Can the Bernina Express be booked out?

Can the Bernina Express be booked out?

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Posts: 17
BarSal
BarSal
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Jun 11, 2018 - 9:14 AM

It’s 90 days out from our trip and reservations have opened for the Bernina express but it says only 3 seats left in first class all on the LH side of the train travelling backwards. Do open up more carriages as they go?

Lucas
Lucas
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Jun 11, 2018 - 12:27 PM in reply to BarSal

Yes, they can book out quite quickly - a very popular route and tour groups book it up as well.

You're looking for September 11? There are lots of seats from Chur to Tirano still. What direction and date are you wanting? Do note, the direction of travel is not guaranteed in any case.

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 11, 2018 - 2:03 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas - I raised concerns back in Feb about travelling on Saturday 1st Sept as it was the last weekend of school holidays and even though the forum said not to worry I flipped our itinerary around so we would travel a week later. Saturday 8 Sept and miss the school holidays. Chur to Lugano.

Found out I was able to book 90 days out. Counted 90 days and thought today was the day - only to find only three seats in first class, all facing backwards (I get sick!) and couldn’t believe the train could be booked out immediately! I have bookings around this I can’t cancel. Do they add extra carriages or is that it!?

The only thing I can think of is to go from Wengen to Lugano and reverse the trip and miss the Gotthard express to Lucerne. Sad face.

Arno
Arno
10553 posts
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Jun 11, 2018 - 2:30 PM

Hi BarSal,

They may not show all seats for independent travelers. I'm not sure but that could be the case. I'd try to book through https://www.happyrail. com/en/pass/europe/swi tzerland/passholder-fares-bernina-express and see if they can get you the seats. You'll know within 24 hours, probably sooner. With 3 seats it's likely one of them will be forward facing.

Last modified on Jun 11, 2018 - 2:31 PM by Arno
Lucas
Lucas
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Jun 11, 2018 - 3:56 PM in reply to BarSal

Hi BarSal,

It can be tricky sometimes - just bad luck if a tour group is the reason for the lack of seats. Try HappyRail for sure. Again no guarantee on which way you face when booking so don't lose hope.

I don't love facing backwards either but don't often have trouble unless the carriage is quite warm. 90 days out from today is September 9. So September 1 would have opened a week ago (still quite quick to book up). Be sure to book what you can asap.

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 12, 2018 - 12:53 AM in reply to Lucas

I changed my booking from the first and re-routed our whole trip to go on the 8th (90 days yesterday) to miss school holidays. When I went to make reservation all seats were booked except 3.

We only need 2 Arno and the 2 together are rear facing. I’ll look at Happy rail. They charge 86 CHF for 2 reservations chur to Lugano. Rhaetian charge 56 - but at this point the dollars are irrelevant.

Reservations are not changeable nor refundable. I felt I had no choice but to book the last 2 seats (56 chf). But will probably throw that money away.

Looking at changing completely and going from Wengen to Lugano via Zermatt and after our 5 days there doing the Bernia in reverse a week later. Will lose our booking fees and our hotel in Chur. Not sure if I can change dates in Lugano.

Ill check happy rail. Do different companies get an allocation of seats? Or if RHB sell them that’s it?

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 12, 2018 - 1:16 AM in reply to Arno

Thx Arno

happy rail says - ‘This connection is not yet bookable online, but "offline" most likely - Ask for a quote’

Rhb says it’s full in first class.


Lucas
Lucas
6430 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 12, 2018 - 6:40 AM in reply to BarSal

Try the contact link in the bottom of the Happyrail site to try and arrange for front facing seats "off line". Staff can check if there are still seats. I haven't heard of companies getting blocks of seats for themselves to use - but it is possible (it does happen in the hotel industry for example).

A less expensive option is to look at taking a regional train between Tirano and Chur rather than the Bernina Express train (same route taken). You can sit wherever you like (no reservations) and not lose any hotel deposits etc.

Last modified on Jun 12, 2018 - 6:41 AM by Lucas
BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 12, 2018 - 7:29 AM in reply to Lucas

Thx Lucas .. it is a bizarre twist of fate for first class to be booked out at the 90 day mark - and having planned so far ahead it was disconcerting. I did consider the regional train (good idea!).

Not to be phased, I looked at what was set in concrete (pre-paid apartment in Wengen and pre-paid Hotel in Lucerne) and moved the days in-between. **Note to anyone reading this ... avoid locking in hotel bookings - pay extra for a flexible bookings - till all your travel (and train bookings!!!) are set in stone.

We were going Wengen to Chur on 6th, then on Bernina to Tirano/Lugano on Saturday 8th; 5 nights in Lugano and then Gotthard Express to Lucerne.

NOW ... taking train from Wengen to Lugano on the 6th; taking Bernina bus to Tirano and getting the Bernina Express from Tirano to Chur at 14:25 on the 11th (booked good seats).

Had to change hotel in Chur (from ABC to Romantik), then train from Chur to Lucerne to connect with our pre-paid hotel. Lost our ride on the Gotthard Express but will be in Lucerne earlier (Chur to Lucerne shorter) so can spend the day on Lake Lucerne (even go to Fuelen if we want).

Had to pay Bernina booking fees twice (!!) as they are not changeable or refundable. A bit of 'Bah Humbug' - but I think its sorted.

Lucas
Lucas
6430 posts
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moderator
Jun 12, 2018 - 12:42 PM in reply to BarSal

Really bad luck and just unfortunate yes.

Glad it is sorted and hope for the best on your trip!

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 12, 2018 - 1:16 PM in reply to Lucas

Doing the Bernina in reverse to the description on the Swiss alps site, does anyone know if the train turns around in Ticino or simply ‘reverses’. Is the best side from Chur to Tirano the same, or the opposite, when returning to Chur?.

Bus is pretty obvious ... but trains - this specific train? Any ideas?

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 12, 2018 - 1:17 PM in reply to BarSal

Dah! Tirano .. not the region Ticino!

Lucas
Lucas
6430 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 12, 2018 - 7:54 PM in reply to BarSal

Typically it just reverses yes.They also don't typically (or at all) guarantee direction of travel on those trains.

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 13, 2018 - 2:22 AM in reply to Lucas

Thx Lucas

Most importantly I have a pair of single seats facing each other so we can swap around. Bit of a hassle but I think it’s sorted and a good lesson about locking things in either side of a train that is yet to be booked!

Straight from a week in a chalet in Wengen, to five nights on the lake in Lugano might be a serious change in weather - shake things up a bit!

Lucas
Lucas
6430 posts
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moderator
Jun 13, 2018 - 5:54 AM in reply to BarSal

2 of the best areas in the country! Enjoy. :)

BarSal
BarSal
88 posts
active member
Jun 13, 2018 - 1:11 PM in reply to Lucas

Thx Lucas. Pretty sure something unusual happened as I asked Rhaetian for a refund of my first reservation and they say no refunds or changes .... but they did it. Think they were desperate to get those last 2 seats back! Or they knew it was an unusual circumstance. All good - back on track. So to speak. 🤔

Lucas
Lucas
6430 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 13, 2018 - 1:41 PM in reply to BarSal

It never hurts to ask!

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