1st Class vs. 2nd Class Eurail Passes

This will be my wife and I's first trip to Europe and we are looking into the various transportation options. Is it worth the extra money for the 1st class train passes or should I stick with 2nd class?



Posted by Martine
in a train schedule...
267 posts

Compared to planes, the difference between the classes is much less dramatic. In 1st class, you get a little more foot room and the seat is bigger. But remember: first and second class travel at exactly the same speed :)

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21480 posts


My preference would be a second class Rail Pass, however that option is not available for me as I'm a "mature" traveller. As I recall, only those under a certain age (29?) are able to use second class Rail Passes. People in my age group are only allowed first class Passes AFAIK.

If you haven't already, be sure to read the "Rail Skills" chapter in Europe Through The Back Door (I found it extremely helpful before my first trip).


Posted by Aaron
Portland, OR, USA
8 posts

Martine and Ken,

thanks for the input. Sounds like we're going 2nd class...I'd rather spend the extra money elsewhere :)


Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

Aaron...you may also want to do a bit of research to see whether a rail pass is your best option...unless you're travelling by rail a LOT, point to point tickets are usually far cheaper. Point to point also avoids the hassle and extra expense of having to purchase necessary reservations which may be required in addition to your pass. Post your general itinerary, and some of the rail whizzes will be able to help you with some sites to do a price comparison.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3082 posts

Anybody, even seniors, can buy the second class pass. The senior first class pass is cheaper than the regular first class pass, but more expensive than second class regular passes. I'm a senior and I have bought the second class passes. Usually 2nd class is just fine. Save the money and spend what you save on a nice dinner. I have bought the Regional Pass for 1 or 2 countries. See my second post on 8/25/08 for explanation.

Posted by Amy
Clarksville, TN, USA
862 posts

We splurged and got 1st class railpasses for Germany/Austria/Czech. It was nice because the seats were larger, and there were never youth/children around. On one leg of our trip, it was very busy in the 2nd class cars with kids on some sort of field trip or something, and we had an entire first class car with tables to ourselves. But it was definitely a splurge, not a necessity by any means. Depending on what countries you're going to, the 2nd class may be perfectly nice (i.e., Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

I prefer 1st Class. Often times the 1st class cars were almost empty.

Posted by Janis
Grapevine, TX, USA
873 posts

We used 1st class this year, and much preferred it because it is usually much less crowded, and therefore, much easier to get on and off in the time allotted in some train stations. First class in German trains was very nice!

It probably depends on the length of your trip. For trips of less than an hour or so, it doesn't make much difference.

Remember, 1st class in trains is much less expensive than 1st class on planes!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21480 posts


I suppose which Rail passes are available for older travellers, depends on which Pass you choose. I noticed this line in Rick's "Rail" section:

If you're considering a Eurail Global or Selectpass: If you're 26 or older, you must buy a first-class railpass. Those under 26 have the choice of buying either a second- or a first-class pass.

I'll pay closer attention next time I purchase a Rail pass, and buy second class if it's available for my age group.


Posted by Bill
Raleigh, NC
100 posts

To give you a reference point, Second class on German trains is about 2 times nicer than Amtak passenger service here in the US. First class on German trains is about 1.1 times nicer than Second.

Forget the label, select Second class and pocket the difference- Unless you are not concerned about budget, in which case I will cheerfully offer to assist you with your burdensome spending duties. LOL

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3082 posts

Ok, Ron. It was a case of apples vs oranges. I was partly right and partly wrong in my answer. I buy the regional passes with "one-country and two-country choices." Second class is available for these passes. It seems that the Global Pass and Select Pass go by different rules. It is possible to economize by buying the regional 2nd class pass for two countries, then p2p for a third country (Italy, maybe).

Posted by John
Brangwin, Wa, USA
349 posts

Check the amount of time you will be on the train ie.from Frankfurt to madrid is 24 hours . I find the ist class ticket is a good value , but I can afford it. Concidering people pay thousands of dollar for first class Air for 10 hours. I think the rail is a good deal. I have met some very intersting people in first class a world bank member for example

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1476 posts

If you are travelling during hot, summer months, I would travel first class because of the air conditioned cars. You don't always have a/c on 2nd class cars, and if you do, it doesn't blow out as strong or as cool as 1st class cars. As previous people said, it's a lot more crowded and noisier in 2nd class. Most everyone in Europe travels 2nd class. I feel it's a lot more comfortable, especially on the longer trips, to travel 1st class. Have fun making memories!

Posted by Peter
Savage, MN, USA
19 posts

The actual train that you will be travelling on makes a big difference. On the older trains (usually used for local travel), I barely saw any difference between 1st and 2nd class. For short trips, go 2nd class all the way. For long trips on a NEWER train, 1st class may become an option because the LITTLE bit of added comfort and seat availability.