Avanti First class experience.

Vespa

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I have to say my entire Avanti first class experience compared to Virgin is extremely poor.

They jacked up the price massively even with a railcard, you can't use the Euston lounge on arrival only on departure, even then 1 hours prior departure, I had to argue robustly about first class value as I paid for it, next they are very stingy with their food offerings in the lounge and breakfast on the train wasn't very substantial either, I asked for another coffee only to be told the coffee machine is "broken", I can hear it working and asked a different staff who got me one, the service is fairly brusque, not much in the way of friendliness, on the train from Liverpool they are friendly and enthusiastic as is liverpool lounge staff, I've yet to experience the service going back today before giving my final verdict.

I can say it's not worth the money.
 
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Bletchleyite

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It's difficult, to be honest, to find a way in which Avanti is not a rubbish TOC in general, so that that also applies to 1st is no great surprise. Though regarding the lounge the reason will be hung over from COVID and a need to reduce the numbers using it.

It really frustrates me, as there was so much opportunity for it to ride along on marketing about Italian-ness etc. My slogan "Travel with a bit of Italian flair"* is still on offer to them free! :)

* To be combined with Illy coffee, hand-stitched Italian leather seats, pasta**/pizza/steak themed menus, quality Italian wine and Birra Morretti etc, of course. Not just to talk about it.
** OK, they did that one.
 

gordonthemoron

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Avanti have also given over most of first class to Standard Premium, which has no food/drink. Plus, as added entertainment, my Standard Premium seat on Saturday was occupied as the reservations were not working and the seat had been sold as an uograde
 

Vespa

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Again I can't fault the staff on the train, Gnocchi good, got prosecco to drink, pudding is than as the coffee, friendly and enthusiastic, the attitude of the staff on the train and at the lounge is like night and day...

Lounge staff grudging, minimum wage attitude, as if you're going back to the bad old days of BR.

Its not their fault that the food offerings is what it is...

Would I travel first class again ? Probably not, I said the same on their survey monkey link.
 

Vespa

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This leads to another question.

Do you think Avanti first class is worth the money ?
 

Butts

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Again I can't fault the staff on the train, Gnocchi good, got prosecco to drink, pudding is than as the coffee, friendly and enthusiastic, the attitude of the staff on the train and at the lounge is like night and day...

Lounge staff grudging, minimum wage attitude, as if you're going back to the bad old days of BR.

Its not their fault that the food offerings is what it is...

Would I travel first class again ? Probably not, I said the same on their survey monkey link.

How many drinks runs did they do and was it an "in and out" service ?
 

Techniquest

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To answer whether I think First Class is worth it on Avanti, I could go on for a while with a detailed view.

However, I'll simply say that I have yet to do a significant length run with Avanti, and that my longest journeys with them so far are Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International (maybe twice) and Stockport to Manchester Piccadilly once. The fact that I haven't bothered booking even a Standard Class journey with Avanti speaks volumes.

I like the 390s, they're a much more fun way to do Birmingham to London than LNWR with its 350s, but I'm not fussed about Avanti. I nearly booked with them recently, but when I realised I'd have better journey opportunities for much cheaper on LNWR I immediately stopped my Advance purchase and closed the browser window.

If I can't find the enthusiasm to book anything with Avanti, then no I don't think it's worth paying out for First Class.
 

yorksrob

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It's difficult, to be honest, to find a way in which Avanti is not a rubbish TOC in general, so that that also applies to 1st is no great surprise. Though regarding the lounge the reason will be hung over from COVID and a need to reduce the numbers using it.

It really frustrates me, as there was so much opportunity for it to ride along on marketing about Italian-ness etc. My slogan "Travel with a bit of Italian flair"* is still on offer to them free! :)

* To be combined with Illy coffee, hand-stitched Italian leather seats, pasta**/pizza/steak themed menus, quality Italian wine and Birra Morretti etc, of course. Not just to talk about it.
** OK, they did that one.

Enough of the leather seats already !

I really don't get this obsession.
 

se1lad

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How many drinks runs did they do and was it an "in and out" service ?
They did 4 alcoholic drinks runs in my London - Birmingham trip last Saturday. As first was Coach K only, they took everyone’s drink orders and then served directly from the kitchen (I.e. no drinks trolley)
 

Butts

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They did 4 alcoholic drinks runs in my London - Birmingham trip last Saturday. As first was Coach K only, they took everyone’s drink orders and then served directly from the kitchen (I.e. no drinks trolley)

Hopefully my trip on Sunday 31st October from EUS to BHM will be similarly bountiful - sounds like Weekends are having a better service than Weekdays now, the reverse of what used to be the case and the fares are generally cheaper.
 

