Is First Class worth it?

Old Sep 3, 15, 6:35 pm
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Is First Class worth it?

I have two potential trips coming up - one is from Paris CDG (Roissy) to Brussels and the other is from Paris Gare du Lyon to Milan (via Basel). Do you think it is worth it to spend an extra 15-20% to travel in First Class? Besides more space, are there any advantages to First Class?

Presume both trips will be on the TGV - do they provide Wi-Fi on the train? If so, is it paid or free?
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Old Sep 3, 15, 10:59 pm
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Originally Posted by phoochka View Post
I have two potential trips coming up - one is from Paris CDG (Roissy) to Brussels and the other is from Paris Gare du Lyon to Milan (via Basel). Do you think it is worth it to spend an extra 15-20% to travel in First Class? Besides more space, are there any advantages to First Class?

Presume both trips will be on the TGV - do they provide Wi-Fi on the train? If so, is it paid or free?
Don't they serve a free meal on the TGV in First Class?
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Old Sep 4, 15, 2:26 am
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The main difference between 2nd and 1st class is the size of the seating - 1st is generally 2+ and 2nd 2+2 - the former has more legroom, too. No food is included, and no wifi is available (these are only currently on the Thalys services which go from Paris-Nord to Brussels).

Catering is available on the Milan TGV, for both classes, but you need to pay for it. It's reportedly not at all bad.

For 15-20%, I'd go for 1st class, personally - the extra space (and quieter difference) makes all the difference - particularly on the longer journey down to Milan.
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Old Sep 4, 15, 4:34 am
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A meal is included in first class on international TGV's to Paris city stations, but not to CDG.

First class to Milan includes a meal also. Other options available from the dining car.

Seats are larger, outlets at each seat, greater recline, lower passenger density and tend to be significantly quieter.
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Old Sep 4, 15, 4:58 am
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There's a decent guide to the Paris-Milan TGV here:

http://www.seat61.com/Paris-to-Milan-by-TGV-train.htm
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Old Sep 4, 15, 5:50 am
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If you go Gare du Nord to Brussels with the Thalys you get a meal with alcohol plus WiFi, though the WiFi rarely works well. But if you go from CDG no meal. I always take first class for the comfort and less noisy children. Also you get a lot more points if you are a frequent traveler.
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Old Sep 4, 15, 6:13 am
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It is impossible to answer "is it worth it" questions. If the question is, "what is the difference" you have great answers here.

"Worth it?" To me, yes. If it means the kids don't get winter boots or the house is foreclosed, the answer is no. Comfort and a bit of peace & quiet as well as maybe a bit of food are worth it to some and not others.
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Old Sep 9, 15, 2:04 pm
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As you'll be travelling on TGV trains (this also applies to Thalys trains which are more or less of identical construction), I might add that both 2nd and 1st class are really confined when it comes to legroom, as compared, for example, to the german ICE or "low-speed" trains in France, Belgium or the Netherlands.

For me (being 6'2" tall), both Thalys first class ("Comfort 1") as well as TGV first class ("La première") seats don't leave much space between my knees and and the seat in front of me, especially when "reclining" the seat (in TGV and THA trains, the bottom part of the seat slides forward, just like the refurbished ICE2 seats, avoiding reclining into someone behind you but severely restricting knee space). Hence, if you are reasonably tall (I'd say anything around 6 feet), paying the difference for first class will definitely be worth it both on THA and TGV, especially if the fare difference is as low as 20% (for the ICE, the regular fare difference is 60%!).

By the way (because it has been mentioned), the food service experienced on Thalys trains may be hit or miss - while the servings are quite substantial (as long as you don't get a "gourmet gourmand" which is only drinks and a small snack), but are usually quite bland in my experience. Expect about the quality of an intra-european business class meal.
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Old Sep 9, 15, 2:48 pm
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Originally Posted by bruce80 View Post
As you'll be travelling on TGV trains (this also applies to Thalys trains which are more or less of identical construction), I might add that both 2nd and 1st class are really confined when it comes to legroom, as compared, for example, to the german ICE or "low-speed" trains in France, Belgium or the Netherlands.

