Don’t make this silly European Train mistake like I did

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The more you travel the more you’re humbled, and reminded that mistakes are a part of life, and the more you make the more you learn, but also have stories to tell…and content to blog about.  I’ll preface this one with the circumstances surrounding my mistake.  I’m currently on a back up of a back up of a back up trip for New Years.  The first was a trip through Southeast Asia that needed to be cancelled, and rebooked to go through Rome, Cairo,  Athens, and the London. The day prior to our departure to Cairo we learned of the explosions near Giza and without any additional knowledge felt it best to postpone our trip there while we could cancel without penalty.  Thus the third iteration was conceived…Rome, Budapest, Vienna, and then London.

New Trip Booked

We were unbelievably fortunate to find award avail in both Budapest and Vienna, and 3/4 of our flights between the cities were booked with points. However, we decided to quickly book train tickets between Budapest and Vienna, and opted to pay an extra 25 Euro to travel in First Class. We high fived and felt some relief knowing we were able to pull together an option visiting two incredibly beautiful cities and salvage the trip.

Then we boarded our train in Budapest. With our first class tickets in hand it struck us. Flashbacks of my first time ever traveling on European trains in a group of 5, having splurged for business class, we had failed to reserve our seats.

We did it again. With tickets in hand we had no SEAT RESERVATIONS.

You could have poached fish my blood was boiling so hot. As we frantically searched it became more and more of a reality we may end up standing for the entire journey between Budapest to Vienna.  I was literally speechless.

My girlfriend wisely found us a single seat that was reserved, but we squatted. Turned out no one showed and we single cheeked the seat.

RESERVE YOUR SEATS as well as buying your ticket.

You will receive a secondary piece of documentation that clearly illustrates your reserved seats from start to finish. When you board the train you’ll know if your seats are reserved, and what segment they are reserved from by looking at the screen adjacent to your car and seat number. It’ll look like this ( the seat we squatted in )

a digital display on a white surface

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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  • […] arrived from Budapest after quite a funny train ride. We’d forgotten to reserve seats on the train, so despite having booked 2 first class tickets, we […]

  • lenin1991 January 5, 2019

    I traveled a ton a few years ago on Eurail passes. Especially in 1st class, there often are plenty of empty seats, in which case paying for a seat reservation can be a waste of money. It can be hard to know when to buy them, checking the seat map in advance is a decent indicator … although sometimes in international trains there are carriages attached from separate national carriers, making it more challenging.

  • T January 3, 2019

    The picture shows a seat reservation from Vienna to Munich – so it was free from Budapest to Vienna and free for the taking…

    • Miles January 3, 2019

      Hey T- sorry for the confusion. Our seat had originally said Budapest – Wien, but while I was writing the post it had changed so the picture is just an example of what a reserved seat would look like.

  • Mike January 3, 2019

    Hi Miles,

    For those of us that haven’t booked tickets before can you clarify how the mistake was made? What website did you book the tickets on? How is it confusing? So you book with credit card and pay for tickets and they aren’t booked? If you can clarify a bit for those of us that haven’t booked tickets directly I think the article will be much better understood by the vast majority of people out there.

    • Miles January 4, 2019

      Hey Mike – We booked our train on OBB through GoEuro which is a consolidator. We purchased our tickets, but in haste forgot to actually reserve seats on the train we’d be taking. The confusion is that when you purchase a ticket there is a window that they are valid within ( usually 3 days ). Since there is a window and you can hop on any train that services your route in that window, if you want reserved seats on a specific train then you must reserve those seats in addition to buying a ticket. We failed to that and ended up sitting in a reserved seat from Budapest to Vienna but the passenger just didn’t show. In fact, there were at least 4 or 5 other people who had done the same thing on our train and were asked to move when ticketed passnegers arrived. In fact, the car between first and the dining car had roughly 6-8 people sittigno n the floor because there were no seats for them. Depending on the train you purchase, after you buy your tickets, just google reserve seat – for our OBB it’s this site https://www.oebb.at/en/reiseplanung-services/vor-ihrer-reise/reisereservierung/reservierung-sitzplatz.html

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