Good evening. I would like to buy tickets from Thalys for my family of 5 to travel from Paris to Ghent, Belgium for July. Our dates are not quite open yet and I have put an alert on my phone for the date that I can actually book, as there is quite a price difference after the initial cheap seats sell out. Just to check the price and make sure I understand the process, I have tried several times to complete a "test" booking but I have encountered some issues.
Looking at the timetable and schedules there are plenty of trains that go from Paris to Brussels then on to Gent.
When I go to book the ticket, the only choice I have for depart: Paris and arrival: Gent shows the one direct train between the two - very late at night. We are planning on departing in the late morning (ideally 11:25 train - but could go earlier or a bit later as there appear to be so many). I have successfully made it to the check out page with this route but can not seem to change it to an earlier time at any step of the process.
I have also made it to the check out page with any one of the many Depart: Paris and Arrival: Brussels (dropping off the Gent portion). Is this our only option if we want a choice of earlier times? Would we need to depart the train and go in search of local tickets for the remainder of the journey to Gent or is there something that I am doing wrong? We would like to remain on the same train if possible (traveling with children and luggage) but we are not sure if that is the case.
Also, do I need a special Thalys card or anything else to complete the transaction (on one test booking it asked for my Thalys card and would not let me proceed without inputting - but on subsequent attempts it went through without that) ?
Has anyone had any issues using a credit card from the US (AmEx or Mastercard?)
We plan on printing our tickets at home here in the states and bringing them along.
I still have two weeks before I can actually make my reservations but the devil is in the details and I don't want to miss out on the early fare discounts during the summer travel season. Any advice or help would be appreciated.