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Old Mar 2, 12, 7:13 am   #1
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: RBKC
Programs: AA EXP and Eurostar Carte Blanche
Posts: 2,631
Is Eurostar Carte Blanche worth it?

The situation:

  • Am going to be travelling between London and Paris every other week for nine months, beginning in September.
  • Only 450 points left until Carte Blanche, which I could easily make with two trips before my membership year ends in two months.
  • Already have lounge access via AmEx Platinum.

The questions:

  • Is it worth it to spend about £500 on some unnecessary return tickets through the tunnel in order to reach Carte Blanche?
  • Does Carte Blanche really help with much, beyond lounge access and late check-in?
  • Any point to using BA instead? The miles would help count toward my elite requalification this year.

I should be able to buy most of my tickets a few months ahead. Would be great to know your advice… Thank you in advance.
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Old Mar 2, 12, 5:24 pm   #2
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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You have priority check-in, and only a 10 minute check-in deadline, so basically get the ground services of business premier even when travelling standard/standard premier.

Otherwise, I think you can use your points for Eurostar travel up to two hours before departure.

Frankly, I would never pay that much money to get the Carte Blanche.
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Old Mar 3, 12, 1:56 pm   #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Thanks -- I appreciate the insight!

Does anyone have experience commuting between London and Paris by air (on BA in particular)? I'm guessing it's not very pleasant in comparison to the train…
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Old Mar 3, 12, 2:13 pm   #4
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Gent, Belgium
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Originally Posted by ExpatExp View Post
Thanks -- I appreciate the insight!

Does anyone have experience commuting between London and Paris by air (on BA in particular)? I'm guessing it's not very pleasant in comparison to the train…
Either way, the Eurostar is faster (unless you live right next to LHR and your destination is right next to CDG) if you take check in times and getting to/from the airport. Honestly, unless they offer some really attractive fares, I would just not bother flying and take the Eurostar.
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Old Mar 5, 12, 11:17 am   #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Paris and London
Programs: Mucci Grandee (Upgraded), BA Gold, AZ MilleMiglia
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Unless you live and/or work nearer the airport than the city centre, Eurostar is the better bet.

It's amazingly reliable. I've done about 150 journeys since the end of 2010 and almost all of them have arrived on time, i.e. within a few minutes of the published time. Only two of them have been over an hour late (easy to remember as you get a free one-way ticket as compensation).

I also spent a couple of years flying London-Paris regularly in the early 1990s before the tunnel was built. The journey was less predictable mainly because of the hassle of getting to and from the airport, which meant I had to add in more of a margin, and the plane was late more often than the Eurostar is (Eurostar is much more reliable since it moved to St Pancras, incidentally). I wouldn't recommend it. It's such a short flight that most of the journey (including much of the time on board) is spent not actually flying from A to B.

OK, the Eurostar lounge isn't a patch on T5 GF, and I miss the champagne , although they do offer porridge in the mornings now .

Carte blanche is really worth it for the speedier checkin if you do the route regularly, especially on Monday mornings or Friday evenings, and also for the ability to select seats even if you aren't in business premier (I think).
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Old Mar 5, 12, 1:28 pm   #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: RBKC
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Thanks very much, everyone. And BAAZ, I appreciate the comparison. Over the last few years, I've used Eurostar exclusively for this route, but was just curious about how it measured up against the flights when commuting regularly.

