Last week I witnessed the unfortunate event of a fellow American traveler fined 55 euro for not validating his ticket from Milan to Malpensa airport. Seasoned travelers know how important it is to insert our ticket into the little machine on the platform before boarding. This guy didn’t.
The scenario: he asked the ticket clerk for a ticket for the 10:25 train to the airport. The clerk did not mention that tickets for the airport shuttle are open tickets, not reservations for specific trains, and that they must therefore be validated before use. The validation machines are not especially prominent, and there is no notice on the platform or train saying something like “Don’t forget to validate your ticket!” So he simply stepped aboard.
The guy had previously traveled on long routes requiring reservations for specific trains and was consequently unfamiliar with the concept of an open ticket. The ticket itself bore no language about validation. I really couldn’t fault him for not knowing about the validation rule. He did everything right and still got nailed!
I recommend that Rick add a warning about this “gotcha” to his Train Travel advice. Validation is mentioned briefly but not really clarified in terms of when it is needed and how to go about it. A prominent heads-up on this obscure rule might spare a future traveler from an expensive mistake. (Trenord is certainly making no effort to do so.)