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Plane travel vs train travel

Which is a better way of travelling in Europe?

Flying can seem like a quick and easy way of getting around Europe, but are the budget prices as good as they look? Trains are a fast, comfortable and often a more sustainable alternative to cheap flights in Europe, especially when you’re visiting multiple destinations. An Interrail Pass gives you unlimited, borderless travel across Europe with just one ticket, so you can go a lot further with your money – and you'll be doing your bit for the planet, too.

No need to wait in line – just turn up and hop on board


Enjoy frequent, reliable services with no lengthy check-in or waiting around.

By plane

Waiting in line at terminal@3x-100

Airport security lines can be long and stressful, and with airlines asking passengers to turn up 2 hours before a flight, you end up spending a lot of time waiting around in the airport when you could be out there exploring!


If you’re late for your flight, it’s not as simple as just boarding the next one. You may have to pay full fare for another flight, which is unlikely to leave for at least a couple of hours.

With interrail

Lounging at the train station

With trains, there’s no checking in or waiting around – just turn up 15 minutes or so before your departure time, find your platform and jump on board (unless you’re travelling to or from London with Eurostar, who ask you to arrive just 30 minutes before departure).


Missed your train? No problem – your Interrail Pass gives you unlimited flexible train travel on travel days, so grab a quick coffee then hop on the next service. Easy!

Sit back and enjoy a much smoother ride


Relax with more leg room, no luggage restrictions, wifi and great views.


By plane


It’s no surprise that plane travel isn’t very comfortable. Seat space is tight, leg room is limited, and you can’t just get up or switch seats whenever you feel like it. Don’t forget the turbulence!


There’s no wifi or power sockets, no fresh air or scenic views, and let’s just not mention the food.


As well as limits on liquids and other items, you’ll encounter strict size and weight restrictions on your luggage and you'll be asked to pay extra if you exceed them, even if it’s just by a small amount.

With interrail

Lounging on the train@3x-100

With much more space on board the train, you’ll have room to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery and the freedom to get up and stretch your legs whenever you like.


You can choose to travel in 1st or 2nd class, and things like reclining seats, power sockets, wifi and refreshment services are fairly standard features on board high-speed trains and many regional trains too.


There are generally no luggage restrictions, and there are plenty of places to store your bags safely with you on board. On night trains, you can reserve a bed for a good night’s sleep.

Speed to your destination with none of the fuss


With all that waiting around, many popular routes in Europe end up much faster by train.

Brussels to Paris

Brussels - Paris plane

London to Brussels

London - Brussels

Barcelona to Madrid

Barcelona - Madrid

Arrive right where you need to be


Simply step off the train at the heart of your destination and start exploring!

By plane

From airport to city@3x-100

Airports are often located far from the city centre, and transfers to and from the city can be expensive.


Many destinations simply do not have an airport close by, or you may have to book a ticket with a stopover, which adds more time and waiting around to your journey.


And of course, before you can leave the airport you’ll have to wait to get off the plane, wait in line for passport control and customs and wait for your luggage.

With interrail

Strolling out of the train@3x-100

European train stations are centrally located and well connected, so you don’t need to worry about costly transfers to get to your city centre hotel.


Europe’s rail networks are the best in the world, serving everywhere from busy cities to seaside towns and hilltop villages.


Once you arrive at your destination, all you have to do is step off the train and you’re there!

Make the most of your Interrail benefits and discounts


From youth and senior discounts to free travel for kids, Interrail has plenty of extra perks.

By plane

Waiting in line at terminal@3x-100

Most airlines offer no discounts for youths or seniors – there’s simply one adult fare. For group travel, you may also need to pay extra if you want to sit together on your flight.


On a family trip? If you’re travelling with children, the rules vary by airline, but a child ticket can often be close to or the same price as a full adult fare. You'll even be charged for carrying an infant on your lap. 


Your flight ticket is valid for one journey and that’s it – no additional perks or discounts are included.

With interrail

Happy family train travel@3x-100

With Interrail, if you’re 27 or younger, you can save up to 25% on standard adult prices with a Youth Pass. And if you’re over 60, you can save 10% with a Senior Pass.


Bringing the kids along too? Children up to 11 years old can Interrail for free, making a rail pass perfect for family holidays. Up to 2 children can travel for free with every adult.


And that’s not all – with over 100 benefit partners, your Pass gets you plenty of freebies and discounts across Europe.

Sustainable Travel

By plane

Plane vs train masthead desktop

You might be familiar with some of the environmental impacts of travelling by plane.


For example, the impact that flying has on global warming is estimated to be twice as high as the carbon dioxide emissions.


Add this on top of noise levels (especially during takeoff) and increasing energy consumption and it's easier to see how trains tend to be more eco-friendly.


With interrail

Plane vs train masthead desktop

On the contrary, traveling by train can save up to 75% carbon dioxide! It is an eco-friendly alternative to traveling by plane or car, for instance.


In other words, this makes travelling with your Interrail pass a more sustainable option than flying or driving.



If you'd like to calculate your environmental impact, the EcoPassenger website is useful to compare the energy consumption and emision for airplanes, cars and passenger trains in order to see how travelling by train is the greener choice. 

By plane

Plane vs train masthead desktop

While it may seem that planes are the better option,that isn't necessarily the case.


When we consider the ticket price, carbon emissions per passenger and the energy consumption it takes for only one leg of the journey, it is easy to see how flying may not be the greenest nor cheapest choice.


This is especially true due to vapour trails, carbon tax and the fact that other gases produced by planes tend to create shorter but more harmful impacts on the planet - all of which greatly contributes to global warming, specifically with planes flying 9km or higher. 

With interrail

Plane vs train masthead desktop

High speed trains are a popular mode of transport, especially if you want to get from one location to another in a short amount of time.


High speed trains run on electricity, with the output of fuel being measured by what generates the energy. Many train companies opt for sustainable energy sources and there are various debates on getting governments to implement caron-reduction strategies for transport.


Traveling by train is often the most cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly option as it is less damaging to the earth- especially as you get to choose when you want to travel and how many days you want to travel for with your Interrail pass.