Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth The Upgrade? Let's Find Out (2024)

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VIA Rail business class adds extra comfort and service to an already comfortable way to travel…but is it worth the upgrade? I travelled between Toronto and Kingston to find out. This is my VIA Rail business class review.

Table of Contents

What Does a VIA Rail Business Class Ticket Get?

A VIA Rail business class ticket includes the following upgrades over economy class;

  • Lounge Access
  • Hot meal service
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Spacious seating arrangements
  • Priority boarding
  • Extra checked bag

It’s important to note that change and cancellation fees are still present with a standard business class ticket. If you are looking for more flexibility, consider booking a Business Class Plus ticket.

VIA Rail Business Class Cost

VIA Rail business class tickets vary in price based on route and distance travelled. For major routes, business class seats start at $131 between Toronto and Montreal and $101 between Quebec City and Montreal.

For this review, I travelled between Union Station in Toronto and Kingston which cost me $144. In comparison, my return trip in economy was $68. That said, the return trip was further out so rates were lower overall. For best pricing, book well in advance.

That said, Erin recently travelled from Toronto to Chatham and, due to demand, the lower-tier economy tickets were sold out. The economy tickets left were almost as much as a business class ticket so in that scenario, closer to the travel date is also a good option on when to book.

Toronto Union Station Lounge

Although a nice perk, lounge access isn’t a selling point for upgrading to VIA Rail business class. The Union Station lounge includes plenty of comfortable seating options and free Wi-Fi but beyond that, there isn’t much to write home about.

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As I found on my Toronto to Vancouver “Canadian” review, the Union Station lounge is lacking a lot. On this visit, drinks were limited to sodas and juice. There was one functioning coffee machine however no coffee cups were to be found. There was, however, plenty of coffee whitener spread all over the countertop 🤦.

If hungry or looking for great coffee before boarding, I suggest visiting the Balzac coffee shop located at the UP (Union to Person Airport train) platform. This personal favourite serves up some of the best coffee in the city and has great butter tarts.

Getting from YYZ to Downtown Toronto – UP vs. The Red Rocket

VIA Rail Business Class Seats

Seating in VIA Rail business class is configured in a 1-2 format with tables of four seats staggered every five or so rows. I was travelling solo so sat on the single-seat side and it was plenty spacious. That said, so are the economy seats. I don’t think you gain much legroom on the business class seats however you do get extra space on the window side thanks to the lack of a second seat. There’s also a small table at seat level which is a great addition as the table tray is small. The side table includes cup indents which can help free up your workspace. Double seats have this table in between the two.

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Speaking of the table tray, given it is small, it’s not overly conducive for laptop work. It also does not move forward so I found myself hunched over to work. This is no different in economy class. If travelling and looking to get some work done I suggest getting a seat at one of the tables as there is more space. If the train is not full, you will have an office space to yourself.

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The seats themselves are comfy but again, I don’t see much difference from coach. In both classes, seats are leather however I believe the business class seats include footrests and the economy ones don’t. Also, the seats recline slightly but again, this may be the same in economy.

VIA Rail’s The Canadian Train Review: An Unbiassed Experience

VIA Rail Business Class Service

Service in VIA Rail business class is where the value starts to show. I found the crew in the business class car super friendly and accommodating. Drink service was frequent and meal delivery and cleanup were timely.

As for the food itself, options on my route included a cheese ravioli with an eggplant dish with Greek salad, a baked fish dish, and a cold chicken salad. I opted for the pasta and it was just OK – on par with economy airline food but included in the cost of the tickets so I’ll take that as a win.

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Drink service includes wine and spirits and a limited beer menu. Sadly, no craft beer from Ontario is to be found. On the positive, they do serve tall cans.

Note: they ran out of both ravioli and chicken options so if you have a preference or dietary restrictions I suggest selecting your meal in advance. VIA Rail accommodates a variety of diets. You can select your preference upon booking your ticket.

So, Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth It?

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Despite the subtle differences between economy and business class, I enjoyed my trip and would recommend upgrading if the price is right. Similar to my VIA Rail Sleeper Class Plus trip. this means booking in advance or scooping up a seat when cheaper economy seats are gone or comparable. The hot meal and included beverages make for an already enjoyable way to travel that much better. On my return trip in economy, I did miss the beverage service. Still, although the ride itself was very crowded, it was still comfortable.

Last, VIA Rail is rolling out new trains and the business class cars look amazing. I hope to check them out soon. If anyone takes one, let me know what you think!

