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Saturday, 2 February 2013

Paris/London: my experience with Eurostar online booking

An update about my trip preparation to Paris and London.

Our plan is to spend a week in Paris followed by another in London. We already booked the hotels and drafted day to day itineraries at both cities. Now, it’s time to arrange for transportation from Paris to London.

After some surveys, we decided to cross the channel by Eurostar train. Tickets can be purchased through its website, although you can also get it from 3rd parties such as Raileurope or Viator. They are sold 120 days in advance, which means if our travel date is in May, we can buy tickets starting from January. It is recommended to book earlier for better fares and seats availability. 

eurostar train
picture from eurostar.com


We have already bought return flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris. Obviously, we need to buy return train tickets too. Someone told me that we should  instead buy multi-city flights (e.g. KUL – CDG, LHR – KUL)  thus save us the extra train cost. This could be true, but first, one must compare the price differences between multi-city vs. return to find the most economical combination. In our case, Etihad’s return fare to Paris is way cheaper than multi-city itinerary, therefore the cost of return train journey is justified.

Actually, I was a bit wary before purchasing the tickets. Some travellers mentioned about problems encountered when booking made with non-EU credit cards and also during tickets collection at the train station. Here, I will share my own experience with Eurostar’s online booking system. The website was easy to navigate and I just followed the instruction given on each page...

Step 1: Register your account with Eurostar. This will speed up the entire process because passenger details are already in the system. During country and language selection, I chose Malaysia/English.



Step 2: After route selection, number of passenger and travel date, you will be presented with train schedule on that particular day. Also shown are the travel class and fares. We chose the cheapest tickets available, 88 Euros for two (one way).
eurostar schedule
train schedule



Step 3: The following page shows itinerary summary. Double check it and then, punch in passenger details. Only names required, so don’t worry if you haven’t renewed your passport yet!

eurostar itinerary
itinerary summary



Step 4: Choose preferred method for tickets collection. For me, I opted for print-at-home tickets. It is basically a piece of self printed A4 paper with QR code on it. Another way is to collect via ticket machine at the train station, but overthere you have to key-in the booking number and verify with the original credit cards used during booking. I think the former is easier and more convenient.
eurostar collection
ticket collection



Step 5: This is where you select your preferred seats. The system will assign some random seats at the beginning, but you can modify it by clicking on the ‘view/change seats’ button. This depends on availability, hence, book earlier!

eurostar choose seat
choose your seat



Step 6: Clicking the 'view/change seats' button will bring you to below page. It tells which end of the train is towards front and which one rear. From there, select your preferred car and seats. Take note, there's front facing and rear facing seats too in most of the car. In below example, seat 53 and 54 that I chose are front facing while the opposite seats 43, 44 are rear facing. Also shown are the location of the doors, luggage compartments, windows, tables, power points, WC and other info.
eurostar seat map
seat maps


Step 7: So far so good...below page is the itinerary summary. Double check all details especially the travel date and time, tick the 'terms & conditions' box and then continue to payment. The next parts are just like any other online purchase where you have to enter your credit cards details. I used Visa credit card issued by a Malaysian bank and to my relief, the payment went through without any glitch.

eurostar itinerary
itinerary summary


After payment, there's a pop-up screen prompting me to print the tickets immediately. I just click on it and its all done. An email confirmation was also sent to me so I can re-print the tickets at anytime.

Here's my Eurostar self-print ticket, from Paris to London. I have to print separately another ticket for my return trip from London to Paris. For safety reason I removed some details and used fake QR code.


eurostar self print ticket
Eurostar self-print ticket


There's also 2FOR1 offers for ticket holders, where you pay admission for 2 people with the price of 1. However, it is not so useful to me because most of the attractions in London are free of charge and the offers only valid for special exhibitions. But, it is a good deal for those visiting Paris.


Beside Eurostar, there’s other options to travel between Paris and London... 

By flight: We think this is the least favoured option. Not only the most expensive, we also hate the hassle of travelling through airport and all its security checkpoints. Furthermore, the departure/arrival airports vary, depending on which airlines. Air France and Easyjet fly few times per day between Paris and London.

By bus: Eurolines buses are the most economical way to travel between these two cities. Tickets price starts from 10 GBP but the downside is long travelling time.

4 comments:

  1. Euro rail is the way to go. Great tips.. thanks!

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    1. Thanks for visiting my humble blog Ciki!

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  2. Totally, Eurostar service between London and Paris is simply amazing. Eurostar promises a greener, convenient travel experience along with shorter trip times between England and Europe. One more reason for the popularity and success of Eurostar is that 20-25 minute time span between the journey, which is under the English Channel makes this ride more popular than ever.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Tedd,

      Can't agree more on that!!

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