Our flight is due to arrive in Frankfurt at 9:25 on Continental, and we are immediately catching a train to Liege. One option is an 11:09 train that arrives at 14:15, that requires a Thalys reservation. Another option is an 11:57 train that is NOT a Thalys and arrives at 15:45. If I reserve the Thalys trip, what happens if the plane is late and we miss the train? Could I apply the fare to the 11:57 train? The Thalys fare is about 18E more, but we might be willing to risk it if possible. Or, am I cutting it way too close and should I just reserve on the 11:57 train? I guess there is also the concern that the 11:57 train would be full on a midday Thursday in August. Your advice is greatly appreciated, thank you!
To be clear, I have never travelled the route you're taking, but I have travelled a lot.
Based on experience, I would say to reserve the later train. I think trying to get off the plane, clear immigration, getting your luggage and clearing customs, then finding the train- well, that's a lot to do in a very short period of time. It's less than an hour later, so why sweat it? Best wishes, Maggie
Going by statistic, most airlines have a 10-20pct late record.
Do you really want a 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 chance that you'd miss the train? I'd recommend the later one.
I agree with the others that you should book a later train. However, leaving at 11:57 will require a connection in Koeln to ICE 14. If you wait and leave at 13:43, you can take the same train, ICE 14, directly from the airport to Liege. If you book NOW at www.bahn.de, you can get a Europa-Spezial Belgien fare of €39. Be aware that this is a non-exchangeable and non-refundable ticket; but you'll have ample time to make the connection, even if your plane is extremely late.
Thanks to you all for your sensible responses - of course you're right Maggie, why sweat the rush for the sake of less than one hour (answer: I'm sooooo excited, can't bear to lose even one hour of fun on my trip ;P) But do any of you know, if I reserve a seat on a train and buy the ticket in advance, if I miss the train will that 'credit' apply towards a ticket for the next train? Is that possible at all, or only with full fare, or any fare? I'm kind of being anti-Steve with trying to plan so much in advance, but for this initial leg in particular I'm feeling like I should...we need to get to Liege by 17:00 to rent our car and drive 50k to our destination in the Ardennes. Thank you again for your insights and very happy travels!
Yes, if you buy a full fare ticket, you can exchange it for one for a later train if necessary. However, that only works if you will be using trains operated by the same companies. For example, you could exchange a ticket for a Thalys train for another Thalys train, but not for one operated by German Rail--and vice versa.