Swiss Travel Pass Flex economics

Swiss Travel Pass Flex economics

Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Google+ Share this page on Twitter Print this page
Create an account to receive an e-mail when someone replies to this thread
Posts: 14. This thread is closed.
MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2017 - 2:09 PM

I bo9ught a first class Swiss Travel Pass for 4 days flex. The cost in Canadian dollars was about 690, so over $150 per travel day. Looking more closely at the "benefits", I see that to get free travel on Zurich trams I would need to consume 1 day of this pass. To get free entrance to a museum I would need to consume one day of the pass. To get 50% discount on the Gornergrat Railway I would need to consume one day of this pass. None of these benefits are worth a day of the pass. For example a 50% discount on the Gornergrat railway is worth 47 CHF, or about $65. I would be spending over $150 for a $65 benefit. It is much worse for Museum entrances or tram fares, where the expenditure can be as low as around $10 or less. So this means that none of these benefits are really available because any normal person would need to have their head examined to pay much more for getting less. Likewise, whoever designed the conditions for accessing these benefits needs a training course in basic household economics.

Lucas
Lucas
3096 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 19, 2017 - 4:24 PM in reply to MarkDS

Hi MarkDS and welcome to MySwissAlps,

I'm sorry to hear you aren't happy with your Swiss Travel Pass Flex purchase.

The Swiss Travel Pass Flex is indeed an expensive option, especially in 1st class. I don't believe the Gornergrat train has a 1st class either so you don't gain those benefits on it (though it is a short trip).

The Swiss Travel Pass Flex (and Swiss Travel Pass) are designed to be used on days with longer, more expensive trips and/or multiple trips on your day's itinerary. If you have a long and/or expensive day of train travel plus are thinking of going up a mountain like Mt. Pilatus, going on a lake cruise or visiting certain museums (all free with the Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Travel Pass Flex) it can still work out in your favour. This is especially true if you take into account that you don't have the hassle of buying tickets for these trains and boats every time you go somewhere .

In the end you need to check the cost of individual trips you plan on making during your stay in Switzerland, against the cost of a rail pass. We direct our members to our page on "choosing the best rail pass" that has an excel sheet to help you do the math.

You may want to contact the company you bought the rail pass with to ask about a cancellation (although there is often a fee to do this).

Please let us know if we can be of help for planning any other parts of your trip or if you have other questions about Switzerland!

Lucas

Last modified on Jun 19, 2017 - 4:31 PM by Lucas
MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2017 - 4:32 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

Thanks for getting back to me on this. Of course I did add-up the individual fares of the 4 major trips we are making and found that the travel pass and the single fares would cost about the same, so I bought the pass both for convenience and - because of the way your advertising is laid out - the possibility of discounts on other travel. Then I found out that the real cost of these discounts far exceeded the value of the discounts. Which is of course nonsensical. You do have a basic problem with the structure of this product.

I don't think it would make sense to cancel these passes, but I was trying to bring to your attention, and other readers' attention that because of the way the use of these side-benefits consumes expensive travel days, they could be counter-productive. Would you pay $150 for a benefit that could be worth anything from $10 to $65 depending? I believe not. I think this is a matter that deserves some rethinking at the level of your senior management.

Best regards,

Mark

MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2017 - 4:35 PM in reply to MarkDS

Oh - but I should ask a question about this: suppose in the same day that I travel say from Chur To Zermatt, when I arrive at Zermatt I go to Gornergrat the same day. So that is two train rides in one day. And I want the discount on the Gornergrat railway because it costs a fortune for that small ride. How many travel pass days would I be spending if I gt the Gornergrat discount: two or one?

Best regards,

Mark

Lucas
Lucas
3096 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 19, 2017 - 4:46 PM in reply to MarkDS

Hi Mark,

To answer your question, you can travel as much as you want and take as many trains, boats, gondolas, buses, and free museums you want on each travel day. One day on the Swiss Travel Pass Flex (or non-flex) = one day of free travel in Switzerland. That's why I mentioned doing multiple trips and/or long expensive trips to make the travel day worth it.

PS In case there is some confusion, we are a private website to help tourists plan their trips to Switzerland. We are not affiliated with Swiss railways or Tourism Switzerland etc.

Lucas

Last modified on Jun 19, 2017 - 4:51 PM by Lucas
MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2017 - 4:49 PM in reply to Lucas

That's very helpful - improves understanding of how this works. Thank you Lucas, And thanks for the clarification of your status. I hope those who manage the Swiss transport systems and these passes read your website to see the customer feedback!

