Taking a page from the airline playbook, Virgin Trains in the U.K. has launched apps that allow travelers with standard (second) class tickets to bid for upgrades to unoccupied first class seats. The offer is so far limited to key segments of the line’s primary long-haul route from London to Edinburgh, but presumably if it works out well, it could be extended. In Virgin trains, first class includes not only roomier seats but also complimentary food and drink. Upgrade bids will start as low as £5 (about $6.75); bidding will start 2-1/2 hours before departure. Apps are available for both iOS and Android devices. See the details
Would a similar bidding system work with Amtrak? It might for Amtrak’s version of business class, although the improvement over coach is minimal. It could be great if travelers on long-haul trains could bid from coach to sleeper accommodations, but the price would undoubtedly be pretty stiff. Still, it’s an idea—how about it, Amtrak?
— Ed Perkins, editor
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