Spain Train -- Tourist vs. 1st class

Aug 10th, 2005, 05:13 PM
  #1  
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Spain Train -- Tourist vs. 1st class

We are planning on taking the daytime Altaria train from Barcelona to Madrid in September and have a couple of questions. First, what is the difference (besides price) between tourist class and 1st class? Second, should we buy our tickets before we leave for Spain, or get them in Barcelona? We have not ruled out flying but thought it might be less of a hassle to take the train. We will be visiting Barcelona on our own for 3 or 4 days and then meeting up with a tour group in Madrid for a 17-day excursion through central/southern Spain and Portugal.
sfanna is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 05:32 PM
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Can only say that despite my love of trains in Europe this is a 6.5 hour trip by train and 1 hr 5 minutes by air. Spanair and Iberia compete HEAVILY on the BCN-MAD route and the air fares can be very cheap. Flight frequency for both carriers is hourly.

As to the train tickets..I suspect you could easily wait and get them right after you arrive in Barcelona.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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Went from Barcelona to Madrid on the Altaria recently. In first class, there is a luncheon served on the way, which is rather like an airline meal. There is a movie shown on an overhead screen, rather like used to be done in aircraft before individual seat screens. I assume none of this occurs in tourist class. The scenery between Barcelona and Madrid is not Spain's most picturesque, hence the perceived need for onboard entertainment. Friends took a plane between the two cities for considerably less than I paid, and I'd follow their example if I had to do it again.
adeben is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 01:24 AM
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Intrepid1's information is out of date. The fastest train now takes about four and three-quarter hours; the plane journey, of course, takes a lot longer than 1 hr 5 minutes when you add journeys to and from airports, check-in time, etc. On these Spanish trains, first-class ("preferente") passengers get an airline meal; both classes can watch a video and have access to a bar for drinks and snacks. Second-class ("turista") will sell out first, so if you book at short notice, you may have to travel in preferente.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 05:29 AM
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I have always loved taking the AVe alta velocidad in first class, its very comfy and unlike an airplane you will get to see rural spain albeit quite quickly. Last time I travelled the AVE had only gotten to ZARAGOZA maybe KENDERINA can say now whether its all the way to Barcelona now. I also feel that if you add Check in and out and waiting times at an airport especially between flights then the AVE may even be quicker than airplane, it is certainly even more comfortable than first class airline seats. You have a work/eat table too so you can get work done too. They have an excellent meal service which in Spain is important, from Gazpacho to excellent Rioja Crianza.
oneillchris is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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Unfortunately, the high speed has not been completed all the way from Madrid to Barcelona. Journeys are much faster than they used to be, but will, I believe, eventually be down to three hours, with trains doing over 200 mph.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 06:29 AM
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Yes, the high speed train arrives only to Lleida. So it's a faster trip than it used to be..but not as fast as everybody is expecting it to be in the future
While I love train travel (I'm used to it) I still prefer flying the route Madrid-Barcelona. Airlines call the route "puente aereo", that means you buy the ticket as if it were a bus one, if you arrive late ..you get the next one. You don't have to arrive very early as planes depart every 30 minutes ! And it's usually cheaper than trains.
kenderina is offline  
Aug 11th, 2005, 07:51 AM
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Am I the only one who thinks Preferente is more like Business Class & Club is First Class: A Private Compartment in which a meal is included along with complimentary drinks?? Call it First Class Lujo if you like but it's what I consider real First Class.

At times RENFE has an 'Oferta' it calls Club Duo: for just a little more than 2-Preferente fares. I keep asking but have never been lucky enough to hit it when that Oferta is available.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Aug 12th, 2005, 07:52 PM
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Thanks everyone for your input. We are still leaning toward taking the train. Our reasoning is: less time and easier connections getting to/from train stations than airports, less time waiting to depart, more comfortable ride on train(one of us is 6'4" with long legs), and no carry-on luggage restrictions (although we plan to pack very light).

I am going to start another topic regarding Puente Aereo. I haven't been able to find out much about it.
sfanna is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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I took a similar train from Madrid to Cadiz last year. The main difference between 1st class and tourist was there were only 3 seats for each aisle in first class (I think 4 in tourist) and we received a nice lunch with beverage. Still, I don't really think it was worth it. With the current conversion rate for the dollar I definately wouldn't pay the extra money.
CathyM is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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you also get a free vip lounge for first class passengers at your departure station that has complimentary drinks and snacks, etc. bottled water to take with you. very nice to wait in air conditioned/heated private lounge as you wait for the train.

free parking for those who need it for 24/48 hours.(at least in valencia)

lincasanova is offline  

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