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Differences between first and second class

  • 21 September 2022
  • 7 replies
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What extra perks do you receive if you purchase a 1st class ticket?
Is it worth doing ?
are the seat reservation charges higher for a 1st class seat ?
anyone done it ? is it worth having ?

thank you

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Best answer by Yorkie 21 September 2022, 14:00

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7 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi, most of the time first class has better seating with seats in a 2+1 configuration instead of 2+2 of 2nd class. In most of the trains no meals are included, but a better service at your seat. Some train companies have small snacks like a chocolate for 1st class or a small drink. 

Best is to check the website of the train company that runs the train. 

Normally reservations cost the same in 2nd and 1st class, but on international trains like Eurostar, TGV Lyria, RENFE-SNCF AVE/TGV you pay more for a 1st class reservation. With your 1st class pass you can use also 2nd class, but not the other way round. Sometimes like for trains in France you can pay a reservation + class changing fee to get 1st class with an 2nd class pass. Often it cost not much more. In countries with optional reservation in such a case you have to pay the price difference between second and first class of a normal fare ticket.

P.S. TGV Lyria have the highest 1st class reservation cost with about 70 Euro instead of 35€ of 2nd. 

Userlevel 5
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There is no doubt the question of !st class v 2nd class is complex, not least because our personal circumstances vary so much. 

The actual differences are, as described above, varied and some of dubious advantage. However they are generally real efforts by operators to add to the experience.

IMHO the real test is do you have the budget and the desire for those benefits of space and little luxuries? Would you stay in a budget hotel or hostel, or do you stay in nothing less than 3* hotels?

We have just returned from Sicily to the UK on a 3000km journey first class and thoroughly enjoyed those benefits, including a meal on Eurostar with wine, lounge access alcoholic drinks and sandwich on LNER in UK, huge leather seats on all trains, coffees and snacks served at seat (some paid) and relative quiet.

The extra reservation costs are insignificant on a holiday costing about 200 euro per day for 2 (pass, hotel, food etc).

But if you are an adventurer on a moderate budget then second class is fine.

I do though strongly advise you to make reservations for any trains on busy routes, especially if you are travelling at peak times. First Class accommodation is relatively limited and finding an unreserved seat for the full journey may be difficult.

 

Userlevel 3
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My wife and I always travel first class for all the reasons mentioned above. and we do a lot of travel!  Remember that not all trains have first class especially if travelling beyond Budapest into Eastern Europe. There is no first class in Norway but they have a premium class equivalent. There is access to some first class lounges but not in Germany or France. If on a budget 2nd is fine but if you can afford it buy first.

Userlevel 5
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Out of interest you can use Austrian lounges. LNER in UK allow you in.

Userlevel 7
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This is mostly for long-distance

In many areas for short distance/locals there is NO 1st-or if there is, it means nothing as there are no checks. Many people are not even aware of it.

Extra freebees are mostly limited to GB (on board) and DK-NO-as above. Lounges give free access also in GB and AT, but explicitly NOT IN DE=germany. An added nuisance might be that ion some areas you must RES for 1st (more limited places and these hi-so people cannot be left standed) and not for 2nd

Userlevel 5
Badge +9

This is mostly for long-distance

In many areas for short distance/locals there is NO 1st-or if there is, it means nothing as there are no checks. Many people are not even aware of it.

Extra freebees are mostly limited to GB (on board) and DK-NO-as above. Lounges give free access also in GB and AT, but explicitly NOT IN DE=germany. An added nuisance might be that ion some areas you must RES for 1st (more limited places and these hi-so people cannot be left standed) and not for 2nd

Many 21st century Interrail users, like me, use Interrail as an alternative to flying and have no issue paying for the additional benefits. This is no different to paying a premium for extra legroom seats on a Ryanair flight.

I enjoy the small luxuries and I feel it is worth the premium and occasional higher reservation costs. I also stop in hotels or luxury apartments when I can - i.e. when the premium is low v a budget hotel in the same area.

 For “traditional” Interrail users the stereotype is they would never consider travelling on a first class pass, stay in hostels and live from a backpack. That is fine if you are on a tight budget but after a lifetime of tight budgets we are now enjoying the benefits of retirement.

We fully understand that many regional trains are second class only but would never consider using them as an alternative to ICE/Freccia/IC/EC trains for distance or speed. 

Interrail first class passes are only 25% (about £10 a day) more than second class so comparable with that extra legroom on a cheap flight.

 

 

Userlevel 1
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It varies depending on the train. You can check seat61.com for detailed photos of the routes you want to take.

The difference is fairly marginal but you might want to pay for that marginal increase in comfort. The number one thing you get is increased space (2 + 1 seats instead of 2 + 2). Extra legroom as well. If you want to use a laptop that can be handy. Though European trains don’t seem to be as miserable with the space as UK trains so I’ve found it to be generally ok in standard!

You probably get a few less people in there as well. Whether that’s a perk or not depends on how busy your train is. If it’s full it’s a relief, but if the train is moderately full you’ll likely get 2 seats to yourself anyway.

In the UK you typically get free tea/coffee/biscuits, but not generally in Europe. I don’t think the food is a perk anyway as on many trains there is a restaurant car which is more fun and you get as much space as in 1st for free. The food I’ve been served on the eurostar in standard premium has been the most disgusting stuff I’ve ever eaten. I was horrified. Couldn’t finish it.

I’d say the other benefit is, as with many luxury goods, getting to feel fancier than the proles in standard.

So in summary, standard is perfectly good for anyone. But if you don’t mind spending the money and you want those perks that make it maybe 10-20% better then go for it. I am travelling atm on the first class pass and I don’t regret it! Just don’t imagine it’s a lifechanging experience, just sometimes a little bit better!

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