How To Book Tickets on the OBB Website - Step By Step

Austria's national rail operator ÖBB, has clearly taken a long hard look at how other online train ticket booking services function, and decided that it could come up with something better.

To that end it has largely been successful, particularly as the initial version has now been improved.

It's a great example of a a purchase path, that makes the booking of tickets easier once you're used to it, but because it re-invents the wheel, it can be a tad bewildering for first time users.

Hence we particularly recommend, taking a look through this step-by-step to booking tickets on the desktop/PC version of the ÖBB - booking service.

Jump to - booking daytime train reservations if you already have a ticket or will be travelling with a rail pass.

Jump to - booking tickets for an overnight train.

1: ACCESSING THE TICKET BOOKING SERVICE - from the OBB website:

If you search for 'OBB tickets' on Google, it will list this page below in its search results - its address is https://www.oebb.at/en/.

It is in effect the home page of the website for the Austrian national rail operator, ÖBB.

The next five screen shots follow the purchase path from this page, but as will be seen below, once you have become a user of OBB's ticketing service, you can be taken direct to its ticketing portal, which has a slightly different user experience:
How to use the OBB home page
What we are pointing out above is that you don't have to click on the 'Tickets & Customer Cards' link in order to make a purchase - that link goes to information about tickets.

Although, if you are new to booking tickets for a train journey within or to/from Austria, we humbly recommend taking a look at our guide to booking tickets within and to/from Austria- particularly if you:
(i) want to travel long distance at the cheapest possible price - with a Sparschiene ticket(s),
(ii) will be travelling with children,
(iii) want to travel 1st class.

To book a ticket, or look up the details of a journey*, from this page is in effect a 3-step process

(1) Choosing your travel time and date:
Selecting a travel date on OBB

The default on the OBB home page will be the current date and time, when you click on this to book for when you will be travelling, you will be able to access this calendar.

But what are drawing your attention to is that, once you have entered your travel date/time, you have to click on 'DONE' to close the calendar and save your travel date/time.

(2) Enter where you want to travel from and to,

(3) Click on 'Book Ticket'.

*We do applaud OBB for making it clear that a ticketing portal can be the best means of looking up a journey, even if you don't want to buy a ticket, AND to go the extra mile to create this point of difference between booking tickets and searching for journey information.

1a: ACCESSING JOURNEYS FROM THE TRAIN TICKET PORTAL:

Once you have booked a ticket on OBB, its 'cookies' will remember that you have used the service, so as you access the URL, it will usually direct you to its tickteing portal at https://tickets.oebb.at/en/ticket/travel

You will see a page similar to the below - the journeys that you have recently looked up will be displayed on the column.


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).

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.

1b: Selecting your travel date and time from this ticketing portal


How to change the date/time of travel differs to how you access the train journey info from the OBB home page.

On the ticketing portal, as on the OBB page, the default is that you want to travel right now.

So 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 current date and time, 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.


The departure time, for when you want to travel, has to be typed in - there's no drop down menu to select a time from.

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'.

1c: Selecting your starting point and destination:

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 then you won't have to enter an arr. station.

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


OR 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.

2: AMMENDING THE DETAILS OF YOUR JOURNEY

Once you have selected 'Book Ticket', OR chosen a specific journey, you will be taken to a page that includes the three options we have highlighted below.

(What we haven't highlighted is the calendar, on OBB you can use it select another travel date, it doesn't indicate which dates have cheaper tickets).
Choosing a journey on the OBB ticketing service
OBB goes the extra mile to help its users hone in on the ticket that meets their needs.

If travelling at the cheapest possible price is your primary criteria, you can click on Sort by'', to access other options for how you would like the journey options to be displayed - as will be seen below one of these is price.
Changing the journey display options on OBB

Or if you use the 'SET MORE FILTERS' option, you can access this highly useful screen.

Select More Options on OBB
As can be seen this a welcome opportunity to:

(i) Filter out the indirect journeys from the journey options.
or
(ii) Increase the connecting times between trains, on a route that only has indirect trains - to make an indirect journey less stressful we always recommend allowing 30 mins for a connection, when following a route you are not familiar with.

Before committing to booking tickets for a particular departure, we recommend looking up journeys with both of these filters, one after the other, so you're fully aware of what your options are.

(iii) You can also hone in on departures which meet a specific travel need, such as trains and stations suitable for those with reduced mobility, or whether you will be travelling with a bike(s) - bike tickets need to be purchased for any journey by train in Austria.

Booking more than one ticket:

Something particularly quirky about using the OBB ticket booking service, is how you book tickets if more than one individual is travelling in your party.

On three images above, we have also highlighted the 'CHANGE' facility.

Click this if more than one individual will be travelling - and you will see:
Adding additional travellers when booking on OBB

3: ACCESSING THE TICKETS FOR YOUR CHOSEN JOURNEY:



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 - because we didn't use the 'SET MORE FILTERS' option to select 'Only direct trains'.

In this scenario, 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 a 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) This is another method to add other travellers to the booking, 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, 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' ticketthen 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:

Note that night train reservations cannot be booked separately from the ticket purchase process, meaning that rail pass users cannot book reservations for the overnight trains on OBB.

Booking a reservation on the night trains sold by the OBB webste has recently been simplified - 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)...

booking night train reservations on the OBB website
The two key things to note on this page are:

(1) The price, that's been circled, is the cost of travelling in a seat - it will be the base price of a journey, to which the costs of reserving places in couhettes and sleeping cabins will be ADDED.

(2) To access the options to add a reservation in the places in the seating cabins and couchettes, you need to scroll down the page - that's what the arrow is sigifying.

Do so and you will see the equivalnt of...
Booking a couchette or sleeping cabin on the OBB website

The features of this reservation selection page that have been highlighted above are:

Circled in blue: Whether you want to travel in a couchette or sleeping cabin, you need to put a tick in the corresponding box.

Circled in purple: These are the reservation costs per person of selecting each option.

Circled in red: Note that the default sleeping cabin option, will be a place in a 3 bed ordinary sleeping cabin.

Though deluxe sleeping cabins with showers will also be available, and there will be a one bed and two bed options for both types of sleeping cabin.

Circled in yellow: To see what the other options are and their associated costs, you can click on 'Change compartment type'.

Do that and you will see...
Reserving a bed in a sleeping cabin when booking a night train journey on the OBB website

...a menu of all the sleeping cabin upgrade options.

Simply tick the option you want to select in the left hand column.

Note that you will enter the full name of all the travellers.

If you will be travelling alone, but making a booking in a two or three bed compartment, you can use the 'Preferred bed' option, to choose the top, middle or bottom bunk.

The cost breakdown:

What's being highlighted by the red circles are the ADDITIONAL costs of upgrading to each of these other options.

The price at the top right, is the price of the cost of the journey (the seat price) + the cheapest bed option -  a place in a 3 bed non-deluxe cabin.

These other upgrade costs, the €90 price for a place in a 1 bed sleeping cabin etc, will be ADDED to that price, you will see top right. 

So the new basket price will be, the seat price + the cost of a place in a 3 bed standard cabin + the price of an upgrade to a two or one bed cabin and/or a place in a deluxe cabin.