True NS International Booking Guide (desktop)

NS International Booking Guide (desktop)

NS International has taken a unique and streamline approach to its online ticket booking process - ideal if you are a regular user.

However, first time users should take time to absorb all the information that's presented and make any necessary adjustments to a booking.

In order to streamline the booking process for an individual, the booking screens on NS International are set up so that many options - one adult, one way, 2nd class and no reservation (when reservations are optional) are the defaults.

So if you want to book tickets for more than one person, a return journey, 1st class, or do want to add a reservation when they're optional - then you'll  need to make the necessary selections on the booking screens.

1: UNDERSTANDING THE HOME PAGE



The only language options on NS International are Dutch and English.

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

The unique approach that NS International takes to train ticket booking is evident on its home page - highlighted above is what's missing, namely there is no opportunity to add your travel dates at this stage of the booking process.



NS International used to only use the Dutch spelling of cities and stations on its search engine, even when using the English language version.

This has been changed, so if you begin to type 'Cologne', the search will find Köln.

But as can be seen NS International uses the Dutch spelling on its search results so Cologne = Koeln etc, but if you want to travel to The Hague, you have to search for 'Den Haag' - and the city centre station is Den Hagg Centraal.

Though this can be inconsistent as London isn't now translated to the Dutch spelling 'Londen' on the English version of the site - it is always shown as 'London'

Also note the star symbol beside Koeln Hbf - this indicates when a particular destination option is the main station in a city.





The default on the home page is that you will be booking tickets for one adult.

If you want to add another adult, a senior, or a child to the booking, you have to click the symbol on the home page that looks like a pen.

A secondary screen then pops up, and on this screen you can use the drop down options to choose child, youth or senior tickets AND then click on 'Add another passenger'.

So adding someone else to the booking is a three step process.


2: CHOOSING A JOURNEY (dates of travel)



As there is no opportunity to enter a travel date on the home page - this second stage of the booking process on NS International, is where you choose a travel date.

If your travel date is fixed you can select that date - click on the row of months towards the top of the screen if you want to book further ahead than the two months initially presented.

Finding the cheapest tickets:

However, as can be seen, the dates underlined in yellow are the dates on which the cheapest possible (2nd class) prices are available.
Though not necessarily on all departures on each particular day - and also perhaps not on direct trains either.

If you initially don't see any yellow lines, you may need to select different months further ahead, in order to see on which future dates the cheapest possible tickets are available.

Though the cheapest price may only be available on journeys which involve a change of train.

Also note that the prices shown are for a one way (single) journey - the opportunity to also add a return (two way) journey is at the next stage of the booking process.

Also available at the next stage of the booking process is the opportunity to select the departure time.


2: CHOOSING A JOURNEY (time of travel)



When you have selected a travel date, you will access the journey details page.

The default displays the morning's departures - if you want to travel after midday or later, you can click on the afternoon or evening buttons at the top of the page.



Only the first six departures of the morning/afternoon/day will be shown, so if you need to depart or arrive later, you will need to click the somewhat hidden 'later' button.


3: THE JOURNEY and TICKET OPTIONS:

The journey search results on NS International


This is the key stage of the ticket booking process on NS International - hence the large number of circles, so taking them in order from top left, the key things to note on this screen are;

(i) The 1st class prices/tickets are now available - note that 2nd class is the default on the right side of the page (the right side is where you can make adjustments to the booking).

You won't have to select 2nd class on the right side of the page, (the button will already be red) - but if you want to travel 1st class, you have to select this option.

(ii) There is seemingly no option to filter the journeys on NS International, so that the search results only show direct trains

Direct trains are indicated by a '0' next to the curved cross symbol, AND by the fact that only one type of train (ICE in this example) is indicated.

(iii) So take care when booking, that the cheapest price IS for the direct trains.

In this example the cheapest possible price (with the yellow line beneath it) is for a journey with 4 changes of train.

If you want to see if the cheapest price is available on a direct train, you may have to use the 'later' button to search through the day's departures.

(iv) This particular journey is by ICE train on which reservations are optional.

However, if you opt to travel 1st class, the reservation is then included within the ticket price - so if your first choice was to add a reservation to a 2nd class ticket, in this example the difference in price in price is only €6.

(v) The 'mid-flex' fare is the lowest possible price for this specific price for this journey, so it is the default option.

However, before booking this Mid-Flex ticket(s), it's worth taking the time to click on the 'fare conditions' button - to check the exact terms for exchanging and refunding this type of ticket.

'Full-flex' tickets can be refunded in full if you subsequently change your travel plans, so if you want to have the flexibility to do this, you can opt to select the 'full-flex' ticket instead.



This doesn't apply to journeys by Eurostar or Thalys trains, on which reservations are included, but when reservations are optional - as they are on the IC and ICE trains between The Netherlands and Germany, you can opt to add the reservation.

You may need to scroll down the page to access this information.

NS International has changed the default, so that you have to add the reservation (previously you had to pro-actively remove it).

Rail pass users cannot book reservations on NS International - for journeys by Thalys and Eurostar they can be booked online on B-Europe, for journeys by IC and ICE train they can be booked online on DB Bahn.

Also worth noting at the foot of this journey options page are;

(i) if you can click on the 'show details' cross symbol, you can double check the details of the journey and ticket you will be booking.

(ii) the default is 'choose a return' trip - this is the opportunity book a Two-Way (RETURN) ticket.

Although if you do want to travel one way - you have to select the 'continue with one way' option.


4: AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE THE BOOKING DETAILS:



As will be seen you will have a generous 30 minutes in which to complete your booking.

So plenty of time to make the most of another opportunity to check the conditions of your booking
(and contact other members of your travelling party to check whether you want to switch to 'full-flex tickets' which can be refunded etc).

Something else worth noting on this page is that the ticket type is described as 'Mid-flex', which is NS' name for the ticket, but under the 'Good to Know' section, the German name of the ticket, 'Europa Sparpreis', is used.

However, what particularly matters is the easy to miss information, that the mid-flex/Europa Sparpreis tickets is departure specific - book it and you have to travel on that particular train.

Another, less obvious, advantage of the full-flex ticket is the fact that it can be used on any train on that day.


5: PROCEEDING TO BOOKING:





Two key things to note before accessing the final stage of the booking - 'Proceed to payment details'.

(i) the personal information you enter must match the details on your passport.

(ii) It is not possible to receive tickets booked on NS International by post, or to collect them at station - from a ticket desk or ticket machine.

If you don't want to print the tickets, which will be emailed to you, you can download the NS app after you have made your booking.

Enter your booking reference number into the NS app and you can download your tickets to your mobile device - you can then use the code on the download to open the ticket gates and can also show your mobile device to the conductor on the train.