I first became accustomed to first class train travel whilst living up in Aberdeenshire.
I was placed to teach in Fraserburgh for my probation year and I used to use the train to travel from Aberdeen to Edinburgh every other weekend to visit my nearest and dearest. It soon became apparent that the 18:18pm East Coast train had a great wee deal in their first class carriage – £14.50 for a single ticket on a Friday at that time. Soon it became the norm for me to get this deal. Big comfy seats, free wifi all the way, a hot meal (my favourite was the beef and red wine pie), 2 alcoholic beverages along the journey, crisps, fruit and a wee muffin as well as tea and coffee. It was a no-brainier, by the time I would have bought something to eat for sitting in the standard class I would have paid the same, maybe even more for less comfier conditions.
So when I was due to go to York to visit my friend, whom I had met up in Fraserburgh, I couldn’t help but check out the difference in price of First Class and Standard. Turns out it was only £10 more for First Class on ‘Virgin East Coast’ one-way so I decided to go for it.
The Virgin trains were advertised as being newly refurbished and with ‘Beam’ on board which allows you to watch movies, TV series and read magazines on your smart device by downloading the app. On their website I could also view my menu for the day of my journey so I had picked out what I wanted to eat and drink before even getting on board!
My First Class ticket also got me complimentary access to Edinburgh Waverley’s First Class Lounge, with both still and sparkling water on offer, orange juice, tea and coffee as well as some biscuits. There’s also TVs, magazines, comfy couches, toilet facilities and even a shower for those who want to freshen up between journeys.
All aboard! I had selected an individual seat which meant that someone could sit across from me but most of the journey I was on my own. You can also sit at a table of 4. There are power outlets for charging your devices on the go and I got straight into movie watching on Beam. I’m someone who never gets round to downloading movies to watch on the go so I really loved this service. There were only about 10 films and they weren’t new releases but that didn’t matter, I watched Bridesmaids and chuckled the whole way down to York – you can only access Beam on the train so if you don’t get to the end you need to wait until your next journey to finish it off which makes sense. I was on standard class on my way back up the road which was also a very good experience minus the food and frills that come with First Class but you can also watch Beam in standard class and get access to free wifi.
Time for the treats! It was lunchtime so I opted for their Ploughmans sandwich which had the most delicious description (see menu above) as chef James Martin is the face of the food on Virgin now. I had a coke to wash down lunch but later I had coffee and Seville Orange Drizzle cake. I love how Virgin are mentioning where their food is sourced from.
Although I’m a lover of 5 star service, I still like to get my money’s worth. My second offering of drink hadn’t come yet and we were minutes from York. I had my eye on a gin & tonic and pretty much necked it as I had 5 mins before I had to get off the train! So I arrived in York, refreshed, well looked after and slightly tipsy from one drink!