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Advance purchase train tickets or buy at station?

Upon our AM arrival in Frankfurt in March, we will board the train to Munich. According to the DB Bahn website, the price to buy the tickets in advance is one third the regular price. But what happens if our plane is late or we get held up in customs? Or what if we arrive early and can get on an earlier train? What would be our penalty if we buy those cheap, advance tickets and try to use them at a slightly different time on the same day?

Posted by
5106 posts

Are you looking at the 49€ ticket for two to Munich? That is a great savings over 190€. But still a lot to lose if you can't use the ticket. Whenever you are through with customs, you might just catch the S-Bahn into Frankfurt's main station (4.10 each), enjoy a few hours there - see a museum or two or whatever - and then in the afternoon get on a train with a pre-purchased ticket from Frankfurt(Main)Hbf - the main station - to Munich. If you act promptly, you can probably still find a 49- or 59-Euro ticket for two available in the afternoon, and since the trip is only about 3 hours, you'll shouldn't have trouble reaching Munich by 8 or 9:00 pm. With this scheme, if you are scheduled to arrive at FRA fairly early in the morning, it would take a mighty lengthy delay to foil your plan.

Posted by
17895 posts

You can cancel the Saving Price tickets up to the day before travel for a €15 fee, but from the day of travel on, they are non-refundable and non-transferable. So, as Russ says, it's risky to buy them for a train soon after arrival. You could wait until afternoon, but regional trains to Munich take about 6 hours, so it could be faster just to start out from FRA on regional trains when you arrive. First you buy a local (RMV) ticket to Kahl am Main (the first stop in Bavaria on the regional train from Frankfurt Hbf to Wuerzburg) in the Regionalbhf at the airport. It will cost €7,30/p. You also buy a Bayern-Ticket. If you can figure out the touch screen Bahn Automat, it will cost €29; if not, it's €31 at the counter. Take the next S-Bahn (there are four per hour) from the Regionalbhf to Frankfurt Hbf. Come up from the underground (tief) Bahnhof to the ground level track in the Hbf. Find the track for the RE to Wuerzburg (it leaves around half past each hour). Get on the RE. The RMV ticket will cover you on the RE to Kahl. In Kahl you don't change trains, just tickets. Use the Bayern-Ticket all the way to Munich. You'll change trains in Wuerzburg and again in either Nuernberg or Treuchtlingen.

Posted by
5106 posts

Just to be clear... I do not suggest waiting in Frankfurt proper 'til the p.m. for REGIONAL train travel - the point of waiting would be to ensure that an advance-purchase cheapie ticket (about 3 hours on the direct fast trains from Frankfurt proper) won't be wiped out by a flight delay. The regional train option is convenient in that you can leave FRA at any hour and purchase upon arrival. It is inconvenient in terms of the travel time and changes of train involved. It is marginally cheaper than the advance purchase high-speed train option (about 45€ vs. maybe 49 or 59€) if you follow Lee's suggestions. If you're OK with the regional train option and arrive on Sat or Sun, buy a Happy Weekend ticket instead (daypass good for regional trains at any hour anywhere in Germany) for only 39 Euros (or is it 40 now?) for 2-5 people; this one ticket will get you from FRA to Munich, but it's still 6 hours or so. You have indeed chosen to cover a lot of ground that day. At least with the train, you won't be driving drowsy/jet-lagged. Set your alarm for the regional train changes in case you nod off. The adv. purchase pm ticket from Frankfurt is sounding better and better. If it were my trip, I'd probably stay over in Frankfurt the first day and night - then move on the next morning to Munich.

Posted by
31251 posts

Robert, The method I used in that same situation was simply to buy a ticket for the next train when I arrived at Frankfurt Airport. There's a Deutsche Bahn ticket office in the airport, so there's no need to travel to Frankfurt HBf. There are frequent departures, so it will only be a short wait for the next train. Although I wasn't able to get the "savings fares" with a pre-purchased ticket, there were also no concerns about being late due to flight arrival times, immigration, crowds or whatever. If several flights arrive at about the same time, the immigration / Passport control process will be slower, depending on how many staff they have on hand at the time. There are direct ICE trains from Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof to Munich departing at regular intervals, with a travel time of ~3H:40M. You could of course "take a chance" that you'll be able to get from your flight to the station on time to take the train matching your tickets, but if you miss that train you'll have to purchase new tickets. You'll also have to wait for the next departure (not something I'd be keen on doing when I'm tired and jet lagged). Happy travels!

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you for the information. We now have some options to mull over, but at least we're not going as blind.

Posted by
7842 posts

I know I have probably said this many times before, but you might want to consider staying a day in Frankfurt, and seeing one of Germanys oldest and most historic cities. Go out and sightsee in Frankfurt, get a good nights sleep and take an early morning train to Munich. This solves your expensive train ticket problem, you get to see one more city in Germany, and you have no stress about catching that train if your flight is delayed, nor needing to sit around waiting for a train for 3 hours. Come see Frankfurt!