After booking some an amazing Business Class rate on SkyTeam carriers into Berlin and out of Prague, I tried to figure out the best way to get from one city to the next.Looking for a Snapshot of the lounge? Jump to the Takeaway
After some research, it became clear that the best way to do it was by train. Flying took less time, but if you factored in the time it took to get to the airport and through security, it was much easier to take the train.
We asked the concierge at the Westin Berlin and he said that we only had to get to the train station in time to catch the train. He let us know the train usually arrives about 3 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
Booking the tickets online was fairly straightforward – the website comes up in German, but you can switch the language to English. You can buy tickets about three months in advance of your date of departure. You’ll have to enter the destination, the dates of travel, number of travelers (plus age of travelers) and class of service.
The price difference between First and Second class can be a material difference, but at times it’s just a couple of euros, depending on when you book your ticket – booking earlier will mean more cheaper fares. We ended up booking First Class since the price difference was about $10 USD. All in all, our tickets cost about 100€.
It looked like there was an option to select seats, but this was not available to me when I booked my tickets.
I had a bit of an issue purchasing my tickets when I tried using a Visa card, and I thought it was possible it wouldn’t let me book it because of my foreign billing address, but when I entered my American Express card as payment, it worked just fine.
We arrived at the train station about an hour before our 5:03 PM scheduled departure since I’d read that there was a lounge available for use. The station is fairly centrally located in the city, and took about 15 minutes to get to from our hotel.
The lounge was separated into two areas by a glass divider. The seats in the front half of the lounge seemed to be smaller than those in the back half of the lounge.
The front half of the lounge had a self-serve drink area, with coffee and soda.
The back of the lounge, as I’d mentioned was separated by a divider.
The area was packed and we managed to find the last two empty seats in the whole area.
Shortly after settling in, as server came by to ask us if we needed anything. The front half of the lounge didn’t seem to have table(?) service.
The seats in the back area were a little bit wider than those in the front half of the lounge.
There were plenty of (German) newspapers available in the back area.
There was a bathroom in the lounge, located in the front half.
The lounge also had free wifi, which was helpful since I didn’t seem to be getting data in the station.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave to catch our train. We left the lounge 15 minutes before our scheduled departure time, to give us time to get to the platform which was located downstairs.
The Train Ride
The train arrived about 7 minutes before departure, and we quickly got on to find our seats. Since we didn’t have seat assignments, we welcome to pick any unoccupied seats that weren’t reserved. Fortunately, the train was pretty empty and there were plenty of seats in our train car.
In the First Class car, the seats were set up in a 2-1 configuration, with half the seats facing forward and half the seats facing the reverse.
The row where the seats met had a table in the middle that could be extended.
The set up was the same on the side with one seat.
The seats had plenty of legroom, with space under the seat in front of you to tuck in a small bag.
There was also an overhead space, which comfortably fit our bags that we use as carry on luggage when we fly.
On the overhead space were the row numbers. I believe reserved seating would have been noted on the digital screen.
At every seat row was a hook against the side of the train – very much appreciated for hanging our huge winter coats on during the ride.
Each seat also had sockets with USB outlets, which was amazing since I was able to plug in my phone to charge on the entire 4 hour trip.
Three or four times during the ride, someone came by with a food cart offering food for sale. We each bought a small bag of chips and a drink, which was about 1-2€ each. They didn’t to have any meals for sale on the carts, so you’d have to get up and walk over to the dining carts if you were looking to have something more substantial.
Each station we stopped at was announced and the name came up on the digital screen, so it’d be pretty difficult to miss your stop.
Fortunately, ours was the last stop, so there was very little chance of doing that.
The scheduled time of arrival was 9:28 PM, though we actually got in before 9:25, so that was a bonus! A huge contrast to the delays I’m used to experiencing with air travel.
The train was a fantastic way to get between the two cities. While I’m completely comfortable flying, I do really enjoy taking the train since rail travel generally seems to be more timely.
My only regret is we missed the gorgeous views I’d heard so much about since we were traveling later in the day. Even so, I would easily take the train if the option was available instead of a one hour flight, especially in this case, where plane tickets were so much pricier. Even though a 4.5 hour train ride seems much longer, when you factor in how much time you spend getting to the airport, going through security, waiting to board, then actually flying, it’s almost the same amount of time.
The end of the train ride was the beginning of the last leg of our trip – exploring the beautiful city of Prague – and an amazing stay at the Augustine, Luxury Collection hotel!