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RENFE - third party ticket sales?

Hello -- I am purchasing tickets for my trip to Spain in November and am just about to throw a fit over the RENFE site. I have tried (not kidding) over 75 times with several different credit cards and have only been able to book two of the three necessary trips that I need. This is after following all the recommendations to sign up with the Visa by Verified program, etc. I hate to use a debit card for security purposes. Has anyone had a similar experience and been able to resolve it? I've also tried calling RENFE but have not been able to get through and have read that they are not responsive to emails. As an alternative, are there third party distributors of RENFE tickets? I have looked at Petrabax but the tickets are priced significantly higher. Thanks.

Posted by
1178 posts

One poster within the past month or so suggested checking the box to indicate you are purchasing the ticket IN SPAIN as opposed to out of country.
You might try that. Sometime ago I made purchases with no difficulty. Apparently the system has changed.

Posted by
16883 posts

I used Rumbo.es before I could get a Renfe purchase to go through. They offer Web fares if available, discount the ticket, and then add a small handling fee.

Posted by
984 posts

'I hate to use a debit card for security purposes.' I have never understood this, but you are there and I am in Europe. If your debit card is VISA or Mastercard endorsed, how are you going to be ripped off? You will have to be in either Verified by Visa or Mastercard Securecode, but there is usually success when finally using a debit card. You may want to pick your way through the points here, if all is failing - http://tiny.cc/5ynb6 - points 49 onward, if I recall correctly.

Posted by
16883 posts

You could also try RailEurope. I have found that for Renfe tickets, their prices are actually competitive. For Madrid to Sevilla, for example, where Renfe offers a Web fare of 33,30 euro, RE charges $48. At today's rate of $1.39, that is pretty closeless than $2 over. You will however have to add $7.98 for the printable ticket. These agents are really only worth it if you can get the Web or Estrella fares. Otherwise just buy your tickets there.

Posted by
798 posts

For our recent trip to Spain, I bought our Sevilla-Madrid tickets ahead of time (we bought our Cordoba-Sevilla tickets there). After wrestling with Renfe and not even getting as far as you did, I checked the RailEurope prices, and they were the same as the Renfe prices for the day and time that we wanted to travel. So you might want to check that possibility.

Posted by
16 posts

I agree I am ready to scream as well. We are planning a trip in December and got on the internet as soon as the date became available. We are going from Barcelona to Seville via AVE, thought it would be nice to see the countryside but am now considering the hassle of flying. Tried the Rail Europe but that route doesn't seem available. Has anyone every flown that route, my concern is flying a puddle jumper.

Posted by
389 posts

Caroline, Flying between Barcelona and Seville is a very good idea; you will save time and money vs. the AVE. The are numerous flights per day on that route with Vueling, Ryanair, and Spanair. All of those airlines employ large modern jets- there will be no "puddle jumpers." Also, I love Spain, but the countryside in most of central Spain is nothing to write home about, unless you love featureless arid plains.

Posted by
984 posts

Caroline, RailEurope is an agency which is inefficient in provision of schedules or, for whatever reasoning, regularly does not provide complete schedules for routes.

Posted by
16 posts

Will-
I had read that some of the discount airlines fly from airports far away from the main Barcelona airport, not sure about Seville. Do you know which ones they are? Also will we have to go through customs again?

Posted by
16883 posts

Caroline, the AVE train goes via Madrid and takes 5 1/2 hours if you pick the right connection. If you cannot use RENFe or Rumbo.es and want to check RailEurope, you have to put in the right stations--- Barcelona Sants, Madrid Peurta de Atocha, and Sevilla Santa Justa. If you are traveling late December the schedules may not be out yet. I did n't check before I started writing this, but I will now and report back.

Posted by
16883 posts

OK, I checked December 29. Renfe is showing two of the AVE trains for that day. The Estrella fare is 85 euro. The Mesa price is lower, but that is only if you buy all four seats at the table. What problem were you having?

Posted by
389 posts

Vueling, Ryanair, and Spanair all fly between the main Barcelona and Seville airports (airport codes BCN and SVQ). Since that route is internal in Spain and the EU, you will not have to go through customs or immigration again.

Posted by
16 posts

Sounds like the plane is the better deal. The problems with getting a credit card to work on the train is not worth the hassle. Neither is it worth it to pay more for a travel site. The only issue is timing, we would probably get to Seville before we can check in so we would have to leave our luggage which I don't like to do. The other is the issue of the cost and time to get to and from the airports. The trains are obviously closer. As we are four people it adds up. I did not think of these things initially on planning the trip which is one of the pitfalls of planning a trip on your own.
We are also planning on picking up a rental car in Seville to tour the region. We had planned to drop it in Toledo before going to Madrid via the train. Now I am not so sure. Any thoughts on this?

Posted by
389 posts

Check out skyscanner.com for a view of your flight options on any given day. There are several afternoon and evening flights on that route everyday. I've never rented a car in Spain, but many people have. Hopefully some will post here, or you can start a new topic asking for itinerary suggestions and tips for a car trip.

