Everything you need to know
Everything you need to know
Seat reservations when traveling with a Eurail Pass
Everything you need to know 💺
What are seat reservations?
When traveling with one of our Passes, some trains such as direct high-speed trains and night trains will require you to purchase an additional seat reservation. This reservation allows you to board the train and guarantees the availability of your seat.
Seat reservations are a way for carriers to cope with increased demand on certain train services in Europe. By introducing seat reservations, carriers can guarantee that not only will you be able to board the train, but that there will also be a seat available for you. As carriers adjust their capacity, reservations allow them to provide you with a better service and customer experience.
Train services in extremely high demand, such as the Eurostar, TGV, and AVE, have limited capacity. Seat reservations help with overcrowding and guarantee that these services run smoothly and on time.
Are seat reservations mandatory?
Not all trains will require a seat reservation. However, especially during busy season, you should consider reserving a seat to make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable.
The simplest way to know if you must make a seat reservation to be allowed on board a train is to check via our Timetable or in our Rail Planner app. The Timetable will also show you how to reserve a seat via our website (when possible) and any alternative methods available.
What does this mean in practice?
- A quick example of mandatory seat reservations
London to Paris on the Eurostar 9014
The good news: this service is included in your Pass. However, Eurostar wants to guarantee that the service remains available to last-minute travelers and that the train will still run on time. For these reasons, they have made seat reservations mandatory for Eurail Pass holders. They have also set a limit on the number of seats available for Eurail travelers to ensure that regular travelers are still able to purchase tickets and are not priced out.
To ensure that Eurail travelers have a fair chance of reserving a seat, Eurostar makes seat reservations available up to six months before the date of travel. We strongly recommend that you make these reservations as soon as possible if you intend to travel on a Eurostar train.
- A quick example of recommended seat reservations
Some trains do not require a seat reservation, but we may still recommend that you book one to ensure that you will have a seat and avoid having an unpleasant train ride. This is quite helpful for trains that are normally busy, such as the Deutsche Bahn.
Amsterdam to Berlin on the Deutsche Bahn IC 148
This service is included in your Eurail Pass, meaning that you can simply hop on and travel between both capitals. However, since it is a direct service, you can expect the train to be very busy. For this reason, we recommend that you make a seat reservation in advance if you intend to travel on this train. Even if you were to opt for a point-to-point ticket without the Pass, Deutsche Bahn will recommend that you make the additional reservation.
Can I use the Pass if I don't want to buy reservations?
Yes, it is usually possible to avoid seat reservations. Most regional trains don’t require any reservations at all, so you can simply travel on them with your Pass. You can filter for trains that don’t require seat reservations on our Timetable by simply ticking the ‘no reservation needed’ button.
Please note that for some routes, traveling reservation-free may not be possible. Using the same example as above, traveling from Great Britain to Europe with the Eurail Pass can only be done via the Eurostar, a high-speed train with a mandatory seat reservation.
Where can I book my seats?
If you purchased a Pass and already know which trains you want to take, or if you simply want an overview of the possibilities, take a look at our Timetable. There, you can check which trains you can take and learn how to reserve a seat when possible or if necessary.
There are other ways in which a Pass holder can make a reservation. This depends on the railway carrier, but often, these are the options at your disposal:
- Using our Timetable and making a reservation via our website
- Directly contacting the railway company by phone or email
- On the website of the railway company
- In person at some train stations
How much do reservations cost?
The cost of your seat reservation depends upon the route and train type that you wish to take. It is not included in your Eurail Pass. As you can imagine, reserving a cabin in a sleeper train may be considerably more expensive than reserving a seat on a busy regional train.
When reserving a seat via our Timetable, you will always be able to see an estimate price for the reservation before you make it. Please note that if you book a seat reservation through our website, a booking fee of €2 is charged per seat reservation. Check out our overview of average seat reservation costs per carrier to know more.
How do I plan my Eurail adventure?
Step 1: Build your itinerary
As is the case with almost every adventure, you need to start by deciding where you want to go.
With the help of our Trip Planner, you can design your very own route. To get started building your dream route, select your starting point and then add the destinations you want to visit and how long you want to stay in each place. The Trip Planner will then recommend a Pass according to the destinations you want to visit and the travel days you’ll need.
When traveling to larger cities, you might want to consider making them your hub and taking shorter train rides to nearby lesser-known destinations that are often equally beautiful. This maximizes the value of your Pass when traveling with one of our continuous Passes. Pro tip: Go one stop further with a continuous Pass and explore the best Europe has to offer.
Once you know which destinations you’ll visit and how long you’ll be traveling, you can start building your itinerary by choosing which trains you want to take from one place to another. This is where seat reservations become very important.
- Pro tips for selecting trains
- Most high-speed trains will require you to make a reservation. For some of them, there are reservation-free alternatives, but traveling will take longer. Check out our guide on alternatives to busy train routes for ideas on how to get to popular destinations without seat reservations.
- For very busy routes, such as London to Paris, Paris to Barcelona, Amsterdam to Frankfurt, etc., book seat reservations as soon as possible because seats may sell out quickly.