CHESHIRECAT

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so booked Wilmslow Stafford on the 2011 tonight only £2.20 more than Standard with railcard
boarded Coach K...male Steward asked ' would you like a drink' no menu offered
asked what they had and reply was what do you normally have ?
anyway had two gins and light tonic without ice as
ice machine broken!
had cheese selection...no chutney as "we were busy on way up"
no offer of water tea or coffee
had a Manchester raspberry gin in can as well
the other staff member was sat last row fast asleep for entire journey!!
for the extra £2.20 worth it...very sloppy service delivery though
 

CHESHIRECAT

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precisely.. I have worked for them when it was Virgin bt didn't let on... just played the game

!
 

CHESHIRECAT

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so I wrote in and they said they were sorry I was 'unpleased' with the journey!!
Best bit was the response to my comment on the staff asleep which I quote below

'I am sorry to hear a member of staff
was asleep on the service, some staff
members come off very long shifts
and are able to have a rest, or if they
have finished their shift, they are
allowed to use the First Class
Carriage, if it has not been fully
reserved/booked.'
 

MKB

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I was in coach K on the 07:47 from Liverpool again today, but only going as far as Nuneaton.

The entire food content of my breakfast was one slice of toast and a small portion of scrambled egg.

My partner wanted the vegan breakfast, but they had no mushrooms or tomatoes, so got half the vegan breakfast.

A lady across the aisle wanted the fresh fruit plate, but they hadn't loaded any of them.

As the drinks trolley made a second pass after Crewe, I asked for a second tea, but got barked at saying it was only for first drinks and seconds would be done later. It was grudgingly given when I said we were getting off at Nuneaton.

As a side note, quite a few people (again) were leaving or connecting from this train in Nuneaton, some of whom I saw board at Liverpool. A great pity they are canning the Nuneaton stop after next week. This is a really useful train for business people in Merseyside to connect to Coventry (30-minute saving), Warwickshire, Leicester (60-minute saving) and the East Midlands.
 
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voyagerdude220

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Thank you for your very interesting post MKB.

I find your experience of the catering crew very perplexing and disappointing, particularly with the big premium charged for First Class compared with Standard Premium.

I've not travelled on Avanti since Covid, but haven't known the catering crew to refuse a top up of tea or coffee when going through serving people who had recently joined the train.

The lack of stock and the refusal of a top up of tea is inexcusable in my opinion, regardless of it being so called "complimentary."
 

Bletchleyite

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The lack of stock and the refusal of a top up of tea is inexcusable in my opinion, regardless of it being so called "complimentary."

I think they should put a standard size (5 cup ish) teapot and/or cafetiere on each table and keep it full. Hot drinks cost next to nothing*, so refusing a genuinely unlimited supply is just being stingy, and stinginess is not an attribute that should be applicable to a genuine premium class.

And "complimentary" should not be a word that features. If one pays more for First over SP, one is paying for the service. It therefore isn't "complimentary", it is an integral part of what is being sold.

* A random Google turned up a bag of 1040 Yorkshire tea bags for £23.99, that is just 2.3 pence per tea bag. In the volumes Avanti purchase it'll be even less.
 

Vespa

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I'm going back to London next year, based on my experience on my last 2 (very overpriced) First Class trips with Avanti, I'm going standard premium for a change and bringing my own food and drinks, I would have gone LNWR railway however I'm forced to trade time for money on this occasion.

I did give them a chance to show that they have improved and can justify the extra paid, sadly they have dropped short and customers service experience is lacking especially at the First Class lounge entry system only "departing customers NOT arriving can use it" again begrudgingly second coffees was given....

I've now binned First Class.
 

jfollows

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It's interesting to hear real experiences; my conclusion so far is that I used to pay extra for First Class and it was worth it, that now it isn't unless the new First Class is consistently good, for what extra I used to pay I'd accept problems like the ones described here, but not for a lot more extra which seems to be required now.

I will switch to Standard Class if I know the train isn't going to be busy, and quite often I travel to London at least during quiet times around mid-day.

For my next day trip to London, the first since Covid, I will almost certainly use a LNWR off-peak travelcard from Crewe which costs £31.65 (I now have a senior railcard) and doesn't require me to commit to my return journey in advance. This may become my new "normal" in place of the old "normal" of Avanti (Virgin) First Class. Sure, it'll be slower and all that, but I'm more interested in my perception of "value for money" and this seems to hit the spot for me.

