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Situation: I have booked a ticket with KLM that combines a flight to Schiphol with a Thalys train to Brussels. The transfer time at Schiphol is 1 hour and 43 minutes and it was not possible to book with a shorter transfer time. It seems likely that I will be able to make it to the Thalys train departing one hour earlier, which would increase my chances of being in time for a meeting in Brussels.

Question: Would I be allowed to board the earlier Thalys train on my KLM ticket? If not, is there any way I could make this possible, for instance by paying an additional fee?

Additional info: I read in this forum thread that it is possible to take an earlier Thalys train if you have some kind of Flex-ticket, but I don't know if my KLM ticket would count as a Flex-ticket or if I could somehow make it a Flex-ticket.

(This previous question is about skipping the train leg in a similar situation. I don't want to skip the train leg. I just want to take an earlier train.)

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    Have you checked that there actually is a Thalys train an hour before the one you booked? Often they run every second hour but there are some times when there is just one hour between trains. – Willeke Apr 7 '16 at 15:41
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    @Willeke Yes, I checked the train schedule online. It's in the morning and there seems to be a Thalys train every hour from 6:33 to 9:33. I guess it's the morning rush hour. – jkej Apr 7 '16 at 16:14
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    @jkej Are you aware that you also have to pick up your train ticket at the NS desk in Schiphol? klm.com/travel/de_en/plan_and_book/ticket_information/… – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 7 '16 at 16:20
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Yes, I read something about that, but thank you for reminding me. Does that usually take a long time? Do I need to go to some specific counter there? I realize I might not make it in 43 minutes, especially if my flight is delayed, but in my previous experiences it has been a pretty smooth transition from flight to train at Schiphol. – jkej Apr 7 '16 at 16:33
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I have now made the trip and can therefore answer my own question.

Yes, they do let you take the earlier Thalys train, but you will not have a seat reservation, so the trip may be less comfortable. Taking the earlier train may be seen as a trade-off between time and comfort.

Getting to the earlier train in time was easy as I suspected. It took me less than 10 minutes to get off my plane, walk to the station, pick up my ticket at the NS desk and go down to the platform. I believe I would have been able to make it in time even with a slight delay and/or checked-in luggage.

Both the guy at the ticket counter and the staff at the platform told me that I would be allowed on the earlier train if it was not full. The staff on the train told me that there would be no empty seats for part of the trip, but that I could always stand in the restaurant car. I was able to sit down from Schiphol to Rotterdam and from Antwerp to Brussels, but on the Rotterdam-Antwerp leg all seats were reserved and occupied, so I had to stand in the restaurant car for roughly a third of the trip. There were 4 of us standing there, so I was not the only one lacking a seat reservation.

I got the impression that this was standard practice and that they would normally always let you on the earlier train, but that there was no explicit guarantee. I can imagine that they reserve the right to decline if for instance the train gets really packed.

It was definitely worth it for me to take the earlier train, since I was on a tight schedule and I really didn't mind standing for part of the trip. On the other hand, if you´re not in a hurry and you don't mind spending an extra hour in Schiphol, having a seat reservation would probably make your train ride more enjoyable. Taking the earlier train probably doesn't always mean that you have to stand for part of the trip, and you can always ask before you get on if it means you will have to stand.

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