Upgrade on Canada’s VIA Rail

By Martha Spring
This item appears on page 12 of the December 2016 issue.
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Canada’s VIA Rail (888/842-7245, www.viarail.ca) offers upgraded service on selected train routes, including amenities like larger seats with adjustable footrests, frequent beverage service at your seat, hot meals, free Wi-Fi and access to the business-class lounge in the terminals of major cities.

My husband, Frank, and I, in February, purchased coach-class tickets for the 7¼-hour journey from Montréal, Québec, to London, Ontario, via Toronto, for Aug. 6-13, 2016. The ticket agent in Montréal recommended an upgrade for the 5-hour portion of the trip from Montréal to Toronto. 

As a result, in Montréal we began by having an espresso in the business-class lounge before using a reserved escalator to board, while coach-class passengers lined up in the terminal.

The dedicated train car was arranged with 2+1 seating (versus the  2+2 seating in coach), with extra pitch between rows. Two stewards offered beverages, including beer and wine, plus a choice of entrées for our 3-course lunch. And it was quiet.

Alas, our train fell behind a freight train, which delayed our arrival in Toronto by 1½ hours. The passenger-service captain rebooked ongoing business-class passengers on the next train to their destination and offered a voucher for a discounted fare on future travel. 

Since we couldn’t use the voucher, we asked for and received (at no charge) an upgrade to business class for the second portion of our rail journey, the 2¼-hour trip from Toronto to London, Ontario. On that leg, our train car was full of commuters sipping Bloody Marys and working on their laptops before another 3-course meal was offered. 

The original cost of the two coach-class tickets was CAN213.86 (about $160). The additional charge for the upgrade to business class for the Montréal-Toronto portion of the trip was CAN135.66 ($101) for both of us, as the ticket agent rebooked our tickets at the price available when we originally purchased our coach tickets online six months earlier. Thus the total price for our train trip in business class was CAN349.52 (about $261) for two!

We enjoyed this easy and relaxing trip much more than if we had traveled by air.

MARTHA SPRING

Albuquerque, NM

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Canada’s VIA Rail (888/842-7245, www.viarail.ca) offers upgraded service on selected train routes, including amenities like larger seats with adjustable footrests, frequent beverage service at your seat, hot meals, free Wi-Fi and access to the business-class lounge in the terminals of major cities.

My husband, Frank, and I, in February, purchased coach-class tickets for the 7¼-hour journey from Montréal, Québec, to London, Ontario, via Toronto, for Aug. 6-13, 2016. The ticket agent in Montréal recommended an upgrade for the 5-hour portion of the trip from Montréal to Toronto. 

As a result, in Montréal we began by having an espresso in the business-class lounge before using a reserved escalator to board, while coach-class passengers lined up in the terminal.

The dedicated train car was arranged with 2+1 seating (versus the  2+2 seating in coach), with extra pitch between rows. Two stewards offered beverages, including beer and wine, plus a choice of entrées for our 3-course lunch. And it was quiet.

Alas, our train fell behind a freight train, which delayed our arrival in Toronto by 1½ hours. The passenger-service captain rebooked ongoing business-class passengers on the next train to their destination and offered a voucher for a discounted fare on future travel. 

Since we couldn’t use the voucher, we asked for and received (at no charge) an upgrade to business class for the second portion of our rail journey, the 2¼-hour trip from Toronto to London, Ontario. On that leg, our train car was full of commuters sipping Bloody Marys and working on their laptops before another 3-course meal was offered. 

The original cost of the two coach-class tickets was CAN213.86 (about $160). The additional charge for the upgrade to business class for the Montréal-Toronto portion of the trip was CAN135.66 ($101) for both of us, as the ticket agent rebooked our tickets at the price available when we originally purchased our coach tickets online six months earlier. Thus the total price for our train trip in business class was CAN349.52 (about $261) for two!

We enjoyed this easy and relaxing trip much more than if we had traveled by air.

MARTHA SPRING

Albuquerque, NM