Three Years of Standard Premium on Avanti West Coast

Three Years of Standard Premium on Avanti West Coast
What is standard premium, how much does it cost, and is it worth it? Photo: Avanti West Coast

In 2021, Avanti West Coast (the train operating company running intercity services along the West Coast Main Line) took a new approach to train tickets, introducing a new tier between standard and first class: standard premium.

Fast-forward back to 2024, that was three years ago, and over 2.5 million journeys have been made in standard premium since. But what exactly are Avanti offering, and is it worth the increased price?

In the standard premium carriage you can expect to find a 2+1 seating arrangement (as opposed to 2+2 in standard class) with tables at every seat. This will be particularly useful for those travelling with laptops and/or work to do, as there are plug sockets for every table.

I also envision this being helpful for families and groups who want to ensure they get a table seat for their journey. If you are boarding at the terminus (and someone in the group is willing to run ahead to the unreserved carriage) it's not too difficult to find a table. But the same cannot be said for when you're boarding the train somewhere en route, and seat reservations are out of action or you simply haven't been reserved a table.

With 2+1 seating you're afforded more leg room, which is something you either know you need or it isn't something you've noticed before. In the latter case, standard premium might be harder to justify. (How much does it cost? Don't worry, I'll get to that.) In short, it is first class seating without the first class extras.

So that means no dedicated at-seat service, no complimentary food and drink, nor access to any of Avanti West Coast's lounges. You are still able to use the on-board shop, but items aren't included in the price of your ticket.

On the left hand side are two sets of two seats facing one another with a large table in between. On the right are single seats facing each other, also with a table. The seats are navy blue with a white head rest.
Standard premium brings 2+1 seating with tables at every seat. Photo: Avanti West Coast.

Speaking of the price of your ticket, upgrading to standard premium is applied as an additional fee upon the standard ticket price. (Source)

  • London — West Midlands (e.g., Birmingham): £17.50 GBP
  • London — North East (e.g., Liverpool, Manchester): £30.00 GBP
  • London — Scotland (e.g., Glasgow, Edinburgh): £35.00 GBP

You can either pay when purchasing the tickets or on the day by speaking to the train manager. Standard premium is only available on Avanti's Pendolino (Class 390s — known otherwise as the tilting trains) services along the West Coast Main Line. Even then, not every single service will have these tickets available, so it is worth taking a look online beforehand.

Whether standard premium is worth the extra cost will come down to how much you value the guaranteed tables and extra leg room. The length of your journey will also be a factor; I imagine it is a more compelling offering for trips from London and into Scotland and vice versa. It might even be a viable alternative to first class, if that's how you normally travel. Just don't feel like you're missing out on anything if you don't upgrade, because you're not.

As for me, I think I will stick to standard class and volunteering to run to coach U to get unreserved table seats for the group. Nonetheless, it is proving to be a popular option for Avanti with year-on-year increases in passengers utilising the additional class. No other train operating companies have moved to replicate the three-tier approach to train tickets thus far.

If you have travelled with Avanti in standard premium before, feel free to let us know about the experience in the comments section (it's below).