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Upgrading second class Swiss pass to first class for individual train rides

Upgrading second class Swiss pass to first class for individual train rides

Dec 21st, 2014, 01:40 PM
  #1  
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Upgrading second class Swiss pass to first class for individual train rides

I read on a 2 year old post here, that using a second class Swiss Rail pass, you can upgrade to first class for a specific journey by paying the difference between first and second class ON THE TRAIN--e.g. if you find second class standing room only, etc.. Does anyone know if this is still the case?
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 01:52 PM
  #2  
 
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As far as I know and I may have been the one to post that two years ago - pretty much a standard on flat fare trains in Europe as most in Switzerland are. Best to track down the conductor first and ask but many trains don't have conductors and are on the honor system now so I do not know how that would work if there is no conductor and spot checkers climb aboard.

Just ask at any Swiss train station information office about this policy to get the current definitive answer. On boats too the upper deck is often IME first class only and you can pay the difference on board to get the vaunted open-air seats up top and in the front that are normally for first class only.

For lots of info on Swiss trains check these superb sources: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com (to toak to someone knowledgeable call Byron there - I buy passes from him a lot and he will answer such questions even if not buying and get an authoritive answer); and www.ricksteves.com.

IME though there is always a lot more empty seats in first class and it is always a much more relaxed ride second class outside of commuter time when many trains do get packed in 2nd class around big cities you should always be able to find seats. And in Switzerland the difference between classes is not as great as in other countries (especially the U.K.!).
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Thanks PalenQ. Yes, it was you who posted the 2012 info that I was reading. I will ask when purchasing our passes. Thanks for the sources.

We were in Zermatt 2 years ago and got 1st class Swiss passes which we used to travel between stops on our itinerary and to do day trips while our son skiied. In pricing them out for a return trip this February, I find about a $900 difference for the three of us to get 1st class rather than 2nd and am thinking we might use that difference to get better wine with dinner or something equally worthy, but I would hate to have to do our trip from Lucerne to Zurich airport at 9 a.m. on our last day standing for the full hour ride. The upgrade possibility sounds perfect, if it still exists. Sure hope so. Will report back after the trip.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 02:17 PM
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I have seen it done one a boat. This September, a family was traveling with a second class Swisspass on a first class deck. The ticket inspector gave them an option of paying the difference to stay on the first class or go down stairs to the second class deck.
greg is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 03:54 PM
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See if there is info here that will help.

http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and...s-upgrade.html
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 21st, 2014, 08:32 PM
  #6  
 
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Earlier this year, I made some upgrades directly over the internet, which was extremely easy, but I don't know how it is handled on the train itself.
kerouac is online now  
Dec 21st, 2014, 11:57 PM
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I had an occasion to speak with a station staff in Geneva so asked the question as well. Yes you can do it on the train. However the person recommended if you have time, to do it at the station beforehand.
kappa1 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 05:18 AM
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JULIE, wherever you go, and however you get there, I look forward to another great trip report from you folks with pics and beautiful descriptions of food and drink.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:23 AM
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But what about conductorless trains with spot checks?
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 11:19 AM
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I mean of course by spot checks what I asked before - sans a conductor you may with spot checks be fined I suspect for riding in a class you are not entitled to. Most trains I believe however have conductors but I guess before I moved I'd see if there was a conductor on board first. IME Swiss conductors with railpasses just glance at them casually - I always have a first class pass and never open it to show what class I have so they seem very nice to know foreign travelers, inevitably asking where you are going and informing on changes of train, etc.
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 12:13 PM
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> But what about conductorless trains with spot checks?

If you mean by above the regional(R) trains without conductors, then if checked, you COULD be fined. What the station staff said is about longer distance trains such as RE (regional express), IC (Inter-City), etc where the conductors are on the train.
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 01:13 PM
  #12  
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KYbourbon, the website you referenced seems extremely helpful and I intend to check it out thoroughly.

