Swiss Pass or Half Fare Pass???

Swiss Pass or Half Fare Pass???

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mississmom
mississmom
6 posts
new member
Sep 25, 2014 - 5:04 PM

Hi Arno/Annika, congratulations on maintaining such an informative forum and website! After reading various sources on the subject on which passes are right for me and my family, I have become even more confused and want to make sure I'm not overpaying for what I really need. My family consisting of 2 adults, 1 child (6 years old) and 1 toddler (2 years old) will be travelling to Switzerland for one week commencing 9th November 2014 to 15th November 2014. I have a detailed itinerary which if you don't mind I will list below. I am looking for your expert advice as to which pass I should buy for my family configuration, either Swiss Pass (and Family card for the kids) or point to point tickets with Half Fare Pass and Junior Card for the kids. Does the Junior card entitle my 6 year old to free tickets or 50% tickets?

9th November: Zurich Flughafen to Zurich HB - From airport to old town Zurich

9th November: Zurich HB to Luzern - Evening train. Will stay here for two nights

10th November: Luzern to Verkehrshaus: Return trip, visit to Swiss Transport Museum for the day

11th November: Luzern to Interlaken Ost: Morning train preferably on the Golden Pass line. Please advice how I can book this with and without a rail pass? I also read there is a Luzern-Interlaken express. Do you have any info on this?

11th November: Interlaken Ost to Jungfraujoch: Day trip to Top of Europe and back to Interlaken Ost for same day onward journey. I have seen an offer on their Facebook page for a discount trip to Jungfraujoch which is falling cheaper than the Swiss Pass rates.

11th November: Interlaken Ost to Zermatt: Evening train on Glacier Express? I have read that the express might be closed during the time we are there? Which train can get us there? What is the Regio Express?

12th November: Day trip to either Gonergrat or Mattherhorn Glacier Paradise. Not sure which one to pick or if we can do both in one day? Which one is better for our young ones? We do not intend to ski but I am interested in the Ice Palace.

13th November: Zermatt to Montreux: Morning train on Lavaux Line? I read this is a panoramic train but how do I go about reserving it? I cant find the train codes for these?

13th November: Montreux to Veytaux-Chillon: We stop at Montreux for a quick visit to the Chateau Chillon, just a day trip. My husband did his college around the area and he wants to do this quick day trip to show us the area!

13th November: Montreux to Geneva: Evening train perhaps continuing the Lavaux Line to Geneva, where we are visiting a friend hence the trip there.

14th November: Geneva to Zurich airport: We have our flight out on the 15th at 9:45am from Zurich airport and the trains from Geneva to Zurich leave late 14th evening around 8pm. The ones later than that arrive in Zurich too close to when we need to be ready to catch our flight so I think 14th evening from Geneva would be a safe option.

Sorry the list seems so long; I couldn't get the alignment right! I did point to point calculations and compared them to Swiss Pass and the prices seem very comparable that just the convenience of having a pass may be a better option however the Half Fare card is what is confusing me too as it seems cheaper? What are my options for the kids for the Half Fare pass? Do I get a Junior pass? Then is the fare free or half price? I also am confused about the fares for panoramic trains. I cant seem to find these, only the seat reservation fares. In regards to the Top of Europe trip, how do I book these with a Swiss Pass, if I go with that option instead of Facebook offer? (as the Swiss Pass offers 25% off a portion of the trip). In general please advice whether I should get a Swiss Pass or Half Fare Pass?

Thank you so much in advance for your help and for taking the time to read all of this. Your reply and efforts are so much appreciated!

Thank you!

Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Sep 26, 2014 - 2:13 PM

Welcome to MySwissAlps missismom, and thank you for your compliments! Let's take a look at your questions.

First of all, it's hard to pick the right pass indeed. The Swiss Saver Pass comes in a 4 and an 8 day variant and that's not suitable for your 6 day stay. Instead, I suggest you look into a 3 or 4 day Swiss Saver Flexi Pass. You would use free and unrestricted traveling on November 9, 11, (13) and 14. Your longest and most expensive travel days will thus fully be covered, except for discounted tickets to the Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald/Mürren. A 50% discount will apply on the remaining days and that's when you have to buy separate discounted tickets. Please find all information at www.myswissalps.com/swissflexipass. Note that you can get $ 50 off if you order from Canada before October 10!

The Swiss Half Fare Card is an option too for your plans. It's cheaper indeed, but you will have to buy discounted tickets for all trips on all days, whereas the Swiss Saver Flexi Pass allows free traveling on some days. You have to take the price of such additional tickets into account when looking at the overall expenses. If such comprehensive calculations show no significant price difference, I would personally prefer a Swiss Saver (Flexi)Pass, as ticketless traveling on long days is much more convenient.

With both the Swiss Saver (Flexi) Pass and the Swiss Half Fare Card you can order along a free Swiss Family Card. This allows your children to travel along for free on all journeys, regardless whether the adults travel for free or use discounted tickets. Details are explained at www.myswissalps.com/swissfamilycard.

