First class vs second class

Is it worthwhile to pay extra or first class on a Germany and Eastern Europe train pass. The price difference is 350.00. We have a 7 month old baby.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14114 posts

The first issue is to make sure that the pass is a good deal. The old days are gone when a pass was an automatic good deal. Now with supplement fees, limited access on some trains, and deep discount of advance purchase of p2p tickets, it is sometimes very hard to make a pass pay. As for the difference between first and second. Second class for space is about equal to business class on the airplane. First class has slightly more space and much fewer travelers. First class is 2x1 and second is 2x2. There is some variation depending on the train system.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14146 posts

I'm don't know where you are going in Eastern Europe, and I have never been there, but for Germany, where I have spent considerable time, I would never pay the extra for 1st class. Unfortunately, some rail passes are only in first class. Today, rail passes are rarely a good deal. I would compare point-point tickets, with the various discounts you can get, with the cost of a 1st class rail pass.

Posted by Lisa
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
4 posts

Are you suggesting that it's cheaper to book the train each time I need to travel vs a rail pass? I am going to be traveling in this sequence Hannover-Berlin-Prague-Munich-Salzburg-Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest The passes for Germany and Europe are 435 Canadian per person for 5days in Eastern Europe and 3 ays in Germany. Thanks

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
6709 posts

Try to see how much you would pay to purchase individual tickets for those cities and see how much you come up with. If you travel 2nd class chances are it will be cheaper than a first class pass.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11069 posts

1st class is less crowded, there's an extra space between the seats in the compartments and you have waiter service. That's about the difference. 1st class on trains is intended more for business types who have to work en-route than for extra comfort. The difference in comfort levels is otherwise much less than between airline classes.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5068 posts

Hi, I use a Pass but based on your itinerary listed, I would suggest getting only a Austria-Germany Pass, if at all. That depends on the extent of your train travel in Germany, say around the Hannover area. Traveling to Budapest from Vienna is pretty cheap relative to traveling in Germany itself, same with going to Bratislava, use point to point tickets, no need for a Pass. When I traveled inside Poland or from Wien to Budapest r/t, I used point to point tickets, 2nd class, usually bought the day before.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13892 posts

A rather delicate point to raise. Difficult to put it without attracting dragon flames. But I have a thick skin and have now donned the asbestos steel armour. I'm sure that your 7 month old (now or during the trip?) is an absolute angel and never makes a sound or squirms or (as they get a bit older) climbs around the train, but some do. Some people travel in First Class because they come from overseas and have passes which put them in First, but most people in First are there because they are are on expense accounts and working hard, often on laptops. They (or their companies) pay a lot of extra money for peace, quiet and privacy - mostly. In second class you might feel less inhibited or concerned by baby sounds. That's not to dissuade you from traveling First Class, but I wanted you to be aware that you might be on the receiving end of "looks" from some of the other occupants. Well there you go - that's me - blunt. I tells it as I sees it. I hope that you have a wonderful trip...

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14146 posts

Using advance purchase tickets from Hannover to Berlin and Berlin to Prague, Czech Rail regional tickets from Prague to the border in Bavaria, a Bayern-Ticket from there to Munich and another from Munich to Salzburg, advance purchase Spar Schiene tickets from Salzburg to Vienna, and regional tickets from Vienna to Bratislava, all 2nd class, I come up with 249€, 342 $CA, for two people. That doesn't include Bratislava to Budapest. but I doubt the fare is enough to skew the results.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5690 posts

Many trains have "Family" compartments in 2nd class. They are closed off from the main part of the train. Check and see if the trains or routes you are interested in have those. Have never seen them in 1st class, though they may be there and I missed them as I strolled through the wagon,

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9473 posts

People are making a good point,, first class is always VERY quiet when I have been in it.. since second class is comfortable enough I think most people with tots are happy to be in a car where they don't feel they have to whisper.. etc. Also it may take 1/2 hour, but I would sit down and compare point to point tickets versus a pass.. P2Ps can be so cheap if booked well in advance. For example, I paid 40 euros for a first class idTGV ticket from Paris to Nice last summer, an almost 6 hr train trip.
We befriended an American couple and were chatting.. they said they thought they did well getting their first class tickets for TWO HUNDRED euros when they booked two weeks before..I booked three months before and paid me, they wanted to see my ticket, they were shocked at difference.

Posted by Christophe
Copenhagen, Denmark
265 posts

I would actually prefer second class over first class when travelling with a baby - even if the price was the same. First class is full of business people who expect a somewhat quiet environment to be able to work or relax. A baby simply fits better in the second class concept.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24177 posts

Lisa, If you're over 26, you may only be able to travel first class if using a Railpass. You'll have to do some number crunching to determine whether a Railpass will be more cost effective that just buying P-P tickets. To answer your first question, I generally always travel second class on European trains, as I don't feel first class is worth the extra cost. However, I've never travelled with a seven month old baby so I don't know whether that would be a factor in choosing first class. It would help if you could indicate how many rail trips you'll be taking and in which countries. In the same situation, I'd probably use P-P tickets with second class in Germany and first class in the Eastern European countries. I've found that trains in eastern Europe are generally cheaper than in western Europe and the second class cars are sometimes not up to the same level of comfort as second class in other countries. Happy travels!

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2396 posts

ICE trains have quiet sections for people who want... quietness. I don't see a problem in having a baby on 1st class, as long as you don't book a quiet/silent car.

Posted by Christophe
Copenhagen, Denmark
265 posts

You can always travel in second class with a first class railpass or first class ticket (but obviously not the other way round).