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How do I pay for the seat reservation fee after the tickets are added to my Eurail pass?

  • 16 January 2023
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Hello everyone, my husband and I are doing a 3-month trip in Europe in April. Recently we tried to get our trip planned and have all the train rides booked and accommodations booked and confirmed. We bought the 1st class Eurail Global Pass continuous pass for 3 month. However, after I activated our passes, I saved some trips to our passes and turned on the button of one of the trips, and I went to “My Pass” section, clicked “show tickets”, I could see the ticket with a QR code, but couldn’t see any button for the payment options for the seat reservation fee. (it does show “seat reservations required with orange colour under the Journeys)

Could anyone please advise me how to pay the seat reservation fee on the app to secure the seat as we need to book our accommodations based on the train times. 

Thank you in advance :)

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Best answer by AnnaB 16 January 2023, 08:33

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Apart from the link Anna B provided, you can also reserve your seats via Eurail/interrail. A bit more expensive though, since they ask a handling fee per reservation: https://www.interrail.eu/en/book-reservations#/

A nice trip you’ve planned. A had a quick glance at it. Although for some trips I have some suggestions:

Don’t take the Thalys between Cologne and Brussels (when you come from Hamburg). It’s reservation fee is too expensive for a relatively short trip. Take the ICE (only optional reservations) instead or local trains (changing at Aachen and Welkenraedt).

Thalys between Brussels and Amsterdam is also bad value for money with their extortionate reservation fee. Best take the hourly intercity, without any need for reservations. It’s only half an hour slower. Or try to reserve a Eurostar from london directly to Amsterdam (they’re 2 a day if I’m not mistaken).

The route of the Bernina Express is also doable via hourly regional trains, without the need for any form of reservation. Which also means you can get off where you want, if you like a certain environment to take pictures.

Best reserve your train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh via LNER, again mentioned in the reservations link of @AnnaB, or GWR. Seat reservations in the UK are for free (except Eurostar)! Any amount of money that you pay, as a waste.

Spanish AVE’s you cannot reserve in advance, only at the station ticket offices. Best do those reservations on your first day in Spain, so that you’re carefree for the rest of your stay or have some time to provide alternatives, if a train should be fully booked.

 

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Oh thank god for that. I was so worried that these tickets were messed up as I forgot to change it to CET before making the reservations. 
In two days time I should be able to book the Bruxelles Midi to Amsterdam on the same day of 7th May. :) 

It is not worth the money to take the trains requiring reservations between Brussels and Amsterdam. There are hourly reservation free IC trains between Brussels and Amsterdam. 

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Indeed, no online reservation alternative for this connection.

I agree with @Schelte , and I’lld like to add that usually the lower floor is a bit quieter and more tranquil. There’s a bit less seats down. And the connections between the different cars (and also bar) is on the upper floor, so down you don’t get a lot of passage other than the passengers sitting there.

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I generally try to avoid switching trains in Paris. An hour is a bit tight, not much buffer in case of delay. And taking the metro/RER in Paris with luggage can be a nuisance.

There’s also 7 connections a day from Brussels to Lyon, often extended to Marseille. Switching in Lyon or Marseille is more convenient as it happens in the same station.

This looks like a good option for you (avoiding seat reservations on Thalys too)

 

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Indeed, no online reservation alternative for this connection.

I agree with @Schelte , and I’lld like to add that usually the lower floor is a bit quieter and more tranquil. There’s a bit less seats down. And the connections between the different cars (and also bar) is on the upper floor, so down you don’t get a lot of passage other than the passengers sitting there.

Thanks for the tips @BrendanDB and @Schelte :)

Is ringing SNCF the only way to be able to select a seat/seat preference?

If I book the seat reservation through Eurail.com, does that mean I would get random allocated seats from the booking without ringing them?

As I mentioned, they can't really chose either. I would simply book them through Eurail to avoid the hassle - there aren't really bad seats on that train, for instance as far as I know all have windows.

I also tried to figure out the quickest/safest way to get to Nice from Amsterdam, these two trains seem to have longer time to allow transfer between Paris Nord to Paris Gare De Lyon which is 1h10m, would it be safe to book this train or would it be too risky?

