Five rail travel mistakes to avoid

The top five common mistakes travellers make when booking their rail tickets, passes and journeys; and how to avoid them.

1. Spelling mistakes
Always ensure that names are spelt correctly and as per passport, and give special attention to the date of birth and country of residence. This is especially crucial for rail passes and French electronic tickets. Travellers should keep in mind, too, that any instant purchase products are issued automatically and may be non-refundable, so any changes required post-purchase may require a brand new booking.

2. Choosing the right pass
The best way to determine the right pass is to count the required number of travel days and ensure the region/countries the journeys go through are covered. Also, travellers should double check the class of service in which the pass is booked. Second class pass holders are not able to travel in first class, even if the seat reservation made is in first class.

3. Cancellations
Cancellations apply to most passes and open tickets. Paper tickets need to be cancelled and sent back to the office prior to the travel date (or even earlier for certain fares). For electronic tickets, a cancellation request needs to be sent through to the refunds department. Travellers are advised to always check the cancellation deadline in the terms and conditions section.

4. Payment Deadlines
Pay attention to payment deadlines. Every time a payment deadline is missed, the booking needs to be reinstated, which may result in higher prices. Should an extended payment deadline be required, always seek the assistance of the reservations team.

5. Fine Print
It is imperative that travellers read the fine print as different carriers offer different policies on refunds and travel flexibilities. For example, offers with “Book early” or “Promo” usually imply the tickets are non-refundable and often available only as an instant purchase. Should extra flexibility be required, travellers should ensure the passes or tickets booked are open tickets or based on flexi fares.

What is the biggest mistake you have ever made when booking rail tickets overseas? What advice do you have for your fellow travellers?

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Written by Ben


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