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bobthenavigator Jul 19th, 2013 11:13 AM

Using ITALIARAIL for booking reservations
I cannot help to notice that Mark Smith---the man in seat 61---suggests using Italiarail for booking train tickets in advance

I tend to agree since it seems to be more user friendly for novice travelers to Italy.
There is a small fee[$5] and you cannot change your day or times, but it sure seems simple for people how can set their schedules in advance.

So, tell me who has used it and your expereince. I sedom book trains for myself since we usually rent a car.

bobthenavigator Jul 19th, 2013 03:26 PM


kybourbon Jul 19th, 2013 08:34 PM

When you link a site through another site, there is usually some type of payment involved.

There are problems with booking on Italia Rail as they are essentially a reseller and you aren't dealing directly with the train company.

It's like using Expedia to buy a plane ticket instead of booking directly with the airline. If you have a problem, Expedia is not much help and the airline won't deal with you because you have to go through Expedia.

From the comments I've seen, anyone having problems with a ticket purchased on Italiarail are out of luck.

bobthenavigator Jul 20th, 2013 05:44 AM

Understand---the typical reseller limitations.
But the process seems easier than Trenitalia, and that will be appealing to novices.

kybourbon Jul 20th, 2013 06:22 AM

This thread is about an Italiarail purchase.

The Italiarail website continues to change. They create fare names that aren't the actual fare names. They now want your e-mail before showing low fares, etc. if you click on search the discounts (like Travel Zoo Top 20). The fare rules on Italiarail are their rules they've created for each fare, not the actual fare rules.

Another problem using Italiarail is you can't pick your seat. On Trenitalia, for all the fast trains (AV Freccia trains), you can select your actual seats from a seat diagram (like selecting a plane seat). I prefer seats with tables (some Freccia seats don't have tables) and away from the stinky bathroom. You don't have this option with Italiarail.

The main problem I see on Trenitalia these days is people selecting the wrong date, but you can see by the above thread that the same thing happens using Italiarail. I would only use Italiarail if I found I couldn't complete the booking on Trenitalia.

ItaliaRail Jul 20th, 2013 07:32 AM

I am the owner of ItaliaRail and I would just like to clarify some points made here.

There are several advantages in booking through Italiarail and there are some disadvantages we are working on addressing.

Firstly - we are a partner of Trenitalia and set up almost 10 years ago to better service the non-Italian market with the complete support of Trenitalia. We connect directly to Trenitalia's reservation system and as such have the same discounted fares as offered on - some key benefits include:

1) You can pay in one of 4 currencies (USD, CAD, GBP and EUR) this means that:

a) you don't have to call your bank to inform them that you are making a foreign transaction
b) you don't incur any foreign transaction fees
c) the exchange rates used are competitive and close to or better than what many credit cards/banks charge

2) We have english speaking customer service representatives who are readily available if you have any issues with your order. Not only that if you have any serious problems you can contact the owner (me ;-))

3) If you email your order number to our customer service department and reference "Fodors Forums" in the subject line, and enter "Booking Fee Refund" in the first line of the email we will credit you back the small booking fee.

4) Our site is considered by most users to be easier to use than Trenitalia's site (although Trenitalia's site has improved considerably over the past couple of years).

5) Our prices are the same as Trenitalia's except for the booking fee (see point 3).

6) We advocate on your behalf with Trenitalia if and when in the rare instance there is a customer service or other issue that occurs while traveling.

7) We specialize in servicing non-Italian travelers (this represents 100% of our business) whereas Trenitalia specializes in servicing the Italian market (this represents 95% of their business)

Here are a few temporary limitations in booking with us:

1) We have a technical issue (not commercial) related to the connection with Trenitalia which does not provide us a change code for Economy fares - this is a known issue that is being worked on. Standard fares CAN be changed when booked through us and Super-economy are non-changeable and non-refundable with Trenitalia as well.

2) We charge an extra handling fee on changes, cancellations and refunds when handled through our call center. We are implementing a system to allow travelers to change their tickets themselves and in fact this can be done with our tickets in Italy or on

3) You can't pick your seat with us (yet) but for most people this is not an issue. The bathrooms are nowhere near the seats (like on an airplane) they are outside a closed door, in-between the cars. All the Freccia seats have tables as far as I am aware - most have free-standing tables the rest have tables that come down from the back of the seat in front.

Most travelers - especially first-time travelers (and many veteran travelers) to Italy appreciate the benefits in booking with us - we have tens of thousands of satisfied customers annually.

We have had a handful of cases where a traveler searches for a train and chooses a departure time that is after the last train of the day and in this case the system defaults to the next days trains - we are either putting a clearer warning or changing the logic to not show the next days trains. We have changed the customers tickets when this has been brought to our attention in the past.

WE DO NOT ASK YOU FOR YOUR EMAIL before showing you the low fares. We ask for an email when the searched fare is outside the 120 day search window and it is voluntary so that we can notify the traveler automatically when the tickets become available.

I hope this helps clarify any questions or concerns. Our goal is to be the best place to book train tickets for Italy and the feedback from our customers and potential customers is much appreciated. We wanted to be th eeasiest place to book and offer the best customer service.

