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Turtles06

Some advice, please, re booking the train from Amsterdam to Paris

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My wife and I will be traveling by train (Thalys) from Amsterdam to Paris next spring after a river cruise.   In getting ready to book our train tickets (which I know we can't do until four months out, and also that we should do as early as possible for the best fares), I've of course read the relevant parts of The Man in Seat 61's invaluable web site, and done some mock bookings on the Thalys site itself as well as on the site that The Man in Seat 61 recommends for those of us not in Europe, b-europe.com, because, he says, Thalys sometimes has problems with non-European credit cards.

 

I do have a few questions that I hope folks can answer here.  We intend to buy seats in what Thalys calls Comfort Class (the train cars are configured 2 x 1 across).  It appears from the mock bookings and everything I've read that while we will have reserved seats, we cannot pick our specific seats, is that correct?  (And if it is, how crazy is that in this day and age!)   

 

Assuming then that we can't pick our specific seats, is there a way to ensure that we are sitting next to each other, rather than across a table from each other?   I see that you can express certain "seating preferences" on both booking sites, but is it really only a preference (as it says), not something we can count on?  (I have a concern here because one of us is quite tall, and it would seem better, in terms of leg room, not to be across from each other at a table, but please let me know if you have thoughts about that.)

 

In terms of the "seating preferences" that one can choose (for two people) on the booking sites, the Thalys site has one called "Club 2" and another called "Duo vis-a-vis."    I assume "Duo vis-a-vis" is two people sitting across from each other, but is there a table? And what is Club 2?  (A Google search yields conflicting answers about which of these has a table, and what exactly Club 2 is.)  

 

The b-europe.com site has these preferences:  "seats next to each other,"  "seats facing each other," and "seats around a table."   Those seem a bit clearer, except is there a table for "seats facing each other"? (Two people can't sit "around" a table, hence my confusion.)  In any event what, if anything, can we do to be sure we aren't sitting across from each other at a table?

 

Any thoughts about using b-europe.com rather than Thalys for this booking?   If you are non-European, have you had any trouble using your credit card on the Thalys site?

 

And if you have any other advice or tips to offer, please let me know.   Thanks in advance for any help!

Edited by Turtles06

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1 hour ago, Turtles06 said:

My wife and I will be traveling by train (Thalys) from Amsterdam to Paris next spring after a river cruise.   In getting ready to book our train tickets (which I know we can't do until four months out, and also that we should do as early as possible for the best fares), I've of course read the relevant parts of The Man in Seat 61's invaluable web site, and done some mock bookings on the Thalys site itself as well as on the site that The Man in Seat 61 recommends for those of us not in Europe, b-europe.com, because, he says, Thalys sometimes has problems with non-European credit cards.

 

I do have a few questions that I hope folks can answer here.  We intend to buy seats in what Thalys calls Comfort Class (the train cars are configured 2 x 1 across).  It appears from the mock bookings and everything I've read that while we will have reserved seats, we cannot pick our specific seats, is that correct?  (And if it is, how crazy is that in this day and age!)   

 

Assuming then that we can't pick our specific seats, is there a way to ensure that we are sitting next to each other, rather than across a table from each other?   I see that you can express certain "seating preferences" on both booking sites, but is it really only a preference (as it says), not something we can count on?  (I have a concern here because one of us is quite tall, and it would seem better, in terms of leg room, not to be across from each other at a table, but please let me know if you have thoughts about that.)

 

In terms of the "seating preferences" that one can choose (for two people) on the booking sites, the Thalys site has one called "Club 2" and another called "Duo vis-a-vis."    I assume "Duo vis-a-vis" is two people sitting across from each other, but is there a table? And what is Club 2?  (A Google search yields conflicting answers about which of these has a table, and what exactly Club 2 is.)  

 

The b-europe.com site has these preferences:  "seats next to each other,"  "seats facing each other," and "seats around a table."   Those seem a bit clearer, except is there a table for "seats facing each other"? (Two people can't sit "around" a table, hence my confusion.)  In any event what, if anything, can we do to be sure we aren't sitting across from each other at a table?

 

Any thoughts about using b-europe.com rather than Thalys for this booking?   If you are non-European, have you had any trouble using your credit card on the Thalys site?

 

And if you have any other advice or tips to offer, please let me know.   Thanks in advance for any help!

loco2.com (which was recommended to me by The Man in Seat 61, is now called https://raileurope.co.uk/

 

I have found them very helpful about things like this, so I suggest that you try them. You can also set an alert with them when the seats are released for sale, and I have had no problem using my Canadian credit card.

