I spent just over five hours on the Avanti West Coast train from Glasgow Central Station to London Euston earlier this month before attending the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the British capital. A one-way ticket costs $257, or about £209, while a regular ticket costs around $40, or over £32.80, depending on the day and time. Insider paid for the trip according to our reporting criteria.
This was my first time traveling in First Class and was able to experience a range of exclusive benefits including access to the First Class lounge at Avanti West Coast in Glasgow Central prior to departure.
I arrived at the terminal about an hour and 30 minutes before my train was due to leave, which gave me plenty of time to explore. There were many things that surprised me about this experience, from the lack of luxury to the decor and snacks.
I wasn’t aware that some train stations had major lounges until I read an Insider review of Amtrak’s Acela by Joey Hadden, my colleague in the US, who visited the Metropolitan Lounge at Penn Station in New York City. Hadden’s review prompted me to check out the Avanti West Coast website, which informed me that Glasgow Central has a first class lounge.
The first class lounge was not mentioned in my ticket or in the confirmation email. This could easily lead to the loss of passengers, as I learned from someone on the same train as me who said he did not visit the terminal because he did not know it was there.
The entrance to the Avanti West Coast First Class lobby is opposite the train station information desk. The door was locked when I arrived and the counter knocked me out without asking for my ticket.
As soon as I entered, I noticed that many customers who entered after me were also not required to show their tickets. I spoke to someone who said a staff member asked her which train she would be traveling on but was not asked if she was a first class customer or required to show her ticket.
An Avanti West Coast representative declined to comment on the recordings when contacted by Insider about access to the First Class lounge.
At the back of the lounge there was a kitchen area with signs instructing customers to help themselves with food and drink. The snacks served were fruit, oatmeal, granola bars and cake, and the drinks available were bottled water, soft drinks, tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
There were two refrigerators in the kitchen area. Both were full of soft drinks but I noticed one was broken because the door wouldn’t close completely.
Likewise, there were two coffee makers, and while one was working properly, the other was marked “out of order”. I don’t understand why the broken fracture hasn’t been removed yet. In my opinion, it was unnecessarily taking up space and taking away from the luxury and impeccable beauty I would have envisioned in a luxury lounge.
The hall was almost like a movie set as the walls didn’t reach the ceiling. This meant that the lounge was actually quite noisy as I could hear the hum of customers and staff at the information desk outside.
I had expected the lounge to offer a quiet bubble away from the bustle of the train station and was very disappointed to find the opposite was the case.
I settled on a water bottle, granola bar, muffin, banana, and hot chocolate (not pictured). The snacks tasted good and I liked that they came in their original packaging so you could take them on the train.
However, I was expecting a larger selection of snacks due to the higher price of the first class ticket.
Overall, I was a little overwhelmed by my first experience in the First Class lounge. Given the $257 ticket price, I assumed the lounge would be more immaculate and peaceful than it actually was.
However, I enjoyed the experience and wouldn’t mind trying other top class lounges at other terminals in the future.