This morning, I had to wake up at 4am to go up to a conference in Telford. Not only was it miserably early, it was cold and rainy. In late June. Ouch.
I’d thought ahead and booked a first class ticket to make my morning somewhat easier. I’d never been first class on Virgin Trains, but I heard good things, and it was the only thing that would entice me out of bed at such a horrible hour.
Seating was pretty spacious, compared to standard class. Nice wide seats, but the best part was that there were tables and leg room for everyone, so you can spread out and work.
Well, kind of.
I had assigned seating; I boarded quite early and was sat across from someone else even though the rest of the carriage was empty, which was annoying. None of the seat reservation signs worked, so I couldn’t tell if I could move. They didn’t fill up until close to Birmingham, but I didn’t want to risk it. Therefore, I couldn’t spread out as much as I wanted to, but there was definitely more space than I would have had in a packed standard class car.
Probably the highlight of the trip, hot breakfast (smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, no less!) at 6am. On a train. Beats the heck out of a cold, pre-packaged muffin from the service trolley. And staff came through many times offering tea, coffee, toast and juice. There were other options, too- egg florentine, eggs benedict, porridge, fruit, you name it.
This was the only downside. In an attempt to wake up- and stay awake- I tried to work on the journey. The wifi was okay. It didn’t load very quickly, but I was able to get most of what I needed to do done. It was about the same speed and quality as tethering to my phone, and seemed to be just as susceptible to going under tunnels or in big ditches. Since I can do this by tethering, it is not a big selling point for me, but might be if you don’t have that capability on your phone.
The staff was nice, but pretty hands-off. Besides coming through offering food and beverage, they were really hands off, especially as the train filled with commuters in the last 15 or so minutes. Honestly nothing that different from standard class.
Was great to have an outlet to myself, but again, this isn’t too different from standard class unless you’re the unlucky last one on the train and you can’t find a seat that has a spare outlet.
Worth the price?
I probably wouldn’t pay for first class unless I needed a reason to get out of bed, or knew it would be an early or late night without proper opportunities to buy food. The only real selling point was the breakfast, which isn’t really enough to pay the extra money for a first class ticket, in my opinion.