One-Price Breakaway

This 1967 Santa Fe brochure offers an American plan, of sorts, for rail travel: for just one fare, get transportation, all meals, and optional sleeping rooms. From Los Angeles to Chicago, the one-price round-trip fare on the Super Chief was $235.90 (about $1,300 today). In a sleeping car on the Chief it was only $209.40 (about $1,150 today), while coach on the Chief was $122.85 (about $675 today) and coach on the El Capitan was a bit more at $124.85 (approaching $700).

Click image to download a 4.0-MB PDF of this brochure.

In addition to a claimed 20 percent discount for paying a combined rate, the brochure offers family discounts. For Pullman passengers, the wife saves 20 percent, but for coach the wife sometimes paid slightly more than the husband (they naturally assumed the wife was the one getting the discount). A child between 5 and 11 accompanying parents in a sleeping car cost about 27 percent of the full fare, while from 12 to 21 they cost 54 percent. In coach, the 5-11 child cost about 42 percent of full fare while 12-21 cost 78 percent of full fare. These variations probably had to do with different discounts for basic transportation, sleeping rooms, and food.

The brochure has interior pictures of the Super Chief and El Capitan, photos of some of the sights along the way, and sample menus. Separate sample menus are presented for the Super Chief and Santa Fe’s other trains. The Super Chief menus are always a little fancier, though in some cases it may only be in how the entrées are described.

For breakfast, the Super Chief offers “grilled smoked ham and eggs” while the other trains have “ham and eggs.” For lunch, the Super Chief has “filets of gray sole sauté, amandine butter,” while other trains have “filets of halibut, sauté meuniere.” For dinner, one of the entrées on the Super Chief is “grilled African lobster tails, on shell,” while the other trains get “grilled halibut steak, hotelier.”

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