True How To Book Tickets on the OBB Website

How To Book Tickets on the OBB Website

ÖBB's online ticket booking service looks wonderful, but for first time users it can be a quirky experience - particularly on desktop.

Hence our step-by-step to booking tickets online (desktop) with ÖBB - Austria's national rail company.

We'll show what to look out for when buy tickets online for train journeys within and to/from Austria including:
(i) how to buy cheapest possible tickets
(ii) how to buy 1st class tickets
(iii) how to add a reservation to your journey - both when booking a ticket and separately.


1: ACCESSING THE TICKET BOOKING SERVICE:



If you use a search engine and look up 'OBB Tickets', you may initially see this page - which is the public facing home page of OBB - Austria's national rail operator.

Note the opportunity to switch between German and English.

All the screens below are taken from the English language version.


1b: THE TICKET BOOKING SERVICE HOME PAGE



When you first access the ÖBB ticket page you will see something similar to the above.

The key thing to note are the pre-assigned journey options that have been highlighted.

ÖBB does not only sell these journeys, you can also look up journeys - including international journeys from and to Austria (which have no more than 1 x change of train).

However, as looking up journeys can be a fairly convoluted process (on desktop), it can save a lot of time if the journey you want to take is one of these options - AND you want to travel almost immediately.

When you first access the service, these pre-loaded options are the most popular journeys, but once you start using the service, its cookies remember the journeys you have previously looked up.

If you can see the journey you want to take, but want to travel in the opposite direction, still click on the journey - you can reverse direction at the next step.


2: SEARCHING FOR A JOURNEY (step 1 changing the date of travel)



The ÖBB default is that you want to travel right now, but if you want to travel in the future, you need to change the default information -  starting with the date (and NOT where you want to start/finish your journey).

If you click on the date, the calendar will appear.

If you want to travel at the time shown (the current time will be the default) then click 'DONE' in the top right, in order to move on to the next stage of the search.

However, if you want to alter the time, so that it matches when you want to depart - don't click DONE.


2: SEARCHING FOR A JOURNEY (step 2 changing the departure time)



The departure time has to be entered manually.

Another option is to leave the departure time blank and instead enter an arrival time.

When you're happy with the date and times - click 'DONE'.


2: SEARCHING FOR A JOURNEY (step 3 looking up the start (dep) and finish (arr stations):

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When you click 'DONE', you will be taken to a page, that mirrors the page you first saw when accessing OBB's ticket booking service - except the time and date have now been updated (by you) to reflect when you want to travel.

If the journey you want to take has been pre-loaded, you can select it and don't have to enter your start and end points.

(If you want to travel in the opposite direction, still click on the journey - you can flip the direction of travel on the next step).



When you begin to enter a destination, the drop down of popular options will automatically appear and as you enter more characters these options become more defined according to what you have typed.

Take particular care when entering the name(s) of towns that begin with 'Saint' - OBB uses a set naming convention for such places of St.P, St.A etc - note the use of a full stop AND the lack of a space after the full stop.

You also don't have to enter the Austrian names of towns/cities, you can enter 'Vienna' and not 'Wien' etc.



Note that when you enter your departure station, the default journey list will also change - if your journey is on this list, you can select it and you don't also enter an arr. station.

(When you first use the service, the default journey options will be the most popular searches among all users).


3: ACCESSING THE TICKETS FOR YOUR CHOSEN JOURNEY (Step 1):



If you haven't selected one of the defaulted journey options, so have also entered an 'arr.' station - you will then be presented with the journey you have searched for.

Click on it to access the departures which match your chosen date and departure times.


3: ACCESSING THE TICKETS FOR YOUR CHOSEN JOURNEY - DAY TRAINS (Step 2):



If you will be booking a journey by overnight train - see the specific information below

Three key things to note on this page:

(i) Journeys that involve a change of train are listed along with direct trains (showing only direct journeys in the search results isn't an option on OBB)

There are two means of checking whether a journey is direct;

(a) note the two white boxes in the top search, which have RJ written on them -  more than one white box shows that a change of train is required,

(b) '1 x change' is written beside the journey time (2 x changes etc will be written if more than 1 x change of train is required)

(ii) you can scroll down to access later departures

(iii) Click on the prices shown - to access the tickets for that specific journey.