- Currently, Eurostar is the only train that crosses the English Channel into Europe. If you intend to take a Eurostar service, please reserve your seats as early as possible or consider buying a point-to-point ticket. Alternatively, you could travel from the UK and Ireland to mainland Europe by ferry with a discount using your Eurail Pass.
- Trains with recommended seat reservations may get very busy during high season. Unless you have reserved a seat, you may not be able to find an empty seat, and in certain cases, you might be asked to board a different train by the train authorities. This might happen on busy routes such as the ICEs between Amsterdam and Berlin.
- Night trains and scenic trains will require that you make a reservation and sometimes purchase an additional supplement.
- Checking seat availability before making a reservation
For now, you need to purchase a Pass before you can use our reservation booking tool to check for seat availability and make a seat reservation. However, you can typically check carriers’ websites to find out if there are seats available for Eurail Pass holders. We are currently working on making this information available to you as soon as possible.
We recommend the following websites for checking if there are still seats available for Pass holders before buying a Pass:
- ItaliaRail: For trains within and connecting Italy
- OBB: For trains within and connecting Austria
- Deutsche Bahn: For trains within and connecting Germany
- SJ Swedish railway company
- LNER: For seat reservations on trains within the UK
- Trainplanet: For most trains in Europe
- What is the difference between seat reservations and supplements?
Supplements are additional fees that carriers apply on special trains apart from the seat reservation costs. The supplements charged by the carriers are often included in the seat reservation if booked via our website. Alternatively, supplements can also be purchased at the train station.
Just as it is with seat reservations, our Timetable will let you know if you need an additional supplement to travel on a specific train and if it is included in the reservation cost. Head over to our Additional Supplements page for details about all the exceptional trains in Europe that require a supplement and how to book them.
Step 2: Make your seat reservations
Remember, before you can make seat reservations, you need to have a Pass.
When you search for a train on our Timetable, the tool will also let you know if you must make a seat reservation or if reservations are only recommended. For most trains, you will be able to purchase a reservation without leaving our website. All you have to do is log in, create your trip, add travelers, select the train that suits you best and head to the checkout. All reservations purchased via our website will show up in your account under the Reservations overview.
If you cannot make a reservation for your selected train using our Timetable, or if you simply wish to make your seat reservations via a different channel, the “How and when to book” information button in our Timetable will let you know how you can do so.
- How do I reserve a couchette or cabin in a sleeper train?
It is possible to select your preferred sleeping cabin based on the train type, your Pass, and seat availability. You can select this during the reservations process. Find out more information on our sleeping facilities on trains page.
- I’ve made a reservation via Eurail. Where can I find it?
It may take up to 30 minutes for you to receive an email with your seat reservation and for the reservation to appear under the Reservations overview on our website. If it’s been more than 30 minutes, and you still haven’t received your reservation, please get in touch with us.
Step 3: Get ready to travel!
Most train staff will ask you to present your seat reservation along with your ticket when traveling. You can access your ticket in the Rail Planner app by saving the planned journey to your trip, adding it to your Pass, and generating a barcode by tapping on ‘Show ticket.’
In most cases, you can show them a digital version of the seat reservation from your email or My Account on our website. For very specific cases, you’ll need to print out the reservation or have them delivered to you by mail. You will have access to an overview of all the reservations you’ve made through our website under My Reservations.
Please note that your ticket is not the same as booking a seat reservation. The ticket only allows you to board reservation-free train routes, while reservations guarantee that a seat is reserved for you on the train.
- What happens if I miss my train?
If you miss a train due to a fault of your own (such as being late, for example), then you will unfortunately have to reserve a seat on the next train. If reservations are not mandatory, you can simply hop on the next scheduled train.
Train delays and cancellations
If your train is delayed or cancelled, we recommend getting in touch with the railway staff with the delay confirmation to get rerouted on the next available option. Alternatively, you can change the reservation at the station, but fees may apply. If there are reservation-free alternatives, you can simply hop on those trains and reach your final destination. Any unused seat reservations due to a cancellation or delay may be reimbursed with proof of cancellation, according to the carrier’s terms, if you weren’t able to get rerouted.
If none of these options are available, or if the delay or cancellation is so severe that you may need to travel on a different day, please get in touch with our customer service team so that we may assist you. Please make sure to write down all relevant information (such as train number and date) for us to be able to help you request a refund. Learn more on our delay compensation page.
Pro tip: Use our Timetable to review if there are reservation-free alternatives for your journey or head to the ticketing offices at long-distance train stations where the staff will be able to help you find a solution.
- Can I exchange my reservation or get a refund if I do not use it?
Unfortunately, many reservations are not refundable and/or exchangeable. It is sometimes possible to request a ticket exchange locally at the station, but this option is subject to the carrier's policy and availability. For more details, check out our exchange and refund conditions for reservations page.
If your journey was disrupted due to a delay or cancellation, staff at the station will be able to assist you with any exchanges, if possible. If the train delay is severe, you may be entitled to receive compensation.
For any other questions about reservations head over to our FAQ section!
Change of currency
You cannot change the currency once you have a Pass in your cart. Remove the Pass, and then change the currency on the website header.