Travelling first class has never been something that appealed to me, not on my budget! But recently I’ve been looking at Great Western’s offers and finding myself fantasising about taking first class trips. My total travel time each day is around 3-5 hours and what better way than to spend it in luxury? So here’s first class put to the test, on a student budget. I only paid 50p for each upgrade, so make what you will of my experiences, see if it’s worth it for you- but I know I will be travelling first class a lot more in the future!
In general, it does have to be said that the perks of travelling first class have definitely improved over the years, with such competitive travel deals, companies need to be offering something special, you can’t just stick a first sign on the door anymore! The majority of train companies offer better wifi, unlimited free food and drinks, often including alcohol! The problem with this is people then want to make sure they get their value for money, potentially meaning you could end up with a crowd knocking back drinks and being even more disruptive than standard class. But, you’ve got more space to kick back and relax, more space to unwind and can cost as much as a kit kat in the corner shop!
Now luxury travel is usually way out of a student’s price range, but today, I am typing this post on my first class debut trip to Devon, waiting on my complimentary booze and snacks, with no irritating stag do’s in the seats opposite. It’s unusually quiet, given the bank-holiday madness I’m used to, but refreshing. But is it worth the price tag?
Well for one thing, it’s not stopped the natural needs of human beings. Loud eaters, farters and people exposing their smelly shoes (yes, I’m talking to you, guy two rows ahead, I smell them) still exist, so don’t expect some mile high extravaganza for your first class trip, no matter how much you pay for service, sometimes your trip can only be as good as the other customers around you.
This said, I received free soft drinks and a small complimentary box of snacks and it only cost me an extra 50p to upgrade, so I can’t really complain, the retail cost of the freebies outweighs the smelly feet for sure!
With my mixed views of may first trip at the back of my mind, I wasn’t expecting a great deal on my second trip. Good job I didn’t set my expectations too high! There was no catering on board for my trip, but I was offered a free bottle of water to compensate. Not quite enough to quench my hunger, but it was certainly a good gesture you wouldn’t get in standard class. The service on board definitely outweighed the disappointment too, staff were so courteous, even though the shortage wasn’t their fault and still made sure my trip was a pleasant one!
By my third trip, I had come to the realisation that first class was only worth paying a few extra pennies for, but I didn’t realise how wrong I could be! Turns out it was Wine Wednesday, meaning unlimited free wine! Now who in the world wouldn’t be happy with that?
The exceptional service continued with free sandwiches, crisps, nuts, flapjacks, corn chips, coke and water offered within 5 minutes of sitting down: now that is what I call an upgrade! Albeit, I was a little tipsy by my second glass, but still sober enough to see that this service is worth paying for, I felt like a million dollars, not a student commuting for work experience! The wifi also worked perfectly, something I forgot to check previously, which if you want to get some work done (or write a blog post) makes all the difference! For this experience, I paid the same 50p upgrade and god damn, it was worth ten times more than that!
I genuinely found myself not wanting to ever get off this train! Usually public transport is the least exciting part of my day, but all of a sudden, it all made sense. This is why people pay for first class and this is the kinds of luxuries that come with it. Worth it? a million percent yes!
Thursday was a similar beautiful experience, minus the free wine (though I’m dubbing every day #winewednesday from now on!), making the two hour journey feel like minutes. I do worry that after this week, I’m going to have spoilt train journeys and find myself pining for the upgrade! It’s been a huge treat to travel like a businessman on their way to a FTSE100 meeting, but alas, I must enjoy my last first class experience for now. Another 50p well spent!
So the question remains, is it worth the upgrade? Definitely. Despite small setbacks of smelly feet and other customer-related unplesantaries, it does have to be said that it’s down to who you’re travelling with, or who else is in the carriage. This is purely unavoidable and is going to be an issue no matter where you travel, regardless of what class, transport type or time of day. Most upgrades cost 50p, but the freebies and tranquility of the sparse carriage is perfect for recharging and feeling inspired, rather than irritated. In my experience, the perks are worth ten times the price paid, so why not give it a go?
I’d love to know about your first-class experience, by train or otherwise! Drop me a comment or tweet me x