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Booking the Glacier Express

Cairns, Queensland...
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Booking the Glacier Express

After 35 years in the travel industry I decided to take a comprehensive trip through Europe. Part of this was atrip on the Glacier Express from St.Moritz to Zermatt to get back into Italy. Fine buy a Swiss Transfer Pass. Jump on the Glacier Express website and reserve a seat. You wish, only took a whole day and two people with two computers to reserve that seat and only with the help of the Swiss Forum on trip advisor. The Glacier Express website would have to be the most cumbersome and "clunky" site I have ever come across. Why they hide the "make a seat reservation" in such an obscure part of the site is beyond me. UNLESS they have been brow beaten by that other company who blocks off most of the seats. Glacier Express really does need the services of someone who knows something about IT and consumer services/expectations.

Canton of Valais...
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for Switzerland
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1. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

All of which is possibly true although I have no problem in navigating the GEX site -- but in fact you have made a bad assumption yourself (and it is a good idea you wanted to "vent" your anger over the GEX site because otherwise that assumption could have cost you a lot!)

1) You cannot use the Swiss Transfer Ticket to take the Glacier Express from St Moritz to Zermatt - travel on the STT has to be "by the most direct route" from a station in Switzerland to a border station. And the GEX is not deemed to be the most direct route, which is in fact St Moritz/Chur/Zürich/Zermatt.

2) Zermatt is not a border station for the purposes of the STT (or any other for that matter)

Swiss Transfer Ticket has to be by the most direct route. It would cover you from Zermatt to Brig - but that would be a waste of getting the STT as the point to point fare is nowhere near enough to warrant it.

If you want to go from St Moritz to Zermatt, spend a night or more in Zermatt and then go to Italy your best bet is to get a Half Fare Card (120frs). then you can buy all your point to point tickets at 50% off and more importantly you can buy a Day TravelCard which IS valid on the GEX. If the GEX you book leaves St Moritz after 0900 (or at 0900) and is Mon-Fri then you can use the cheaper "9 o'clock" one. If not - you need the normal one that is valid before 0900 and on Sats and Suns but whichever you get will be cheaper than a normal ticket over the same route.

Please see the relevant information on the SBB site.

And reverting to booking the GEX - you can simply send them an email at their Contact Centre at the RhB and they will make the booking for you and charge your CC. This is the easiest route to take AND is one that allows you to tell them that you want the 2 seats facing each other in First class (if those are what you want!).

I respectfully suggest that perhaps, as a Travel Agent yourself, you read the "fine print" with more attention especially when it comes to train passes...

Cairns, Queensland...
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2. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

Oh well back to the mess that this site is, may as well just send them money as a donation. I would like to point out that the site does allow you to reserve seats on the Glacier Express using the STT, nowhere does it say at any time that this ticket is not acceptable. The STT fact sheet states "Access to scenic trains (Bernina Express, Glacier Express, Golden Pass, William Tell Express). Reservations are compulsory

and fees vary by train." It further states "Can travel on normal trains only on the Glacier Express line." now I wonder what a normal train is maybe a steam train and that does not translate as excluding travelling on the Glacier Express of any sort. I can agree that Zermatt may not be an entry point. I was not having a vent I was pointing out that Swiss rail and in particular the Glacier Express web site is a mess in terms of trying to book. In fact if I had not posted that I would have blithely gone off and assumed I was entitled to what I had booked and what had been confirmed to me in writing. No point in sending them an email they just reply as say ring us............! Just to confirm The Glacier Express booking office sent me a confirmation for 3 first class seats to travel Zermatt to St.Moritz on the Scenic Glacier Express using a STT selection from the drop down at CHF 13 per seat. As I am traveling with a child this is very concerning of I take your response as fact.

Cairns, Queensland...
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3. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

Meant to say at the end GXE confirmed the seats St.Moritz to Zermatt, apologies.

Wengen, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
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4. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

The "normal trains" you see mentioned are just that. Normal trains. The route the Glacier Express takes is served by many other trains, which do not require reservation.

One issue I see (often with australians) is that they overthink rail travel. Train travel is trivial in Switzerland. It is mass transit. Most people buy tickets at the point of departure, a few moments before travel. People rarely reserve, and when they do, they usually do it at the station.

Websites are only a very minor sales channel. I wouldn't be surprised if less than 1% of reservation on the GEX are made that way. And yes, making it easy for people who come with the assumption that train travel is complicated, and that you need everything reserved and paid for months in advance is not trivial..

Reservations are separate from tickets, and in Switzerland it is the rule that you, as a traveler, are yourself responsible to have the right ticket on you. So the railway will not a priori tell you you can't use a STT on all of the Glacier express.

Personally I think the site is not that confusing. You have the booking form on the home page...

Cairns, Queensland...
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5. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

Not overthinking. Already several of our preferred dates were unavailable on Glacier Express. I have to suspect you are an employee - or ex-employee?

Canton of Valais...
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for Switzerland
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6. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

No he is not. He is someone who knows more about train travel here in Switzerland (and in Europe too) than even staff at our Federal Railways... I would treat him with respect if I were you because he really knows what he is saying and it seemed to me that you needed some help, which I - and Krist - are trying to provide!

I am sorry but I think you are over-reacting... Anyway be that as it may I just had another reason to check something on the GEX site and lo! They have completely changed the site from the last time I looked at it and the new site is very very well done. And easy to navigate. I did a dummy run to see if I could just reserve seats rather than have to book tickets at the same time and indeed this works well too.

Take a look at the new version of the site. It is extremely user-friendly. the old one was not...

Edited: 8:44 am, November 21, 2016
Cairns, Queensland...
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7. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

Thank you. Look I may even be hysterical over this. I am positive that there are people out there that know the Swiss Rail system intimately and I do appreciate their assistance/guodance. I am also sure that the site (I used it yesterday) is wonderful, has lovely pictures and does let you make reservations (even if the link is deeply and obscurely buried) I would not have found it unless I had guidance from the Tripadvisor forum.

Unfortunately the site allows you to make illegal bookings with respect to the tickets you hold and the seats you want to book for the point to point journey. With transparency today this alone makes it a bad site. As a result I now have to go back and spend a day sorting this mess out. This should have been a simple process and I am not overreacting. Suggest you try buying a STT for the same routing I have and reserving a seat, which you can do right up to point of payment and you will see what my point is relative to this discussion.

Wimborne Minster...
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for Lugano
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8. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

You may have made reservations using the STT drop down box but you will see that you will still have to buy 2nd class tickets costing 153 CHF each as the STT is not valid on this route.

An example of where the STT could be used is if you were travelling from Zermatt to Tirano where you could take the Glacier Express as far as Samedan.

Cairns, Queensland...
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9. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

Hi, not sure who is replying to these anymore. There seems to be a group of experts? Anyway, I was just on the Glacier Express site and made a first class STT ticket buy and reservation to travel on the Glacier Express for Seat cost CHF13 and ticket CHF269, no meals. As previously advised by the group of experts this is not permitted......! Yet the site allows it. As near as I can see that is just lazy use of HTML control and surprisingly dangerous for a consumer. If for some strange reason I have it wrong then please explain?. Please do not go off on a tangent about Australian preoccupation with booking trains and you can just roll up and find it is full so that you will miss your flight home. Some people do book seats on trains for a valid reason. Kind regards and thank you.

10. Re: Booking the Glacier Express

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