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Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth The Upgrade? Let's Find Out (2024)

FAQs

What is the difference between business and business plus on via? ›

The fare comparison page at Via Rail has the information you need. There is no difference in the onboard experience (nor the at-station experience such as using the lounge) at all. The only difference is in the flexibility of the fare - change fees and cancellation fees.

What is the difference between economy and economy plus on VIA Rail? ›

Economy Plus Class offers an upgraded experience compared to Economy Class. Passengers in this class benefit from enhanced seating comfort, including additional legroom and wider seats.

Do via trains have bathrooms? ›

Yes, there are washrooms on every VIA Rail train. There are showers on some of our trains, depending on the route. For long distance trains (e.g. the Canadian and the Ocean), private washrooms and shared shower rooms are available for cabins. Berths have access to a shared washroom and a shared shower room in each car.

Does Via Train have WiFi? ›

VIA Rail is proud to provide complimentary Wi-Fi service on board most of its trains, in its Business lounges and in select stations in the Québec City – Windsor corridor. Note that Wi-Fi is also offered on board the Ocean train (Montreal - Halifax) in the service cars located on either side of the dining car.

What do you get with business class via? ›

Via Rail Express Train Business Class
  • Access to the Business Lounge.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Free WiFi.
  • Newspapers and magazines.
  • Meals and beverages are provided for free.
  • Baggage allowance for carry-on is one (1) personal article up to 11.5 kg (25 lb) and two (2) large articles up to 23 kg (50 lb).

Which is better business class or economy plus? ›

Premium economy class: This class is a step up from economy, offering more comfortable seating and better meal options. Business class: You can expect better service, lie-flat seats and excellent food when you travel business class.

Can you sleep in Economy on VIA Rail? ›

Economy class

Spread out and let the gentle motion of the train rock you to sleep while you glide through the wilderness. Extra blankets and pillows can be purchased.

Does VIA Rail Sleeper Plus include meals? ›

Food and drinks on board

Savor a three-course meal with carefully selected products from Canadian artisans. Three meals a day are included in your experience. Top off your meal with a local beer or Canadian wine sold by the glass. Also offered onboard: a selection of hot and cold non-alcoholic beverages.

Can you bring food on VIA Rail? ›

You can bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic drinks on the train. We also offer a selection of refreshments and food, prepared with carefully selected local products from Canadian artisans. Visit our meals section for more information about the options available for your class of service and route.

How strict is VIA Rail with luggage? ›

Each baggage item must be identified with your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. Maximum baggage dimensions include wheels and handles. Any baggage weighing more than 23 kg/50 lb will not be allowed on board the Corridor trains. Each passenger is responsible for their own baggage.

How early should I arrive at Union station for VIA Rail? ›

It's best to arrive at the station half an hour before departure for travel within the Corridor, and one hour before departure for long distance trains.

What is the prestige cabin on VIA Rail? ›

These private luxury cabins are 50% larger than the standard Sleeper Cabins and include an L-shaped, leather couch by day for sitting as you enjoy the scenery streaming past your oversized window.

Can I watch movies on VIA Rail? ›

The daily news, movies, TV shows, animated features and documentaries are all waiting when you connect to VIA's onboard entertainment system from the comfort of your seat.

Are there chargers on VIA Rail? ›

On board LRC equipment

This renovated car has a 2-1 seats configuration: more space for every travellers thanks to a row of single seats. It also has new ergonomic seats and side table and electrical outlet available for each seat.

Does VIA Rail have microwaves? ›

They will not allow you to use the microwave, but they will give you hot water if you ask (for instant noodles). We brought our own food & drinks. There is a substantial amount of space between seats, quite comfortable, and every seat has a foot rest (like a recliner chair) you can pull out.

What is business-class plus? ›

Customers booking Flagship Business Class Plus fares receive several additional benefits at the airport that aren't available to those purchasing a standard Flagship Business fare. Access to Flagship First check-in areas in airports that offer it. Third complimentary checked bag.

What is the difference between premium plus and business-class? ›

You can choose between the United Premium PlusSM experience, which includes a hot meal as well as free alcoholic drinks, or the United Business experience, which features a premium flat-bed seat, special bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue and enhanced food and drinks.

What is difference in business-class in American Airlines? ›

American Airlines business class seats. All American Airlines Flagship Business class seats can recline 90 degrees into fully-flat seats. Even better, on all American Airlines Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft, each seat offers direct aisle access — meaning travelers don't have to step over anyone to move around the cabin.

What is the difference between United business Saver Award and business Everyday Award? ›

What is the difference between Saver and Everyday Awards? Saver Awards: Saver Awards have limited availability and are subject to capacity controls, but you can book them with fewer award miles than Everyday Awards.

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