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German train travel question - saver fare locks you in to specific times?

German train travel question - saver fare locks you in to specific times?

Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:01 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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German train travel question - saver fare locks you in to specific times?

Hi everyone,

Trip planning is moving along swimmingly now that the glitch we encountered with our Bamberg reservation has been resolved. Thought we had a room at Hotel Weierich and had even sent credit card info only to realize yesterday I'd never received a confirmation. Called and, sure enough, no reservation. We have a room now at Pension Scheiners am Dom and since we're only there one night prior to taking the train to Berlin, all's well.

So...on to rail and car reservations. We've purchased any combination of rail passes and/or point-to-point tickets for our past European adventures, but each time we plan a new trip I seem to have no memory of the specifics.

I've done my research today and see that if we reserve saver fare point-to-point tickets for each of our 5 journeys - Berlin to Dresden, Dresden to Prague (2 days later, so can't just be a stop-off on the same ticket), Prague to Munich, Munich-Salzburg round trip - day trip), then Bamberg to Berlin, we will save a huge amount of money over purchasing either 2 German twinpasses or two Germany-Czech Republic saver passes (or whatever they're called, for 2 traveling together). Difference looks to be $326 for both of us for point to point vs 482 for German railpass (including $20 ticket each to get from Prague to German border) or a whopping $594 for 2 Germany-Czech Republic passes.

For the Berlin-Dresden trip there's a chance that our plane connections could cause us to miss the specific train we reserve. For the Dresden-Prague trip, we were wanting to leave ourselves the option to go earlier in the day or much later depending on how much we were enjoying Dresden. And for the Munich-Salzburg day trip, we really hoped to judge which day we'd go based on the weather.

Which leads to my real question: Should we reserve the saver fares now and just eat the cost of changing the ticket (15 euro per ticket, it looks like) if we need a different time...or are those saver tickets usually available closer to the travel day? In most cases, it looks like purchasing the standard fare ticket, which would be another option and would give more flexibility, costs more than just paying the 15 euro per ticket penalty if we do need to make a change.

Am I reading this correctly? Any advice or confirmation for me?

Thanks!
caseyhen is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:27 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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When you're looking for inner-Germay ICE tickets on the Bahn site, the sooner you book, the better prices are. Form 7 to 1 days before departure reduced tickets can be bought at http://bahn.ltur.com/details. Those offers lead you to a booking on the "common" bahn.de site but csn't be found when you look for them directly on bahn.de. However there just may be no ticket available anymore for a reduced price.
Länder-Tickets valid on anything up to a RE train can be bought anytime.
logos999 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:29 AM
  #3  
 
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The saver tickets go fairly quickly and generally will cost more later if available at all. They are train-specific. The 15-euro penalty is on top of the regular ticket price you'll pay. The penalty is not 15€ but the full price for last-minute changes.

Munich-Salzburg can be done by direct regional train (2 hours) with a Bayern Ticket for 29 Euros. Buy a Bayern ticket from the station ticket machine at the last second.

Post-flight rail travel on saver tickets is risky - always a chance that your flight will be delayed. I'd leave a few hours plus transit time in between flight arrival and train departure if you go with the cheap tickets.
Russ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:41 AM
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However, many of the super cheap last minute offers only show up in the system one or two days before departure. i.e. there are many offers Munich to Hamburg two days from now for 25€. But it's risky to buy that late and those tickets are usually not available Monday and Friday.
logos999 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 10:11 AM
  #5  
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Thanks for the info - I knew I could count on the forums to set me straight. It seemed odd that there was just a 15 euro per ticket penalty, in which case it would have been silly (on one route I checked anyway) to purchase the standard fare ticket. So can you clarify, Russ...if we were to buy two tickets for 39 euro (standard fare is 69)...and then had to change the ticket what would we pay in total?

And the Munich-Salzberg Bayern ticket is 29 euro each...we priced two round trip bahn tickets at saver fare at 50 to 58 euro, so that seems to be a no-brainer. Thanks.

That just leaves our Dresden-Prague trip. Seems like we need to just bite the bullet and pick a time and stick with it. That one just hinged on how we "felt" that day - whether we wished we had more time in Dresden or were itching to get to Prague. I think we'll go for a mid-morning train to Prague which will give us much of the day there, as we had cut a night in Prague to have two nights in Dresden as it is.
caseyhen is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 10:36 AM
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If your total for 2 is 39€ w/ the saver ticket, and your flight is late, or other events take place that prevent you from using the scheduled train, then you'll have lost 39€ and you'll pay regular fare (69€ assuming the connection you make costs 69€ for 2, as you said.) Total cost: 108€. You cannot refund the tickets on the day of validity.

Prior to the day of validity, you can refund or exchange your ticket; you'll lose 15€ and presumably you'll pay a full price fare (if that's what's available) so total cost would be 84€. I've never had to refund and do not know the procedures or whether they would be difficult for you to carry out.

I have planned my trips in the past such that only a highly unpredictable situation would prevent me from catching a savings-fare connection. I've never bought them for use after a flight arrival (at least not on the same day) since delays are pretty common events with air travel.
Russ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 11:01 AM
  #7  
 
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I use the same strategy as Russ - in situations where the schedule is beyond my control, I don't go for the saver fare, but otherwise I pretty much always do. So no saver fare tickets right after a plane trip.
november_moon is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Perfect! Standard fare for post-flight trip from Berlin-Dresden, saver fare for all others except Bayern ticket for Munich-Salzburg round trip. I can always count on Fodorites. On to post a question about our Munich car rental. Today's our day to wrap up these reservations.
caseyhen is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 01:00 PM
  #9  
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Do we purchase the standard fare ticket now - any advantage in doing that? - or should we just wait and buy a ticket when we arrive at the train station from the airport? Do we run a risk of there being no room on the train?
caseyhen is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:29 PM
  #10  
 
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I think it is a matter of preference. Some people like to have tix in hand, for others it isn't important. The advantage of buying ahead of time is that you don't have to wait in a line to buy tickets on arrival. They cost the same either way.

There will be room on the train, and you can purchase seat reservations to avoid the need to search for a seat or the possibility of having to stand part of the way.
november_moon is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:43 PM
  #11  
 
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Kkura,I checked on the Fodor's fora and once i figured it out, I bought the saver tickets for Berlin-Dresden and Dresden-Prague. I paid 4 euro each for reservations on a specific train from bahn.com site. I then printed out the tickets at home and essentially am ready to go! All you have to do is carry the same credit card you used to pay online as identity proof. I prefer to book specific times as it sets me a deadline (in a way) and peace of mind on the seating.
tongsa is offline  
Jun 5th, 2012, 08:46 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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That part about bringing the same credit card that you used when you bought the tickets is important - even if the card expires in the mean time. This is meant to keep people from reselling the tickets to multiple people and that sort of thing. The conductor will scan your ticket (bar code on the piece of paper you print out) and then swipe the credit card to make sure the info matches.
november_moon is offline  
Jun 5th, 2012, 09:14 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Since I will be staying in Germany for 9 weeks and will do some travel, mostly within the region around Stuttgart, but some further distances, should I buy one of the Bahn cards? I know the cost of the Bahn 25 will be covered just going RT from Frankfurt to Stuttgart, but should I purchase another one? Can the card(s) be used for multiple trips?
kkukura is offline  
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