Mastering Swiss Travel Pass seat reservations: A detailed guide

A Swiss Travel Pass lets you easily hop on and off trains in Switzerland. But for some trains, you might need to purchase an extra seat reservation before your journey. While most Swiss trains do not require seat reservations, there are a few exceptions like premium panoramic trains and international trains. For these trains, a seat reservation ticket must be purchased separately at a small extra fee. Read on to learn when and how to book your seat. 

What is a seat reservation?

Bernina Express Seat reservations

A seat reservation is an additional ticket purchased along with your Swiss Travel Pass that guarantees you a seat on the train. A seat reservation ties you to a particular train on a particular date and time. As mentioned, most Swiss trains do not require seat reservations. You can simply board with your pass and take any available seat. Seat reservation applies primarily to panoramic trains like Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Gotthard Panorama Express, and a few others. These trains mandate such reservations owing to the additional services offered by them and their greater demand.  

When to reserve seats with the Swiss Travel Pass?

reserve seats with the Swiss Travel Pass
  • Mandatory reservation: You cannot board trains like Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Gotthard Panorama Express, & a few others without booking your seats beforehand.
  • Optional reservation: Certain popular trains provide the option to reserve seats, even though they are not mandatory. You can choose to reserve them if you want or if you are traveling with a big group or during high tourist season. The cost of such reservations often starts at 5 CHF. 
  • Booking window: Seat reservations are available for booking 3 months before departure or sometimes earlier. Book as early as you can, as seats tend to sell out, especially during the peak tourist season. 

How to reserve seats with the Swiss Travel Pass?

  • Visit the official website of the train like Bernina Express, and navigate to the reservations page
  • Input all the journey details like ‘from’ and ‘to’ stations, date and class
  • Select your train and seat 
  • Furnish all necessary personal information
  • Select the pass type - Swiss Half Fare Card/Swiss Travel Pass - on the reduction tab. You will see the price reduced just to the reservation surcharge
  • Some trains have the option to choose a meal plan
  • Make the payment to receive your reservation ticket
  • Upon inspection, produce the reservation ticket along with the pass

If it is not a panoramic train, you can reserve seats on the Swiss Railways website, at railway stations in Switzerland, or via the SBB Mobile app.

Good to know

Carry a valid Passport

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to reserve a seat if I have a Swiss Travel Pass?

In most cases, no, you need not reserve a seat if you have a Swiss Travel Pass. You can board the train with just a valid pass. The few exceptions to this rule are panoramic trains and a few international trains covered by your Swiss Travel Pass.

What happens if I do not reserve a seat?

Most Swiss trains do not require reservations; which means you can board conveniently with just your pass and take any available seat. If there are no seats you can stand and commute. However, if a seat reservation is mandatory for a train, and you haven’t made one, the pass only wouldn’t suffice. You will be denied entry or fined. 

Can I book a seat even if it is not mandatory?

Some Swiss trains do offer optional reservations. So you can book seats on them even if they are not necessary. But many trains do not have this option. However, seats are usually available or you will be able to find them soon as the journey progresses. 

How can I find my seat on the train if I have reserved one?

On the seat reservation ticket, you will see the coach number, seat number, and the train's departure date and time. The platform of your train and the correct section of the platform where your coach will arrive will be mentioned on the train station displays. Your seat number will be displayed on the seats inside the train coaches. 

What should I do if I missed a train for which I had reserved seats?

Seat reservations are applicable only for the train you booked. However, if have a valid pass, you can simply hop on the next train but in this case, the seat will not be reserved. 

Do buses, boats, and cablecars included in the Swiss Travel Pass require reservations?

Like trains, you do not usually need to reserve seats for buses, and boats. Cable cars, funiculars, and cogwheel trains also do not require reservations. However, reservations may apply for special cruises like dinner cruises or special rides on cable cars like sunrise or sunset trips.

Can I select my seats during reservation or is it randomly assigned?

For panoramic trains, as you reserve seats, you will be shown the outline of the coach and you can select seats of your choice. 

How do I use my Swiss Travel Pass?

Using the Swiss Travel Pass is very straightforward and quick. Find out more details on how to use the Swiss Travel Pass.

What are the scenic premium trains in Switzerland?

Many premium trains in Switzerland are taking luxury and scenic rides to a whole new level. Glacier Express and Bernina Express are extremely popular. Read more about such routes on the Swiss scenic routes page.