Flight from Amsterdam to Nice on that day would cost 168EUR per person which is a lot more expensive than taking the train. :(

 

That transfer is doable, with RER D running fairly frequently and taking just 10 minutes from station to station (add some time to get to the RER platforms & waiting time though, so it still is tight). You can also take an earlier journey to Paris to be sure, as there can always be some disruption (including on the RER).

The RER (Paris express suburban rail) is not covered by Interrail, but tickets can be bought in the Thalys bar (go as soon as you're leaving Amsterdam, they only have a limited number), on the app or if you're passing through Paris earlier.

Don't book the Thalys & TGV through Eurail, but separately through the two different b-europe pages (or on the phone with SNCF, if you call them for the Barcelona one).

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During a quick google research only found this agency: https://www.118000.fr/e_C0039775760

But not sure if it really exists… if there is a Deutsche Bahn Agency in Paris, then you could try to get the reservations there. But as said, I don’t think it will be a problem if you make the reservations only on arrival in Barcelona.

@MartinM thank you so much for trying to help, I really appreciate it.

I found a PDF file on DB website of the list of their agencies.

I didn’t see one in France but surprisingly there’s one in Australia. 😄 I will contact them tomorrow see if they can make the bookings for me. 😊

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Wow thanks so much for your help :)

Our entire travel plan is actually based on the timetable from the Eurail planner app. We were trying to make our travel as easy as possible. On the app it we would pick the train with less/no interchange, early morning ones, less travel time, but it only shows the Train number without showing the train operater’s name, do you think we should still do the same with our planning but double check each train ride on the operator’s website and book through them?

The Eurail planner can be good to get an over all picture but not all trains are shown and the times shown should be double checked with the operator’s websites.

Or should we check operator’s websites and book all the train rides through them instead of trusting Eurail Planner App?

If you book with the operators you will, as@BrendanDB says get information about delays and other important information. This might not be the case if you book through Eurail.

What if we don't book seats in advance (even if most trains don't require seat reservation), and there would be no seats available anymore when we buy tickets at the station on the day of our trip?

For trains with mandatory reservations you should make those reservations as soon as they are possible.

For trains with optional reservation the national railways like DB and SBB will show on their website or in the app if a train is expected to have high or low demand. If you check this about a month before your travel and the demand is expected to be high, then you can make a seat reservation.

By the way, to get the terminology correct, the Eurail pass is your ticket, so you will not need to buy any tickets unless you would travel with a train that not is included in the Eurail offer.

 

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The hourly intercity does not allow seat reservations - simply board with the active pass and chose an empty seat. When boarding in Amsterdam there generally should be seats available, particularly in 1st class. 

Same counts for the IC when leaving from Bruxelles Midi, you should find plenty of places comfortably.

If there would be an effect of the Coronation, you'll find that on Eurostar and domestic UK trains. Not the rest of Europe. But you reserved Eurostar already so don't worry. 

I'lld still recommend the IC over Thalys. If you feel like it, you can have a nice short visit in places like Mechelen (unknown, but quite quaint) or Antwerp to stretch your legs to fully enjoy the Interrail /Eurail flexibility.

Unfortunately, thieves and beggars also greedily operate in first class too. It's not that that is closed of from the rest of the train. You should be a bit weary of people walking hastily across the train between Brussels-Midi - Central - North.

But one should not over exaggerate the risk of theft too. In bigger cities, wether it'll be in London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin or Brussels, there's always a risk for pickpockets wherever you go alas. 

For comfort, I lived a long time in Brussels, and I still travel there very often. Never got stolen something once in 15 years :) If you just keep your valuables close to you, check it, keep a good eye on them and ignore the people handing out leaflets on the train or treat them with a healthy suspicion, nothing will happen. Railway staff keeps an eye on it too. 

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Hi @Schelte I have just booked seat reservations for Bruxelles Midi to Amsterdam on 7 May 13:22 for the Thalys train. On the tickets it shows carriage 032, however I couldn’t find carriage 032 on the seat map of Thalys train. Do you know if there is an actual coach number 032 or if the 032 stands for another carriage? I tried to change seats by putting in reference number and email address in on Thalys website but I didn't see the options of change seats 😞 Do you know if there's a way to change seat? Thank you in advance :)

Carriage 32 is in terms of layout the same as carriage 12 (and 22), but is used as number to allow multiple units run coupled together - otherwise you'd have two carriages with the same number (in this case I think it doesn't happen, but that train originates in Marne-la-Vallée instead of in Paris Nord so they do it by default). As far as I know, it is not possible to change the seat selection on Thalys, once they have been assigned.

