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Eurostar Standard vs Premier: What’s Better?

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Planning a whistlestop tour of Northwest Europe and want to cover ground quickly? Have you got a business trip from London to Paris, Paris to Brussels, or Brussels to Amsterdam? Do you hate airports and flying? Afraid of driving in a foreign country?

Then it would be best if you considered booking a ticket to ride the rails under the English Channel or scorch across France, Belgium, and the Netherlands – I’m talking about the Eurostar.

Like most airlines and long-distance rail carriers, Eurostar has different classes to select to suit your budget and comfort. As an experienced Eurostar traveler (predominately from London to Paris and back again), I have broken down the three classes Eurostar offers.

Still, what Eurostar ticket should you purchase or what the difference between the Eurostar standard and the premier is? Read on, as we ask: Eurostar Standard vs Premier: What’s better?

See related: Best Travel Apps for Europe

Why Travel Eurostar instead of Flying?

Eurostar Logo

Speed, safety, convenience, comfort, and cost. This international marvel of rail travel connects multiple nations in Northwest Europe with a cheap and lickety-split mode of transport that sees millions of travelers annually.

Eurostar is fast, not by the standards of an airliner, which is generally cruising between 250-500mph, but as far as trains are concerned, it’s pretty darn speedy and has no stops between the major hubs.

Speed of Eurostart vs Flying

St. Pancras International bustling with travelers and iconic Victorian architecture
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

A good rule of thumb is that in terms of actual travel time, a trip on a Eurostar train will take twice the amount of time it would take to fly the same trip.

For example, a flight from London Heathrow to Paris Gare du Nord will take about 1hr 15mins, while a Eurostar trip from central London to central Paris will take just under 2hrs 30mins

“That doesn’t seem faster” I hear you grumble. Still, unlike flying, you don’t have to show up at the airport at least an hour early to check in or have anywhere near the same security checks or restrictions to endure.

When your journey ends, you’re not at an airport near-ish your destination. You’re in the heart of where you need to be, which is infinitely more convenient.

Baggage Allowance

You also have a better baggage allowance than most airlines, as no matter the class you pick, you’ll be allowed to bring (at least) two items of luggage weighing up to 20kgs (44lbs) and one carry-on bag for no extra cost.

Air travel is one of the safest modes of transportation, but Eurostar trains are also extremely safe. There has only ever been one major accident involving a Eurostar train, and zero fatalities on one. Plus, you don’t have to worry about turbulence, airsickness, getting up and walking around the cabin, or fastening your seatbelt.

Comfortability

Eurostar trains are also pretty comfortable. Standard seating on Eurostar trains is far more comfortable than the economy equivalent on an airliner – and most economy-plus seating arrangements.

The Standard carriages are much more spacious than aircraft cabins. The seats are bigger, comfier, and have more legroom. Most seats come with electrical outlets and USB ports, and there are no worries about moving around the carriage.

Plus, some carriages offer family table seating arrangements, and the toilets are far less cramped than those on aircraft!

That’s just the Standard carriages – for more carriage and baggage space, wider, comfier seats, more legroom, and fewer fellow passengers to contend with, the Eurostar Standard Premier seating plan (and Business Premier seating plan) follows a 2×1 (single file) seating pattern, rather than a 2×2 (double file) pattern.

See related: Best Party Cities in Europe

Cost of Eurostar vs Flying

Eurotunnel entrance

Cost-wise, Eurostar generally beats airlines by a sizable margin. Like airfares, Eurostar’s ticket rates fluctuate around the year, and there are frequent offers through Eurostar, Eurail, and other third-party companies to slash the cost to almost pennies.

Let’s look at the standard rate from London -> Paris/Paris -> London (the most popular route). Depending on the season, costs will generally be between $60-$280 for a standard adult single and $75-$490 for a standard adult return ticket.

PRO TIP: Eurostar tickets go on sale about 150 days before departure and the cheaper Standard tickets get snapped up real quick! Also, the earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket will be!

The average cost for airfare is honestly pretty close, but when you consider that no airline will give you the same baggage allowance (and many will charge for any non-carry-on luggage), Eurostar is the better bet.

It’s also worth mentioning the additional costs you will inevitably incur from flying, such as taxis, to and from airports, choosing your seat on the flight, and so on.

