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Eurotunnel Check In Question

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Bit of a random travel related question.

We're driving down to Tignes next weekend and it's the first time we've not done Flexiplus on the a tunnel.

Just checked the details on the booking and it's saying check in opens -2 hours from departure and closes -1 hour before.

Do they enforce that? We're on the 20 past 6 in the morning so it'll be quiet based on previous years.

When we've done Flexiplus, we've always just rocked up and got whichever fit the time. We've certainly never arrived 2 hours before.

Just wondered what'll happen if we turned up at 5:30am or whether we even need to consider it given it'll be quiet.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@paulhinch, last September we were 10 minutes late checking in due to delays at the pet passport control in Calais, and they bumped us to a train 2 hours later which was the next train with availability. We did query this with both pet passport and at the office in the terminal, but they were unable to amend our departure, even though our original booking wasn't even boarding. It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday though.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Arrive as early as you can and you may well get the option of an earlier crossing than the booked one at the initial Check-In. You should still be ok for your 6.20am if you arrive "late" at 5.30am, we have nearly always been offered an earlier crossing at check-in, sometimes within 30mins. Mind you we rarely travel on Peak Days/Times.
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It's been a while, like the best part of 20 years, since I did it on any regular basis, but always found that ignoring the number/letter on the hanger and the departure info display and driving straight through to the waiting lines would get us on a much earlier crossing. I don't mean doing otherwise than instructed, but as you drive through someone will point you to which line you should join, which was often mainly one or two letters earlier than our, IYSWIM, and on at least one occasion we were a whole day early, which was a problem at the first check-in kiosk we tried (in Calais) so we drove around for a few minutes futilely trying to contact them (this was boxing day or the day after, IIRC) to change it, then tried again at a different kiosk and were allowed straight through.

You don't get it if you don't try.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Flexiplus and non- flexiplus is a whole different world, @paulhinch. I'm just home after a first FP crossing ever and can confirm, in line with the previous responses to your questions, that it's all in the luck of the draw with a non-FP ticket. Sometimes you can get on an earlier (or later) train without too much problem, sometimes you can't. Sometimes you have to pay a little extra, sometimes you have to pay a lot extra - the options will be displayed when you check in.

That's why the huge extra cost of FP is sometimes worth it - but I'd never pay it if driving alone on non-peak days, which is what I've always done in the past.
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Cool. Thanks for the replies. Will leave half an hour earlier and make sure we make the check in time.

Flexiplus has been so good previously but we had it as part of the Peak Retreats package. Wasn't worth the cost when I separated it all out this time.

Our best was 15 minutes from motorway to departure when it reopened after Covid. We'd just missed the train when we pulled up and they reopened the barriers as they must have still been loading. We were the last car on and they closed straight after we stopped moving. Moved off literally seconds later.
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In the quiet hours there aren't as many trains - have a look at the timetable if you are thinking of arriving at 5.30am - you may have just missed one and the next would be close to your booked crossing anyway.

5 or 6 years ago we'd be offered the chance, every time as we were non-peak, to get on an earlier train but not so much recently....
I suspect Brexit and increased migrant-searching has something to do with it - why offer you a crossing that boards in 20 mins when it'll take the bods 30 mins plus to let you through the hoop-jumping controlled area. Confused
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Hells Bells wrote:
last September we were 10 minutes late checking in due to delays at the pet passport control in Calais, and they bumped us to a train 2 hours later which was the next train with availability.

Last January I was 10 minutes late at Calais and they put me on a train 6 hours later.... It was one of the very busy days but still a bit of a shock.
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@Hells Bells, That really sucks!! If it hadn't even started boarding...grrrr,

Guess, they'd given your place away to someone who'd arrived early???

Although, I thought Pet Passport people logged your arrival - you deffo need to show your booking there.
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I have to say that my experience with Flexiplus this last trip was very pleasant, though there were delays at British passport check coming back - first there was no FP lane open, then when one did open, four cars in front of us were a "foreign" lot and it took AGES to check them through. But my grand-daughters adored being able to dash round filling up the brown paper bags with goodies and spent the next hour comparing their spoils.

