When I think of train travel, I think of the romantic nature of the experience depicted in all the classic movies. Well groomed men in perfectly pressed suits and fedoras perched just so. Beautiful women with their white gloves, high-heeled shoes, matching purses, smart looking dresses, and train cases. Very sophisticated — very “Mad Men”.
I recently had an opportunity to travel VIA Rail Business Class from Toronto to Montreal and thoroughly enjoyed the experience en route to Montreal but not en route to Toronto. Due to these two very different experiences, I can certainly see the charm in travelling by train, but I can also see the pitfalls.
This VIA Rail Business Class adventure starts in the Business Lounge
Included with your VIA Rail business class ticket, is access to the Business Lounge.
A journey via rail isn’t as fast as flying but it isn’t as slow as driving either. Plus, trains can be amazingly relaxing if you are travelling business class.
TIP: Another perk that comes with your Business Class ticket is free bag storage at the station should you arrive really early and wish to go explore the area without dragging your luggage around with you.
We arrived early to take advantage of this perk at Toronto Union Station with a comfortable waiting area, TVs, newspapers, juice, speciality coffee and tea — all complimentary.
Once our train was ready for boarding, an announcement was given, and we headed towards the gate. No need to line up with the other passengers, we walked to the front of the line and boarded the train like rock stars.
Once on board the train we were greeted with the following:
- leather reclining seats
- hot towels before eating
- beverages including wine and beer
- choice of meal for lunch
- magazines, newspapers
- electric outlets at each seat
- folding tray table
TIP: The train ride is a bit bumpy at times so, you may find it difficult to type on a laptop.
From taking advantage of the free wifi, enjoying the scenery as the train rolled by, dining on the excellent food and drinks (alcohol included), and getting some work done; it was a relaxing journey and kick-started our weekend in Montreal.
Our journey to Montreal was fabulous but sadly, our return trip home to Toronto — not so much.
Complimentary Wine and Children that Whine
Not to be THAT person but on our trip home, a family of 6 – grandparents, parents, and two children came on board. For 5 hours, the adults relaxed and took advantage of the complimentary food and wine while the children cried, whined, and caused a commotion disturbing the entire Business Class train. We were sitting directly behind the facing set of 4 seats and the 6 of them were crammed into the 4 seats.
No relaxing, no work, no conversation with my travel companion as we both retreated to our MP3 player to escape to our “special place” where all is peaceful and relaxing.
TIP: Be warned that it could be noisy if you sit in this area due to the seat configuration of having a full-size table with seats that face each other. Another area you may not wish to sit near is the end where the restrooms are.
Hey, these things can happen on a plane, train or in an automobile and are an aspect of travel that you have no control over and can’t avoid. One benefit is that a situation like this one makes for an excellent laughable memory for years to come.
My first experience travelling on the train with VIA Rail Business Class from Toronto to Montreal was an adventure, and it definitely will not be my last.
Have you travelled VIA Rail Business Class before? What was your experience like?
Read Michael’s adventure travelling VIA Rail overnight to Winnipeg in his article: VIA Rail – A Canadian Experience to Get on Board eh?