Checking prices as far out as the Eurostar booking engine will permit (notwithstanding the special Olympics availability), it looks like Eurostar is less expensive as well. I suppose that settles it… Less expensive and more convenient. In that case, and seeing that I've just had to book one journey, I probably will make the one extra trip to obtain Carte Blanche.
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Old Apr 4, 12, 6:36 am   #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: RBKC
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Just to follow up…

As luck would have it, I had to make another trip to Paris for a meeting yesterday, and I see that my account has been upgraded to Carte Blanche this morning

I think what I will appreciate the most is the ability to use the Business Premier ticket office and check-in line. For a number of reasons outside of my control (last minute request to attend a meeting, which came while I was out at lunch), I arrived at St. Pancras without a ticket, about 50 minutes before departure of the train I needed to take. It took 26 minutes of waiting in the ticket queue before I could speak to someone, and by the time I had my ticket, it was 19 minutes to departure. After waiting in the security and immigration queues, I boarded the train about five minutes before departure. It was quite stressful as I did not know if I would make the train, and therefore, I did not know if I would be able to attend the meeting. In retrospect, I realise this was the second or third time I have found myself in such a situation (and I emphasise that when I travel on Eurostar for personal reasons, I always arrive well in advance and am never late)!

So, for me, I think that the ability to use the Business Premier ticket desk and check-in queue is almost enough benefit, by itself, to warrant the extra effort for Carte Blanche (at least, for those of us whose business will not pay for Business Premier). It seems silly that one must wait for all of the tourists trying to change unchangeable tickets when all one wants to do is buy a ticket at the last minute price and go. Anyway, I'm very glad that I will not have to wait in the normal ticket queue again!

This makes me wonder: Why do Eurostar not offer ticket machines? I understand that they offer machines to collect previously-booked tickets, but why not enable the kiosk to sell tickets also?

Again, thank you for your advice! Must change my FT profile now…
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Old Apr 4, 12, 7:43 am   #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Originally Posted by ExpatExp View Post
It seems silly that one must wait for all of the tourists trying to change unchangeable tickets when all one wants to do is buy a ticket at the last minute price and go.
If you have an iPhone they have an app where you can buy tickets. It appears that it would work for same day travel and pick up at kiosk. Has anyone tried this?
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Old Apr 10, 12, 7:45 am   #9
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynz View Post
If you have an iPhone they have an app where you can buy tickets. It appears that it would work for same day travel and pick up at kiosk. Has anyone tried this?
Yes, regularly. And you don't need to pick up the ticket at the kiosk, because the boarding card is also stored on your iPhone. You just wave the phone face down over the scanner at the ticket barrier and it opens for you.

And now you have Carte Blanche you can do all your ticket-changing over the phone. The boarding card on the iPhone is automatically and immediately updated. Much quicker than queuing up (even at the Business Premier ticket desk, in most cases).
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Old Apr 13, 12, 5:54 am   #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: RBKC
Programs: AA EXP and Eurostar Carte Blanche
Posts: 2,631
Credentials have arrived, just in time for my next trip in two days' time.



Uploaded with ImageShack.us



Uploaded with ImageShack.us

I received:

  • welcoming letter
  • leather card wallet
  • luggage tag
  • Carte Blanche
  • USB drive in the shape of a card

And, already, I must collect a changed ticket at St. Pancras, so I am looking forward to skipping the slow queue at the normal ticket desk
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Old Apr 14, 12, 4:05 pm   #11
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Paris and London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExpatExp View Post
And, already, I must collect a changed ticket at St. Pancras, so I am looking forward to skipping the slow queue at the normal ticket desk
You'll soon discover that it isn't worth doing that. If you have an iPhone, use the app (see above). If not, print the ticket at home as soon as you book. Then, if you call them to change the time of the train, all you need to do is go to the manual checkin (instead of using the automatic barriers), present your old ticket, and they'll give you the new boarding card.

This works as long as you have printed your ticket before you call to make the change.
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Old Apr 15, 12, 7:32 am   #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAAZ View Post
You'll soon discover that it isn't worth doing that. If you have an iPhone, use the app (see above). If not, print the ticket at home as soon as you book. Then, if you call them to change the time of the train, all you need to do is go to the manual checkin (instead of using the automatic barriers), present your old ticket, and they'll give you the new boarding card.

This works as long as you have printed your ticket before you call to make the change.
Thank you for the tip -- I just did this and it was very quick!
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