Daughter booked FP because one of the kids is very anxious and knowing we could arrive at any time and just get on a train was very reassuring. And we told ourselves that "per head", with 5 of us in the van, it wasn't bad value. We must have had quite a few quids worth of macarons between us! Not having to clock watch on the road was a relief. But I still wouldn't pay for it if driving alone - sitting for a couple of hours with a book would not be a hardship with no fretting kids or clock-watchers. But the warning about the few trains in the wee small hours is a good one.
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@Scamper, they do, but it was the queue to that desk to show that booking and get the pets sorted that delayed us. We arrived there before our check in time, but there were several people in front of us all having problems with the passports, and needing assistance to get to alternative vets, make other arrangements etc etc. So by the time we were able to check our dogs in, it was too late. It was stonking hot too, and they directed us to the boarding lanes and then left us there for another hour and a half, probably to clear the terminal for later arrivals. We actually didn't depart until almost 3 hours after our booked one.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Hells Bells wrote:
@Scamper, they do, but it was the queue to that desk to show that booking and get the pets sorted that delayed us. We arrived there before our check in time, but there were several people in front of us all having problems with the passports, and needing assistance to get to alternative vets, make other arrangements etc etc. So by the time we were able to check our dogs in, it was too late. It was stonking hot too, and they directed us to the boarding lanes and then left us there for another hour and a half, probably to clear the terminal for later arrivals. We actually didn't depart until almost 3 hours after our booked one.


What a nightmare!!

We're due on the Newcastle-Amsterdam (lol at that given it's actually N Shields to Ijmuiden!!) ferry on the 8th Jan, it's kind of cost effective in the winter if you factor in fuel costs, no way that's true in the summer. But even at a hundred or so quid over the tunnel cost I'd take it versus driving down south and tunneling.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Scamper wrote:
In the quiet hours there aren't as many trains - have a look at the timetable if you are thinking of arriving at 5.30am - you may have just missed one and the next would be close to your booked crossing anyway.


Yeah. There's a 6am and I think a 5:20am. Before then it's really sparse. After 6:20 they're every 20 minutes.

We're coming down from Yorkshire so it's the difference between a 2am and 1:30am start for us. Given it's a stupid o'clock start I'd be really annoyed if we stupidly got there late and got bumped back to something like a 7:40 train. I'd rather be there a bit early and grab a coffee.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Scamper, that has been our only real bad experience in recent times, so I'm still not persuaded to do the ferry with the dogs. We used FP last weekend, which proved to be worth its cost as there were still knock on delays from the previous day's strike.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Next weekend won’t be a peak travel day I don’t think, as such don’t think there will be any issues getting a train if you’re early or late.

We’ve been 4 hours early before and got on with no charge. It’s only on peak days does it all go a bit Pete Tong
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Boris wrote:
Next weekend won’t be a peak travel day I don’t think, as such don’t think there will be any issues getting a train if you’re early or late.

We’ve been 4 hours early before and got on with no charge. It’s only on peak days does it all go a bit Pete Tong


That was my assumption based on previous years but with Flexiplus we never even thought about when to arrive, we just targeted a train with a bit of contingency for getting through security etc.

I'm assuming it'll be dead at that time in the morning.

All that said, on the off chance anyone could get arsey about it, we'll just leave a bit earlier. Barring traffic disasters we're 220 miles of which 200 is either A1 or motorway so we've scope to either ease off if we're super early or speed up a bit.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
pam w wrote:
I have to say that my experience with Flexiplus this last trip was very pleasant, though there were delays at British passport check coming back - first there was no FP lane open, then when one did open, four cars in front of us were a "foreign" lot and it took AGES to check them through. But my grand-daughters adored being able to dash round filling up the brown paper bags with goodies and spent the next hour comparing their spoils.

Daughter booked FP because one of the kids is very anxious and knowing we could arrive at any time and just get on a train was very reassuring. And we told ourselves that "per head", with 5 of us in the van, it wasn't bad value. We must have had quite a few quids worth of macarons between us! Not having to clock watch on the road was a relief. But I still wouldn't pay for it if driving alone - sitting for a couple of hours with a book would not be a hardship with no fretting kids or clock-watchers. But the warning about the few trains in the wee small hours is a good one.


I always go FP, as drive from Edinburgh is unpredictable...
The UK passport line is usually the biggest delay coming back, but I've never seen an flexiplus passport lane - does that exist?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Won’t that travel date be relatively quiet, the hordes heading in the opposition direction?