As mentioned earlier, there’s huge scope for getting a deal on a Eurostar ticket if you do a little shopping around. I have paid as little as $25 for a standard return ticket from London to Paris. Eurostar offers discounted rates for kids under 12 and kids under 4 to ride for free!

Environmental Considerations

Cheriton Sign

Then there’s the environmental cost. It’s an uncomfortable fact that planes are pollution machines that spew millions of tons of harmful CO2 into our atmosphere each year.

A Eurostar train produces 90% less CO2 than the average airliner. Anything else? A Eurostar ticket can give you free or discounted access to hundreds of museums and galleries in the UK, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

The last thing worth mentioning is that Europe is pretty small (relatively speaking), making rail quite practical, and Europe is beautiful in almost every corner.

Do you want to miss those postcard views because you’re flying tens of thousands of feet above it, or concentrating behind the wheel in a new country? Trust me, the best way to travel across Europe is by rail.

See Related: Ways to Book the Cheapest First Class Flights

The Difference between Eurostar Standard and Premier…and Business Premier.

Eurostar train at Gare du Nord station in Paris, featuring blue and yellow livery with the Eurostar logo.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The classes on Eurostar trains come in three different flavors. Technically, Eurostar has two different “standard” fares and two different “premier” fares, but only one “standard premier” fare! Confused yet? Let’s solve that!

Standard

The standard fare is the cheapest, most prolific, and most popular fare Eurostar offers. With your standard ticket comes:

  • A baggage allowance of two checked pieces of luggage (weighing no more than 44lbs each) and one carry-on bag
  • Unlimited ticket exchanges up to 7 days before departure (for an additional fee of approx $65)
  • Access to baby changing facilities and the onboard Café Métropole
  • Different seating options depending on the carriage

Standard Premier

Standard Premier class costs approximately double that of a Standard class ticket at the low end and about a quarter more at the high end. With that ticket comes:

  • More spacious seating
  • Nicer carriages (both premier classes share these smart carriages)
  • A baggage allowance of two checked pieces of luggage (weighing no more than 44lbs each) and one carry-on bag
  • Unlimited ticket exchanges up to 7 days before departure (for an additional fee of approx $75)
  • Access to baby-changing facilities
  • A complimentary light meal served at your seat (the Eurostar Standard Premier menu can be found here once you enter your travel details)

See Related: Business Class vs First Class

Business Premier

The priciest one of the three, Business Premier, is also the most flexible and accommodating. With a Business Premier ticket comes:

  • Access to exclusive lounges in all Eurostar stations and the Business Premier Ticket gate (which allows you to check in with as little as 10 minutes to spare before departure)
  • A boarding guarantee (provided you don’t get too carried away in the lounge!)
  • More spacious seating
  • Nicer carriages (both premier classes share these smart carriages)
  • A baggage allowance of three checked pieces of luggage (weighing no more than 44lbs each) and one carry-on bag
  • No additional fees for ticket exchanges or cancellations, and full refunds are available up to 60 days after your original departure date
  • Access to baby-changing facilities
  • A complimentary 3-course meal of your choice served at your seat with champagne (legendary Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc OBE designs the Eurostar Business Premier menu)
  • Complimentary taxi booking services at your destination

See related: Brussels vs Amsterdam: What’s the Difference?

St Pancras Station Eurostar London

Eurostar Standard vs Premier(s): Pros & Cons

Having traveled in all three classes at least once, I have a few things to say about each. Let’s take a look at some of their pros and cons.

Standard Class

Pros:

  • Cheapest, with fares potentially as low (or lower) than $25
  • Different seating options available
  • Sufficient legroom
  • Good baggage allowance

Cons:

  • Smaller, less comfortable seats
  • The smallest amount of legroom
  • Carriages are almost always full and louder
  • Possibility of no outlets or USB ports in your seat
  • Family table seating is limited and highly sought-after
  • No complimentary food
  • Standard tickets sell out fast
  • Queues for checking in can be long
  • Changing or canceling tickets comes with a fee

Standard Premier Class

Pros:

