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Old 02.09.2011, 20:46
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SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Okay...so my wife and daughter and I want to take a trip to Paris, so I went to the SBB website and saw that they have a deal that goes from July to December for Paris starting from 33chf each way. The only rule seems to be that you have to book within 90 days and at least 14 days out. I have tried and tried for dates ranging from September to to the end of November and I have never found a fare for less than 335 per person round trip. This is the same for ALL the cities listed on the City-Hit section. How on earth do you actually get the fare they are advertising. I am not even putting in weekend days, we actually want to leave on a Wednesday night. Maybe I'm just doing something wrong
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Old 02.09.2011, 20:51
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

I think they only have a very small number of tickets available at this price, and once they're gone, that's it.

I seem to remember the ticket office people at Neuchâtel station telling me it was only something like 10 seats on each train that are available at that price.
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Old 02.09.2011, 20:54
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Good Lord.....10 tickets....how can they even call that a deal! That's like offering 1 free iPod to a customer and then claiming that you have free iPods........very sketchy.
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Old 02.09.2011, 20:55
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

If they are no longer available or sold out and the adverts are still running then this fact should be indicated with equal prominence to the original offer.

AYB
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:00
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

It seems to be a big thing for them because they have been advertising it since early July. They have a list of cities in France, Germany and Austria, but I have never found any of the deals. I have looked and tried since I got here on the 6th of July and it never panned out.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:11
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

May be worth trying going to book it at the station rather than online - could it be that not all the seats are released for online booking ? This is pure speculation though.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:12
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Same experience for me. The only way I've come up with excellent deals is by going to the station in person, outside peak hours, and 'chat up' the person at the desk. Each time they spent 30 + minutes taking my request as a real challenge- and coming up with the goods. This only works if you are flexible with dates and prepared to travel mid-week, as you are.
The guy even said he would give me one of his 'friend and family' tickets next time, as he never uses them all. For me, people beat the t'internet always. I wonder whether the number of tickets is per station. If it is, then perhaps try to book from a smaller station. Here I would try from Vallorbe, or even from Pontarlier, the first station on French side.

PS, anybody in our area who'd like to travel from Pontarlier could park here (at our house) safely, and take the short bus journey to Pontarlier station (train is at about 9.50ish).

Last edited by Odile; 02.09.2011 at 21:44.
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Old 02.09.2011, 21:23
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Yes - the reason I suggested it is that a couple of years ago, I wanted to take my parents in the VIP seats on the train from Zweisimmen to Montreux, where you have the driver's eye view of the scenery. The website was showing all seats as either booked or "not available for booking". I called the station and was able to get three perfect seats, no problem at all. I think they hold back a certain number of seats for people who phone or show up in person rather than booking online.
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Old 03.09.2011, 10:15
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Dealing with real people is so much nicer- and often does get much better results. Wondering though about how cheap tickets are allocated- whether is it per station? Our TGV here goes Bern-Neuchatel-Pontarlier-Frasne- and I imagine very few tourists leave from Pontarlier, so maybe their allocation is much better than BE or NE. Could be much cheaper too as Pontarlier just in France, so pay in E.

As said before, you'd be welcome to park safely at our house and take the short bus (might even give you a lift if in good mood or go shopping) trip to Pontarlier.

Last edited by Odile; 03.09.2011 at 12:05.
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Old 03.09.2011, 10:21
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Have you tried booking through the French railway, rather than the SBB?

There was a recent article in K-Tipp discussing how international train travel can be far less expensive if you book through the other country's railway. The example given was Germany and Austria, IIRC, but you should check to see if that is the case with the French trains as well.

(And I agree with you - I have often looked for those SBB advertised deals, but never found one - the available fares are usually hundreds more.)
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Old 03.09.2011, 11:03
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

I know the 33CHF to Paris does exist as one of my friends has bought it.

She explained that they bought the tickets straight after midnight 90 days before they wanted to travel. There was a group of 10-15 people so there must be at least this amount of tickets available on each train.

There is only a limited supply of tickets and it pays to be organised in this case.


As alternative that may not be suitable but is an option for last minute travel based on your OP. I had a great weekend in Munich and only bought my ticket a day or 2 before leaving - return was significantly cheaper than 300CHF at about 100CHF return.
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Old 13.09.2011, 08:44
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

On a similar note, and maybe it was just me who missed the SBB announcement but the tried and tested Plan-und-Spar ticket system for trips to Germany etc. is no more.
The system used to be that if you knew which trains you were getting, you could buy your ticket up to three days in advance and save 25%, the only disadvantage being that you had to take the specified trains, no possibility to rebook etc.
Turns out that that system has been abolished, and instead there is just a limited number of cheaper tickets on each train. Once they've gone, everyone pays the standard fare. And considering the lady in the SBB train station advised me to book three months in advance...well taking the train isn't always like booking a flight - I didn't know I would need to go to Germany three months ago...
Oh, and the SBB now charge CHF 5 for the privilege of serving you at their desks in Zurich HB (she advised me to book everything online to save the 5 francs in future).
All in all, not a good change from the SBB IMHO.
Sorry if this is old news...!
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Old 13.09.2011, 13:12
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

I guess I just can't find where it talks about a limited quantity. In the States, companies are required to tell you that quantities are limited and in some places they have to tell you the number (Doorbuster sales require the actual number of items per store). Seems fishy that they can boldly advertise the sale, but never seem to have the deal available. Why don't they just say "Travel Free to Anywhere" and no one would get the deal so what does it matter what they print. I actually went on exactly 90 days before my October 12th trip to Paris and I got quoted a full fare price. I think they are just there to make you feel like it's not outrageously expensive to travel via train. We decided to travel by air because it was cheaper to fly than take the train, which is a sad commentary on the train fare system.
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Old 13.09.2011, 18:56
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Re: SBB Travel Deals: How the heck do you get them.

Try www.tgv-europe.com and you will get cheaper tickets. Not necessarily CHF33 each way but cheaper than CHF335!
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