I suspect you’ll be directed to the next train departing, whatever time you arrive.
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Yeah. It'll be v quiet based on previous experience. The question was more whether the check in is likely to be enforced.

In previous years you can be through check-in, security and passport control in 15-20 minutes (hence I don't really want to aim for 2 hours before departure when I could have an extra hour in bed).

We've decided to leave at 1:30. It's 3.5 to 4 hours (we'll fill up with petrol if we're early given it's cheaper this side at the minute). Any earlier than that and we'll barely have gone to bed.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
paulhinch wrote:
Yeah. It'll be v quiet based on previous experience. The question was more whether the check in is likely to be enforced.

In previous years you can be through check-in, security and passport control in 15-20 minutes (hence I don't really want to aim for 2 hours before departure when I could have an extra hour in bed).

We've decided to leave at 1:30. It's 3.5 to 4 hours (we'll fill up with petrol if we're early given it's cheaper this side at the minute). Any earlier than that and we'll barely have gone to bed.


On that date and at that time, my guess is not.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Sun 31-12-23 22:43; edited 1 time in total
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With kids, we always travel on peak days. Have never had FP or gone crazy early/late crossings but normally do ok:

Check in about 1 to 1.5 hours before
Always use a manned check in - humans love a smile and have better ability to put you on an earlier crossing
In waiting lounge, leave 5 mins before your number is called for boarding - puts you ahead of the game
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
In the past, arriving early on VERY quiet days, I have definitely had the option to pay a bit - or sometimes quite a lot - extra to get on an earlier train. But also sometimes had the option to get an earlier train without charge. For 15 years we did 3 or 4 return eurotunnel trips a year, and there was lots of variation.

Quote:

The UK passport line is usually the biggest delay coming back, but I've never seen an flexiplus passport lane - does that exist?

We wondered that today, as it was our first experience. We were filtered into "flexiplus" but when approaching UK passports noticed that one car was just sort of waiting. We passed him, then saw why he was waiting - the booths ahead all had had red crosses. Several other FP cars passed us and a few were piling up behind. The main UK passport booths all had long lines, stretching way behind us. So we all rather cheekily had to sort of force our way into the nearest one - it didn't seem an option to start backing out. Then after waiting quite a while, we saw a green arrow on one of the FP passport lanes, so hastily drove over into that.

The whole set up is flexible - both the number of booths open, where they put the plastic bollard things, and how people who have come in through FP check in, and have the FP hanger/sticker thing - are directed.

As this was our first experience I have no idea how typical it is. And I only did one Eurotunnel return (not FP) last year. And I was driving alone that time, so was completely relaxed about delays. As we all know, there are two classes of travel; First Class and With Children.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Interesting that getting on an earlier train sometimes meant paying a supplement there and then.

For us the staff never mentioned money, they said you’re driving onto this hour earlier train.
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@Snow&skifan, I've don't think I've ever been asked to pay extra at check-in, they either give you an earlier train or they don't, but I have had to pay extra when changing a booking online in advance of travel.
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Hells Bells wrote:
@Snow&skifan, I've don't think I've ever been asked to pay extra at check-in, they either give you an earlier train or they don't, but I have had to pay extra when changing a booking online in advance of travel.
That’s been my experience at the check-in booth as well. I travelled Calais to Folkestone on Friday, arriving at checkin 2hr15m ahead of the train I was booked on. Was offered a crossing one hour ahead of schedule or my scheduled train, which was perfect for me as we took the earlier crossing which allowed 30 minutes in the terminal for a bite to eat while we charged the car to allow us to get home without needing a charging stop in the UK.

