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If you’re travelling by train between London and Pairs – or London and Brussels, for that matter – there are three Eurostar classes to choose from.
We’re already reviewed the top Business Premier class, so what’s different in the mid-range Standard Premier class and the cheapest Standard class – and which provides the best value for your business travel dollar?
First up, the fares. For a weekday trip, one way from London to Paris, you’re looking at a flat £260 Business Premier. All Business Premier tickets can be changed or refunded without penalty.
Standard fares are £112 off-peak and £140 during morning and evening peaks, for a non-flexible ticket; and £140-163 if you opt for the ‘semi-flexible’ fare which lets you change your travel plans or get a refund for £22.
Standard Premier sits at £157 off-peak and £188 during peak times for a non-flexible ticket; and £192-200 peak if you want the security of a semi-flex ticket.
So that’s the first factor to consider: provided you’re able to set your schedule with little chance of it changing, Standard or Standard Premier deliver an easy 30-50% saving over Business Premier.
Lounge access & meals
To recap, Business Premier is the only travel class which includes access to the Eurostar lounge and a full meal.
We reckon most travellers could forego both of those.
Unlike an airport, you wont have long to spend hanging around St Pancras’ Eurostar terminal.
Standard Premier and Standard travellers can check in 30 minutes before departure (it’s just 10 minutes for Business Premier), but the train begins boarding 20 minutes before it leaves, and there’s free wifi throughout Eurostar’s St Pancras Station in London to help pass the short amount of time before the train begins to boarding.
As for meals: travellers in Standard Premier get a light snack – breakfast on my trip consisted a few bakery items, fruit juice plus coffee – compared to the fuller fare of Business Premier.
There’s a dining kiosk on the train serving food and drink...
.. but you could do a lot worse by picking up a sandwich or roll bite at St Pancras Station before your journey begins. Just buy it before you check in – the public area of the station is packed with cafes and choice, while only a solitary Nero stands inside the station’s Eurostar zone.
This one might surprise you: Business Premier and Standard Premier use exactly the same seats, just in different carriages.
That means wide, deep seats with ample legroom and a tray table large enough to cope with a 15 inch laptop, exactly as detailed in our review of Business Premier.
And Eurostar Standard class isn’t much of a step down, to be honest.
The seats are well-padded and comfortable, despite being 8cm narrower than the 51cm of Business Premier and Standard Premier.
They also have around 10cm less legroom, at 84.5cm vs 94.5cm – but 84.5cm is still close to what most airlines offer in economy, and that's sufficient for short-haul trips of just a few hours.
You can of course score more legroom and workspace at a 'Club 4' group of seats.
The Standard carriages are more crowded, not only due to a 2-2 seating configuration (Business Premier and Standard Premier have a 1-2 layout) but simply because there are more people travelling on the cheaper tickets.
That’s also more likely to include families, backpackers and other holiday-makers – so if you want to spend the two-and-a-bit hours between London and Paris getting some work done, Standard Premier would be the better choice.
Speaking of work, only two Standard carriages have AC power for your laptop or other device – those are cars 5 and 14, so if you need some juice for your journey them specify a seat in these cars when booking.
The Australian Business Traveller recommendation?
For casual business trips, Standard Premier seems the best value for money. You get the best seat, quieter carriages and guaranteed laptop power with a light snack en route – starting from £157 on a non-flexible ticket, or £192 should you choose a semi-flexible fare. That sits very well against Business Premier’s £260.