Low-cost airlines know that passengers put themselves through all sorts of hardships when it's cheap. Getting to and from the respective airport can sometimes take longer than the actual flight and all sorts of harassment from the low-cost airlines is accepted in order to get from A to B for as little money as possible.
A comparable phenomenon has been evident in German rail transport for a few weeks, because that Nine euro ticket not only finds an enormous number of buyers, but many travelers also use this. The German federal government actually wanted to use this campaign, which was limited to three months, to give commuters a helping hand and to encourage drivers to switch to trains and buses. The fact that the lion's share of the period in which this low-cost ticket is offered falls during the summer holidays has already given you a glimpse of the fact that holidays and excursions are also taken on a large scale.
For just nine euros per month, you can use almost all regional transport services in Germany in June, July and August 2022. Long-distance trains such as Intercity, Eurocity and IntercityExpress are not included. The result of this: The utilization of long-distance traffic has fallen drastically, because many prefer to use the slower regional trains that are included in the cheap ticket. In many places, these are so overcrowded that ticket checks cannot be carried out at all, because it is simply impossible for the train attendants to get through the wagons. At peak times, every square inch is occupied by passengers and if there is nowhere else to go, the toilet becomes a “spare compartment”.
Airports whine about parking lot sales declines
At the same time, a new genre developed among German journalists, because TV stations in particular feel they have to test and present through their reporters how traveling with the nine-euro ticket works. This is sometimes quite funny, because passengers usually know how to get on the bus and train, but the summer slump is apparently so big that you squeeze into the already overcrowded trains in addition to passengers who really want to travel from A to B got to.
There are many who benefit massively from the German federal government's cheap tickets. First and foremost, of course, it is the passengers who can travel throughout Germany at dumping prices. But not every owner of such a ticket is also a "hardcore user" who uses it almost every day. Numerous travelers buy the monthly ticket in order to be able to travel cheaply to and from the airport of their holiday flight. So it is not at all surprising that you see a particularly large number of trolleys with tags from low-cost carriers at transfer stations in the vicinity of airports, which are often used by low-cost airlines. The train or bus ride (depending on the airport) is often much cheaper with the nine-euro ticket than with a normal standard ticket. From an environmental point of view, it is of course better if public transport is used to travel to and from the destination.
Some airports are already complaining that since the temporary introduction of the nine-euro ticket, significantly more passengers are traveling by train and bus and that the demand for parking spaces, which are usually not exactly cheap, has fallen drastically. The concern: Possibly one or the other passenger could also arrive publicly next time and the income from the expensive parking spaces will decrease permanently. You really don't have to feel sorry, because at many German airports the prices for parking your own vehicle are exorbitantly expensive and the management should not be surprised that the passengers gratefully accept and use cheaper alternatives.
Lots of winners, but also some losers
The long-distance bus provider Flixbus sees itself as a kind of loser of the nine-euro ticket, because since the temporary introduction, sales have fallen by up to 70 percent. So if you want a lot of space, you are currently in good hands with long-distance transport from Flixbus, Flixtrain and Deutsche Bahn, because the nine-euro ticket is not valid here and demand has literally plummeted. By the way: Use in point-to-point traffic has also fallen considerably in domestic air traffic, but has increased in the area of connecting passengers due to various circumstances.
However, the German nine-euro ticket has a "thinking error" that is historical. The cheap network tickets that have been offered since the 1990s for individual federal states or for the whole of Germany on weekends have always only included local transport. This practice was also adopted for the nine-euro ticket. In contrast, the – significantly more expensive – climate ticket in Austria is valid for long-distance travel.
When Railjets, Euro- or Intercity trains are overcrowded, it is relatively easy to switch to slower regional express trains in Austria. This is not possible in Germany because the cheap ticket is not valid for long-distance transport. It is therefore not surprising that demand in Intercity, Eurocity and ICE has plummeted and local trains are downright overcrowded.
German politicians are currently discussing a possible successor to the nine-euro ticket quite intensively. The only thing that is fixed is that this should become more expensive and should continue to be valid only in regional traffic. Whether there will be a seamless connection solution from September 2022 is anything but certain. Federal and state governments have very different ideas with regard to financing and the association of private bus companies demands that transport by Flixbus and Co should also be included. It is completely incomprehensible why a kind of "German climate ticket" was not set up from the start.
“Nachtzug-Propaganda” on German television and on YouTube
In addition to weird "nine-euro excursions", there is also a completely different phenomenon in Germany, namely the so-called "night train propaganda" by TV stations, but also by so-called YouTube influencers. In the meantime, pretty much every format has already "tested" the Nightjet trains of the Austrian Federal Railways and always presented them as particularly good. But in most cases this is kept secret: Traveling with night trains is anything but cheap and the reports often only show the most beautiful compartments. Those who are literally suffocating in dirt and filth or who are not up to date are not shown in the "night train propaganda". It is also occasionally concealed that on some routes the travel time is significantly longer than that of Railjet trains that operate during the day. Example: From Vienna to Munich on a night train can take up to seven hours and cost around 200 euros in an economy sleeper single bed. During the day, Westbahn and ÖBB run in just over four hours for significantly less money.
When it comes to the "financing" of these "night train tests", everyone involved quickly becomes extremely taciturn. It is very unlikely that YouTubers of all people would buy night train tickets themselves and then deliberately hide obvious defects. Both on television and on YouTube, there are usually no indications that the product test was not carried out purely by chance and is specifically intended to put the night trains in the right light compared to the plane.
In Austria, for example, it is politically desired that flying is considered "evil" and that the train is generally regarded as "climate-friendly". At the same time, politicians ignore the fact that the vast majority of rail transport in Europe is carried out with diesel locomotives. In some states, these are getting old and don't even have a particle filter. Electric rail traffic only has the upper hand in Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland, for example, although of course there are still many diesel routes here as well. If you measure the carbon dioxide emissions directly from an electric locomotive, it will be almost 0,0. At the chimney of a coal-fired power plant that produces traction current, the measured values are completely different. So the balance is limping, because depending on the route and volume, the plane or long-distance bus can also have a better environmental balance. It always depends on all the circumstances and not just on the wishful thinking of individual politicians.