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Buying TGV train ticket -difference between Economy, Comfort & Premier

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Buying TGV train ticket -difference between Economy, Comfort & Premier

Old Apr 7th, 2012, 08:15 AM
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Buying TGV train ticket -difference between Economy, Comfort & Premier

I'd love advice regarding purchasing TGV train tickets for my family. We're taking the train from Paris to Avignon in June. What is the difference between Economy, Comfort & Premier? On the website, it appears that Comfort & Premier are both first class seats with the main difference being a meal and flexibility to change the ticket. The price difference is HUGE. I'm also confused because Comfort is cheaper than Economy. I think Comfort has 1st class seats and Economy has 2nd class seats. Is the only difference the ticket change flexibility? We are quite certain with our dates so Comfort seems the obvious choice but it seems a bit too good to be true since it is the least expensive option. Thoughts anyone?
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Old Apr 7th, 2012, 08:44 AM
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Sounds like you're using the Rail Europe site to book - NOT a good idea. Go to www.sncf.com or www.tgv-europe and book there. There are two classes of tickets - 1st and 2nd. You should be looking for PREM tickets, available 3 months out from your dates of travel. They are discounted, nonrefundable, nonexchangeable tickets that you can print out at home. RailEurope is generally a ripoff.
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Old Apr 7th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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Thank you St.Cirq! You are correct. I was on Rail Europe. I'll check out those other sites.
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Old Apr 7th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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Those are categories Raileurope makes up, not SNCF. So who knows what they mean, but if you are asking is it "worth it" to buy first class vs. second, no one can answer that but you. It's just a personal decision and how much you care about the extra amount of money it is. I prefer first class on long trips (ie 3 hrs or more) but never buy it on short trips, unless it doesn't cost hardly anything different. And, in fact, on the real SNCF website, sometimes first class doesn't cost hardly any more than second, or can be the same (I think sometimes it can even be a little less, but that's unusual).

You will, though, see a huge difference in price based on flexibility on any website, that's what the price difference is for. They can't give flexibility on discount fares, so the cheapest one are completely nonrefundable. So it really doesn't surprise me that it could be cheaper to be a nonrefundable first class seat than a refundable second class one, as you can change that whenever you want. Again, this is up to you as to whether you want flexibility or not.

The difference is just class and refundability, that's all. No seats on a French train are disgusting, if that's the worry, you aren't in with the chickens or anything.
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Old Apr 8th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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Bottom line... 2nd class has 4 seats, 2 on each side of the aisle, first class has 2 and 1. So a bit more comfort.

In August 2008 2nd class tickets for Paris to Nice were 35 euros when I bought them... first class was 40. So I went with first for the small difference. There was no meal. Food from the bar car was indifferent and over priced. Take your own food and drinks and you'll be much farther ahead.

Here are 2 sites with much useful info on booking train tickets:

http://www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/FrenchTrain.htm
http://www.seat61.com
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Old Apr 8th, 2012, 08:40 AM
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 04:06 AM
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As others have said, you're clearly using Rail Europe's US or Australian/overseas site.

They make up terms that are not used or understood here in Europe.

Here's a RailEurope-English translation:

Economy = 2nd class

Comfort = 1st class with book-ahead ticket, no refunds, no changes.

Premier = Exactly the same 1st class seat but with megabucks fully-flexible ticket. NO food included, unless we're talking a Thalys or Lyria or Eurostar train, in which case it's included whichever type of 1st class ticket you buy.

Note that Rail Europe may suppress the cheapest fares for the overseas market, you can often save loads (and save the cost of booking fees) by booking direct with French Railways at www.tgv-europe.com/en (if you're from the USA, you select 'Antarctic' to avoid being bumped back to their US subsidiary Rail Europe).
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