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Hi @BrendanDB I just tried to book Paris - Barcelona on 21 April, the seat reservation is now open I could book the 1st class for 2 people, the cost is 74EUR. The Eurail.com didn't seem to have an option of seat selection, do you know if any other sites offer seat selection/seat preference? TIA :)

When booking through SNCF on the phone you are probably able to indicate a certain preference, but only limited (top/lower floor I think), but I asked last time and they don't get a seat map to chose from either. Since calling them to book this is probably quite expensive and a mess (international calls are expensive and they regularly have difficulties with credit cards being refused) and I think most seats are okay, I wouldn't worry too much. The view is also pretty decent from the lower floor and if you have a lot of baggage that might actually be nicer, but there are also racks on the top floor and it's a pretty long journey with sufficient time to board & alight at the termini in Paris & Barcelona. Bays of 4 might be the worst, but they should not be assigned unless you book for 3 or more (or unless there is no other availability) - at least when booking through SNCF. 

Note these reservations are refundable, except the €2 per ticket fee charged by Eurail.

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Thalys uses different (single deck) train sets than the Paris-Barcelona.

Check here https://www.seat61.com/european-train-seating-plans.htm#France for France, TGV Duplex, Euroduplex 3rd generation I think.

It’s been a while since a booked a TGV seat with interrail for France. But I think that via 3rd party websites (like b-europe, or Eurail/Interrail), the seats are just randomly selected. But usually groups seats together.

But I wouldn’t worry much about your seats. First class is always relatively spacious, good location at the windows. And in the unlikely chance that you would accidentally be seated seperately, you can always ask fellow passengers to switch seats explaining the situation a bit. Happens quite often.

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Do Thalys allow pass holders to book? I read a lot of articles on Seat 61, the recommended booking sites raileurope.com, thetrainline etc. are they all for non-pass holders? I couldnt find any options of add Eurail pass details.

If the TGV train seats can't be selected then the seat map is kind of useless, isn't it? unless booking via phone?

Yes, Thalys is bookable for pass holders via the B-Europe website. Not via the websites you mentioned. The places are very limited on thalys though, for pass holders. The seat reservation fee is also a lot. In most cases a normal Thalys ticket makes more sense, than a seat reservation + cost of a travel day. For Brussels-Amsterdam there’s always a good alternative with the Intercity service, without reservations.

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There are two b-europe website; one for Thalys/Eurostar/TGV Belgium-France (which you already used) and a travel.b-europe website; for reservations for domestic French TGV services. The second leg (Paris-Nice) should be done via the latter in this link: https://travel.b-europe.com/Eurail-GE/en/booking-tgv#TravelWish. There’s a book fee of 4 EUR per order (so booking more trains in one go, saves you some money), in contrast to the €2 booking fee of Eurail per train and per ticket.

You’ll need the pass cover generator as well:

 

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Thanks so much for telling me the travel-b-europe website, I didn't even know this website existed at all. 😬

I will book the second leg (Paris - Nice) on this website later on 🙂 Just tested with an early date and it didn't seem to allow seat selections either :(

I have already generated the pass cover number with a link @AnnaB shared last week 😊

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Thanks so much for telling me the travel-b-europe website, I didn't even know this website existed at all. 😬

I will book the second leg (Paris - Nice) on this website later on 🙂 Just tested with an early date and it didn't seem to allow seat selections either :(

I have already generated the pass cover number with a link @AnnaB shared last week 😊

 It will be available from wednesday 25/01 normally, then SNCF opens up bookings until 31/05.

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It's a technical problem that multiple Australians faced when making reservations. 

If you are, down under, already in the next day in comparison to Europe, and you make a reservation for a train for a certain date, the system reserves on places not on day x that you want to travel, but on day x - 1 (because Europe is still in the previous day, in comparison to Australia) . So to avoid inconveniences and a lot of reebookings, best set your time zone to CET and you'll have the right reservations anyhow. :) 

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Hi @BrendanDB I have a question about changing our local time to Europe timezone when making reservations. I am a bit confused about this actually, wouldn't the timetable of the trains based on the local time of the departure and arrival destinations? Why would my time zone (Australia time zone) affect the reservation? I am just too dumb to figure this out and make sense of it. 😖

There has been reports that overseas travellers, especially from Australia, have had problems with getting the correct date on reservations made through the Eurail website. The solution to the problem has been to manually set the time zone to CET for the device used to make the reservations. 

