Cage match: Eurostar versus Easyjet

We’ve all seen the one cent ultra-cheap fares that Ryanair, Easyjet and and other low cost carriers (LCCs) frequently offer from European hubs. It’s a great way to skip around the EU if you’re flexible and haven’t got a lot of cash; it thus has recently become pretty popular with students and vacationers on a limited budget.

And as most of us know, the one cent fares come with strings attached. Taxes and fees can add multiple dollars and fees and constraints on routings often require you to travel to an out-of-the-way airport in order to catch a flight at a strange time of the day. Additionally, extra charges during transit such as baggage and meal purchases can add further cost to an airplane journey.

Needless to say, when traveling over a longer distance, it’s usually a good idea to take the low cost carrier, plan well and be frugal during your travels. But over shorter distances accessible by rail or coach, that line blurs.

Eurostar, for example, recently started offering high speed rail service between London and Paris at very competitive rates. While none of their fares sink as low as the one cent LCC sales that frequently surface, their service runs direct between downtown London and Paris, has looser restrictions on baggage and ultimately saves transit time.

What’s the savings, you ask? On a recent trip between the office in Loughborough and my sister’s apartment in Paris I decided to run a comparison. I’ve calculated the price of transit from city-center to city-center with Eurostar versus Easyjet, the only budget carrier to connect between the two cities. I’ve also included any additional fees for transit to airports, taxes and baggage, then tabulated the costs side by side. For ease, I’ve converted everything to dollars so you can see the easiest comparison across numbers. Take a look:

EasyJet Eurostar
Ticket 15.7 98
Tax 61 0
Two bags checked 31.92 0
Train ticket between London Victoria and Luton 21.8 0
Train between Charles De Gaulle and Gare Du Nord 12 0
Total 142.42 98
Total transit time 5 hours 3 hours

The result? In the end, Eurostar ends up saving you time and money. Combined with the comfort and timeliness of the service, the high speed train is the easy pick when traveling between London and Paris.
On my most recent Eurostar journey I paid an extra 116$ to travel on leisure select. This involved a secluded seat to myself, free champaign, hot bangers and mash and bottomless coffee over the entire journey. When you compare the 214$ total price against Easyjet’s 142$, I think its still worth it for the hot food, time saved and comfort.

So next time you’re considering that low cost carrier for your short intra-european trip, make sure you thoroughly check your options. While trains and coaches don’t necessarily have the romantic allure of one cent fares, they may ultimately end up saving you time and money.