I regularly use the LNER (London North Eastern Railway) train service from London to Lincolnshire but usually travel by standard class.
But in a bid to see what I was missing ‘on the other side’, I recently upgraded to First Class.
The experience was much pleasanter all round and now when booking, I will investigate premium options.
With the new Seatfrog app it’s now possible to bid to upgrade your Standard Advance ticket from as little as £5.
To start, a first class ticket with LNER gets you access to the lounge at Kings Cross station in London.
The space is modern and clean with complementary soft drinks available, plus really delicious hot chocolate from a hot drinks machine!
On the food front, there are a number of different snack options including syrup sponge fingers, crisps, chocolate chip biscuits and satsumas.
Alcoholic beverages are available but at an extra cost.
TV screens in the lounge show the live departure times and which platform to board.
I was travelling from London to Grantham on a Friday evening and when I saw my train flash up, I steadily made my way to Platform 2 from the lounge.
At the platform, the first class carriages are nearer to the entrance so you don’t have to walk as far.
I found my seat in carriage K. It was a big comfy armchair, with a chair facing and a table inbetween.
Unlike in the standard carriage, it was remarkebly quiet with lots of room to stretch out.
There were curtains and I discovered a plug socket by my table, which meant I could charge things but there were no USB points.
It was a slightly older carriage and my chair was clad in a grey leather.
The newer carriages, which I experienced on my return leg, are clad in a soft fabric instead. They also have USB sockets.
After settling in for the one hour and ten minute journey, a friendly attendant came around and gave me a menu.
Certain journeys from Kings Cross feature a special Chef’s Signature Menu.
I was very impressed with the selection on offer, with the dishes sounding restaurant-worthy.
Venison sausage and mashed potato, French puff pastries stuffed with splash and Thai green vegetable curry were among the treats on offer.
The pear and almond tart on the dessert list was highlighted as one to try, with it being made by the award-winning family business Beckleberry’s.
Not wanting to spoil my dinner that night, I opted for some snacks instead.
I also plumped for a Greenall’s gin and Franklin & Sons tonic water, which came served in a glass tumbler on a paper coaster.
As a piping hot bowl of nachos and chilli sailed by, I did get a spot on food envy but I nibbled on a cheese and chive crisp instead.
The atmosphere in first class was calm and peaceful and much more conducive to getting some work done on the laptop compared to the usual bustling chaos of the standard class carriage.
On the subject of working, the wifi was a little clunky, with a registration form to fill in to log in.
After attempting to connect a few times, I made-do with wavering phone reception instead.
The Friday night train from London to Newcastle is always busy, so getting a seat is a must.
Many people without chair reservations have to resort to standing in corridors.
The luggage racks are also packed full as a result, with bags toppled on top of one another.
But in my first class carriage there was no elbowing, toilet queues or luggage Jenga to entertain.
The journey as a result went very quickly, and before I knew it, we were pulling into Grantham.
The first class carriage stopped right where the steps were to cross the bridge at the platform for exiting.
Following my first class experience, I was already looking forward to my return journey, hoping those piping hot nachos would still be on the menu… Unfortunately hot meals and alcoholic drinks are only available on certain services, so be sure to check before you travel!
To learn more about LNER and to book a journey visit www.lner.co.uk