Monday, April 10, 2023

My trip to VIA's The Canadian: Ottawa to Toronto in business class

 If you follow my social media channels, you'll know I just spent five days taking VIA Rail's iconic "The Canadian" train, from Toronto to Vancouver. I posted short recap videos along the way (day five will go up tomorrow) and I'll also be posting a longer video for each day of the journey.

I'm aiming to post these once a week, every Monday, with my thoughts on the journey and the travel that day. This week, here's my trip to the train -- a business class trip on VIA's "corridor" service from Ottawa to Toronto. 

It's a trip I've done many times, and helped me earn enough VIA Preference points to do my trip on The Canadian at no cost, entirely on points. 

A few thoughts on VIAs business service in the corridor. The seats are comfortable, and the single seats are great for solo travelers. I like the lounges, but some light snacks would be nice. The ticket includes a meal and open bar; the bar opens at 11 AM so book your trip accordingly to get full value for money. There are usually three entrée choices but in limited numbers so you may not get your choice. I always go for the fish, it's consistently good and easier to heat properly than, say, beef.

Speaking of value for money, VIA has been nickel and diming it in business recently. First world problems, but if I'm paying a premium I have expectations. They cut the size of the cups in half so they can get away with serving you less. Even for water, it's a little cup like on an airplane when it used to be twice the size. And as you'll see in the video, they won't give you a full can of pop anymore. They say it's because "there's been too many accidents" but spills are way more common with the glasses and they will still sell you a can in coach.

So while I like VIA Rail's premium product in the corridor, their short-sighted cost-cutting is devaluing the product and making it less worth the buy-up over economy class. And the fact they still don't have advance seat selection and meal ordering (other than dietary/allergy/religious needs) is silly.

Stay tuned for more videos weekly as I review the food, the service and the sites on The Canadian.

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