Mike Fuller

Huggy Jul 20th, 2013 08:37 AM


bobthenavigator Jul 20th, 2013 11:00 AM

Hmmm !
Thanks Mike---right from the horses mouth.
Does a new customer need to register to book a ticket?
Are you hoping to be able to pick your seat---when?

kismetchimera Jul 20th, 2013 01:55 PM

I just finished ordering two tickets from Trenitala for our September trip ..I didn't have any problems at all and was able to choose our seats.

girlonthego Jul 20th, 2013 04:48 PM

I speak zero italian and with a little help from kybourbon here, I booked most of my trip ahead of time on trentalia. I had zero problems and had a guaranteed seat on the longer train rides where we had all of our luggage with us. This was very important to us since the trains were packed and most often, we had people move out of our seats (with the table). If we had not had ticketed seats, we would have had to scatter all over the train and with 4 people, 6 suitcases and 4 backpacks, this would have been more difficult.

Book the tickets where you can book the seats!

girlonthego Jul 20th, 2013 04:49 PM

Oh and I did it all online. You can translate the website to english.

bobthenavigator Jul 20th, 2013 05:38 PM

Good feedback---grazie !

ItaliaRail Jul 20th, 2013 08:31 PM

You do not have to register on our website to book.

Yes - we are working over the next few months on a new version of the connection to Trenitalia that will allow people to pick their actual seats.

We will also be allowing people to enter their complete itinerary and we will automagically calculate the cost of the best Italian rail pass so the traveler can know whether to by tickets or a pass.

We have a number of other innovations that we will be introducing before next summer as well.

I JUST WANT TO BE CLEAR THAT ALL OUR TICKETS INCLUDE RESERVED SEATS JUST LIKE TRENITALIA - girlonthgo seems to be under the impression that if she booked on she would not have had a seat - this is NOT the case - we don't allow you to pick a specific seat we automatically give the best seats available relative to the size of the group - the seat numbers are generated by Trenitalia's reservation system at the time of booking. The only time you don't get a reserved seat with us AND Trenitalia is on regional trains - ALL HI-SPEED TRAIN RESERVATIONS INCLUDE A SEAT NUMBER.

I never have understood why people think it is better not to use a Travel Agent or so-called "middle man" especially now that the Internet creates almost complete transparency. In fact in many cases it is better to use an expert, especially when it involves a vacation in a foreign country - I have been in the travel business for over 30 years and have been on "all sides of the desk" - travelers almost always save money, time and aggravation when using an expert.

ItaliaRail Jul 20th, 2013 08:36 PM

Speaking of regional trains - I forgot that one of the benefits in booking with us is that you can book regional trains up to 120 days in advance - on you can only book a regional train within 7 days of the trains departure.

suec1 Jul 21st, 2013 02:35 AM

Italiarail - I just did a dummy booking on your site - it did seem easy to use - I stopped before I made payment. Will I see the assigned seat numbers AFTER payment? Will there then be a page to print or will I verbally give the PNR number to the conductor? Grazie!

Dukey1 Jul 21st, 2013 05:37 AM

I used it for the Italian segment of our trip when we started out in Italy 3 weeks ago. The site worked perfectly. All the tickets were paperless and we simply handed the printed out results to the "conductor" who scanned them on each ride.

Only one segment required me to get a ticket out of a machine and that was for the segment from Milan to Brig. I retrieved that one when we first arrived in Rome. You simply use the ticket machine "collect tickets" option, input your name and the Italiarail-supplied PNR and the tickets print out.

No need for validation on the p;atforms either for any of them.

kybourbon Jul 21st, 2013 06:06 AM

>>>I cannot help to notice that Mark Smith---the man in seat 61---suggests using Italiarail for booking train tickets in advance<<<

Bob - Since you started this thread and don't even book train tickets, I'll explain it to you. Websites get paid for linking to other websites. Government websites usually don't. So it's more than likely he's getting a banner fee. Every time Italiarail shows on the page or you click it (pay per click), money is paid. Trenitalia is most likely not paying (most governments don't often pay for that type of thing). There is a also a transaction pay you can get from some links (if you make a purchase the other website gets some money).

Some people buy from Expedia,Orbitz, RailEurope, etc. Does that make it the best or cheapest option for your purchase? Unless they are offering something you can't get if you buy directly then likely not. If you are able to complete your purchase on Trenitalia, it is still your best option because you are not adding fees and a middleman. Just like Expedia has all their own rules and FEES about changing/cancelling tickets that aren't the official airlines rules about changes/cancelling so does Italiarail.

>>>Speaking of regional trains - I forgot that one of the benefits in booking with us is that you can book regional trains up to 120 days in advance - on you can only book a regional train within 7 days of the trains departure<<<

Absolutely useless. There is no need to buy a regional train in advance at all unless you don't have a couple of minutes at the station to purchase it. In that case you can buy it a day or two ahead at any station or business with the Trenitalia logo without any fees, etc. There are no advance purchase discounts for regional trains, no reserved seating and they can't sell out. There are more restrictions on these tickets when purchased in advance (shorter use window, etc.). Most people taking a regional train are often paying less than $10 for a ticket (usually a short ride somewhere) so it would be silly to pay someone a fee to buy this.

As for Italiarail being on this thread and continually linking their website,IMO, that is advertising and against Fodor's policy.

girlonthego Jul 21st, 2013 07:23 AM

I never said you can't book seats on Italiarail. I never used Italiarail before. I said you CAN book seats on Trentalia, which is the website we used for our trip this past May.

bobthenavigator Jul 21st, 2013 08:23 AM

Thanks ky, you make good points.

My only motivation is to have a simple process for my clients, most of which are novices. I have always thought of the Trenitalia site as being more difficult to use, but perhaps that is no longer true.

mmmooommm Jul 22nd, 2013 05:07 AM

bookmarking thread

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