November 04, 2004

Travel First Class for Free!

Well not quite, but I thought that after my enormously fun extended weekend, that I ought to divulge some advice that will vastly improve your experiences on this here country's delapidated and frequently frustrating rail network.

It all started when, for some reason, thetrainline.com sold out of economy-class advance tickets for the trains to and from Glasgow on the 29th of October and 2nd of November respectively. This would have transported me to bonnie Scotland and back for less than £30. But over a month prior to travel, they'd inexplicably sold out of them. I could've waited 'til the day of travel and purchased a Saver Return for the staggering sum of £60-odd. Then, my eyes espied on my laptop screen that there were still some advance tickets available, ah! but they were first class. Lucky I didn't dismiss this offer as unaffordable bourgeois decadence there and then, and actually checked the price, for if my eyes didn't deceive me, I could get to the Naples of the North for a mere £40, and travel in considerable style!

And travel I did, First-motherfucking-Class! Well, Club Class 'til Carlisle, where I got free and unlimited tea, coffee and cold food, and from Carlisle, free and unlimited tea, coffee, BEER! and HOT food! And there was great legroom, and a free Times! Yes, all this for only forty of your Queen's pounds!

The curious thing is, my friends, that over the five hour journey no one ever checked my ticket to see if I was supposed to be there. I was blatantly the youngest person in the carriage, and didn't look particularly smart, yet they had no qualms about feeding me copious refreshments. In first class I was twice asked if I was first class, to which, despite feeling entirely out of place, I had to reply yes, but they didn't require the production of a ticket. I thought, fuck economy class (not quite 'fuck buying a ticket' – I'm not a thief), I'm going to travel like this every time.

But before you leave your desk, dear readers, and embark on the next Virgin Train service home, travelling in all manner of luxury for free, pay heed. On the return leg, I was asked for my ticket not once, not twice but thrice. It seems it's a bit of a gamble this whole riding in first class for free lark, so watch out. Perhaps the safest thing you can do is buy a regular ticket (unless trainline have still gone completely nuts over their prices), grab a seat amongst all the businessmen and consume all the free stuff you can until the ticket inspector rumbles you and insists that you rejoin the plebs at the back of the train (they can't chuck you off/extort money from you, can they?).

So there you have it, my first nugget of travel advice. Cor, I do go on don't I? It may work better if goat class is chocka, so you have an excuse, and if you're travelling north (it occurs to me that Virgin Trains may like to reward brave folks heading to Glasgow such as I with casting a blind eye towards our class status).


- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Also another little handy hint for regular travellers. On the return leg of your journey your ticket is valid for 30 days (on saver returns). If you have a student railcard (or even any wallet/bus pass with a little window), hand over your ticket in the wallet and more often than not i've found they're not bothered about actually stamping your ticket. So next time you can just buy a single or if you have a loved one making the opposite journey to see you then Bisto! a whole free ticket!

    16 Nov 2004, 20:58

  2. Mmm, Bisto…

    17 Nov 2004, 12:20


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