Ahoy travelers! I recently found this place while looking up info for a long trip to Europe that a friend and I will be taking in September. This will be our first trip to Europe, so much of the details are new to us. Most of our planning has gone smoothly, until we tried to figure out just exactly how the railpass works. Oof. Still, through a LOT of research (including searching through topics here), I think I’ve got it mostly figured out, but there are a few things I wanted to run past the more knowledgeable, more experienced travelers here, to see if I’ve got it right. A warning that this post will be long; I have several questions, so big thanks in advance to anyone who reads all this and can help me out! So without further ado, tell me if any of the following are way off…
-It is generally recommended to avoid buying from RailEurope or similar sites, due to extra fees they add, lack of seat selection, and the fact that they don’t always show full schedules.
-That said: for trains in France (SNCF), it’s impossible to avoid RailEurope if you are trying to book with a railpass, since the SNCF site does not have an accommodation for a railpass holder when making a booking. Nor does the captaintrain site recommended by Seat 61. Thus, one must either use RailEurope with their railpass, or buy regular tickets from the SNCF site or captaintrain WITHOUT a railpass (or at least, without a railpass that covers France specifically).
-For trains in Germany and Austria (DB and OBB), it’s possible, and preferable, to use their sites to book, including with a railpass. If I understand correctly, that’s what the “reservation only” options on each site are, i.e. on DBs site, the “seat only (no ticket)” option next to the Search button: http://i.imgur.com/pxEVoU1.png
And on OBBs, this “Ticket Already Exists” option: http://i.imgur.com/AvyAazV.png
If I have a railpass covering those countries, then what I want to do is go to those sites and pick those options, correct? Or have I grossly misread what those options are for? XD
-About classes: Everything I have seen suggests that an adult railpass MUST be a “first-class” pass. Does this mean I can book first class on any trip covered by my railpass, without paying any more than I would for a second class reservation? (On OBBs site, I noticed that clicking that “Ticket Already Exists” option caused the “first class upgrade” button to show a cost of 0, so I suspect I am correct about this part).
-Finally, this isn’t related to railpasses, but is something I saw while looking at the DB site. Some trips have a little “!” symbol next to them, and when you expand you see warnings. Some of them are a confusing; I’d like to see if anyone here can help clear them up. I’d hate to book a trip, only for our plans to get derailed (ahahaha) by a lack of understanding about just what these notes mean! Another screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/gCRttZZ.png
There are two warnings in the linked image that have me confused. One: “runs not everyday, 3 Sep until 10 Dec 2016.” What is this trying to tell me? That this train does not run everyday during this period? I assume that if the system lets me buy or reserve a ticket for a specific day and time, THAT train will run, yes?
Two: “Hint: departure/arrival replaced by an equivalent station.” I have to admit I have NO idea what this means, or what impact it would have (if any) on our plans if we were trying to book a trip with this warning attached…
Whew! That should be everything. Thanks again to anyone that can shed some light on all this!