I’m frustrated

Eurail pass rip-off

Well, this is a fine show. I'm trying to reserve seats with my rail pass on trains in France (and Spain) and the system won't allow it. I thought I could get etickets but for some reason not. I'm leaving for Europe in two days, what do I do — other than be gouged the full fare after spending nearly $2,000 on passes?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) April 08, 2016 17:29
    Hi Keith,

    With a rail pass, it is still necessary to purchase reservations on the trains where they're required, and it is recommended that this be done in advance.

    Trains are subject to availability, and trains on certain routes can sell out very quickly. Also, many reservable trains have a separate allotment of seats that they set aside to be sold as 'passholder' reservations. Especially with regard to certain routes in France, these rates can sell out faster than the rest of the inventory.

    For tickets or passholder reservations to be issued as e-tickets, the train operators and rail networks in Europe would have to enable it. As it is, passholder reservations for trains in France and Spain are only able to be issued as paper documents that would have to be shipped to you.

    For these reasons, it is recommended that reservations be purchased as soon as possible. Trains in France and Spain can be booked once within 90 days of an intended departure date.

    If you're leaving for Europe in 2 days, it would be too late to place an order on our website. Instead, you would purchase reservations by calling us at 1-800-622-8600 and requesting overnight delivery. I would recommend calling us right away, as the last shipment leaves our office at 5:30 PM CT on any given weekday.

    Otherwise, your only option would be to purchase your reservations locally when you're there. In Europe, reservations can be purchased right at the stations. Otherwise, you might try a nearby travel agency or possibly a hotel concierge service.
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  • I’m still frustrated
    Thanks for the advice, Jeff. But it's too late. I didn't want to chance getting stuck with no way to get where I was going. So I booked full-price fares and won't be using my rail pass on those legs of my journey. I wish it was made clear that you couldn't get e-tickets on certain routes. That's my beef. Oddly enough, I was able to obtain e-tickets at full-fare for the same route that wouldn't reserve them with my rail pass. I'd heard France was problematic but this is beyond the pale.
    Too bad but I'll probably never get a rail pass again. It's supposed to provide flexibility but if you have to reserve seats on specific trains anyway, it's really pointless.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) April 08, 2016 19:52
    Hi Keith,

    We're sorry to hear that the passholder rates are sold out on two legs of your trip. Please note that you can call us if you ever wish to verify availability shown on our site.

    France enables their regular tickets to be issued electronically but not their passholder reservations (for 'Eurail' passholders). If tickets or passholder reservations for a particular train are able to be issued as e-tickets (print-at-station or print-at-home tickets), then the option would display for you at Step 1 of the checkout process, which is the 'Delivery' screen.

    Even with the requirement of reservations, a rail pass can still work out to be the most economical option for certain itineraries. It would be flexible in the sense that passholder reservations are generally just small fees that can be tossed aside easily in the case that you change your mind about a departure. Should this happen, the ticket costs would already be paid for (in the form of the rail pass itself) and can be applied to another train. It all just depends on the itinerary.
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