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1st class vs 2nd class

As I’m planning our week long Switzerland leg for this summer, I had a question about 1st class vs 2nd class train tickets. Is it worth the extra 33% for 1st class in Switzerland? When traveling to/from big cities on big trains I often appreciate the difference 1st class gives us. However, I know in smaller regions there often isn’t much of a difference at all.

We are tentatively planning on flying into Zürich (1 night), Appenzell (2 nights), Berner Oberland (3 nights), and Bern (1 night) before moving on. Is there much difference on these trains between classes?

I’m also looking into possibly shuffling the days around and completing the Golden Pass train ride...would this make a difference in 1st vs 2nd class?

Thanks in advance for any help or insight! We’re excited for this summer!!

Posted by
18677 posts

There is a difference between 1st and 2nd class, but not enough, IMO, to justify the price difference.

My first trip to Europe was a business trip and the company paid for everything, including first class rail transportation. The next trip was on my own dime, and I couldn't afford first class, so I bought a 2nd class pass. Looking back, I can't say there was a significant difference between the classes. On my third trip, a business trip again completely paid for by the company, I used only 2nd class; I couldn't bring myself to spend company money on what I felt was a needless luxury. Since than (11 trips, all on my own) I have only traveled 2nd class and have no regrets.

Posted by
219 posts

2nd class is quite nice in Switzerland. Only the last portion of the Golden Pass (between Zweisimmen and Montreux) and in one of the Golden Pass's reservations-only specialty train carriages in that section of the route is worth upgrading to first class. (The specialty carriages are the Classic "Belle Epoque" or the modern VIP train coaches.)

Posted by
13796 posts

In France if I am riding the TGV on a multi-hour journey, I pay extra for the 1st class reservations, have done obviously both classes on the TGV with mandatory reservations. When I am taking the Paris Est to Frankfurt Hbf route, regardless of direction, I book the 92 days out discount ticket, 49 Euro in 1st class, ten less in 2nd, on the TGV. I take the 1st class reservation.

Posted by
31815 posts


I never bother with first class tickets as second class is perfectly comfortable and civilized. Most journeys are only a few hours so I don't see any reason to spend extra money, especially in a country where everything is so expensive.

Posted by
293 posts

Last Autumn I took two train rides, both were around 3 hours long, and I wished I had booked first class for both 3 hour train rides. But just tooling around little Switzerland, I guess I wouldn't bother with the upgrade. However, I think I would reserve if you have 2 or more.

Posted by
1353 posts

We've done both. Overall on long journeys my husband has a strong preference for 1st class. However, for the most part in Switzerland it really doesn't matter. We spend most of our time in the BO and I would never pay to upgrade there. It makes no sense. Really 2nd class is fine - I think my husband mostly prefers it as it is usually less crowded:)

Posted by
30253 posts

of course you know that the scenery out the window is the same regardless of which class, and both classes get to the destination at the same time.

Posted by
16890 posts

The percentage number depends on which direction you do the math. Normally, you expect to add 50% to 2nd class to get 1st or to deduct 33% from 1st class to get 2nd.

In the case of Switzerland, if you start with 2nd-class rates, you add 58% to get 1st class on a Swiss Travel Pass or add 75% on a point-to-point ticket (e.g., Geneva-Zurich at either 89 or 156 chf).