Thanks to all of you for your responses and alerts on issues that I may need to clear up when purchasing my tickets on arrival in Switzerland. While we loved the freedom and luxury of the first class pass on our trip two years ago, saving 900 euros for the 3 of us, is pretty tempting. So if we can shape something that seems to be the best of both worlds, that will be best of all.

latedaytraveler, thanks for the push. I haven't done as many trip reports recently because I've been trying to build a blog. Somehow all of the technical stuff involved has bogged me down (so I have a bogged blog, I guess). Just got back from a trip to Lyon, Strasbourg and Paris with stops at many beautiful Christmas markets. Perhaps I'll do a post with those pictures since you ask--before I get myself once more immersed in my efforts to blog about it. Thanks for the push.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2014, 06:52 AM
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The website I linked is the official Swiss trains website. Their other website for passes (swisstravelsystem.com) has a Facebook page and I know people have asked questions there and they have answered. Scroll down for the FB link (on the right side).

http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html

If you are on Twitter, you might try asking there too.

https://twitter.com/Travel_STS
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2014, 08:50 AM
  #14  
 
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In any case you will find 2nd class fine on most trains so by paying an occasional upgrade like on boats or 2nd class cars that are packed to the gills you will come out way ahead of buying a first-class pass. And the 50% off conveyances to mountain tops is given regardless of class as many gondolas are single class. And free entrance to 470+ museums regardless of class of pass - ditto for city trams and buses and postal buses - all of which are only one class.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2014, 11:03 AM
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Thanks to all of you for your responses and alerts on issues that I may need to clear up when purchasing my tickets on arrival in Switzerland.>

You may want to compare pass prices from the U.S. with the same pass in Switzerland - since I've been comparing for several years the U.S. price has often (but not always) been cheaper -soemtimes significantly so. Also check both Swiss and U.S. sales for specials - first class passes often have a special - sometimes by buying early you get a deal - like the just expired (or soon to expire) one giving an extra day on passes - if there is little or no difference just buy at any train station in Switzerland - if your credit card charges a foreign transaction fee figure that into the equation.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 24th, 2014, 06:30 AM
  #16  
 
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With the Swiss franc being at a low of $1.02 it seems buying passes in Switzerland currently is the best deal - did a quick check but as always I advise anyone to do a check to see but at this time I'd just buy in Switzerland.
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Dec 26th, 2014, 01:57 PM
  #17  
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Thanks again, PalenQ, for all your help on this. I'm definitely set on buying in Switzerland, getting second class passes, checking with the sales agent and figuring how to upgrade to first class if second is overfilled. We have a plan and thanks to you and others here, I think it's a good one.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Dec 27th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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We have a plan and thanks to you and others here, I think it's a good one.>

Would be curious as to what your plan is - can't see above any itinerary and am sure it is a good one - just curious as to where you decided to go.

Cheers, Palenque
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Dec 30th, 2014, 08:37 AM
  #19  
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Sorry, I meant that we have a plan re: use of Swiss rail passes on this trip. Our actual trip plan is to fly into Zurich, train to Zermatt for 5 days from whence we plan to repeat day trips we took there 2 years ago--Brig, Sierre, Sion. Happy to hear of any other suggestions from Zermatt for one more day there. Then we train from Zermatt to Gstaad (our son is a skier) from whence we plan to take day trips to Montreaux/Vevy, possibly Thun and Oberhofen, and Chateau d'Oex and Gruyeres--again other recs for day trips very welcome. From Gstaad we'll train to Lucerne for 2 nights before a last train back to Zurich and home from there.

Two years ago when we spent 6 days in Lucerne, we did day trips to Bern, Basel, St. Gallen, Einseldeln with a stop at Rapperswill on return to Lucerne. I'm now searching for a possible day trip for one of our two days in Lucerne this year. Looking at Zug, Schwyz, Olten, Aarau, maybe Solothurn--any combination or the above and/or others. Would really appreciate recommendations. Thanks for asking. I just read your response as I was coming back here to ask about less known day trips from Lucerne. I'll appreciate any help you or others can offer.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 01:45 PM
  #20  
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latedaytraveler, if you're still watching this thread, have a look at my trip report for the Christmas markets. Your prodding finally got me off the dime. Hope you enjoy it.
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