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I wouldn’t worry about these reservations too much. Between Barcelona and Madrid are a lot of trains each day, so if you book on arrival in Barcelona, you should be still able to get some reservations…
Also for Madrid-Sevilla… especially as you travel on a Monday and Thursday… this are not the most busy days of the week.

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Looks like it worked! Or the IT support team fixed the issue, but I don’t know of any official confirmation of this. So, best set it to CET to avoid any unpleasant surprises :)

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But aren’t you in mid of March in München? Actually you should be able to make these reservations for Spain at the ticket office in München Hauptbahnhof…
At least until last year it was possible. So if nothing changed, should be still possible.
Just you need to be lucky to get an experienced employee. If they tell “it is not possible”, you should be insisting that it is ^^.

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When you add the trains to your pass you didnt book in reality 

 

Reservations are complete seperate from the Pass and need a own booking if you share details we can advise where to book 

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Seat reservations are completely separate from your mobile pass in the app. And you should not activate the pass before boarding the first train of your travel. Please read more about that below. 

 

Here is some useful information from the experienced travellers in the Community regarding both planning, reservations and activation of pass and travel days. 

 Planning

The rail planner is normally not up to date, as it only is updated once a month, so to be sure of the time table you better check the timetable and availability on the websites of the national railways. The bigger national railways, like DB (Germany) SBB (Switzerland) and ÖBB (Austria) cover several countries. 

 Reservations 

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is to use other ways to make reservations than the Interrail/Eurail website.  You can look at the guide in the link:

https://community.eurail.com/train-connections-reservations-47/how-to-get-reservations-105

If you, after having looked at the guide, have questions about how to make specific reservation, please give your travel details (departure date, time and route) preferably in a new topic, and you will get advice.

Please note that Interrail/Eurail charges an extra fee of 2 EUR per person and train in addition to the fee for the seat reservation.

 Activation of pass

During the activation process you choose the start day of the validity of the pass. Once the validity has started it can't be changed even if you haven't travelled. The advice is therefore to wait with activating the pass and starting the validity until the first day of your travel as you only can deactivate the pass no later than 23.59 CET on the day before the validity starts. If your travel plans change in the last moment you can't deactivate the pass and change the validity. 

It can be wise to make a test and activate the pass with a start date well in the future and then deactivate the pass immediately, just to see that everything works.

 Activation of travel day

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is also never to activate a travel day, that is connect a journey to your pass and create the ticket (QR code), until just before boarding the train, otherwise you might loose a travel day if your travel plans change in a late stage  You can't delete a travel day in the past. A travel day can only be deleted until 23.59 CET the day before the travel day.

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During a quick google research only found this agency: https://www.118000.fr/e_C0039775760

But not sure if it really exists… if there is a Deutsche Bahn Agency in Paris, then you could try to get the reservations there. But as said, I don’t think it will be a problem if you make the reservations only on arrival in Barcelona.

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I suggest you deactivate your pass. All planning can still be done.

If the validity of your pass has started and you for some reason can't travel, you never know what will happen, then you can't get a refund.

Regarding reservation, some can be made already now and some will be available one month ahead. Spanish domestic trains are the most tricky ones as they more or less only can be made in Spain. 

 

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@bleusquirrelBest deactivate them again, and only activate them a bit before you’re taking your first train. You never know what’s gonna happen. The last months saw plenty of strikes and cancellations. With high inflation levels persisting a bit longer, and weak economic outlook, it’s not unthinkable that you will come against some strikes during your trip, for which you need to alter your plans.

Besides that, there’s always a small risk of incidents (some tree that fell into the tracks, engineering works, something that broke down,...) that might force you to reschedule some routes.

For the rest, don’t rely on the rail planner app solely during your trip. Always check the operators’ website for real time information (engineering works, delays, other changes,...). The times often differ. Always trust the local companies app or website when it comes to information. The planner of Deutsche Bahn is quite good, up to date and encompasses most of Europe: https://www.bahn.com/en

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