For my next weekend trip, I'm less sure. I used to return on a Saver Half with Weekend First on a Sunday, but this isn't an option any more.
 

voyagerdude220

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Apologies for the probable repetition- but I feel if Avanti were genuinely offering a "First Class" experience- as well as not being so stingy with the food/drink- I feel they should also offer more menu options, as well as different menus every week- even if it meant having say 4/5/6 menu rotations every week like they used to.

Also the lack of decent quality evening (or even lunch/evening) meals is a bit of an omission in my opinion.
 

Trackman

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I was in coach K on the 07:47 from Liverpool again today, but only going as far as Nuneaton.

The entire food content of my breakfast was one slice of toast and a small portion of scrambled egg.

My partner wanted the vegan breakfast, but they had no mushrooms or tomatoes, so got half the vegan breakfast.

A lady across the aisle wanted the fresh fruit plate, but they hadn't loaded any of them.

As the drinks trolley made a second pass after Crewe, I asked for a second tea, but got barked at saying it was only for first drinks and seconds would be done later. It was grudgingly given when I said we were getting off at Nuneaton.

As a side note, quite a few people (again) were leaving or connecting from this train in Nuneaton, some of whom I saw board at Liverpool. A great pity they are canning the Nuneaton stop after next week. This is a really useful train for business people in Merseyside to connect to Coventry (30-minute saving), Warwickshire, Leicester (60-minute saving) and the East Midlands.
I'd contact them via the website form and complain, this isn't on.
Oddly enough someone was complaining on Twitter about a lack of cooked breakfast on an early morning service today (not your service) and other people in First were complaining about of lack of food or choice of breakfast.
It's about time they sort themselves out.

* A random Google turned up a bag of 1040 Yorkshire tea bags for £23.99, that is just 2.3 pence per tea bag. In the volumes Avanti purchase it'll be even less.
I can beat that, 1100 PG Tips one cup catering tea bags £13.50 at Sainsbury's- plus they have a mark up.
I'm funny out about my tea in morning especially on the train, when I see a member of staff pass ask 'When is the tea coming around' etc.. as a humorous nudge.
These days on my route the second hot drinks run does not materialize, in the golden era of VT it was 3 hot drinks runs per journey. Maybe it has changed, I don't know because I avoid First like the plague now.

I've now binned First Class.
Same here after my last experience in First once SP came in, it was like a scene from Fawlty Towers.
I'm sure others will follow after paying a premium price for First and receiving some toast with 'some' scrambled egg and a battle to have a second cup of tea.
 

Butts

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I'd contact them via the website form and complain, this isn't on.
Oddly enough someone was complaining on Twitter about a lack of cooked breakfast on an early morning service today (not your service) and other people in First were complaining about of lack of food or choice of breakfast.
It's about time they sort themselves out.


I can beat that, 1100 PG Tips one cup catering tea bags £13.50 at Sainsbury's- plus they have a mark up.
I'm funny out about my tea in morning especially on the train, when I see a member of staff pass ask 'When is the tea coming around' etc.. as a humorous nudge.
These days on my route the second hot drinks run does not materialize, in the golden era of VT it was 3 hot drinks runs per journey. Maybe it has changed, I don't know because I avoid First like the plague now.


Same here after my last experience in First once SP came in, it was like a scene from Fawlty Towers.
I'm sure others will follow after paying a premium price for First and receiving some toast with 'some' scrambled egg and a battle to have a second cup of tea.

What was their response to these complaints ?
 

Trackman

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What was their response to these complaints ?
I'm not making this up...
Apologies again for your experience today.
Looking again, the tweeter said his breakfast was 'dried up' whatever that means - and they were starving so had to buy food at Euston.
There was a lack of breakfast offerings in First as the tweeter stated, so it's not just a quality matter.
 

Vespa

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I'm not making this up...

Looking again, the tweeter said his breakfast was 'dried up' whatever that means - and they were starving so had to buy food at Euston.
There was a lack of breakfast offerings in First as the tweeter stated, so it's not just a quality matter.
Sounds to me they either don't care or deliberately running down the First Class so they can close it down.
 

voyagerdude220

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I asked Avanti if they're going to offer any seasonal Christmas food/drink on the First Class menu soon and they said there weren't any plans to do so.
 

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