When travelling on an overcrowded train, I have a great trick for getting a free upgrade to the First Class carriage. I was reminded of it earlier today when I saw a tweet from a London friend (below).
If you are a UK reader, don’t tell me you haven’t been there: travelling on an overpriced ticket in Standard Class, with squalling children and someone else’s KFC assaulting your senses and nowhere to sit, damn it.
I should point out that to get the free upgrade to First Class, there are conditions that must be fulfilled. Firstly, Standard Class has to be packed to the rafters. Secondly, you have to be able to turn on the charm. At least the first one shouldn’t be too difficult to fulfil …
This is how it works.
Have you ever browsed the National Rail Conditions of Carriage? No, of course you haven’t – why would you? Well, you can find them here, and I recommend that you turn your attention to Section 1G, Part 39…
39. TRAVELLING IN FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATION WITH A STANDARD CLASS TICKET
If you have a standard class ticket (other than a Season Ticket), no standard class accommodation is available, and ticket staff on that train give their permission, then you may travel in first class accommodation (or the equivalent) where this is available without extra charge.
On-train ticket staff will not give you permission to use first class accommodation (or the equivalent) unless they are satisfied that it is not required by anyone with a first class ticket and the standard class accommodation on the train is full. This permission may be withdrawn if a person holding a first class ticket requires the accommodation during your journey or standard class accommodation becomes available.
In summary: if Standard Class is full and there are seats in First Class, you can go get permission from the conductor to sit in First. Result! I have done this on a number of occasions and it works.
You do have to get that permission from the conductor, though – and I recommend that you ask him or her nicely, as they don’t have to say yes.
In fact, the only time I failed to get permission was on the very first occasion, when a crotchety conductor said he didn’t know what I was talking about. So now when I go on a lengthy train journey, I have had a battered printout of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage in my bag, ready to be brandished if necessary.
You can find a printable PDF here. (It’s 30 pages long, but you only need pages 1 to 16.)
Let me know how you get on…
Image credit: jonoakley
This post was featured in the 279th Festival of Frugality at the Canadian Finance Blog.