I am attempting to compare the cost of taking the Eurostar vs. a budget airline between London and Paris. I have read that you can get a discount on the Eurostar if you have a rail pass. I have two questions: 1. If we have a 3 country pass for France-Switzerland-Italy, would we still be eligible for the Eurostar discount? (since our pass doesn’t cover the UK)? 2. How do you view the discounted fare? I was looking at fares on the eurostar.com web site, and I have not seen any option where you can indicate that you have a Eurail pass, and are therefore eligible for the discount. Has anyone gotten this discount before? If so, how were you able to attain it? Thanks for your help!!
If you have a rail pass covering England or France (as you have) you have the choice when ordering your chunnel tix. There is a box to check. Using the Rick Steves "Railpasses" section on this webpage, go through the process as though you were ordering a ticket, just don't finish the order unless you are ready to commit. I just looked at ordering a ticket for London-Paris. Checking the box for "have a pass" the cost for a ticket one-way for April 8, 2008 was $85. Without a pass the price quoted was $98. So there is your "discount." The important comparison between plane vs train for London-Paris is largely in time/effort vs convenience. If you are not in London, it may make sense to fly Bristol-France or Manchester-France, etc.
Aha! I guess my issue was that I was going directly to the Eurostar.com web site, rather than looking at the rates on this site--thanks for that tip! We will be staying right in London (in the Victoria Station neighborhood). I had seen some really low fares on EasyJet, but I think it was flying out of Luten airport, and the hotel that I'm booked at said that the lowest cab fare they can get to Luton is 70 pounds--ouch! I haven't been able to find a train or something that would take me from London to Luton for a cheaper rate--has anyone done it before? If so, how did you do it, and what was the cost?
To get to Luton, take the tube from Victoria to St. Pancras. Take a First Capital Connect train from there to Luton Airport Parkway (£11). Take the free shuttle bus from there to the airport. There are 3-4 trains/hour. See the timetables on the Journey Planner at www.nationalrail.co.uk.
FYI, all your transportation options for getting to Luton can be found on the airport site, www.london-luton.co.uk.
If you take the Eurostar (which I highly recommend), don't waste a day of your pass. Book a single (one-way) ticket several months in advance to get a discount fare.
The pass must be in its validation period at the time of travel to be used for discounts. You aren't "charged" a day, however, when you get your discount. I've used this feature of my railpass when taking the Eurostar; I had to show my validated railpass at the time I boarded the train. The train ticket for the Eurostar to Paris is a separate ticket.
My mistake. Swan is right. The Eurostar passholder fare is exactly that--a special fare--and doesn't use up one of your pass days. The passholder fare is £50 and can only be booked by phone, not online. The phone number is given under the fares list at eurostar.com. An advance single (one-way) ticket booked online can be as low as $98. At the current exchange rate, that's slightly less than the passholder fare.
Thanks everyone! Thanks for the tip. One more question--you said that the 3-country select pass had to be in its "Validation period" in order to get the Eurostar discount. I'm assuming that means that the pass has to have been used at least once? Since we are starting our trip in London, and then will be going to Paris, then Switzerland, etc., we will not actually be using the pass until we travel from Paris to Geneva; does that mean that we will not be eligible for the Eurostar discount? Thanks again!
The validation is a stamp on the pass. Validation can be done at any train station, just ask at a ticket booth. You do not have to use a day of the pass when traveling with a ticket for the chunnel. In fact, you can probably have your pass validated just before boarding the Eurostar. When you buy a pass, it comes with lots of small-print instructions. There is also lots of info in the Railpasses section of this website.