Mind that some of your travel days, e.g. November 11, are very full. It's doable, but do consider whether you want to spend many hours on train traveling with young children. Traveling times can be checked with the aid of the timetable. As for your remaining questions:

  • information on the Golden Pass line can be found on our Golden Pass page. You only have to book seats if you want to be sure of seats in one of the panoramic coaches;
  • the current Facebook-promotion is attractive indeed. You can try to obtain reduced tickets (the amount of tickets is limited). You may even receive this discount on top of the reduced price you pay with the Swiss Saver Flexi Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card;
  • when getting from Interlaken to Zermatt you can't use the Glacier Express. It runs only a few times a day and you would only use a short leg of the entire route (Visp-Zermatt). You can best take regular regional trains. That's either the quick tunnel connection via Spiez and Visp or the Lötschberg Regio-Express via Goppenstein. The latter is the more scenic route, but if you travel by the end of the day it will be dark and it won't really matter;
  • you would manage to do both Gornergrat and Klein Matterhorn, but that might be too much. Personally I like the views up at Gornergrat better, but both are great;
  • the Lavaux Express is a small tourist train (actually it's more of a bus) riding though the vineyards. It doesn't run in November though. You can use the regular train connections Zermatt-Montreux-Geneva. The part along Lake Geneva is certainly scenic.
  • traveling to Zurich the evening before your departure can be recommended. You can check into a hotel near the airport to make sure you can catch your morning flight.

I hope this helps you to decide on the right rail pass and to further shape your itinerary. Feel free to return with follow-up questions!

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 4:35 PM by Arno
mississmom
mississmom
6 posts
new member
Sep 29, 2014 - 5:09 PM

Hi Annika, Thank you so much for your detailed reply. You gave me a great option actually with the Swiss Flexi Saver Pass. I didn't consider it before! I do have some follow up questions, if you wouldn't mind.

For the Flexi pass, I understand that the museum free access is NOT available on the days that the pass is not valid for. Is this correct? For instance, if I take the flexi pass option, the 10th of November in Lucerne when we go to the Swiss Transport Museum, I would need to pay normal fare ticket for this as my pass is not activated for this day, right?

I am thoroughly confused with the detailed price for the Jungfraujoch trip. Please could you help me in obtaining the point to point rates for this for both the Swiss pass (Flexi) and the Half Fare option?

Swiss or Flexi Pass option (I've put them both in one here as either option would be activated on this particular day)

  • Lucerne to Interlaken OST - free
  • Interlaken OST to Grindelwald - free
  • Grindelwald to Kl. Scheidegg - ?
  • Kl. Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch - ?
  • Jungfraujoch to Kl. Scheidegg - ?
  • Kl. Scheidegg to Wengen - ?
  • Wengen to Interlaken OST - free

I understand that where I have written free above I will get a percentage discount depending on which pass I end up choosing; Swiss or Flexi pass gives me 25% and Half fare pass gives me 50%. I am confused on how to find the point to point tickets to get a comparison on this. What is the original fare before the discounts?? When looking for the tickets do I put the individual town names or do I start from Interlaken OST?? I think Im confusing it even further, so any help would be appreciated!

I need to understand something further about the kids tickets. I understand that whatever I end up choosing, be it Swiss Saver Pass, Swiss Flexi Saver Pass or Half Fare Pass, I can get the Family card for free and the kids will travel with us free. But for the Jungfraujoch trip, I have read that I would need the Junior Card for CHF 30 for the mountain railway in order for the ticket to be free otherwise it would be 50%. Is this true? Must I purchase a CHF 30 Junior card as well??

The Facebook offer for Jungfraujoch is extremely attractive for us. But the trip starts from Interlaken OST onwards and back. I think if the Swiss pass prices are more that the offer ones, I would book the offer anyway even though part of the trip would be free with the pass! I guess I need to understand the full price of the trip using the Swiss pass options, as requested above!

What would the weather be like during our travel days from 9th November to 14th November? Would there already be snow on the ground? What would the average temperatures be like?

Also how do families with young children (2 years and below) transport their kids while they are sight seeing? Do they use strollers, child carriers? What is the usual way in the snow? We have an Ergo carrier which I m thinking to bring along as a stroller is going to be difficult in the snow and inconvenient on the trains. Any advise would be great!

Thank you so much in advance for your reply! Have a wonderful day.

Annika
Annika
4417 posts
expert &
moderator
Sep 29, 2014 - 6:00 PM

Hi missismom!

Regular fares for the Jungfraujoch are to found here. Interlaken Ost is by default selected as your departure station, but you can choose other departure stations too. Do your calculations as follows:

  • for the Swiss Half Fare Card: take 50% of the entire price Interlaken Ost-Jungfraujoch;
  • for the Swiss Pass: select fares from Wengen and/or Grindelwald (as traveling up to these towns is for free anyway). Take 75% of the fares Wengen/Grindelwald-Jungfraujoch, as this leg is reduced by 25%;
  • for the Swiss Flexi Pass on a free travel day: apply the same calculation as with the Swiss Pass. On a non-free travel day: take 50% of the fare between Interlaken Ost and Wengen/Grindelwald, and 75% of the fare between Wengen/Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch.

The Swiss Flexi Pass offers free museum entrance on free travel days only, as explained here.

