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Seat reservations, Narbonne-Barcelona

  • 10 February 2024
  • 5 replies
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Userlevel 1

Hi -

I want to reserve seats on AVE 9730 from Narbonne to Barcelona on Feb 21 (dep 10:39). The Interail reservation service shows a price of €12 2nd class - but also says it can’t process that reservation. The only “other” option offered seems to be in person at a station in *Spain*! I will not be in Spain between now and then, so that won't work. In there any other way? Does the SNCF phone service allow booking interrail seat reservations for AVE services? (The journey does start in France...) Or might I be able to do it to at a station in France? My fallback option is to just book a full-price ticket, currently available via Renfe online - c. €40. I'm assuming it would be a bad idea to delay to try for interrail seat reservations at the ticket office in Narbonne on my day of travel?

Thanks for any help!

Barry

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Best answer by thibcabe 10 February 2024, 21:47

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Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Annoyingly this train cannot be booked elsewhere than at Spanish train stations. Thanks RENFE...

You can get reservations on the platform on the day (10€). Staff is used to this, there are 132 seats left on your date as well so it won’t be an issue.

Userlevel 1

Thanks for thecquick reply - that’s great information - much appreciated.

Is there a public way of checking how many seats are left? I would like to just check again, closer to the day, if possible. But no problem if not.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Yes sure I don’t work for Eurail haha.

Go to https://www.renfe.com/es/en, look for your connection and go far into the booking process (incl. adding passport number). You can click on seat selection at that point and in the next step there’s a seat map. Simply count the seats. :)

Userlevel 1

Just to confirm that this did indeed work!

I kept an eye on seat availability over the last couple of days (by “pretending” to book a full-price ticket at renfe.com and get to the seat allocation page), so I could see there was still a reasonable number of seats unassigned even up to this morning: a bit cumbersome, but it seems to work.

Then, on arrival at Narbonne station, I tried the SNCF ticket desk first, just to see what they would say. The lady there was very nice (albeit did not speak English), but managed to communicate that she could do nothing for me in relation to an AVE service because it is operated by Renfe (as expected). So we went back to the platform and waited. When the train came in, Renfe train staff got down to check tickets of boarding passengers. Again, language was a bit of an issue at first, but we were re-directed to another staff member who had reasonable English and understood our situation. She checked that we had valid interrail passes, and let us board immediately, to allow the train depart. Then she was able to sell us the seat reservations on board (€10 each). We paid by credit card without a problem. We were initially assigned seats at more or less the opposite end of the train from where we were (automatic assignment?): but when we asked her to change this to the coach we were already at, she was able to find some seats there OK. So all good, and we are happily well on our way to Barcelona.

The tickets we received were labelled “Viajero sin billete (estación sub venta)” which I take to mean “station without a [Renfe] ticket desk”. Which is to say, this seems to be a standard operating procedure for Renfe that if there is no ticket desk at the station, one can access ticket sales on board (including interrail seat reservations!). Just a pity that they don’t seem to advertise this information very clearly.

Of course, had the train turned out to be fully booked, this would have fallen apart for us. So … others may still prefer to pay the extra to just buy the standard (non-interrail) tickets online in advance. This is probably the best option if you will not otherwise use an interrail “day” (i.e., aren’t taking any other train connections the same day).

Anyway, thanks again to @thibcabe for the advice.

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Just to confirm that this did indeed work!

I kept an eye on seat availability over the last couple of days (by “pretending” to book a full-price ticket at renfe.com and get to the seat allocation page), so I could see there was still a reasonable number of seats unassigned even up to this morning: a bit cumbersome, but it seems to work.

Then, on arrival at Narbonne station, I tried the SNCF ticket desk first, just to see what they would say. The lady there was very nice (albeit did not speak English), but managed to communicate that she could do nothing for me in relation to an AVE service because it is operated by Renfe (as expected). So we went back to the platform and waited. When the train came in, Renfe train staff got down to check tickets of boarding passengers. Again, language was a bit of an issue at first, but we were re-directed to another staff member who had reasonable English and understood our situation. She checked that we had valid interrail passes, and let us board immediately, to allow the train depart. Then she was able to sell us the seat reservations on board (€10 each). We paid by credit card without a problem. We were initially assigned seats at more or less the opposite end of the train from where we were (automatic assignment?): but when we asked her to change this to the coach we were already at, she was able to find some seats there OK. So all good, and we are happily well on our way to Barcelona.

The tickets we received were labelled “Viajero sin billete (estación sub venta)” which I take to mean “station without a [Renfe] ticket desk”. Which is to say, this seems to be a standard operating procedure for Renfe that if there is no ticket desk at the station, one can access ticket sales on board (including interrail seat reservations!). Just a pity that they don’t seem to advertise this information very clearly.

Of course, had the train turned out to be fully booked, this would have fallen apart for us. So … others may still prefer to pay the extra to just buy the standard (non-interrail) tickets online in advance. This is probably the best option if you will not otherwise use an interrail “day” (i.e., aren’t taking any other train connections the same day).

Anyway, thanks again to @thibcabe for the advice.

 

Thanks for coming back and reporting this, it’s good to hear a first hand account of this unorthodox arrangement.

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