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Deciphering Deutsche Bahn options

Greetings all! This will be my first time using Deutsche Bahn, and am figuring with the busy Christmas season, it's essential to get things squared away ahead of time instead of trying to buy tickets at the time of departure.

So in navigating the DB website, I'm not entirely sure of how their fare options work--I see they offer two different prices, the "Standard Fare" and "Savings Fare." So I gather that the "Standard" price is for any train/EC bus, and the "Savings" fare is only for a specific train/bus. But in clicking the "I" info graphic for "Savings Fare" they mention something about "Combination only possible with BahnCard 25." Does that mean the Savings only applies when you buy the BahnCard?

Also, I'll be travelling from the Frankfurt airport to Nuremburg--they offer as options Frankfurt(Main) and Frankfurt (Main) hbf; I understand the hbf stands for the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), but does Frankfurt (Main) mean the airport?

And how much time should I give myself to exit off the plane, gather luggage from baggage claim and traverse across the airport to the train platforms?

Thanks so much!

Posted by
18842 posts

Here is the sneaky cheap way to get from Frankfurt airport to Nuremberg without buying an advance purchase savings fare (which is nonrefundable if your flight is delayed and you miss your train).
When you land, buy a "Bayern Ticket" (22 euro) from the ticket machine at the airport REGIONAL train station (there are 2 separate stations, Regionalbahnhof and Fernbahnhof). Then you buy a ticket to Kahl. You travel on the S bahn to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and change to the Regional express train to Wurzburg. That will cost 7.60 euro. You continue on that train. As soon as you pass Kahl, your Bayern ticket will take over for the remainder of the trip. Change trains at Wurzburg to the Regional Express train to Nuremberg. 29.60 euro total for one.
If you are traveling with another person, get the Bayern Ticket for 2 for 26 euro, and two tickets to Kahl for 15.20. So it is 41.20 for 2 or 20.60 per person. This works for up to 5 people traveling together. Just add 4 euro for each person on the Bayern ticket, and a separate ticket for each person to Kahl. Do not board any ICE trains (the fast ones) because the Bayern ticket does work on them, they are all reserved seating trains.
This trick works because Kahl, a suburb of Frankfurt, is actually in Bavaria and you stay in Bavaria the rest of the way. So you can use the regional Bayern Ticket.

Posted by
18842 posts

PS. More to your question, when you look at the schedule, you want Frankfurt(M)Flughafen. When you look at results, you'll see some trains leaving Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbf and Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Regionalbf. Those are the 2 separate stations. Fernbahnhof is long distance fast trains (IC an ICE). The Regionalbahnhof is mostly S bahn trains (suburban trains) to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Main downtown train station).
Savings fares do not require a Bahncard25. The reference is mainly for Germans, many of whom carry some sort of discount card for Deutsche Bahn.
And Frankfurt (Main) refers to the Main River (pronounced same as "mine"). There is another Frankfurt in Germany, Frankfurt (Oder) on the Polish border. They are not often confused, so people just say Frankfurt, but the citizens of the other Frankfurt would take umbrage if the German Railway did not give them their due.

Posted by
18946 posts

"Combination only possible with BahnCard 25" is just an example of possible Special Conditions. The next line says, "You will receive the conditions of the offer in the next step". If you click on a fare in the column below, you will see any special conditions.

FRANKFURT(MAIN) is probably capitalized. That means the town, in general, rather than a specific station, but when you get specific connections, it will give stations, ie, Frankfurt(Main) Hbf (the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof) or Frankfurt Flughafen Fern (the long distance station at the Flughafen {Airport}). In some cases, trains stop at Frankfurt(Main) Süd (south) or Frankfurt am Main - Stadion, other Frankfurt stations.

Sam's suggestion is correct. Don't try to use a Savings Fare ticket when you are arriving by air, due to the possibility of a delayed arrival. Use the regional alternative.

Posted by
18946 posts

The trip described by Sam costs 29,60€ for one person, 41,20€ for two.

Taking the 2½ hour trip cost 56,-€ for one person, 112,-€ for 2 (Full Fare).

That's 26,40 more for one, 71,80€ more for two.

The 10€ more fare requires a specific train commitment. You'll lose the price of the ticket if your flight arrives too late.

