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where to purchase a flex pass

I was told that I could purchase a flex pass at a german train station; is that true? It's not something I need to purchase before I get to germany?

Posted by
247 posts

You can purchase them online easily. However they are rarely a good value anymore. Compare carefully the cost of a railpass vs. the point-to-point tickets. You'll probably find its less expensive to buy the tickets as you go.

Posted by
16894 posts

You can either buy the German Pass (but not most multi-country passes) at most German train stations, including airport stations. Or you can order them here for delivery by UPS in the USA before you go, which can be especially handy if you're entering the country by train from a neighbor country (and some such trips are covered by the pass). As long as you have 3 or more days of significant train travel, then the pass can be a good value. Extra days above that are much cheaper. Best pass prices are for pairs traveling together or for youths under age 26, and kids under 12 free with adult.

I do not recommend purchasing a pass on the DB web site, because adding the names is confusing (as you mentioned in your earlier post) and passes lost in the mail or just not delivered in time are not replacable.

Posted by
6798 posts

"As long as you have 3 or more days of significant train travel, then the pass can be a good value."

If you don't have a set itinerary: German railpasses are often a relatively good value (if you compare pass prices with pay-as-you-go tickets for that significant travel.) But if you know where you'll be and when, you can do much better as a rule.

Let's use 3 days of significant travel as an example for comparison's sake - say there are 2 of you, and you land in Frankfurt, (1) travel to Berlin and (2) Munich and return to (3) FRA. Below are "pay as you go" full-price fares in €.

1-2-3: 125 + 130 + 100 = €355 x 2 adults = €710

Cheapest 2nd class pass is a twinpass for two for 3 travel days in one month, $332 at Raileurope = €297

Significant savings over the first option, clearly.

But if you DO have room reservations and plan to travel on certain days, and you can commit to a travel schedule, you'll do better with advance purchase saver fares from DB. Prices depend on when you buy them - they rise as tickets sell. Best prices are 91 days in advance, the first day of availability. For the same routes above using saver fare tickets at the best price possible, for two adults:

1-2-3: 49 - 49 - 49 = €147

(But even if you didn't buy your tickets the first possible day, and prices were 50% higher when you got them, your total cost would still be around €220 - STILL a significant savings over the rail pass.)

So while passes can be a "good value," saver fare tickets can be an excellent value.

The catch? To change your plans, you'll need to refund (for a fee) and then buy new (probably more expensive) tickets. So don't buy saver fares unless you can commit to the schedule you have in mind. It is generally risky to pre-purchase a saver fare for train travel right after a flight - flight delays and customs and all that can really mess with you.

SAVER FARE INFORMATION

Posted by
70 posts

Excellent answers all of them thank you. One more wrinkle... I was thinking of using the pass to Venice (2 adults and child) because it apparently covered that particular city. In that event, does the pass become more attractive? Has anyone had experience using the flex pass for such a journey?

Thanks for all your thoughts on all of this

Posted by
11294 posts

Russ's post should be required reading for anyone contemplating buying a pass, to understand, with real numbers, how a pass may or may not save money, depending on the particular circumstance.

Harrinanan: a German Rail pass is only good for Germany, so it will not cover the whole journey to Venice, but only as far as the German border. You would need to use a ticket or pass for the rest of the journey. These trips are often heavily discounted with advance purchase.

To find prices for all trips that start or end in Germany, use the the Bahn (German Rail) website http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en, following Rick's tutorial: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/online-schedules. You can use this to find schedules for almost all European trains, but trains that don't start or end in Germany usually won't show prices on that site.

Posted by
70 posts

I didn't make up that thing about Venice. It's on DB's website that their passes are good for select foreign cities including Venice. One of the reasons it seemed attractive to me

Posted by
6798 posts

Harrinanan is correct that the German Rail Pass is valid to Venice - on CERTAIN trains only. (For a trip to Venice, you'd need to add another rail day on your railpass.)

But so are saver fares. The "Europa Spezial" is the label for these cheap international train fares from Germany. Advance sale tickets to Venice from Munich go for as little as €39. So add €78 total for two adults to cover a one-day journey there. That's €225 for 4 days, total for two, with the pre-purchased fares.

The 4-day twinpass costs $356 or €320 for two.

I should have noted that if your travel deadline is approaching rapidly, you really should check the railpass price first and examine ALL the saver fares you'll need prior to purchasing anything. You don't want to be buying up individual saver fares and suddenly come across one that ISN'T so cheap and end up paying more in total.