Seat Reservations When Booking Online

The info on this page is has been lovingly together for people who will be buying tickets for European train journeys, but if you will be travelling with a Eurail or InterRail pass - we have a whole other world of info available here.

Our seat reservation availability summary can take much of the confusion out of booking European train tickets online, particularly if you do usually prefer to reserve a seat when making long distance train journeys.

On some train services, you can also select the part of the train you wish to travel by, hence this guide to using seating plans when booking European train tickets.


What can vary when booking tickets for train journeys in different European countries, is whether a reservation (an assigned seat) is:

- included when booking a train ticket online, or
- optional, or 
- not available at all.

(1) Reservations are NOT available when booking these train services (and more):

- Any national train journey within Belgium and Luxembourg

- Any national train journey within The Netherlands

-  journeys by TER trains in France

- on IR trains in Switzerland

- journeys by Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains in Italy

- on the Oresundtag trains between Denmark and Sweden

- virtually all journeys on independent railways in Switzerland

journeys by Regional Express trains in Spain

- trains in Great Britain operated by Northern, SouthEastern, GreatNorthern, C2C, Southern and Thameslink.

(2) Reservations are optional when booking these train services listed below - meaning that you can add a reservation when booking online or request them when booking at the station.

If you don't specifically ask for a reservation at a station ticket desk, the booking staff may assume that you don't want to reserve.

There will be an additional charge for booking these reservations, so when booking online check to see whether the price of the reservation has been included in the price that you initially see,

Though the 2nd class fees are always under €5.

(i) Austria – Railjet (domestic and international) and on the IC trains

(ii) Denmark – Lyn and IC train services and the EC trains to Germany  - reservations ARE compulsory on these EC trains between May and September,

(iii) Germany – when booking 2nd class tickets on IC and ICE trains both national and international; they're included when booking 1st class tickets.

(iv) Poland - on EIC and TLK trains

(v) Switzerland – on IC train services

(vi) and on EC trains on these routes:

Germany ↔ Austria
Germany ↔ Switzerland
Austria ↔ Switzerland
Czech Republic ↔ Hungary (are included when booking journeys from Hungary online on MAV)
Austria ↔ Hungary

 When looking up journeys by these train online, the price you initially see usually won't include the seat reservation fee.

You will also have to proactively add the seat reservation(s) to your booking - and pay the price for doing so, if you don't the booking service will assume you don't want a seat reservation

(3) Reservations are included when BOOKING TICKETS* for these train services online - and at stations.

Therefore you won't see a separate seat reservation price when looking up journeys by these train services - instead you may be prompted to choose a seat from a seating plan

*Eurail and InterRail pass users will need to reserve prior to boarding and you can find more information on how to do this here.

(i) these international DAYTIME train services;

DB-SNCF  l   Eurostar  l   Lyria

  l   TGV France-Italy

  l   Thello

and on EC trains on these routes:

Switzerland ↔ Italy

Germany ↔ Italy via Austria

Germany ↔ Poland

Germany/Austria ↔ Slovenia/Croatia

Austria/Hungary/Czech Republic ↔ Poland

Hungary ↔ Croatia/Slovenia/Serbia

(ii) in France – on TGVs plus the Intercités routes  on which reservations are compulsory

(iii) Germany – when booking 1st class tickets for journeys by IC and ICE trains - including international services

(iv) Great Britain* – when booking ONLINE with these Train Operating Companies:

Cross Country  l   East Midland Trains,
Grand Central  l   Great Western Railway,
South Western Railway  l   Trans Pennine Express,
LNER  l   Virgin Trains

(v) Hungary** – on IC trains and on EC trains for journeys within Hungary

(vi) Italy – on Trenitalia’s Frecce and Intercity trains and on Italo trains.

(vii) Norway – Regiontog trains

(viii) Poland – EIP trains

(ix) Sweden - Snabbtåg trains within Sweden and from/to Sweden and on IC trains operated by SJ

(x) Spain – on Altaria, AlviaAvant, AVE, Euromed, MD and Talgo trains

(xi) When booking bed, couchette berth and most seats on OVERNIGHT trains.

*In Great Britain reservations are included free of charge when booking with those Train Operating Companies online, but reservations are optional (and incur a fee) when tickets are booked at the station.

*In Hungary reservations are automatically included when booking journeys by IC trains, daytime trains to Croatia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and all overnight trains irrespective of whether tickets are booked online or at stations.

However, when booking international daytime journeys by train to Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Slovakia they are only included if booked online and NOT at the station.


If you will be booking a train with mandatory seat reservations, the online ticket agents will usually include a link to a seating plan.

These seating plans aren't usually integral to the booking path, meaning that you don't have to use them to book a ticket, so in the rush to make a booking they can be easily missed.

What you can select on seating plans:

In addition to being able to choose window or aisle seats, we recommend using them for these reasons:

(1) You can select seats near the exit doors, particularly useful if you've got heavy luggage, as you can then avoid having to manoeuvre it into the middle of the train.

These seats also tend to be nearer any luggage racks, so you'll be able to keep an eye on your bags more easily.

(2) If you will be making a tightly timed connection, that can be another good reason for choosing a seat by the doors, but if you want to have a quieter trip you'll be better off choosing a seat in the middle of the train.

(3) You can choose between table seats and airline style seating.

Don't choose a table seat on the assumption that you will have more leg room, if somebody tall takes the seat opposite yours then you'll actually have less.

Targeting table seats is obviously a good option if you are travelling in a group of three or four, but when we're not, we prefer the greater privacy of the airline style seats.

And if you are planning to eat on the train, then the airline seats have a pull down tray.

(4) A plus of table seats, is that they nearly always line up with the windows, but a surprisingly high number of the 'airline' seats won't.

The more modern the train you will be travelling by, the greater the chance that you won't have a good view out of the window, in both 1st and 2nd class.

So our top reason for using a seating plan is to ensure that we have a good view out of a window.

(5) If you will be travelling on a TGV Duplex or TGV Oceane train, you can also choose to sit on the Upper or Lower Decks.

What you can't select on seating plans:

More often than not, you can't choose seats which face the direction of travel on a seating plan - the only train services on which we HAVE seen this option are

(1) TGV Atlantique trains

(2) TGV Sud-Est trains

(3) Some TGV Lyria services  (but not departures on which double-deck TGV trains are used)

(4) ICE 1 and ICE 4 trains

(5) the TGV France-Italy services

(6) Regiontog trans on the Oslo to Bergen route.

Train services on which you CAN'T select forward facing seats when making an online booking include Frecce trains, other  ICE trains and TGV Duplex trains.

The core reason for this is that many European express trains reverse direction when they make some station calls, thereby flipping the train from back to front- and this can happen multiple times per day.

So when tickets are being sold online the ticketing websites won't know in which direction a seat is facing, so they can't guarantee whether seats are facing forwards or backwards.

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