How to Book Tickets on the SBB website

 
The Swiss national rail operator is SBB and it has recently launched a simplified update to the DESKTOP version of its online ticket booking service - mirroring much of the functionality on its excellent app.

If you will be a regular purchaser of tickets for train journeys within and to/from Switzerland, then our recommendation is to download the SBB app.

For as will be seen below - booking tickets online with SBB can still be a quirky process, particularly if you want to book tickets for the cheapest possible price.

We're going to assume on this step-by-step guide that you will want to travel at the cheapest possible price - and in Switzerland the cheapest/discounted tickets are the SUPERSAVER tickets.

So this guide, with screenshots taken from the English language version of the SBB booking service, explains what to look out for when booking these Supersaver tickets.

STEP ONE:

The somewhat quirky process of using the simplest method possible of booking tickets online on SBB begins on the home page.

When you first access the SBB home page it should look like this, with the search boxes below the menu.

Booking tickets online on the SBB website


When you begin to use the search boxes, the web page will refresh and you will then see the layout below.

The stations that can be selected in the 'From' and 'To' boxes include international destinations which are served by DIRECT train from and to Switzerland AND stations in Switzerland which aren't served by SBB trains.

Also these discounted 'Supersaver' tickets aren't placed on sale more than 30 days ahead, but it can be possible to look up journeys more than a month ahead, so take care - look too far ahead and you won't find any Supersaver tickets for your journey!

How to book on the SBB website


When you have entered your 'From' And 'To' stations, the website will provide a drop-down menu from which you can select stations, and enter your travel date and time.

What we have highlighted is that you can now access the 'Advanced Search' facility.

When you have selected your from and to stations, our recommendation is to click on 'Advanced Search' and NOT on 'Search for connection'.

STEP TWO (i):

If you have clicked on 'Advanced Search' on the home page, you will be able to see the 'Change extended search' link - towards the top of the page.


How to book tickets on SBB's website

Two other things to note on this journey selection screen are:

(i) Ignore the prices in the red boxes over to the right - as will be come clear, they show the cheapest price possible for this journey, but if you're visiting Switzerland this WON'T be the price you will be paying.

(ii) Whether the cheapest 'Supersaver' are available on each specific departure is indicated by the % symbols on the black triangles.

In the example above, 'Supersaver' tickets are available on all departures - however, note on the example BELOW that the black triangle is missing from some departures - indicating that NO Supersaver tickets are available on those particular trains

How to book Supersaver tickets on the SBB website
STEP TWO (ii):

If you click on the 'Change extended search' link, you will be able to access various filter options, which will enable you to find the optimum tickets for your journey more easily.

The page will be long, therefore what the arrows on the images below are showing is that you will need to keep scrolling down the page, in order to access all the options.

As will be seen the first option you will come to is do with the mode of travel - the default is to have all options visible in the search results.

If you want to see both the cheapest AND fastest options for a journey, our recommendation is to leave these as they are.

Using the Advanced Search when booking with SBB
The next option you will see when scrolling down the page is 'Connections'.

If you know that direct trains operate on the route you wish to take, and you want to exclude thejourney options with a change of train from the journey search results, click the 'Direct connections' button.

However, at your preferred travel time 'Supersaver' tickets may only be available on journey options which involve a change of train - limited numbers of Supersaver tickets are placed on sale, so they inevitably sell out faster on the direct trains.

The 'alternative stop' option that's also been highlighted, is particularly recommended if you will be making international journeys from Switzerland, as cities in other countries can be served by more than one station.

By clicking this button, the journey search results will include these alternative stations - which a train may be diverted to due to works on the line etc.


If your journey involves a change of train you don't need to adjust the 'Duration of transfer' for journeys within Switzerland, SBB's trains won't be arriving more than 10 mins late!

As seen below the final two options are 'Barrier-free travel' and 'Occupancy'.

'Barrier -free travel' is particularly noteworthy for travellers with limited mobility - as in this instance 'barriers' indicate that travellers with restricted mobility will face obstacles, such as no wheelchair spaces on a train, or a lack of step-free access to/from a train.

