.