The prices shown are always the cheapest possible price available for the specific journey - so this is the 2nd class price AND usually a 'Sparscheine' ticket (which have restrictions).

The options to book 1st class and/or less restrictive 'full price' ticket(s), are available at the next stage of the booking process.


4:  BOOKING A DAYTIME JOURNEY (and checking the 'Extras'):



If you don't need or want to make any adjustments to this booking screen, you can click 'Add to Basket' and move on to the next stage of the booking process.

But if;

- you're not travelling on your own,
- you want to buy a ticket that can be fully refunded if you subsequently change your travel plans.
- you want to travel 1st class,
- you want to add a seat reservation (they're optional on all trains within Austria - and on most international trains from/to Austria),
- you only want to purchase a reservation (because you already have a rail pass or ticket for the journey),

then this is the stage of the ticket buying process, when you can amend your booking.

From top to bottom, the features highlighted above are;

(i) if more than one person will be travelling, you can click on '1 x adult' to adjust the size of the party, add child tickets etc

(ii) Discounted 'sparscheine' tickets are departure specific - you have to travel on the train you have selected (even if you don't want to reserve).

However, if you don't want to be tied to a specific departure, or even a specific date, you can switch to the 'Highest Flexibility' ticket - and unlike 'Sparscheine' tickets, these tickets can be fully refunded, if you later change your travel plans.

(iii) Clicking on 'More Results' gives access to the reservation only option - so click this if you have a rail pass, but want to opt to add a reservation on an IC train or a Railjet.

(iv) The 'Extras' include the ability to upgrade to 1st class and/or reserve a seat (when reservations are optional, as they are for all journeys within Austria).

Note that you may have to scroll down the page to access all of these 'Extras'.



In particular the option to add a Reservation is towards the foot of this page.

When you have added an 'Extra' to your booking...




...note that the 'Basket Price' in the red box will be updated to reflect the new total price.

Click 'Add to Basket' to move on to the next stage of the booking process OR click on the 'Journey Preview' feature.

Do that and you will see...



...additional information including the platform/bahnsteig that your train will depart from - though this should always be confirmed when you're at the station.

4b: PURCHASING A SEAT RESERVATION - when you already have a ticket or valid EURAIL or INTERRAIL PASS:

ÖBB's online ticket booking service allows you to book reservations separately from booking a ticket.

The steps to take are to 

(1) Look up a journey as per Steps 1 and 2 above

(2) Then having looked up a journey, you SHOULD see a page like this below.

Booking seat reservations on the OBB website
Select the circled 'Seat only' option - note that you DON'T need to use the German spellings for international destinations outside of Austria (Venedig = Venice/Venezia)

Seat reservations can only be booked on OBB for journeys by DIRECT train from AND to  Austria.

(3) On the next screen, the price of the reservation is shown - they cost the same irrespective of whether you are travelling 1st or 2nd class.

Booking seat reservations on the Austrian national railways website

Click on the price.

(4) Having clicked the price, you will then see a page of options - similar to those offered at this stage of the ticket booking process.

How to buy seat reservations on the OBB website
Note that if you have a 1st class rail pass or ticket, you need to ticket the 1st class box - the price won't change.

There is no extra charge for booking 1st class reservations - hence the price for doing so being €0,00.

However, it is worth taking the optional step of clicking on 'Reservation Details' - do so and you will see this page;



On this page, before clicking 'Add To Basket', you can

(i) Check whether you have a 1st class (or 2nd class seat) allocated - you can use the drop down arrow to choose window, aisle or table seats, but NOT facing forwards or backwards.

