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


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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Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth The Upgrade? Let's Find Out (5)

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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Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth The Upgrade? Let's Find Out (7)
Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth The Upgrade? Let's Find Out (8)

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)


Is VIA Rail Business Class Worth The Upgrade? Let's Find Out? ›

I booked a business-class ticket on a Via Rail Canada train from Toronto to Montreal in 2022. For $200, I sat in a business-class seat with two tables and complimentary meal and drink service. I thought it was nicer than most US trains I've been on, worth the price, and I'd gladly ride again.

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

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.

Is there wifi on VIA Rail? ›

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.

Who owns VIA Rail? ›

VIA Rail Canada, Inc., Canadian state-owned passenger-railway system.

What is the difference between Economy plus and business class? ›

What's the difference between Premium Economy and Business Class? Premium Economy is less expensive and has more legroom than Economy. Business Class offers more legroom, luxurious seating, fine dining, and enhanced entertainment​​.

What is the difference between Economy and business class fares? ›

Luggage Allowance: Business class passengers usually enjoy more generous baggage allowances for both checked and carry-on luggage, which can vary depending on the airline and route. Pricing: Business class seats are usually 2-5 times more costly than regular economy seats.

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.

Are meals included in Sleeper Plus on VIA Rail? ›

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 I bring my own 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.

Is alcohol included on VIA Rail Business class? ›

Meals and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are included when you travel in Business class. For lunch and dinner, we provide a selection of catered-type meals that include bread, an appetizer, a dessert, a glass of Canadian wine, and a selection of hot beverages1,2,3.

Where do I put my suitcase on a train? ›

Small cases and bags can be stored under your seat, medium sized bags can go in the overhead racks and large suitcases must be placed in the luggage racks at the end of each carriage.

What railroad does Warren Buffett own? ›

On January 24, 2005, the railroad's name was officially changed to BNSF Railway Company using the initials of its original name. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway acquired BNSF Railway in February 2010, obtaining all of its shares and taking the company private.

What railroad Does Bill Gates Own? ›

Bill Gates acquired 54.8 Million Canadian National Railway shares worth $6.53 Billion. That's 14.34% of their entire equity portfolio (4th largest holding). The investor owns 8.72% of the outstanding Canadian National Railway stock. The first Canadian National Railway trade was made in Q3 2002.

What is the on time performance of VIA Rail? ›

In the 2022 fiscal year, 57 percent of Via Rail Canada's trains reached their end point on time.

Is Economy Plus better than economy? ›

Get extra legroom and a seat in front of the Economy sections with Economy Plus®. Economy Plus is available on all United flights and most United Express® flights. You can upgrade to an Economy Plus seat at any time from booking to check-in.

What is the difference between economy standard and economy standard plus? ›

United restricts full-sized carry-ons for its basic economy tickets. Basic economy tickets are ineligible for refunds and don't include seat selection. Economy Plus features standard economy seats with extra legroom. Standard economy includes seat selection and a free carry-on.

What is the difference between economy and premium economy tickets? ›

The seats are an inch or two wider on average than the typical coach seat, and the rows are farther apart, offering several more inches of legroom. Most premium economy seats recline, and many have footrests. How much space you actually get depends on the airline.

Is VIA Rail economy comfortable? ›

The Economy class of The Canadian train features two rows of comfortable seats. These seats come with reclining footrests and provide ample legroom to ensure a comfortable journey. You also have the unique opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the landscape from the expansive Skyline Car.

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