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Adventures with Thalys - success buying a Smilys Amsterdam-Antwerp roundtrip ticket

Adventures with Thalys - success buying a Smilys Amsterdam-Antwerp roundtrip ticket

Old Jan 19th, 2008, 11:06 AM
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Adventures with Thalys - success buying a Smilys Amsterdam-Antwerp roundtrip ticket

This is more an informational post than anything.

I decided to buy this ticket for my March trip today.

A Smilys roundtrip ticket is 28 Euros, which is cheaper than buying the InterCity tickets for a walkup price. I think the InterCity walkup rate is about twice as much as the Smilys advance rate. The drawback is that Smilys is unchangeable, and you have to buy it at least 14 days in advance. If you don't buy it early on, you risk the cheap tickets being sold out.

I could not buy this itinerary from voyages-sncf.com because there was no self-print option. You can pick up the ticket from a machine in France, but that wouldn't help me. (This means that Thalys.com with France chosen as a country won't work in this case.)

I tried to buy it from Thalys.com with the country set to Belgium, the language set to English, and with the "Homeprint" option. I went through this with my MasterCard, and the card was denied. I then tried my other MasterCard, and that was denied.

I decided to try Thalys Ticketless, with the country set to Belgium, and the language set to English. This worked, apparently because I used my American Express card. The payment provider is Ogone, just as with the HomePrint option, and I guess they do not like Canadian MasterCard cards.

At some point, I tried the above options with the country set to Germany, but that resulted in the only option being post to Germany, which wouldn't have worked. Choosing the Netherlands country option did not work either, but I can't remember why now.

I've never done the ticketless method before. It seems straightforward enough. Any pitfalls to report?
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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ira
 
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Hi W,

Thanks for letting us know about Thalys Ticketless.

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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Ira, stay tuned. I think I may have made a mistake. My email confirmation says nothing about a Ticketless card, but I'm seeing references to it elsewhere.

Yikes! If so, I may have wasted 28 Euros. I will try to resolve this Monday.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 11:54 AM
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The reference is here:
http://users.b-rail.be/bene_bs/EN/co...icketless.html

I hope I can find a way around it. And from now on, only home-printed tickets for me, no matter how difficult.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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ira
 
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Hi W,

I think that you are supposed to register.

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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Ira, I did register, but it's all a blur now. However, I think I'm OK. I found this:
http://www.thalys.com/be/en/my-thaly...ketless-manual
Until you receive your Thalys Ticketless card, please present the reservation confirmation you have received by email to the Thalys Train Manager when you travel. The bar code on the confirmation will allow your virtual ticket to be checked.

When you receive your Thalys Ticketless card (or if you have a Cybelys card), present it, for each reserved journey, to the Train Manager, who will validate your Ticketless journey.

If you have neither your Thalys Ticketless card nor your reservation confirmation but have reserved a Ticketless journey, please inform the Train Manager and show a valid form of identification.

Once your Ticketless journey has been checked and validated on board Thalys by the Train Manager, your Ticketless journey is considered to be “used”.

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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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According to the DUtch FAQ you are only able to go ticketless if you are a frequent traveller - at least 4 Thalys return in the last 12 months.
You can home print tickets to Belgium on www.nshispeed.nl/en.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Thanks, hetismij. I didn't see the 4x requirement with accessing Thalys through English (but may not have looked at that on the Dutch site). However, I've noticed the sites are not consistent among the languages and from country to country.

I wrote an email to SNCB. Also, I made a printout of the above page, which seems to suggest I am OK (and I think, looking back, that was the page that made me proceed with Ticketless in the first place).

If I don't get an email response, I'll telephone the SNCB office.
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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Hi W,

It looks like you are OK, I hope.

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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 03:48 PM
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I bought self-print Thalys tickets for a round trip between Paris and Brussels in December using a Mastercard and had no problems buying the tickets or printing them. Plus, I was able to purchase the Smilys fare less than 14 days before my trip.

I bought them from Thalys.com, using France as the base.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 01:57 PM
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I knew I would find a thread that might answer my questions about Thalys. I'm buying my ticket Ams-Paris tomorrow, so I tried to register ticketless. I did not see any number of trips restriction, but when trying to put my address in was unable because there was no United States (like the SNCF site).

I would love to just print my ticket, but am afraid I won't be able to figure out how to do so when the time comes.

Can you print any ticket or just special ones? Can I list France as base, or should I list Netherlands since my departure is from there.

Always before, I have bought from SNCF via phone so they would mail them to my house. I figure if I put France as base, at least I could try SNCF if they don't print.

I will be in France before the AMst departure, so I might be able to straighten things out. EEEK! Why do they discriminate against us Yanks?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 02:06 PM
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I did finish registering as ticketless and was able to log in and have a ticketless number, so it might work.
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Old Mar 17th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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We recently purchased rail tix for Amsterdam to Paris via this website: https://www.raileurope.com/us. This is so hassle-free and rates are quoted and paid for in US $'s. Paper tix's are mailed to your home address for an $18 charge. This is probably not the cheapest way to go, but feels much more secure--don't want to arrive at the train station at 8:30 am only to find we have no valid tix.
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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It all worked out. See my other update post.
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 08:04 PM
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RailEurope usually marks up their tickets and they never seem to come through with the discounted rates. I quit them after the 2nd occasion to purchase. By then, I was getting clued in on buying online from the source rail sites and I knew RE was pulling a fast one on me.

It seems logical to me if your trip originates from Paris, you would use 'France' and if it originates from Amsterdam, you would use 'Netherlands' (or pays Bas, I think they call it). I've bought tickets both ways, and I'm pretty sure this is how it worked. I have always used the 'print your own' for Thalys - haven't seen the ticketless option. But I bought a ticketless ticket (!) from the Italian site for Rome-Venice last year. I got an email confirmation that showed my name only and '4 passengers', and the conductor had no problem with it.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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I gave up on Ticketless--just didn't seem to work for me. So I went the regular route, got a great rate of €25 each (which did not appear on Ticketless, by the way) and was able to print it! We leave in 10 days--I'll report back.
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