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Train ticket prices - smileys vs. passes?

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May 26th, 2007, 05:36 AM
  #1
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Train ticket prices - smileys vs. passes?

DH and I are flying into Brussels and want to visit Paris and Amsterdam, plus probably one small town (haven't decided which yet, maybe Brugge) in the 10 days we have. Our schedule will probably be - jump a train to Paris (3 days) as soon as we land in Brussels, then back to Brussels (2 days), small town (1 day), Amsterdam (2-3 days) and fly out of Brussels. My question is - do you know of a two week rail pass that would make sense? Or am I better off booking individual tickets for each leg? I have found some "smiley" fares for my dates, but hate to commit us to a specific time in advance, we would prefer to have flexibility. And even the smiley fares aren't super cheap, so I thought a two week pass might be a similarly priced option that would allow us more flexibility.
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May 26th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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NO - the only pass you could consider is the France-Benelux pass but to make it pay off you'd have to be traveling a bit more - but if you want flexibility on Thalys then it may actually pay off since it can be used on any Thalys train like a full fare ticket, which Paris-Amsterdam can cost about as much as the pass.
France-Benelux pass comes with a minimum of 4 unlimited travel days (midnight to midnight) and for a Saverpass (2 names on one pass, cheaper than two individual passes) costs $251 p.p in 2nd class and $279 p.p. in first class. It also comes in 5- 6- 8- and 1-day versions but it seems the 4 days is sufficient for you. The pass costs not much more in 1st class so it's a much better deal if going 1st class. The pass is a flexipass good over a 2-month period - you can travel unlimited on 4 days within the 2 month period - need not be consecutive.
Now if going the SMILYS highly restricted route (and may not be available when you really try to book as they exist in miniscule numbers) it's certainly better to do that and buy point-point Brussels to Brugge and Brussels-Amsterdam (on regular IC trains not more expensive Thalys). But if you want a fully flexible ticket on the Thalys i think it would be a good deal in light of fully flexible fares i've seen and you can be spontaneous. These passes are not sold inEurope but marketed by RailEurope largely in US and their agents. I always recommend BETS (800-441-2387; www.budgeteuropetravel.com for passes and Thalys tickets because though they work thru RE they are much more customer oriented and experts (but be sure to check www.thalys.com and www.voyages-sncf.com for Thalys tickets as they can be cheaper. Note also that RailEurope is offering a 50% off sale on Thalys tickets thru Aug 31 - but with the 50% off it's no longer changeable or refundable.
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May 26th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Wow, thank you PalenQ!! That is very helpful to know. It looks like I will probably just end up booking individual tickets since that will be much cheaper than the pass at ~250pp, around 225E for two. One more question, though, what are the "Mezzo", "Mezzo ABS" and "Kid and Co" fares? I've clicked on the explanation tab but it doesn't really give much of an explanation. Is it just that the Mezzo are sale fares (but slightly more than the smilys fares) and the "Kid and Co" are tickets for kids? And are there any fare types other than smilys I should look for?
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May 26th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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Smilys are the cheapest and then there are the Mezzo fares - all increase in price and are sold in limited numbers - i believe all are restricted except full fare which is sky high

ABS i believe means All Belgian Stations so that in conjunction with Thalys ticket you can go on free to any Belgian station within 48 hours and vice versa - good if going to Bruges after you come from Paris to Brussels for example.

Kid & Co i believe the kids go nearly free but i don't have my Thalys info sheet with me know so just doing this from memory and may not have it all right. Mezzo could be one-way fares - SMILYS is mandatory round trip but no controls on whether you go one way or not - cheaper than one-way tickets i believe in any category but extremely hard to book i believe. For info you can call BETS (800-441-2387) who can answer everyone of these questions as i may be wrong in some of what i say here. Even if buy on thalys.com they will answer these questions IME.

Kid & Co i think means kid and an adult paying adult fare.
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