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Can I upgrade to First Class on the train?

Looking for luxury on a whim? Here's our guide to upgrading to First Class on the train.
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If you want to travel in First Class, then it’s often possible to get a cheaper upgrade on the day. This is usually at quieter times, such as weekends and Bank Holidays. Here’s our guide to getting an upgrade to First Class on the train.

When can I upgrade to First Class on the train?

You can upgrade to First Class on the train on weekends and Bank Holidays. On LNER, you can also upgrade during ‘Super Off-Peak’ times. Going north, this means trains that leave London between 09:06 and 14:59, and after 18:59. Going south, it’s any train that arrives in London after 11:17.

Avanti West Coast will allow you to upgrade to Standard Premium at any time.

You can’t normally upgrade on the train on a weekday. If you get on the train and sit in First Class without a First Class ticket, you will be charged the difference between the Standard and First Class fare. You could also be charged a Penalty Fare.

Which operators let me upgrade to First Class on the train?

Here’s a summary of which companies allow you to upgrade to First Class on the train, and how much it costs:

Operator Information on upgrading
Avanti West Coast Upgrade on board to ‘Standard Premium’ seven days a week. We’ve even done a direct comparison between First and Standard Premium.
East Midlands Railway You can upgrade on board at weekends for £12 if you have a Super-Off-Peak, Off-Peak or Anytime ticket.
Great Western Railway Weekend First upgrades are available on board, starting at £10.
Greater Anglia Upgrade on board on weekends and Bank Holidays for £10.
LNER Upgrade on board for £35 or £45 at weekends and during Super Off-Peak times (listed above)
ScotRail Upgrade on board for £5 on ‘eXpress’ services or £15 on ‘Intercity’ services.
South Western Railway Upgrade on board on weekends and Bank Holidays for between £5 and £15.
TransPennine Express Upgrade on board on weekends and Bank Holidays for £10, £15 or £20.

All you need to do is sit down in a free seat and wait for the conductor to come around and charge you the upgrade fee.

What do I get if I upgrade?

If you upgrade at the weekend, what you get can vary. If you’re travelling with LNER for example, you’ll get fed and watered. Their carriages also have bigger seats and more room:

We’ve written about the best First Class trains, so you can take a look and decide for yourself if it’s worth paying the upgrade fee. We’ve also compared LNER and Avanti West Coast.

When can I upgrade for free?

Sometimes, a train might have a First Class section, but it isn’t advertised. In these situations, you’re free to sit there without buying a First Class ticket.

Southeastern and West Midlands Trains have recently abolished their First Class fares. Their trains haven’t been reconfigured, so you can technically ‘upgrade’ for free.

If you’re travelling on Thameslink, then First Class at the rear of the train is always open to Standard Class ticket holders. On trains between Luton and Rainham, St Albans and Sutton and Blackfriars and Sevenoaks, the section at the front is also available if you have a Standard Class ticket. Make sure you check the screens of the platform before boarding.

Is there anything else I should know?

Looking to know more about First Class? Take a look at our dedicated page for First Class train travel. We’re here to help with our Top 5 Tips for getting cheaper fares, and even how to use First Class for free.

Thinking of taking a trip soon? You can book it all with Railsmartr. We’ll be sure to show you the slower and cheaper options, so you can get the best value fare for your journey.

Changeupgrade to first class on the train your mind? Need to travel on a different day? No problem at all. You can change or refund your ticket (if it’s refundable) without any extra fees.

All information stated on this page is issued without liability and was correct at 12:00 14/06/23. It’s subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided.

Author Richard

Hi, I'm Richard and I've been working for Railsmartr since 2022. I make sure that everything we communicate with customers is top-notch and write exciting and informative content for the website. When I'm not at work, you'll still find me on the rails - though often in the far corners of Europe!