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Review: Is Stansted Express First Class worth it?

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This is our review of Stansted Express First Class.

I have dropped this in as an extra fourth article today because the review will soon be irrelevant.  Stansted Express will be getting a fleet of brand new trains without First Class.

On the face of it, First Class on Stansted Express seems relatively pointless.  However, for tickets booked at short notice, you can justify the price.

The cost for a one-way ticket booked online without any Advanced Booking discount is:

Standard Class Single: £19.60

Business Plus Single:  £26.50

First Class Single:  £27.50

The benefits of Business Plus and First Class are:

2 x 1 seating instead of 2 x 2 seating

access to the First Class lounge at Liverpool Street (it is not clear if Business Plus tickets get access to the lounge – it is not actually listed as a benefit for either Business Plus or First Class)

Fast Track Security at Stansted (First Class only)

You can learn more about First Class on Stansted Express on their website here.

Assuming that you are  flying somewhere and not just collecting someone, First Class is the way to go due to the Fast Track Security access.

The way I saw it was that I was paying £7.90 extra for a cup of coffee (in the lounge at Liverpool Street), Fast Track security and the emptier carriage with the bigger seats.  That seemed OK, especially as this is a write-offable expense for me.

Despite having worked in the City since 1994, I had never been in the First Class lounge at Liverpool Street.  I wasn’t missing much:

Review Stansted Express First Class

and

Review Stansted Express First Class

and

Review Stansted Express First Class

They have tried, I suppose, but the coffee machine is fiddly to use with sachets I had never seen before (a bit like an Ella’s Kitchen baby food pouch!).  There are no biscuits or snacks of any sort.  The seating is OK and the desk has power sockets if you need them.

Oddly, the lounge is not signposted.  Given that it is not on the main concourse, this is an oversight.  You need to walk down the passageway next to Platform 10 for a few metres.

Boarding at Liverpool Street, I had the whole First Class carriage to myself:

Review Stansted Express First Class

As you can see, seating is a generous 1 x 2.  Each seat has a table with electrical sockets.  The carriage also has a dedicated luggage rack as you can see above.

Review Stansted Express First Class

Keep reading Head for Points this week to learn why a grown man was travelling with a Scooby-Doo! rucksack …….

Review Stansted Express First Class

I was content.  However, at Tottenham Hale about 10 people entered.  I have my doubts, shall we say, that they were First Class ticket holders.  With no conductors on the route, it appears to be a free for all.  I would say like to say that it didn’t disturb my own journey – I had a block of four seats to myself all the way – but it did because one person decided to watch a video on their phone without headphones.  Admittedly it wasn’t as annoying as the time when a fellow passenger in Qatar Airways First Class did the same thing ….

The other part of the First Class package is Fast Track Security at Stansted.

This worked fine, even though (because I stayed at the airport overnight) I was flying on a different day to the date on my train ticket.

Fast Track Security usually costs £7.  If you would pay for this, it is a no-brainer to buy First Class instead of Standard Class because you are basically getting lounge access and the bigger seats for 90p!

Fast Track Security was a breeze.  At 7.30am, which is pretty close to peak and with long queues at the standard lines, I walked down the l-o-n-g Fast Track lane to find only two people in front of me.

I’m not sure if you should pay £7 for Fast Track Security on its own, but paying £7.90 extra for the full Stansted Express First Class package suddenly looked like a great deal.

Is First Class on Stansted Express worth it?

I don’t recommend Business Class over Standard Class given that an extra £1 gets you First Class.

I DO think it is worth considering First Class, because £7.90 for Fast Track Security, the improved on-train seating and a quick coffee in the Liverpool Street lounge is acceptable in my book.

You can book tickets on the Stansted Express website here.

You can learn more about First Class tickets (whilst they are still available, which is until the new trains are operating) here.

Comments (17)

  • Tom C says:

    As someone that lives 30 minutes from Stansted and regularly uses it for business travel, I would never go without a Fast Track. The queues can be absolutely horrendous, often without any explanation. It means I can live the house 90 minutes before the flight, get through security in a few minutes and still have plenty of time before they announce the gate.

    I truly hate that airport, but the convenience is so high that we’re still using it to travel on EK F to SEZ in March. Can’t wait to see to experience the ground service.

    • Lady London says:

      Rob has also promised us the thrill of a review of the Escape lounge – which for some unknown reason is the only lounge at Stansted.

      • peter king says:

        The reason is simple, both the airport and escape are owned by MAG

        • Lady London says:

          Escape is owned by MAG ? Surely they must have a strategy that includes offering better lounges than Escape as an alternative in some places ?

          Oh..wait… Does MAG mean “Manchester…Airports Group ? As in Manchester Airport that is often described by commenters here as s hell-hole ? This could explain a lot about the hell that is Stansted if it’s owned by the same Group that owns Manchester Airport ? I must check if they own any other airports to make sure I avoid them if possible.

  • Johnny5a says:

    I’m surprised you’ve not seen Flavia pouches before. They’ve been around since 1997 ish if not earlier.

    • Nick_C says:

      We used to have them at work. The coffee is excellent but the waste is horrendous. We scrapped them because of the amount of waste they produced (sachets that could not be recycled).

      (A bit like Nespresso, who claim the pods can be recycled but it’s not easy and only 25% are.)

    • Lady London says:

      Speaking of Nespresso, and since this article has been targeted for totally irrelevant comments, has anyone seen that George Clooney and the gorgeous Amal may be divorcing?

      European gutter press has it. Since Brexit a few days ago, news may not be getting through.

      • Bob Sopel says:

        Probably the tabloids in the UK are a bit wary of George after he got a grovelling apology from the Mail in 2014.

        • Lady London says:

          Ah. That could explain it then. A man with excellent taste in women. Not sure about the coffee though.

  • Bagoly says:

    Agreed.
    Not only did Rob not suggest anything to do with ethnicity, even if one was trying to deduce from percentages there are two problems with the logic:
    1) Tottenham Hale is a junction, with services from anywhere on the Victoria Line etc
    2) While Tottenham may be an important centre for black culture, that doesn’t mean blacks are in a majority there (for what it’s worth, Wikipedia suggests 27% black inhabitants)
    As a parallel, the majority of people who work in foreign exchange in the UK work in London, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of Londoners work in foreign exchange.

  • Kenneth Shabby says:

    I wonder what will happen when the new Stansted Express trains are introduced (they are currently being delivered).

    They are standard class only.

  • Andrew says:

    This is nit-picky, but “2 + 1” ≠ “2 x 1” Or, to put it another way, isn’t that two seats plus one seat, not two single seats.

    Perhaps it is just me, but I expect “2 x 2” to mean two sets of double seats, “2 x 1” to mean two single seats, and “2 + 1” to mean a double and a single. Each with an aisle separating them.

  • Robert says:

    Not sure if I missed it, but what is the journey time from LSS to the airport?

    • Lady London says:

      Trainline.com will tell you. Always allow more time. It’s about 45-50 min in timetable. Up to 4 leave per hour, usually from Platform 7 IIRC. However they are not evenly spread around the hour.

      • memesweeper says:

        …. and they frequently get stuck behind a slow train. It’s nothing like the Heathrow Express.

        I rarely fly from the airport, but I frequently use the Stansted ‘Express’ train, and I’d definitely take the First option without hesitation for the fast track, in particular during the mornings, the queues are horrific. Fast track itself can be a 15 minute ordeal.

        Ticket inspectors are not unknown, but it seems much rarer than previously. They will turf out interlopers. I assume when the no-First trains start rolling out all the First carriages will be declassified anyway.