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Thalys trains on longer journeys - First Class or Second?

Thalys trains on longer journeys - First Class or Second?

Jan 28th, 2011, 08:17 AM
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Thalys trains on longer journeys - First Class or Second?

I need to book a ticket Paris-Amsterdam, about a 3 hour journey, for April 2011. The difference between a second class and first class ticket is about $100 for two passengers (I'm early enough to get the Smoove fare).. Looks like lunch is included in the first class ticket.

We've traveled in Italy (Venice - Rome) and France (Quimper - Paris) in second class and it was fine, but never on Thalys. When I booked another ticket on Thalys yesterday for Brussels-Paris, I was assigned seats in the last car, almost the last seat (furthest back, next to the luggage rack). That's fine, because it's only an hour, but if it's a three hour journey, maybe that's a pain. I just don't have any experience.

Can anyone tell me what second and first class are like on these trains, and if you'd spring for the comfort (and lunch) in first in my situation?

Many thanks!
Iwan2go is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 09:45 AM
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First question: if you spent the exta $100 on traveling first class, would you have to cut back elsewhere on your trip? If yes, then it's not worth it.

I've taken Thalys dozens of times (50+ and counting) and most of them were first class. It's quieter, I like the meal and drinks served at my seat, and I find it a generally more relaxing experience.

There's nothing wrong with second class - BUT depending on your travel dates, you may hit the school break and Easter holiday period. That means second class could be very full - lots of people with lots of luggage (don't believe for a SECOND the nonsense that only Americans travel with large suitcases). If you travels are during that period, then I definitely recommend first class.

FYI, you can try to change your seat assignment. I've done it a few times.
FoFoBT is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 09:48 AM
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Times I'v had the meal in first class it was really good with wine, etc - probably a $25 value or so - there is always a difference between classes - seats are bigger and fewer in each car - more room to easily stow luggage, etc. That said if you found first class cool on those other trains then you certainly will on this one too.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 06:57 PM
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Thanks! Sounds like no contest - I'll go for the first class seats. And I might look into changing the other, second class seats. Although I am sitting next to the luggage rack...maybe that'll be a good thing after all!
Iwan2go is offline  
Jan 28th, 2011, 07:55 PM
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We went Amsterdam to Paris and back on the Thalys in October. I have long legs and did not have much legroom in second class on the first leg. However, on the return trip, we got a facing seat with a table in between. That gave us legroom and also provided us the opportunity to chat with two young Dutch youths. The trip goes by fast. Depends on how much you value comfort vs. cost.
tom18 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2011, 08:18 AM
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Hi Iw,

My rule of thumb is 2 class for trains under 4 hr.

ira is offline  
Jan 29th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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We did 1st class from Nice to Paris. Booked early, not a lot of difference in costs and the benefits are worth it. The quiet alone is worth it to me. No little fellers running up and down the isles, screaming, yelling. No groups talking loudly and drinking, etc. I do first class booked early and really worth it.
jkbritt is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 04:19 AM
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Iwan2go -- You may have already booked your ticket (sounds like you're leaning toward 1st class), so this may be moot for you, but ...

I just came back from a trip Rotterdam-Paris-Rotterdam on the Thalys and found 2nd class perfectly fine. Going down, I traveled early in the morning (7:00am Thursday) and found that most of my fellow travelers were adults, many traveling on business, almost all reading (as I was) and absolutely no one running up and down the aisles screaming and yelling. On the return, I took a Sunday evening train (19:30) which was somewhat more full but still quiet and enjoyable.

Perhaps it also has to do with my timing -- maybe not so many loud folks go to Paris in January?

I am looking to take the same trip with my mother (age 60) in April, so I'm curious to know whether 1st class is really that much different, other than the meal (which I've heard is quite nice, but on a <3 hour ride I don't find that I get particularly hungry).
NinaSearching is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 11:10 PM
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If at all possible, take first class. There is more space for your legs and for your luggage. And the meal they serve is delicious!
chiarachiara is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 12:55 PM
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IMO folks who say there is little difference between classes simply have not ridden in first class. Period or they would never say that.

for 15 minutes or 10 hours for the average traveler on a trip of a lifetime go first class - use the same guidelines to train travel as you do with restaurants and hotels - a Motel 6 (Formul 1 equivalent in France - can give a perfectly good sleeping experince and McDonalds can fill your tummy perfectly well (and perhaps with better quality foods than a typical more expensive resto) - yet most tourists would not be caught dead at a Motel 6-like motel in Europe not in the Golden Arches - so why is this Fodor mantra that 2nd class is the way to go on trains.

Has always perplexed me - first I notice that many of the 2nd class advocates are ones that rarely it seems take any trains.

One flummoxing example was someone who said the 25 euros between first and second class travel between Rome and Florence could better be spent at some restaurant. And then that exact same poster reported about his $200+ meal in Venice - well IMO that extra $100 or so could be better spent elsewhere as well - you could find a perfectly good meal for $100 and much less in Venice IME. Again I suggest that that poster had never really ridden a train in Italy or not much to say that first class was a waste of money.

4 seats in the space of 3 should tell anyone that there is a huge difference - seats 25% bigger and also often empty seats nearby to put baggage on, etc.

There is a HUGE different between first and second class on European trains and on the Thalys as well.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 11th, 2011, 12:35 PM
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I was going to start a thread asking basically the same question, so I'll jump in here . . .

I'm traveling from Paris to Amsterdam on the Thalys train Sun June 5. I was hoping to get the discounted Smoove fare of 35e pp for 2d class, but it's not available on my date apparently.

Instead the choices are 130e (for 2) for 2d class, or 158e for 1st class (Smoove fare).

From what everyone has said, it sounds like the obvious choice would be to pay the extra 28e (14e pp) for 1st class. If there is a full meal included in that price, it sounds like a good deal. I looked at the menu for food and it looks like we'll pay at least 10e pp for a snack in 2d class, and we're going midday and will want to eat lunch. The downside would be that the Smoove fare is nonrefundable, but I don't think that will be a problem, or I'm willing to risk it anyway.

Am I right that the 1st class ticket would be a no-brainer in this case, if I'm only paying 14e more pp for the comfort 1 ticket?
cheryllj is offline  
Mar 11th, 2011, 01:14 PM
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cheryllj -

I would go for 1st class, non refundable. You seem sure that this is not a problem, so for 28 euro difference I would do it. (And I've bought plenty of nonrefundables and have never had to "waste" them.)
soogies is offline  
Mar 11th, 2011, 04:17 PM
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Thanks, soogies.

Thalys tells me to "hurry, not many seats left!" so I'd better jump on this fare I guess. I've never taken a 1st class train so I'm looking forward to it, with the whole dining thing.

The diagram doesn't show tables or trays at each seat, so I'm wondering how the dining works. Are there flip trays like on an airplane?
cheryllj is offline  
Mar 11th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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Yes, I believe the trays flip down like on an airplane. (I hope I am not confusing this with ICE and TGV - it's been 3 years since my Thalys ride). Plus, the seats recline, are roomy and have foot rests. One of my loves of Europe - riding the trains!

Have a wonderful trip cheryllj.
soogies is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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Yes the trays flip like a plane - up and out of sight if it's a seat facing the back of another

some seats may have a table -not foldable but always there in between them if seats are facing each other
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 21st, 2011, 02:04 PM
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Thanks to everyone for their input. I booked the first class tickets and got the e-mail confirmation so it's all set. It will be a new experience for us to travel in style.
cheryllj is offline  
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