So if you click 'Restrictions apply' -  the journeys you will see will involve obstacles, hence the best option for travellers with limited mobility being to leave the default as 'No restrictions'.


You cannot add an optimum seat reservation to this ticket booking, path but if you select 'Low to average occupancy' you will then only see trains, on which seats will be available, on the search results.

Finally, below the 'Occupancy' options you will see the red 'Search for connections' box - click this to move on to the next stage of the booking process.





Note that if you only changed options that are at the top of this page, you will have to scroll down to access this box.

STEP THREE:

Note If you have used the 'Advanced search option' facility, once you click the 'Search for connection' box you will return to a journey search results page - but this time the choice of departures will have been filtered according to the options you selected.


How to book tickets on the SBB the Swiss Railways website
Choose your departure by clicking the corresponding red price box, which will be over to the right.

Don't pay any attention to the actual price shown, it will be the cheapest price possible for this journey, but if you're visiting Switzerland this WON'T be the price you will be paying.

STEP FOUR:

Once you have chosen your journey, you will be at the ticket selection stage of the process - though this won't be particularly obvious.

In order to be able to see the 'Travel options' you will have to fill in your name and D.O.B. - we have blanked these out on the screenshot below in order to protect our privacy.

How to buy tickets on the Swiss Railways website
If you don't have a Half Fare Card - and unless you will be in Switzerland for an extended period they aren't worth buying - you will have to select 'No Discount' - the price over to the right will then change.

Note that this also the opportunity to select a return journey, or to upgrade your ticket to 1st class.

However, if you want to purchase a cheaper 'Supersaver' ticket, you will have to click the '+' on the 'Options for outward journey' - note that you have to seek out 'Supersaver' tickets, they won't be automatically offered.

Click on the '+' symbol and you will then be able to acess more options, as per the example below..

Booking Supersaver tickets on the SBB website
If 'Supersaver' tickets are available, you can click the button to choose them for your journey - note how the core restriction for using Supersaver tickets is made clear, namely that they will only be valid on the specific departure you have chosen.

Also note that in this instance, a Saver Day Pass will only cost one Swiss franc more than the non-discounted ticket.

Once you have clicked the Supersaver button, the discount shown will then be applied to the price, which you see over to the right - this is now the price you will be paying for the journey.

How to buy the cheapest ticket for Swiss train journeys
However, the amount by which the 'Supersaver' ticket will be discounted, can vary between departures.

So if you want to be sure that you're travelling at the cheapest possible price AND can be flexible re: your travel times, it's worth returning to Step Three - the journey search results, and then repeating this process of looking up the 'Supersaver' tickets for other departures.

The black triangles, which contain a % symbol, on the journey search results indicate that Supersaver tickets will be available for that departure, but they can sell out on the most popular trains.

If they're NOT available, then having clicked on '+' symbol, you will then see the below.



Note that 'City' and 'City To City' tickets are still sold by SBB - these tickets include the public transport in the locations in which you will be starting and/or finishing your journey.

As can be seen above, if you DON'T opt for Supersaver tickets - then this the opportunity to add these City tickets as 'Upgrades'.

STEP FIVE (i):

Once you have chosen your departure and ticket and clicked the red 'To the checkout' buttons on the screen(s) above, you will then see this page


When making an initial booking on SBB, you will have to select the 'Purchase as a guest' option.

Do so and you will then see the first stage of the payment process, as per the image below.



What were pointing out with this arrow is that you may need to scroll down the page, to access the full range of payment options.

Click 'To The checkout' in order to access the final stage of the process - submitting your payment details, which you can do once you have accepted the terms and conditions.

Note that at no stage of the booking process can you access the terms and conditions of the specific tickets, so it can be worth looking up the terms of the 'Individual' (non-reduced tickets) and 'Supersaver' (discounted) tickets on the SBB website - BEFORE you begin a booking.