Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Train Travel Shouldn't Be Left to Italians

I have been a member of the BootsnAll Travel Network for years now, but quite honestly I have lost interest in their newsletter quite some time ago. Today's issue had something that caught my eye though giving me reason not to end my free subscription. Always up for a bargain, this seemed like something worthy of a few minutes of checking. What is in bold is my doing.

"We also love saving money, and that's why we're excited to finally be able to share our new European rail tool. It offers BootsnAll customers access to a unique partnership with the Italian rail system that includes some pretty sizable discounts on train tickets. You'll be able to search for and book train tickets anywhere in Europe, too, for travels throughout the continent. 

It seemed strange to me that German rail has had the monopoly on train ticket sales for years, yet suddenly Italy was able to squeeze out a niche. Can we credit Silvio Berlusconi or his 'mob' of contacts for influencing the change?

BootsnAll promises "Huge savings" and then "Up to 30% savings". Wowser! Up to 30% savings on a Budapest to Vienna ticket could buy up to a coffee and Sacher torte once in shiny white Austrian city. I am game to give it a shot. 

Taking this new tool for a test run, scenery is flashing in front of my eyes as if I were comfortably slumped in a second class seat on an express train riding the rails to some exotic destination, while avoiding the hassle of dealing with snarly airport people.

Just for comparison, I know the cost of Budapest to Vienna tickets, so I pound in those cities into the ticket search engine. This is the result. "Ticket Search Errors: there are no station which correspond to the search criteria." Plural verb, singular noun. Yea, it was an Italian search engine for sure. 

Subsequent searches had the same result. Interestingly, I used the drop down menu of cities; none of them were conjured up from Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. They are real cities and the search engine provides them as options. 

So being an Italian site, when BootnAll claims travel throughout the continent, does this really mean "All roads lead to Rome"? If you want efficiency, use the German site, Bahn.

If you really want to save money, buy your tickets at the train station.
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