#962126 by ColOrd
01 Oct 2021, 00:15
Hi guys, something a little different, but one I think our forum members might be interested in.

I travelled today with the new on board offer from Avanti West Coast. Disclaimer - I do work for the railway industry although not for Avanti, so I did not pay full fare, but I did pay still a substantial fare to be able to travel in first class.

So Avanti have been the first train company other than Eurostar to introduce a third class of travel, Standard Premier, pitched as a Premium Economy type product, it allows access to a first class coach with bigger seats, but no on board service as such. (Although you can avail of the Standard Class order to your seat).

So like our beloved VS, or really more like Eurostar, there are three key price points and service levels, with First Class getting a major revamp and upgrade.

Welcome drinks are served on departure in first, with prosecco, a variety of flavoured, sparking or plain still water and OJ. My believe is that this should be done pre-departure but is providing difficult for the crews to deliver practically.

Then the crew will come and take drinks orders from an improved range of drinks (Menu here: https://www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/travel-information/onboard/first-class/first-class-menus ) although I saw Absolut Vodka was being served still so maybe running down old stock. The prosecco was very flavoursome and went down nicely, this was really an improved offering!

Individual food orders were taken, and it was great to see customisable menu items. Afternoon tea is one of my favourites, and it was nice that their was a selection of four finger sandwiches of which you could mix and match rather than be stuck with meat you don't want.

The service was much more attentive, drinks runs were frequent and all done initially by hand like on a plane, although a second crew who took over at Preston delivered the drinks from trollies.

The crew spend much more time interacting with customers and those I experienced today were absolutely excellent, it was definitely an onboard experience comparable to BA Club rather than the BR of old!

I hope this lasts and is developed further, it is very premium compared to what the West Coast has come from and I would say goes back to the Glory Days of Virgin Trains in the early 2000s. It should be said, the lady behind this concept is ex VT herself.

The idea here is clearly to attract people from airlines with a style of service that is interactive, dynamic, and premium! We need new custom to the railway and I really hope this is successful for Avanti! Pics to follow:
Last edited by ColOrd on 01 Oct 2021, 00:31, edited 1 time in total.
#962127 by ColOrd
01 Oct 2021, 00:20
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#962128 by ColOrd
01 Oct 2021, 00:21
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#962129 by ColOrd
01 Oct 2021, 00:28
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#962130 by ColOrd
01 Oct 2021, 00:29
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#962132 by David1946
01 Oct 2021, 06:51
Thanks for a different type of trip report. It was interesting to see the difference to Virgin Trains first class which we have used numerous times from the N/W. Haven't used Avanti yet due to the 'you know what' but this gives us a great indication of what to expect. Thanks again
#962137 by ColOrd
01 Oct 2021, 10:14
VTs offering I found would swing wildly from one direction, Premium to the next, no frills and very small portions.

I do believe that VT would have had a similar concept of splitting first into true First and a Premium Eco style offer too!
#962145 by mitchja
01 Oct 2021, 12:14
Thanks for the TR. As David mentioned good to compare others.

Whilst improvements are being made on the trains themselves, the biggest reforms still need to come in their fare structure and ticket policies for all the UK train operators. If you think airline fares and ticketing is a mine-field, train fares and policies are even worse.

The sooner train fares are simplified the better. I believe this is set to happen in the future at some point? Though I'm not holding my breath as UK train franchises change way too often.

Airlines have allowed all their different fare types to be flexible so what haven't the train operators done the same?

My experience with having to cancel and/or rebook train fares over the last 18 months has left a very sour taste in my mouth when it comes to UK train operators. LNER and Northern Rail I'm looking at you >-( Both as bad as each other when it comes to ticket changes.
Virgin Atlantic

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