Seat reservations: increasing social distance by reducing availability

We want to ensure that you can maintain a suitable level of distance from other passengers on our trains, so we are modifying our seat reservation system. This means that not all seats on our long-distance trains can be reserved. This helps us to create the space that protects passengers during the pandemic. We have compiled a list of answers to the most important questions about this change.

  • Usually, passengers can only reserve window seats. Aisle seats are for the most part now blocked in our booking system, which means they cannot be booked.
  • In the case of seats around a table, passengers can only make reservations that position them diagonally, i.e. one person is at the window on one side, and the other in the aisle seat on the other side of the table.
  • In each compartment, only three seats, positioned in a check-pattern, can be booked.
  • If people are travelling together, they can use designated spaces in first and second class containing adjacent seats that can be reserved together. This makes sense from a public health point of view, as it enables people from a single household to travel together and not sit at different locations in a train. When all of these measures are combined, only approx. two thirds of our seats are available for reservation. The reservation process has not changed: passengers can continue to use the coach diagram on bahn.com and in DB Navigator to select their seats. We recommend that people travelling on long-distance trains reserve seats.

In response to Germany's current infection rates, the central and state governments have introduced wider-ranging measures and extended their duration. These also include requirements for rail operators, which we are now putting into action. We want to make train travel even safer for the weeks ahead of us. This entails taking steps that make social distancing easier on board our trains.

We currently have no plans to make reservations mandatory, as we want our customers to always have the option of catching a train at short notice. Around Europe, many other rail operators offer passengers, in particular commuters, the same flexibility as we do. This goes for ÖBB in Austria, SBB CFF FFS in Switzerland, NS in the Netherlands and NMBS/SNCB in Belgium.

  • In open-saloon coaches, many aisle seats are blocked. Two seats can be reserved at tables in these carriages, but these seats are positioned diagonally.
  • Max. 3 seats can be reserved in compartments, and these seats are positioned in a check pattern.
  • In the case of cross-border connections, the company operating the service decides which places are available for booking.

Yes

  • People from the same household can and should travel as a group. This makes sense from a public health point of view, as it avoids making people from a single household sit at different locations in a train.
  • If people are travelling together, we have made sure they can use designated spaces in first and second class containing adjacent seats that can be reserved together.
  • In the case of cross-border connections, the company operating the service decides which places are available for booking.

  • Starting on 1 August 2021, we will use a separate carriage for group reservations on ICE trains. Please note that social distancing rules cannot be adhered to in this carriage.
  • Group reservations made up to and including 31 July 2021 may have to be split between two carriages due to social distancing rules. 

Trains will have enough adjacent seats that groups can book.

Booking default seats depends on the the number of available reservations in a particular carriage. For this reason, we recommend using the coach diagram on bahn.com and in DB Navigator to select seats. Available seats are dark grey. Just click on one to select it.
In the case of cross-border connections, the company operating the service decides which places are available for booking.

People can use the coach diagram on bahn.com and in DB Navigator to select the seats they want. It is a good idea to check all of a train's carriages to see where adjacent seats are available. If these grouped seats have all been taken, passengers travelling together can either opt to sit apart or take a train at a different time.

Our long-distance fleet consists of different train types. Unlike older ICE trains, the ICE 4 generation does not have compartments anymore, apart from the toddlers' area. This prevents us from creating a single, catch-all solution for families. In the case of cross-border connections, the company operating the service decides which places are available for booking.

We are watching developments closely, but seats will be excluded from reservation for as long as the infection rates make this necessary.

  • Customers can use the demand indicator to see how busy their train is likely to be. This information is based on past figures and the number of bookings so far registered for a given train. Our system updates it continuously until the train is just about to depart.
  • Travellers can see very clearly in the travel information if over half of the seats on a train are likely to be occupied. We will close the booking process if demand for a connection is extremely high.

At the moment, passenger numbers are 20-30% of their normal levels, so it is very unlikely that two people travelling alone will end up sitting side by side. In addition, train attendants keep an eye out to make sure travellers are distributed properly throughout the train. Nevertheless, we want to make sure that people can catch a train without making a reservation - many regular passengers, such as commuters, often decide to make a journey at short notice. This "open system" of train travel remains very popular with our customers even despite the pandemic, and we want to keep it in place.

Travellers can use the coach diagram on bahn.com and in DB Navigator to pick their preferred seat. Available seats are dark grey. Just click on one to select it.

We recommend making reservations. This will ensure that passengers can maintain adequate social distance on board our trains.