I’m just heading up North on a Virgin Train (thought I’d better try one while I still can).
I ended up going 1st Class because it was cheaper than Standard, when booking in advance. Not that uncommon actually, and sometimes it’s even worth doing if it’s a couple of quid more expensive, because of the inclusives: light refreshments such as tea and coffee, and wifi access at no extra charge. Basically, you can sometimes get good value for money, and Virgin (and other train companies) get to put bums on 1st class seats which would otherwise go empty off-peak, and it reduces the pressure on the cheap seats.
In common with most train operators, the weekend 1st Class at-seat service is a shadow of it’s midweek counterpart: limited to tea, coffee, water and snacks. This used to be things such as (normal-sized packets of) crisps, nibbles, and biscuits.
Today, this has been replaced with “A little box of snacks” – about 2×3″. Now, it looks cute. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a childlike feeling about opening one for the first time.
But the contents are distinctly underwhelming:
- The smallest bag of pretzels I’ve probably ever seen (and if you don’t like “sour cream and chive”, you’ll be left feeling a bit sour)
- A micro-flapjack that would leave a hobbit’s tum rumbling
- A pack of cream crackers and soft cheese
- A continental “speculoos” biscuit for with coffee
- A bit of Valrhona chocolate (yum)
I had the pretzels and the chocolate, as I didn’t really fancy the rest of the contents. The rest will no doubt go in the bin.
While I’m in no doubt that it makes inventory control much simpler (and may well be cheaper), it is effectively a reduction in choice for the passenger, and surely increases waste in an era when a huge part of companies’ social responsibility is dedicated to reducing their environmental impact?