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Not really sure about the seat configurations in that class. We were just in whatever the basic economy class is called. We booked directly on the Thalys site and had no problem with our US credit card.

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13 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

I have a concern here because one of us is quite tall, and it would seem better, in terms of leg room, not to be across from each other at a table, but please let me know if you have thoughts about that.

Thalys trains have a high occupancy rate so to say, so there is a very high chance that some stranger will book the seat on the other side of the table. You not booking it, does not mean it stays free. Personally I would rather have to “fight” over legroom with someone I know instead of with a complete stranger (who also may have long legs!)

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12 hours ago, gnome12 said:

loco2.com (which was recommended to me by The Man in Seat 61, is now called https://raileurope.co.uk/

Yes, and unfortunately their business ethics have changed. They have no problems in reselling train tickets against a much higher price. Please always book your train tickets directly from the company operating the trains (Thalys), or the national railway companies that own Thalys https://www.b-europe.com/EN

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4 hours ago, Dutch_Travelgirl said:

Yes, and unfortunately their business ethics have changed. They have no problems in reselling train tickets against a much higher price. Please always book your train tickets directly from the company operating the trains (Thalys), or the national railway companies that own Thalys https://www.b-europe.com/EN

That is a pity. I always liked that (as loco2.com) they didn't charge extra.

 

However, they still have lots of information on the various trains and train classes.

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40 minutes ago, gnome12 said:

That is a pity. I always liked that (as loco2.com) they didn't charge extra.

Well, they also charged extra as Loco2.com for tickets for Dutch and Belgian domestic trains. They couldn’t charge the normal price, because they weren’t an official agent. Both the Dutch and Belgian railway companies don’t use agents. They both have easy to navigate websites that have a full English version and accept all kinds of foreign credit cards. Using a 3rd party train ticket reseller isn’t necessary at all.

Edited by Dutch_Travelgirl

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5 hours ago, Dutch_Travelgirl said:

Yes, and unfortunately their business ethics have changed. They have no problems in reselling train tickets against a much higher price. Please always book your train tickets directly from the company operating the trains (Thalys), or the national railway companies that own Thalys https://www.b-europe.com/EN

 

Thanks for this advice. The b-europe.com site is simpler, so I will likely use that.  

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5 hours ago, Dutch_Travelgirl said:

Thalys trains have a high occupancy rate so to say, so there is a very high chance that some stranger will book the seat on the other side of the table. You not booking it, does not mean it stays free. Personally I would rather have to “fight” over legroom with someone I know instead of with a complete stranger (who also may have long legs!)

 

Thanks, but you may have misunderstood my question. We don’t want table seating. I am asking how to avoid it if we can’t select our own seats. Thalys told me via Facebook Messenger that the only way to select your seats is to buy them in person (not possible, obviously), or call them but be prepared to wait on hold in a very long telephone queue, which also seems pretty impractical if not prohibitively expensive since I’m in the U.S. 

 

Additional question for anyone who knows:  if seats for a particular train go on sale on, say, December 2, what time of the day (local time in Amsterdam) will they be available on the websites? Thanks! 

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I did the reverse trip a few years back (Paris to Amsterdam; nearly missed the train, too, because we entered Paris Nord through the wrong entrance - whoopsies) and don't have any decent tips for you. I also found the website to be difficult to navigate. I recall being able to select the type of seats (club duo or whatever) but then the seats I got on the tickets did not look right when I checked against the seating map. I was able to change seats once for free via email but it was still unclear where we would be sitting. I called and, as you note, had a long hold time and a high bill. I had no issues with a credit card when I booked in advance from the US. 

 

If I'm reading this chart right, all face-to-face seats include a table, whether it's a row of 1 or 2: 

https://www.thalys.com/sites/thalys.com/files/2018-11/Memento_Rames_EN.pdf 

 

It sounds like you want seats next to one another but with no table. There are a bunch of those but, correct, it's unclear what the correct Thalys term is for that type of seating. 

 

Anyway, if nothing else, your challenges are hardly unique. Maybe that helps you feel better, even if it's not helping you pick seats. 

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7 hours ago, 3rdCoastFan said:

It sounds like you want seats next to one another but with no table. There are a bunch of those but, correct, it's unclear what the correct Thalys term is for that type of seating. 

 

Anyway, if nothing else, your challenges are hardly unique. Maybe that helps you feel better, even if it's not helping you pick seats.

 

You certainly gave me a big smile, and I appreciate that!  Thanks very much for your post. 

 

In the end, I will keep in mind that we are talking about tickets on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, and how fortunate we are to be able to take that journey, table seats or otherwise.  😊

 

 

 

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