Aug 16, 2019 - 11:59 AM
The Swiss Travel Pass worked very well for my family on a recent trip. A few tips for other travelers:
Print your travel passes. Conductors were faster and more efficient with multiple paper tickets than me fumbling around on a phone. Keep the passes somewhere waterproof or maybe even laminate them. You can print double-sided, but do print the entire page (I was berated by one conductor for trimming the small print at bottom).
If you have kids, the passes labeled "Family Card" entitle them to free tickets anywhere the parents are entitled to go. E.g., for discounted gondola tickets, simply go to the cashier and purchase tickets for the adults at the discount rate and show the "Family Card" passes. You'll be issued the proper number of paper tickets for your whole family. Ignore all posted child pricing you may see.
Book seat reservations for the tourist hot zone train or gondola that you plan to take during peak hours (roughly 10am to 3pm) -- e.g., Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn/Murren gondolas, etc. The 5 CHF/PP cost may save you an hour or more of standing in line. Better yet, get up early or skip the hot zones entirely.
While waiting for a train, get to the appropriate boarding sector for the train's 2nd class carriages. The train layout is displayed at most stations and is also in the SBB app. By getting yourself in the right place before the train arrives, you'll be able to get your family and luggage situated with much less stress than if you follow the mass of people who don't know what a "sector" is.
The SBB app was easy and indispensable! It gave us confidence to tightly navigate the timetables and bus/train/gondola connections. It also helped us reroute smartly when delays did happen (they do, even in Switzerland!) My only complaints are that the app had no offline timetable and no integration with the Swiss Travel Pass program.
Thank you to Arno, Annika, and everyone else helping with the terrific Swiss Travel Pass program.