I can get to the Fernbahnhof within an hour of getting off the plane, but I've always gotten through immigration quickly and had a carryon bag. Last September I arrived in Frankfurt and went from there to the Black Forest. The regional connections are very convoluted and time consuming. Plus, they involved travel through 3 Länder and would have cost 50€, more than just a local ticket and a Bayern-Ticket. I thought it worth the extra for a full fare (fully flexible) standard ticket. Those tickets are usable on any train. I bought them in advance from the Bahn, just to save time when we arrived, for the first train I thought we could make. We missed that train, but were able to board the next one, albeit without reservations, without losing our fares.

BTW, in 10 flights to Europe in the last 13 years, my flight has been an hour late two, maybe three times. I'm not foolish enough to book non-refundable, train specific tickets for my arrival in Germany. BTW, in 2007 I booked a USAir flight to Munich, then started watching their arrival times. In the next few weeks they were 9 hours late on one flight, then 10 hours late, in the same week. Fortunately, by the time I flew, they had worked out their problems, but if the people on those two really late flights had made Savings Fare bookings, how much time would they have had to allow?

Posted by
2779 posts

There are two unpredictables here in this case: 1) Deutsche Bahn and 2) the weather. A combination of the two can be lethal.

I would also like to suggest the direct bus from Frankfurt airport to Nuremberg ( It operates twice a day and - unlike on Deutsche Bahn - it's guaranteed to be warm inside the bus. Journey time is 3:50...

Posted by
18946 posts

"There are two unpredictables here in this case: 1) Deutsche Bahn and 2) the weather."


I've been on well over a hundred Deutsche Bahn connections in the last 13 years and never was I as late as I have been on several trans-Atlantic flights. If the weather in Germany is bad enough to delay train travel, imagine what it will do to the roads. If we're talking about missing a train on a train-specific connection due to a delay on the previous train, don't worry, if it is the Bahn's fault, they will accommodate you and let you use the next express train. I know, it happened to me, and I even got a free upgrade from an IC to an ICE. But if your flight is late, it's not the Bahn fault. They don't have to honor the train-specific ticket.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks all, for the responses. I appreciate it all.

So I've decided that after having been in the air for a good amount of time I would prefer the speed of the ICE, and it does seem risky at best to bank on a specific train. So I bit the bullet and got the full fare ticket for the ease of mind, and booked a reservation an hour-and-a-half from when I land, just to make sure I can get through passport, baggage, etc.

So let's say for argument's sake then, that say, weather causes me to be an hour late, and I miss being able to make the train I reserved. Since I have a full fare ticket, I should be able to ride any other train, but how exactly does that work? I assume I need to check into the ticket agent who will issue a new ticket for the next train?

Posted by
12040 posts

I haven't followed this whole story... but if you're going to buy a full fare ticket, just buy it when you arrive. The only advantage for an advanced purchase is the discount, or if you have a large group, getting reserved seats so you can all sit together.

Posted by
31574 posts

What Tom said. If you have a full fare ticket you can just jump on any ICE or lesser train to Nuremberg. Your reservation will disappear but if you don't mind standing (or waiting in line for a new reservation - my choice) no prob.

Posted by
18946 posts


I assume you received your ticket by email (pdf file), or is it in the regular mail. When you get it, it will show a routing (times, stations, train IDs). You should be able to take a later connection using the same stations and class (ICE or IC or regional) of trains. You can't take a different routing, nor, if you booked a connection using a regional train, can you take, for example, an ICE instead.

You don't have to check with an agent, but it might be a good idea, if you have time, to make sure the ticket is valid for that routing.

Last September I arrived at FRA and went to a small town in the Black Forest. For reasons such as transfer times, I preferred a connection that left the Fernbahnhof about half an hour after we were scheduled to arrive. I knew we couldn't make that connection unless the flight arrived early, and that even then it would be tight, so I booked the full fare ticket online so that I wouldn't have to stop at the ticket counter if I just barely had time to catch that train.

Of course, the flight was right on time, and we missed the booked train. The ticket was for an ICE to Karlsruhe (via Mannheim), an IC from Karlsruhe to Pforzheim, and a streetcar from there to our final destination. The next similar connection used 2 ICEs to Karlsruhe with a change of trains in Mannheim, and a regional train from Karlsruhe to Pforzheim, but we were able to use the original ticket (as printed, no new ticket was printed) for the trip.

There was a connection leaving FRA earlier but getting to our final destination at the same time. It took a longer route and had some easier connection times, but the full fare was for more. I could have taken that connection, but I would have had to exchange my existing ticket for a new one and pay the difference.

Look at the schedules on the German Rail website. If the later connection takes the same route and has the same fare or less, you should be able to take with your existing ticket. If the routing is different or the fare is higher, you'll have to exchange the ticket at the counter.

Hope this helps you.