Thalys: In Advance or Last Minute

Jul 12th, 2014, 08:38 AM
  #1  
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Thalys: In Advance or Last Minute

Hi everyone,

I've got my trip planned out, hotels booked, plane tickets bought, etc (in large part thanks to your advice, so thanks!). The last thing left is to buy train tickets to go from country to country.

Here is our itinerary for travel by Thalys:

The Hague to Amsterdam
Amsterdam to Antwerp
Antwerp to Paris

I'm traveling in November. The question is: can I buy Thalys tickets last minute (a day before or the day of travel) or should I buy them 3 months in advance (in August)? I would like to get the lowest priced ticket, which, according to my research is the non-flexible ticket (ie set date and time) and heard that if trains fill up, the price of tickets also goes up. I'm just not sure what the case will be in November. Do trains still fill up? Presumably, November will be less touristy? Our preference is to buy tickets last minute for flexibility.

Thoughts/advice on this?

Thanks in advance!
olgap is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 09:22 AM
  #2  
 
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The price is going to go up the closer you get to the departure date. You are assuming that because there will be fewer tourists that the prices of the tickets are going to rise more slowly is that it?

You need to remember that a lot of people who live in Europe use these services for business and their other travel needs.

You say you want the cheapest price but that you want to wait until the last minute for flexibility YET you have already booked hotels? How much "flexibility" do you need within a 12-hour period?
Dukey1 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 09:26 AM
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You can pay up to 75% less by booking well ahead of time.

Of course if money is no object....
kerouac is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 09:38 AM
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The Hague to Amsterdam
Amsterdam to Antwerp
Antwerp to Paris

Like kerouac says you may be tons more if you just walk up and buy Thalys tickets - but this is not the case on the hourly or more IC trains that serve The Hague to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Antwerp - they have a fairly flat fare structure so walk ups pay no more or a very little more than booking ahead - no reason to book ahead on those trains - seat reservations ain't possible - just hop on any of those trains with a valid ticket.

So if you want flexibility just do the slightly slower IC trains. For Brussels to Paris (or Antwerp in your case - you can take IC trains to Brussels from Angtwerp) - but Brussels to Paris is only done by Thalys trains - so be sure to book ahead - I booked a 29 euro ticket Brussels to Paris recently for peak season and got it even though I booked only a week or so beforehand - so check prices - but often those seats do sell out in their limited quantities they have so booking really early on that leg can save a ton of money - the others you could just wait and use IC trains.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 11:29 AM
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Dukey1, in case we decide to leave a city early to move to our next destination, it's nice to have flexibility.

Kerouac and PalenQ, thanks. PalenQ, thanks for the advice on the IC. I just checked, and we can take a direct IC train from The Hague to Amsterdam, so we will definitely do that. As for Antwerp to Paris, I'd probably rather take Thayls because they're the only ones that have direct trains. I don't really want to do train transfers with luggage.

Is there any custom check from Amsterdam to Antwerp and Antwerp to Paris or do we just hop on the train?
olgap is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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No, there are no customs checks (except for random rare surprise checks) anywhere in the Schengen zone, and the vast majority of those are in the other direction (to France) due to drug tourism.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 12th, 2014, 08:47 PM
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thanks
olgap is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 08:37 AM
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e vast majority of those are in the other direction (to France) due to drug tourism.>

Yes indeedy often pass a row of dogs sniffing folks and their baggage on Thalys trains from Amsterdam IME.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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If you want to travel on Thalys, book your ticket the soonest possble (3 months prior to your travel date). There are only a small number of these non-flexible tickets. Do know however that these tickets cannot be exchanged, nor refunded.
MyriamC is offline  
Jul 13th, 2014, 02:24 PM
  #10  
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Thanks MyriamC. I'm going to book Thalys trains from Amsterdam to Antwerp and Antwerp to Paris as soon as they go on sale. Looks like sometime around mid-August.
olgap is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 11:26 AM
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I've just spend some time playing around on Thalys.com - sometimes it seems for a very little extra you can get a first-class ticket at not much more than 2nd class and if so go for it - not only a complimentary meal and drinks IME but larger seats and a generally more relaxed ride.

But look at various trains - do not just say I want to leave at 8 am - fares vary greatly as to the hour - no surprise as when most folks want to take them - earlier in the morning - fares seem higher. Be flexible and check first class too - indeed some 1st class fares for some trains are cheaper than 2nd class fares for other times on the same day!
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 02:57 PM
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Thanks for the info, PalenQ! Will most certainly shop around.
olgap is offline  
Jul 14th, 2014, 03:05 PM
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I actually played around with it just now too (got excited by the prospect of first class) but it looks like for October for example most first class tickets start at 69 euros and up. Same deal for other months (like September) but maybe because tickets have already been on sale for a while for September, the prices for second class are steeper so the gap between first and second narrows with first occasionally being equivalent of even cheaper sometimes. We're on a budget, though, so I plan on getting the cheapest ticket when it goes on sale (29 euros).
olgap is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 04:14 AM
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The cheapest tickets for 1st half October and September will most likely be sold already. You really need to book as early as possible. I.e. travel on 21st November, book on 21st August!
Second class in Thalys is OK. You really don't need first class.
MyriamC is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 08:36 PM
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Thanks, MyriamC! Have already got it marked down on my calendar. Will buy the minute the go on sale.
olgap is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 11:45 PM
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I went from Amsterdam to Antwerp which required a change in Rotterdam. I could not find any direct IC trains from Amsterdam to Antwerp.

Second class in Thalys is OK. You really don't need first class.

2nd class is also OK on IC trains.
Michael is offline  
Jul 16th, 2014, 03:56 AM
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<2nd class is also OK on IC trains.>
That depends! If you get on the train in Amsterdam, that's okay. If you travel from Brussels to Amsterdam and you get on the train halfway, say in Roosendaal (which is what I do, because it's near to where I live), you may have to stand in the hallway the whole journey. This happened to me more than once on a morning train.

There are no more direct IC trains from Amsterdam to Antwerp. This service has been suspended when the Fyra was introduced. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the Fyra trains have known a very short history, the direct service Amsterdam-Antwerp has not been re-introduced yet.
MyriamC is offline  
Jul 16th, 2014, 06:25 AM
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Michael, there are indeed no direct IC trains from Amsterdam to Antwerp. Thalys is the only train that is a direct train.
olgap is offline  
Jul 16th, 2014, 06:26 AM
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I have ridden IC trains on Amsterdam-Antwerp-Brussels route a lot and Myriam's take is the same as mine - there are often in 2nd class SRO - you may want to pay more and go first class where there are only a few folks in the car.
PalenQ is offline  

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