Best regards,

Mark

Lucas
Lucas
3096 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 19, 2017 - 4:52 PM in reply to MarkDS

No worries Mark! I'm a Canadian too and living in Zurich currently.Be careful with the $CDN it can get painful when spending over here.

Last modified on Jun 19, 2017 - 4:53 PM by Lucas
MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2017 - 5:17 PM in reply to Lucas

I know - I hope you are earning Swiss Francs there!

Now this gets off-topic - but raises one of my favorite analytical stories about how fortunes change as a function of inflation and exchange rates affecting the cost of tourism. I'm no youngster. I lived in Switzerland back in the late 1950s. In those days the exchange rate was 4 CHF per 1 CAD. The cost of a cheese fondue in Lausanne was 4 francs including salad and a glass of wine, so 1 Canadian dollar. (Europe on Five Dollars a Day was real back then - I know, I did it!) The last time I was in Zurich (about five years ago), that same meal was CHF 30 at Le Dezelay and the exchange rate was about 10% penalty, so 33 CAD (but today a 35% penalty). From a Canadian dollar perspective, that Fondue increased in value 33 times between 1958 and 2012. That is inflation of 6.7% per year on average over 54 years. So there is my "Fondue Index". Now to finish this off so we understand what it means - in the 1950s CAD 10,000 per year was a very good middle class salary and the fondue was affordable to us Canadians. Based on my Fondue Index I would need a salary of 330,000 CAD per year to protect the same affordability - i.e. maintain the 1950s ratio of fondue cost to salary income. About 1% of the population or less makes that kind of money, so yes, travel in Switzerland has become an expensive luxury for the middle class - including those wonderful trains over there!

Best regards,

Mark

Arno
Arno
9571 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 19, 2017 - 5:48 PM

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I love that Fondue Index! Too bad what it means for the affordability of a trip though. Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass Flex is pricey. We don't recommend it very often for the reasons you've been discussing with Lucas. The "How to use" section of our Swiss Travel Pass Flex page explains exactly how it works, I think. Feel free to let us know if anything is not clear there. This particular pass is the best option in only a small percentage of trips being discussed here in the forum, and often people buy an additional Swiss Half Fare Card for the remaining days. I have talked to Swiss Travel System AG in the past; they are aware that this pass is relatively expensive. In the end it's up to them what products to offer. As Lucas said, we're private and independent, and all we can do is explain about the options and help making the right choices.

Enjoy your trip to Switzerland!

MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2017 - 6:06 PM in reply to Arno

Thanks Arno, understood.

Best regards,

Mark

Lucas
Lucas
3096 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 20, 2017 - 7:04 AM in reply to MarkDS

Hi Mark,

That Fondue math sounds about right! Even making Francs my wife and I take our longer holidays outside of Switzerland due to the costs. Luckily, we can enjoy the amazing mountains and panoramic trains here on day-trips from Zurich which are all a must-see of course!

Cheers

MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 20, 2017 - 5:13 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

Well, for us it will be a one-time splurge, and for a short week to reminisce about times gone by years ago when I was a frequent visitor in Switzerland.

Now, I want to make sure I completely understand how I can optimize the use of this pricey travel pass, so I'll run by the scenario with you and you'll tell me whether I got it right. On a day in September we travel with the Glacier Express from Chur to Zermatt. We arrive at 4:30 in the afternoon. So if I understand this correctly, on that same day, say around 5 or 5:30 in the afternoon we can use the same day on the pass to get a 50% discount on the Gornergrat Railway tickets and see the sunset on the Matterhorn (weather permitting) without having to use another day on the pass - it rides off the same day we took the Glacier Express. Likewise, when we train it from Zermatt to Lausanne using another day of the pass, we arrive early enough in the afternoon to go to a museum that honours the pass. So we could also enter the museum free-riding on the same travel pass day we used for getting to Lausanne. Is all this correct?

Cheers,

Mark

Arno
Arno
9571 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 20, 2017 - 7:16 PM in reply to MarkDS

Hi Mark,

Yes, it's all about days, not about the number of train legs or museum entries. You can pack a day with as many free trains/boats/buses/museums and discounted mountain transport as you like. Do check the timetable so you know when your first and last transportation options depart.

MarkDS
MarkDS
8 posts
new member
Jun 20, 2017 - 7:51 PM in reply to Arno

Thanks Arno.

Cheers,

Mark

More about Swiss trains and rail passes

More on MySwissAlps.com

Swiss tips in your mailbox

Sign up to receive our newsletter and the latest forum messages. The best way to prepare for your trip!

Sign up

Get a customized itinerary for your trip

Let Swiss travel consultants create a customized itinerary. They will book your entire trip.

More
© MySwissAlps.com 2002-2017