“You report, you win”: that’s what happened to Interrail customers who received a half-price travel pass but didn’t start using it in time.
Let me take you back to May 2022. It’s the 50th anniversary of the unlimited travel rail scheme that has enabled millions of people to adventure and enlighten since 1972.
To celebrate half a century, Interrail’s Dutch headquarters have launched the train deal of the century: 50% off trips across Europe for one, two or three months. These allow for as many adventures as you like on the national railways of the 33 participating countries. The top ticket of the range is available at £505.
independence is a strong supporter of the move to make European railways more accessible and we have written extensively about this agreement. I bought the three-month version – so did both of my sisters. We began the most rewarding work of planning and dreaming of the trips ahead.
There is a lot of flexibility in terms of timing, which is welcome as Covid travel restrictions were still in place at the time the deal was announced. The main rule is that you must start using the card no later than 11 months after purchase.
For those of us who have chosen to travel in 2023, this is suboptimal: no one can start using their pass later than early April this year, and through early July, all guests Half-price travel will come to the end of the line.
In early April this year, just before the window closed, Nicky Gardner, co-author of Europe by railShoppers were admirably warned: “You’re in danger if you miss the 11-month deadline, because after that crucial date your card will become unusable.”
Eurail, the Utrecht-based business that operates Interrail, has confirmed to me that by April 12, all tickets purchased during the promotion period but not activated will be void. No refund. I wrote an article to warn tourists.
However, in a rare exception to the “you oversleep, you lose” rule, everyone who bought a ticket but didn’t activate it to travel in time received an email with amnesty. century.
They were told: “You saw Interrail’s 50 year promotion this past May and couldn’t resist the huge 50% discount (who can blame you?).
“However, we may see in our system that your card has expired. And to reward you for acting quickly and to make sure you can still experience the freedom and flexibility of Interrailing, we’ve extended your pass a little longer (for free).
“You have until July 10 to activate your card.”
Ironically, it was the day before the last of the Interrailers noticed had to go home. On an escalator at London’s St Pancras International Airport, they may pass cheerful travelers about to embark on an unlimited travel holiday that could extend into autumn, with October 10 as the date the end of the trip.
On all matters relating to international rail travel, I seek permission from both authors of Europe by rail and Mark Smith, The Famous Man in Seat 61. He told me: “I’m surprised that Eurail has removed the usual 11-month activation limit to prevent so many people from being discovered.
“They don’t have to. I think this is a good thing. No one loses, some are helped to not lose.”
Allow me to bring in some personal gain. Something happened – a wedding here, a work obligation there – which in my case meant that I could not use the Interrail pass as freely as I had hoped before it expired at the beginning. July.
So I sympathize more with the contributor “Full Steam Ahead” on an Interrail forum, who wrote: “This is simply unfair to those who follow the rules and activate their cards in certain period of time. I’m sure many of them want to use it for the summer of 2023 as well.”
Fortunately, I can provide the organization behind Interrail with a solution to keep their customers happy: give anyone who has purchased a half-price ticket and followed the original rules to purchase a ticket. another ticket to use before the end of the year (no exceptions, this time). There are no losers, just more rail journeys made – that’s the starting point of Interrail. Nothing.