  • Wide, comfortable seats
  • Good legroom
  • Complimentary light meal served at your seat
  • Good baggage allowance
  • More family tables and 1-on-1 facing table seating available
  • More spacious and quieter carriages
  • Outlets and USB ports in every seat

Cons:

  • Queues for checking in can be long
  • Changing or canceling tickets comes with a fee
  • Complimentary meals can vary in quality
  • The cost of a Standard Premier ticket can be up to double the cost of a Standard ticket (depending on the season, how early you book, and demand)

Business Premier Class

Pros:

  • Wide, comfortable seats
  • Good legroom
  • The  complimentary 3-course meal of your choice (with champagne) is exquisite
  • Best baggage allowance
  • More family tables and 1-on-1 facing table seating available
  • More spacious and quieter carriages
  • Outlets and USB ports in every seat
  • Check-in is separate from Standard and Standard Premier and much speedier
  • Late check-in is available
  • Boarding guarantee if you have checked in
  • Access to Business Premier lounges with refreshments, light bites, magazines, and free WiFi
  • No cancellation or exchange fees
  • Full refunds are available up to 60 days after the original departure date
  • Complimentary taxi booking service at your terminating station

Cons:

  • The most expensive class; you’ll be hard-pressed to find a one-way ticket for less than $300
  • Business Premier shares carriages with Standard Premier

See related: How Much is a Trip to Amsterdam?

What is Better Eurostar Standard or Premier(s)?

Eurostar Waterloo Station

Eurostar is a fantastic way to get around the major population hubs and capitals of 4 northwest European nations. It is perfect for those traveling for business or a speedy tour of the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

From my experience, I would prefer to take the Eurostar versus flying to and from these locations any day of the week, based on its comparatively low cost, comfort level, amenities, and generous baggage allowance. Any time you lose during the journey itself is more than made up by the time you save from avoiding all the other time drains that come with international air travel.

Plus, traveling around Europe by rail is one of the best ways to move quickly and witness the urban and rural beauty of this corner of the world.

See Related: Travel Tips for When a Train Strike Happens

Eurostar Standard Premier Vs. Business Premier Vs. Standard

Eurostar Train
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When breaking down Eurostar Standard Premier Vs. Business Premier Vs Standard: I don’t have anything bad to say about them, considering what you’re getting for the money. I recommend all of them, but here are my final thoughts:

I like Standard, and have used it the most because it is an extremely cheap way to get from one country’s capital to another.

Putting up with less legroom and fuller, noisier carriages isn’t perfect. Still, when you consider most journeys to be under 3 hours, it’s a pretty small sacrifice – even smaller when you remember that with the Standard Class, you’ll still get more space and legroom than you would on an airplane.

The only real rub is the lack of complimentary food, but again, short journies mean you likely won’t need to feed, cheap tickets mean you’ve got cash to buy food (which you can at EVERY station), and the food available from the Café Métropole carriages on each train is inexpensive and top-notch.

Business Premier is probably my least favorite on the other side of the spectrum, but that’s just me. Sure, it’s the most convenient and accommodating, and those Raymond Blanc meals are about the best thing you’ll ever eat on a train or plane. Still, the cost can be steep, especially if you expect an exclusive Business-class carriage.

If you’re just looking for more legroom, Standard Premier is the better option, as you’ll be in the same carriage you would be if you paid for Business Premier.

Fortunately, the fares stay at a fairly consistent price all year, but for the price you’re paying for the distance you’re traveling, you might as well buy a plane ticket.

The best things about the Business Premier Class are what you get before and after your journey. Chilling in the lounge beforehand (and after) and checking in leisurely without waiting in line is pretty special.

Likewise, the taxi service is extremely helpful. If you have the scratch, can’t abide crowds, or must get from A to B as seamlessly as possible, this is the best one for you.

All in all, Standard Premier is the most well-rounded option of the three. As someone suffering from what my spouse calls a “tall man’s plight,” I find the additional cost worth the bigger seat and extra legroom, especially when you remember that you’re in the same carriage as those who paid for Business Premier!

Not having a 3-course meal isn’t the worst thing in the world, as the light complimentary meal is reliably good quality, well-prepared food on real flatware with real cutlery.

I’ve only had one bad meal with Standard Premier and was able to exchange it immediately, and it was STILL better than most of the airplane food I’ve ever had!

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