On a previous crossing I did go to customer services desk in the terminal building as I was trying to get home as quickly as possible and was charged £65 to bring my crossing forward by three hours. I wasn’t offered this option at the checkin desk, just my scheduled time.
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They do have some discretion. We were once very late having had to divert into Paris to pick up sick daughter. Was charged huge sum but spoke (intercom) to operator and explained ( had rehearsed the French and my effort might have helped) and she waived charge.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I'm too tight to pay for FP. My recent experiences have been mixed as a result. Arrived 15 minutes early for one booking and there was no earlier option. Fair enough. Arrived with 15 minutes to spare and got delayed by two hours on the way back. Is totally determined by the length of time to process people through the double border rather than how booked the trains are. Mrs Spin (who likes to arrive fashionably late for everything) has been converted to the idea of arriving earlier now...
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Used to love Flexiplus when they had the shared wallet system but now we go standard as always travel on peak school holiday dates. I’m not going to pay £430 one way for FP on a high vehicle which is what they are charging at half term. I think how strict they are with check in times is determined by how busy they are. It’s surely always in their interest to get you on an earlier train if they have space but last Saturday we arrived at least 90 mins early, were told we were on our scheduled train but the lady didn’t mention that the time of our scheduled train was now 90 mins or so late. We only realised that when we looked at the screens. So presumably they had lots of FP filling up the late afternoon trains ahead of us causing a backlog and delaying the early evening departures. We were letter X but there were cars in the car park with letter C so they would be waiting for hours.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Our boarding pass for later this week states "we advise you to arrive at least 60 minutes before your departure" , no mention of check in opening or closing times. middayish crossings and midweek

we usually aim to arrive somewhere around 1 to 2 hours before the departure time, often get put on an earlier train, but only if no extra payment required. No pet.

on the rare occasion delays arise, its been because of operational difficulties ......still a damn sight quicker overall than the ferry palaver!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We go FP as its part of the peak retreats pacakage but I notice now that they say you need to arrive on the day stated on the voucher, I'm sure that didnt used to be the case, certainly in 2020 we rocked up three weeks ealy due to france shutting down for covid and even last year we were three days early due to a dental issue for my wife and she didnt want to go to a french dentist , is this a change or has that always been the case, FP is a lot of money to still have to stick to the same day, last Sept we went on a boys trip round europe and turned up three hours before our non FP ticket time and they wanted £50 to go on the next train if thats fairly normal its not worth paying well over £100 to get a FP ticket
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As far as I know FP used to be just turn up whenever you like, then it became that way except for blackout weeks when it had to be the same day..... Now (last month or so from what I read) it's same day only I think.

This is the first time we've driven and not used Peak Retreats so will be interested in how it goes. Was worth the risk given the cost difference and availability within our budget.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@robs1, I enquired about an earlier train in September (or maybe july)..they wanted £65. I declined. Just as well as it all went tits up and was delayed for hours
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@robs1, We also use Peak Retreats and I think it is the case that Eurotunnel have changed their rules for flexi plus this season. So whereas in the past you could turn up any day you now have to use it on the day booked.
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Ordinarily you could just cancel your FP booking and make another. I wonder if that's the case if you get tickets through a third party like Peak Retreats? Something to check.
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@pam w, I am not sure what the situation would be with peak retreats if you needed to change a flexi plus date under the new rules. In the past they have been excellent when things haven't gone to plan. Eg. we had booked Brittany Ferries two years ago but macron shut france so we could not take our booked ferry and peak retreats managed to get us a tunnel flexiplus ticket at the last minute. On another occasion we had booked P&O but there was a dockers strike and again we were able to switch to the tunnel at the last minute. A few years ago we had a family bereavement on holiday and pr offered to move our Brittany Ferry although in the end we chose to continue with the holiday.
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@pam w, I can do that still with a standard ticket usually but the one I booked through a 3rd party as it was discounted couldn't be changed unless I did it through the agent for a fee of £20 per change. I couldn't add it to my account and had to add passport details by phone.
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@Hells Bells, Hopefully the saving you made in booking through the agent was more than the £20 admin fee.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
It is possible Peak Retreats have a slightly different arrangement but booking direct I recently checked and, despite what it says on their site, apparently it is still possible to both use it and turn up any day (within 12 months of booking) - however, because they now have some peak days (which cost more) you could have to pay a supplement, hence they advise you to modify the date online (which could involve an additional payment). So it is still flexible in terms of usage but not necessarily in terms of cost...
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@pam w, I can do that still with a standard ticket usually but the one I booked through a 3rd party as it was discounted couldn't be changed unless I did it through the agent for a fee of £20 per change. I couldn't add it to my account and had to add passport details by phone.
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I actually used the online chat with eurotunnel to try to clarify the question of when you can turn up, and was told you could turn up anytime, but wasn't entirely convinced. I think I'd take the precaution of phoning them if I wasn't going to pitch up on the day originally booked.
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