For me (being 6'2" tall), both Thalys first class ("Comfort 1") as well as TGV first class ("La première") seats don't leave much space between my knees and and the seat in front of me, especially when "reclining" the seat (in TGV and THA trains, the bottom part of the seat slides forward, just like the refurbished ICE2 seats, avoiding reclining into someone behind you but severely restricting knee space). Hence, if you are reasonably tall (I'd say anything around 6 feet), paying the difference for first class will definitely be worth it both on THA and TGV, especially if the fare difference is as low as 20% (for the ICE, the regular fare difference is 60%!).

By the way (because it has been mentioned), the food service experienced on Thalys trains may be hit or miss - while the servings are quite substantial (as long as you don't get a "gourmet gourmand" which is only drinks and a small snack), but are usually quite bland in my experience. Expect about the quality of an intra-european business class meal.
If you choose the two face to face seats, or the club 4 then you have lots of legroom in both the TGV and Thalys, assuming there is no one across from you fighting for that space. I'm tall too, so usually if there is a person across from me they generally kindly move their legs aside so I have space.

As for food, I'm somewhat surprised by your post. I'm on the Thalys so often I have Platinum status but I've never seen a substantial meal. Nor have I had anything as good as a business class meal that I might find on KL or BA, etc.
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Old Sep 9, 15, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
As for food, I'm somewhat surprised by your post. I'm on the Thalys so often I have Platinum status but I've never seen a substantial meal. Nor have I had anything as good as a business class meal that I might find on KL or BA, etc.
Well, it's been a while since I've travelled a Thalys route qualifying for a meal (but I'll have one again in one and a half weeks, albeit only "gourmet gourmand" on a late-afternoon Brussels-Amsterdam train), but I found the meals (served between Cologne and Brussels during noon time) surprisingly large, although the quality itself (especially the taste) wasn't too good, but acceptable.

Well, not sure about KL (never travelled in C with them), but THA definitely does better than LH on intra-european flights and is only a notch behind LX. However, the best meals I've received on intra-european C flights were definitely on BA, so they don't count
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Old Sep 10, 15, 11:11 am
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Glad I found this thread as I have the same questions as I'm in the early stages of planning an alternate means of traveling from Barcelona to London over taking BA's CE.

Going via Train Premier is about 50% more in terms of costs but am trying to find leverage to going to London via train rather than flying (will be ending a 2 week cruise in BCN and just going to London to connect to my flight back to SFO).

Will be traveling with partner and we're both indifferent about being in London since we've "been there, done that". Just curious since we would be traveling on three trains (France-Spain High Speed, TGV and Eurostar) and the trip takes 10 hrs, should it be expected that we'd have three meals during the journey? (Wait, just noticed that Premier isn't offered on all three trains; it's only offered on Eurostar. But there is pricing info available as if it's offered. Strange!!. Guess we'd just take "1st/1st/Standard Premier" instead.)

Any other "tips/suggestion" anyone has to offer as I use it in a persuasive manner to get partner to be a bit more enthusiastic about it other than the... "if you want to, then I will do it..." comment!! LOL

Last edited by Zacnlinc; Sep 10, 15 at 11:24 am
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Old Sep 10, 15, 12:06 pm
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Originally Posted by Zacnlinc View Post
Any other "tips/suggestion" anyone has to offer as I use it in a persuasive manner to get partner to be a bit more enthusiastic about it other than the... "if you want to, then I will do it..." comment!! LOL
My suggestion is to insert a night at Lyon. First of all that's far too long to spend on any train other than a luxury "hotel" train. Secondly Lyon is a great city to visit with world-class restaurants. See some sights, eat and drink well, sleep in a nice hotel in the center and take the Eurostar the next morning. The Sofitel is pretty good, or if you want to stay right next to the train station there's the Novotel which is an OK business class hotel.
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Old Sep 10, 15, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
My suggestion is to insert a night at Lyon. First of all that's far too long to spend on any train other than a luxury "hotel" train. Secondly Lyon is a great city to visit with world-class restaurants. See some sights, eat and drink well, sleep in a nice hotel in the center and take the Eurostar the next morning. The Sofitel is pretty good, or if you want to stay right next to the train station there's the Novotel which is an OK business class hotel.

Thanks!! Maybe on a dedicated trip to just France we'd do that. We have to get to London the day after our planned departure in BCN to meet our flight back to SFO. In fact, we just might have to skip the train all together and just fly to London instead. It's there we have a lux hotel awaiting us for the night.

Thanks again... Was just trying to make the most of the time between getting to London before flying out... We'll find something to do to kill the time in London. Will be in BCN for 4 days before then. It'll all be good..
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