Fast Track Tickets… Are They Worth It?

One of the biggest disappointments that seem to tag along with travel to popular tourist destinations are queues. Lots and lots of them. And the waiting time in these queues can be in hours, often consuming most of your day. Now when I went to visit the London Eye few years ago, this is how the queues looked like.

London Eye Long Queues - Courtesy of Paula

London Eye Long Queues – Courtesy of Paula

 

The waiting time was at least 45 minutes. And I had a 2 years old child who’s already bored to death with me. I happened to be carrying one of those Package tickets that gives you access to the Madame Tussauds wax museum, the London Eye, and the Aquarium. A typical London Eye standalone ticket sells for £15. I looked at the situation and could tell I was up to one of 3 choices:

  1. Wait inline for at least 45 minutes, tolerate kid’s crying.
  2. Turn around and walk away from one of the iconic London attractions, and miss the high vintage view of the city.
  3. To buy my time and convenience with money. A Fast Track ticket sells for  £26.96 (online price. Can’t recall ticket office price now).

Kid was 2 years old, so he goes free. I just needed two extra fast track tickets. Now £53 extra isn’t a cheap price, and if you’re traveling on a budget, I wouldn’t advise you to do it. But I had some extra, and it was either we lose the  £53, or lose the day. I paid for the tickets, gave up my old ones for free. (Don’t try to sell them. People are suspicious and couldn’t even believe me when I was giving them up for free). Few minutes later we were in the air, enjoyed our time, and soon after were on our way to the next attraction. And that’s when I realized, by spending this money I not only made it easier on my self. I might have actually made a saving!

Time Is Money

STOP WAITINGSeriously. What’s the highest cost in your travel? Most likely it’s the airline ticket, and the accommodation. A ticket from Kuwait to London in the summer can easily cost over $500 per person, and a single night at 4 star hotel for 2 people starts from $79. Simple math tells us if you were traveling for a week, each night is costing the two of you $222 if we just count the travel and accommodation. $222 to stay one day in London. And remember, half that day is night and most places are closed. So you’re left with very few valuable hours. Also, take into account the preparation time you spent on this trip, the visa papers, and the annual leave you had to take from work to get here. If you add up all that, what would the actual cost per day of your trip be worth? And how much extra are you willing to pay to make this experience truly enjoyable? If you had the option, don’t you think this small £53 is worth buying yourself an extra hour or two on your trip?

A second experience I had was when on another trip last year I had one day in London before my trip back, and as I was searching for a hotel to stay that night, I realized I could stay at a pirate themed family room at Legoland Windsor Resort, which is close to the airport. I can enjoy a full day at their theme park with the kids. Reason I was avoiding it is because of all the insanely long queues there. But it just happens that I needed a night near the airport. But what can I see in one day, amid the crowd and 1.5 hour queues?

I resorted back to the same idea. And while the price difference this time was extremely larger, it was also a unique experience, and at the last day before taking kids back to reality. So I thought let’s give them something to remember. Legoland’s Ultimate Q-Bot allowed us to cut time much shorter, and get onto many rides within minutes rather than half an hour. Truth be told however, during summer, even the Q-Bot failed to deliver on it’s promise when it comes to extreme adult rides in the afternoon. Had to wait for over half an hour. But the real waiting time otherwise would’ve been 1.5 hours. So still, we ended up saving a lot of time, and we all had a really fun day, covering mostly everything we wanted the kids to try.

So next time you find yourself facing long queues and an optional fast track ticket, think of it in terms of Time Vs Money.

  • Is the waiting time worth it?
  • Can I afford to buy a fast track ticket?
  • If I can, will I be able to use the saved time to do some extra activity?

Bonus Tip: Do your research online beforehand. Read about the place. Best times to visit. And see if you can buy a cheaper ticket online, or buy a package for several activities. This can get you 10-20% discount at times.