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The best way to get First Class tickets in the UK

The best way to get First Class tickets in the UK

First Class train travel can really improve your journey. If you’re looking to get some UK First Class train tickets, here’s the best way to do so.

What is a First Class train ticket?

Put simply, a First Class ticket gets you one of the best seats on the train. First Class passengers also get fancier onboard services and perks. Now, of course, it would be nice if every seat was the ‘best on the train’ but given the existence of the ticket class system, we may as well try and understand it as best as possible. That way you can choose to either beat it or join it.

Firstly, First Class tickets are often the most expensive but this is not always the case. An off-peak First Class ticket can sometimes be cheaper than a peak time Standard Class tickets. When it comes to train travel, it’s always worth shopping around to consider your options - thankfully our booking platform does this for you, making it as easy as possible. We also give you details of what First Class actually means with certain companies, because with some you get more for your money.



How to get a cheap First Class train ticket

In many ways, the same tips and tricks on how to to get cheap train tickets apply to getting cheaper First Class tickets. Sometimes people assume that First Class tickets are going to be out of their reach but booking early really helps secure the best price and, in the UK, you can book up to three months in advance. So always take a look at the price comparisons.

Avoid peak commuter trains, or busy travel days and try to travel mid-week where possible. Tuesday morning as opposed to Friday morning, for example, really helps you find the best prices in both First and Standard Class. Most UK railcards are accepted in First Class offering discounts to valid cardholders. Rail companies such as LNER and Virgin Trains accommodate wheelchairs and often have dedicated space for wheelchair users - with adjustable tables - in their First Class carriages. See here for more information about accessible travel in the UK.

Upgrading to First Class

It is possible to upgrade to a First Class ticket from a previously purchased Standard Class one. The easiest way to do this is at the station before your journey. However, you may also be able to do this onboard with the help of the ticket inspector. The top-up fare to pay will be the cost of the ticket, or tickets, for the journey you wish to make, minus the value of the ticket you hold. The cost of this varies from service to service, so if it’s something you’re interested in, then it never hurts to ask.

Best UK First Class train services

First class train travel in the UK varies from operator to operator. For example, with LNER - the service that takes you from London to Newcastle and Edinburgh - in First Class, you get a reclining seat with extra leg and elbow room, complimentary newspapers, complimentary wifi and complimentary food and drink as part of the at-seat-service - and yes, this includes alcohol as well. Vegan options are also available onboard LNER trains in First Class.

Other long-distance operators, including Virgin Trains and CrossCountry offer similar services.

It should be noted that for both LNER and Virgin trains, whilst you can often find good value First Class tickets for weekend travel, hot food and alcohol are not served. The same goes for Bank Holidays when you won’t get as much bang for your buck. Snack boxes replace the hot food menus so don’t be expecting that full dining experience from the at-seat-service. You might be wiser to do the deli run before you board.



If food and drink is the major draw for you when it comes to First Class train travel, it should be noted that on some Great Western Railway services from London to South Wales and south-west England, there is a full-service restaurant car offering very high-quality three-course meals at a cost. First Class ticket holders have priority to book the ‘Pullman Dining’ experience which is available on a limited number of trains each day and is not available on weekends or public holidays. Like a top restaurant, you must pre-book a table and your First Class ticket will not cover the bill on this one. You can book the Pullman by visiting the GWR website. Other than Pullman dining, GWR offer an at-seat service to First Class ticket holders with a menu filled with healthy options including vegan and gluten-free choices.

In Scotland, shorter routes such as between Edinburgh and Glasgow come with a complimentary soft drink and snack when travelling in First Class, whilst on longer journeys such as Glasgow to Aberdeen, you will have a good choice of breakfasts, soups or sandwiches included in your ticket price.



On commuter routes, such as from London to Brighton, having a First Class seat simply means a slightly more spacious seat in a separate part of the carriage. If you have a lot of luggage, or like the extra space, then it might be worth considering, but don’t expect any frills.

Overall, there are some great value First Class tickets to be found in the UK for some top quality onboard treatment but we also know that this is not always the case. We hope this blog post will be your ticket to some more First Class train travel.

Image credits top to bottom: First class train seat - iStock ©David-Prado, Business on the move - iStock ©Tempura,  Young Man Traveling In Train - iStock ©Sami Sert 

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