(ii) Click 'GO TO SEAT SELECTION' to choose a specific seat(s) on a seating plan.

(iii) Or upgrade to 'Business Class' - if you have a 1st class ticket.


5: BEGIN THE PURCHASE PROCESS:



In order to begin the purchase process you have to initially enter an email address.

However, before doing so it can be worth noting the other features of this page;

(i) if you want to book a return ticket this is your opportunity to do so - every step you have taken so far has been for a one-way ticket!

(ii) you can add another journey(s) to your basket and book multiple journeys in one transaction.

(iii) 
if you have selected a 'Sparscheine' ticket, then clicking on 'Click here for tariff price and details' is your opportunity to check the terms and conditions re: exchanges and refunds of the ticket(s).


BOOKING AN OVERNIGHT TRAIN JOURNEY:

The journey options and booking tickets process for night trains on OBB is markedly different than for day trains - but the journey search is the same, so repeat Steps 1 - 2 above.

Then having done so you will see (or the equivalent of)...



...the key things to note are:

(1) you will know that you are looking at overnight trains as the train number contains 'EN' (this journey is actually by an OBB Nightjet train and not a 'EuroNight train).

(2) The bottom journey involves a change of train - and as for any international journey from Austria on OBB, if the change of train is outside of Austria, the ticket price only includes the train from Austria and NOT the train in the other country.

(3) The 'Sparscheine Nightjet ticket' price is for a seat on the train - and NOT a berth in a couchette or a bed in a sleeping cabin.

However, if you want to travel in a couchette or sleeping cabin - you still need to click on this price.

Do that and you will see (or the equivalent of)...


...the seat reservation will be the default.

Similar to booking daytime daytime tickets on OBB, when 'Extras' such as Reservations could be added to the originally quoted, cheapest possible price - the price of any upgrades to couchettes or sleeping cabins will be added to this seat price

If you want to travel in a couchette, the additional cost of doing do is shown - and you can tick the couchette box.

Do so and the cost of the upgrade will be added to the basket price - and you can click on 'Add to Basket' to begin the ticket booking process.

IF YOU WANT TO BOOK A BED IN A SLEEPING CABIN

you will need to scroll down the page. Do that and you will see...


...the access to the Sleeping cabin option.

Note the description states 'Shower and toilet optional', what this means in effect is that this particular upgrade is for a more basic type of sleeping cabin - the shower isn't in the cabin (there isn't actually access to a shower) and the toilet is accessed by the train corridor.

However, Nightjet trains also convey deluxe sleeping cabins which do contain a toilet and shower - and in order to access the upgrades to these, you have to click on 'Journey Preview'.

But if you don't want to upgrade to a luxury sleeping cabin - tick the sleeping cabin box on this page.

Do that and you will see...



...the default, which is for a bed in a 3 berth cabin - the cost of which is now shown on the right.

If you want a bed in a 3 - berth cabin, click the price in the right column and add it to the basket.

However, if you want a bed in a single or two bed cabin OR any bed in a luxury cabin, you need to click on 'Enter Journey Detail's, OR on the Journey Preview link, which has been circled in green above.

Do that and you will see...



...that the bed in a 3 bed compartment is still the default option - but if you click the down arrow, you will then see...



...all of the other sleeping cabin options.

Deluxe = shower and toilet in the cabin

To choose another option simply click on it -  the green tick will then appear beside the option and the price of the upgrade (not the total price) will appear in the column to the right.

The price shown per upgrade will be added on to the price of a bed in a 3 bed cabin AND the seat price - making a new total price, shown in the basket as per below...



...the price to in the right column is the price of a bed in 3 bed ordinary cabin PLUS the cost of upgrading to a single bed ordinary cabin.

The basket price includes this total upgrade price AND the seat price, which was initially seen.

Rail pass users cannot book overnight train reservations on OBB - but if you have a rail pass note that the pass only covers the seat price - and NOT the price of any upgrades to a couchette or sleeping cabin.