So when is First Class not First Class? Apparently on UK trains on weekends as I just found out. I decided to splash out and catch the train from Edinburgh to London as something a bit different to just flying. And I thought, “lets go First Class – you know better food, drinks and a better seat”. How wrong I was.
It seems that East Coast Trains has a different “First Class” service on weekends, or rather a poor substitute for what most would believe. And although their website trumpets the First class experience – make sure you don’t travel on a Saturday or a Sunday if that’s what you are after.
As I discovered the first thing off the menu was complimentary alcohol. Imagine if airlines like Qantas, Cathay or even BA decided that on weekends there would be no champagne – you’d have to buy it from the trolley? Somehow though it’s acceptable to offer different service levels on trains in the UK and call it the same thing.
Instead of a lovely prepared meal which they want you to photograph and tweet with the hashtag #eastcoastfavourites, you get cold hard sandwiches still in the plastic wrapper? I did tweet a photo, but alas, I don’t think I will win the food comp.
Some will tell me it’s not just about the food and beverages (You really only got a choice of Coke, Diet Coke, tea/coffee or water/juice), its the bigger seats etc. Well my seat was getting thread bear and didn’t recline and the cabin was totally full and luggage was all over the place thanks to the person sitting across the aisle.
Now I really should have taken more time to read the fine print – but really do you expect to have a different level of service when it’s touted as First Class? So I have filed my complaint and if I do get a response I’ll update this post but I am not hopeful!
So if you plan to catch a train in the UK – especially an East Coast service – ensure you travel during the week or don’t waste another 70 pounds or more on to sit in a worn out seat. Because on top of paying that for that first class seat, I find out you can upgrade your 25 pound ticket for about another 10 pounds on the day!
So save the money as you’ll spend less at the bar in standard class.