Posted by
16 posts

Checked out the flights which sound better. The only negative is luggage. I know Rick Steves loves carry on but the rules have gotten so strict on short flights, and even long ones, that basically we are down to the clothes on our back and a really small bag. With intercountry flights you can't carry on and of course to check you have to pay. This is in addition to their other fees. Talk about a scam

Posted by
3203 posts

What are you calling a "scam?" Charging to check a bag? If so, a lot of airlines are getting away with this scam. It has become a cost of travel. You may not like it. . . but to call it a scam is a bit over. And what do you mean by "With intercountry flights you can't carry on." We use carry-on bags on all our flights between countries. Can't speak to inTRA-country flights as we've not done that. With all these complaints about flights maybe you should re-think taking the train?

Posted by
16 posts

Sasha,
I am sorry that you don't agree that charging 9-16 euros or 20+ dollars to check luggage isn't a scam. I meant intra not inter country by the way. The intra flights charge fees to check luggage because they know the 10kilo weight restrictions for carry on won't work for most. Normally I would check luggage if I had a direct flight. They also charge for credit card use and a bunch of other fees. I will probably use the train if I can get the Renfe sight to work. I am not sure that I trust the other websites that sell train tickets, I am specifically talking about the travel agency sites.

Posted by
16883 posts

Did you check Vueling? I don't know what their checked-bag policies arem but I see a lot of people in Tripadvisor who live in Spain and recommend this airline. As for the train, the good news is that Renfe has now posted the Web fares for Dec. 29. So the price is down to 71,15 euro per person. Depart Barcelona at 8:30 am and arrive in Sevilla at 2:00 pm. If you don't mind spending some time in Madrid (maybe visit Reina Sofia or the Prado) and arriving in Sevilla in the evening (7:20 pm), Rumbo.es is selling tickets for that combination for 61,70 euro. They do add a small service charge to that. (I don't know why you wouldn't trust them; they are a reputable agency and I had nothing but good service from them.)

Posted by
33314 posts

Charging or not charging for luggage and other fees are different business models throughout Europe. All fees and optional fees are (or lack of fees) are well publicized on the various websites and in ads. You (and I and others) may not like them but the charges are not scams. They were not to steal from you, nor were they secret.

Posted by
16883 posts

And it is not just Europe where checked bag fees are used. We would pay $25 per bag on Alaska, our usual domestic airline, if we want to check a bag. I'm quite sure other US airlines charge as well for domestic flights. There have been lawsuits (class actions) filed over these fees which got nowhere. So it's not a "scam."

Posted by
3203 posts

"I meant intra not inter country by the way." Right. And we're supposed to read your mind?

Posted by
16 posts

It seems we all have a different definition of "scam". But being nickeled and dimed by these airlines sure seems like one to me and many other travellers agree. If I have a choice I avoid those airlines that charge fees for checking 1 piece of baggage or using a credit card. As for transparency yes it is there and of course one has to read the fine print. Whether it is inter or intra country it doesn't matter, I have had friends who brought regulation carry on for their trans atlantic flight only to have a fight at the airport because they wanted them to check their luggage, they were eventually allowed on the flight with their luggage. As we can all agree flying has definately changed.

Posted by
3203 posts

No. I don't think "we all" have a different definition for scam. You have yours, but to most people it means a trick, something hidden and illegal. If airlines want to charge extra for checked bags it is neither hidden nor illegal. You have a choice whether to fly those airlines or not, but don't call it a scam when it is not. People here have just tried to help you and you reject it all. It is a whole lot better to be an informed traveler than to be bitter and suspicious of everything. Read and process information posted here, in the books, and on other travel sites and you can go prepared rather than fearful, which is how you sound. And go ahead and complain about the costs if you like, as the price of the euro makes it expensive to travel in Europe these days. But don't call it a scam when it is not. No one is cheating you.

Posted by
3050 posts

Some of the confusion over whether or not the discount European airlines are "scamming" you or not is that they are based on a different business model than most major US flights. The discount European airlines are very, very cheap if you buy in advance or are willing to book on unpopular flights. But you are really only paying for the flight itself, not a lot of the things that American airlines used to include without a fee, but while generally charging more. The thing is, you're paying for food on the plane, credit card fees, no matter what. It's just a matter of whether you see the fees or not. If someone is a super-light traveler, why should they have to pay for an airline ticket that ASSUMES they are checking a bag when they aren't? They're effectively being forced to subsidze people who don't pack light. The European discount airlines are more "al a carte" - you get a cheap basic rate, then chose what conveniences you are willing to pay for on top of that. I personally prefer the European discount airline model, because even as someone who normally does end up paying a few extra fees, the tickets are still incredibly cheap compared to most airfares within the United States. I can go from Germany to Barcelona far cheaper - even with a checked bag! - than I could usually fly in the US from San Francisco to Los Angeles or Seattle.