Yes, the Swiss Family Card can be obtained for free with any of the STS rail passes (such as the Swiss (Flexi) Pass and the Swiss Half Fare Card). You don't need an extra Junior Card. This is only meant for those traveling without an STS pass.

It's hard to say anything about 'typical weather', as it can vary greatly. You may encounter snow down in the valley, but that's not for sure. Do prepare for chilly weather and low temperatures, especially when getting up to mountain tops such as the Jungfraujoch. Further information and useful links can be found on our page about climate and weather.

Strollers indeed aren't ideal when sight seeing, as they take quite some space in (mountain) trains and aren't always easy to use in mountain areas. But you can definitely take it along; many families do so. It's up to you to decide what's more convenient for your day trips plans, your child's needs, etc.

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 4:35 PM by Arno
mississmom
mississmom
6 posts
new member
Oct 2, 2014 - 2:51 PM

Thank you Annika. Your reply is very informative. I have finally figured out the fares (I hope!) and find that the Swiss Flexi Saver Pass for 3 days is a cheaper option for me as we do not plan on visiting any museums on our first day in Zurich (small kids, jet lag would set in later) but do plan on taking a short train ride from the airport to old town (Zurich HB) for some causal sight seeing. We then will take the train that same evening to Luzern where we stay the two nights. The train to Luzern is not too bad with a 50% discount just CHF 24 for two adults. Hence the reason I figured I don't need a full fledged activated pass for this first day. What do you think about this idea? I thus have a few further questions resulting from this plan of mine. If you wouldn't mind sharing your thoughts, I would appreciate it.

  1. In regards to the Swiss Flexi for 3 days, I would like the days to be 11th, 13th and 14th. I arrive into Zurich on the 9th. Would the 50% discount be applicable on the 9th and 10th? This is key in choosing this pass over the 4 day pass.
  2. Therefore when buying the pass on the SBB website, it asks for an effective date. In my case, what should it be since I arrive on the 9th but want the pass date to start 11th? (And still have 50% on 9th and 10th).
  3. What is the validity hours for the activated days on the pass? For example, on the 14th, until when is the last hour the pass can be used? I have read its about 5 hours past midnight? This again is key for the 14th as its a long train ride from Geneva to Zurich airport. Does it matter if the arrival time is after the expiry of the pass?
  4. After purchasing the pass, I'm presuming they will ship it to me, right? For the days when I have to buy tickets (50% days) is it easier or better to pick them up when I'm in the airport/train stations? Do I go to the ticket counter with my Flexi pass and just buy direct? Or do I book them in advance online? What happens if I book online? Do I get an e-tkt?
  5. In regards to the Golden Express train from Luzern to Interlaken OST, how do I book this train? Is it just the seat reservation I need to do from the Golden Pass website along with my Swiss Flexi pass in hand? Do I book a seat for the child under 2 years? Or is it just for us 2 adults and 1 child 6 years old? Which side of the train is the better view from Luzern to Interlaken OST direction?
  6. Do I book the Jungfraujoch mountain railway trip in advance (Im going for the Facebook offer)? Im presuming I should even though I've read that you should look at the weather reports?
  7. What about the Gonergrat trip? Should I book this one in advance or wait until a few days before as we are staying in Zermatt anyway and if we cant see it due to weather we would try Matterhorn Glacier or just a village tour? What do you think?
  8. For all the trains on the activated pass days, do we just hop onto the ones we want without any reservations or bookings? Even the long ones for example Zermatt to Montreux? And if you suggest to book, is that from the SBB website in the form of an e-tkt?

Annika, thank you once again for your tremendous support!

Arno
Arno
7722 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 2, 2014 - 3:13 PM

Hi mississmom,

I'll go straight to your questions:

  1. You will only get discounts on the days between the first and last free travel day. See here for how the pass works.
  2. You'd better buy from your local reseller here. They offer free shipping from $399, payment in your own currency (CAD), and an additional $50 discount if you buy before October 10. You will get an open date pass which can be validated in Switzerland, so you're flexible in when you start using it.
  3. Please see the link along with answer #1.
  4. The discounted tickets can best be purchased locally, either from the ticket desk or a ticketing machine.
  5. You don't need to book this train. You just need a free travel day on your pass or a discounted ticket for the day, and you can board any train you like. Details are here.
  6. I would not book it in advance unless you get an open date ticket. Weather is important and you must prevent spending a lot of money to see the inside of a cloud, so to speak :-)
  7. See 6.
  8. Yes, just hop on or off. This page provides more information about seat reservations: www.myswissalps.com/train/reservations. Only a few trains require them. Swiss trains are more like a subway system. People don't book in advance, they just catch the first train that's convenient to them.

Kind regards,

Arno

Last modified on Dec 28, 2014 - 1:00 PM by Arno
mississmom
mississmom
6 posts
new member
Oct 2, 2014 - 6:04 PM

Arno and Annika, Thank you so much for all your help, without which I would have bought the wrong pass. I am going ahead with RailEurope for a Swiss Flexi Saver pass for 4 days. Thank you once again and if I have any more questions I will be sure to ask! Take care.

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