Eurostar: Standard Premier vs Business Premier – what’s the difference?
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Eurostar offers three classes of travel on its services from London to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and beyond, all the way from Standard to Business Premier.
In this article I want to look at the difference between Eurostar’s premium cabins, Standard Premier and Business Premier, both of which I recently reviewed on a trip to Amsterdam.
My Eurostar Standard Premier review is here and my Eurostar Business Premier review is here.
How much more expensive is Business Premier?
Let’s start with some representative pricing for the Eurostar service between London and Paris for a weekday trip in June. Here are the lowest fares in each cabin, one way:
- Standard from £39
- Standard Premier from £99.50
- Business Premier from £245
Standard and Standard Premier fares tend to fluctuate significantly, with prices varying between £38 and £89 for Standard and £99 and a whopping £219 for Standard Premier, depending on which train service you select.
In contrast, Business Premier pricing tends to remain static – in this case, at £245. This reflects the flexible nature of Business Premier tickets, which are aimed at the business traveller market where additional flexibility is often required.
Nevertheless, these prices still represent fairly substantial pricing differences across the cabins. A Business Premier ticket will generally cost twice as much as a Standard Premier ticket and at least four times as much as a Standard fare.
At the station
One of the biggest perks of Business Premier tickets is the fast-track security and immigration. Standard Premier travellers must use the same, often packed, queues reserved for Standard passengers.
You can also use the priority lanes if you are a Club Eurostar Carte Blanche member. To achieve Carte Blanche status you need to spend £2,400 on Eurostar tickets or make 32 return journeys in a membership year.
You could get Carte Blanche status within 5-6 return Business Premier journeys – and then potentially downgrade to Standard Premier for your remaining trips and enjoy the benefits of Carte Blanche for the rest of your membership year.
Another perk reserved exclusively for Business Premier and Carte Blanche members is use of the departure lounges at London St Pancras, Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi.
The lounges are genuinely good, although you won’t find much to eat. On the positive side they do feature an impressive cocktail bar and a good selection of magazines and newspapers.
Remember that you can also get access to Eurostar lounges by carrying an American Express Platinum charge card and showing it at the door. No guests are allowed, although you do get a 2nd free Platinum card which you could give to your usual travel companion.
You may be surprised to find that the seats for Standard Premier and Business Premier are identical, albeit at completely opposite ends of the train. This is what they look like:
As you can see, there are a range of seating options in a 2-1 configuration, with a number of single rows as well as groups of two or four with fixed tables.
Both classes feature free wifi and mobile and laptop charging via the USB and mains plug sockets, so there really aren’t any differences between the two classes.
Food and drink
One of the key onboard differentiators is the food and drinks service. Both classes get a free meal service, but in Standard Premier this is what Eurostar calls a ‘light meal’ served on a single tray, accompanied by red or white wine, beer or soft drinks:
This is upgraded for Business Premier, with a three-course meal designed by Raymond Blanc and accompanied by wines, champagne or spirits:
Here is the summer 2022 menu for Business Premier which was announced last week. You will have a choice of 2-4 mains per service:
- Roasted asparagus custard with pea shoots and chilli
- Bulgur, kalamata olives, tomato and rocket salad with ciabatta and croutons
- Bulgur with fresh herbs, chickpeas and roasted red pepper, roasted almond paste, red pepper, pumpkin seeds
- Sustainable cod loin, lemon verbena hollandaise, crushed potato, steamed broccoli
- Beef tagine, couscous with courgettes, peppers, apricots and sultans
- Falafel, aubergine puree, lentils, tomato and vegetable chilli with Swiss chard
- Salmon flakes, lemon coriander butter, basmati and wild rice, cooked egg, carrot, courgette, and shrimp paste
- Chicken fillet, roti, pepper coulis with smoked paprika, rosemary and spinach organic spelt poelee
- Quinoa salad, mange tout, tomato confit, roasted red pepper hummus, red and yellow peppers, chickpeas, coriander, parmesan shavings
- Goat cheese from Yonne region with apricots and rosemary
- Creamy chocolate cake with lime caramel and ginger
- Chaource from Champagne-Ardennes, sour cherry chutney
- Pistachio and apricot tartlet
One of the major differences between Standard Premier and Business Premier is the flexibility of the ticket.
Business Premier fares offer you complete flexibility, letting you exchange or get a refund for your ticket before and even after departure. You won’t have to pay any difference in fare and Eurostar will find a seat on a train for you even if Business Premier is full under its boarding guarantee.
From Amsterdam you can also choose to exchange your ticket for an indirect route on a Thalys train, changing at Brussels.
Standard Premier members get slightly less flexibility, with the ability to rearrange your trip up to seven days prior to departure, although you’ll be on the hook for any fare difference. If you want to change your ticket within seven days of departure you’ll have to pay a £40 fee.
Both Standard Premier and Business Premier offer free seat selection so there is no difference here.
So, for up to double the price of Standard Premier, what does Business Premier get you? Fundamentally, it’s:
- Priority security and immigration
- Lounge access in London, Paris and Brussels
- An upgraded three course meal designed by Raymond Blanc
- Complete ticket flexibility
Is this worth the £35 – £150 jump in price you can expect to pay for Business Premier? That will depend on what is important to you. If flexibility is important to you, as it is for many business travellers, then it may be worth paying the premium so you can change your ticket at any time.
(You’ll also earn more Club Eurostar points and reach top tier status faster, as this can be earned by spend or segments.)
Of course, if you’re going on holiday and your plans are unlikely to change – or you have good travel insurance – you may be just as happy in Standard Premier where you get a bit more personal space than in Standard plus a light meal. For most travellers, Standard Premier is the sweet spot.
How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards (April 2023)
Club Eurostar does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Club Eurostar points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.
Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 1,333 Club Eurostar points. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with four free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 2,000 Club Eurostar points. Card benefits include Eurostar lounge access.
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 666 Club Eurostar points. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you will get the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.
American Express Platinum comes with a great Eurostar benefit – Eurostar lounge access!
You can enter any Eurostar lounge, irrespective of your ticket type, simply by showing The Platinum Card at the desk. No guests are allowed but you can get entry for your partner by issuing them with a free supplementary Amex Platinum card on your account.