VIA Canadian sleeper questions

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Northwestern

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One these days, I would like to book a trip, on the Canadian, from Vancouver to Jasper.

Looking at the sleeper choices, I am a little confused with regard to link below, as to what "Sleeper Plus" is all about. I believe there is such a thing as "cabin for one", which I think is similar to an Amtrak roomette, but I don't see it listed. All I see, in the columns, is "sleeper plus" with choices of "upper berth" and "cabin for two". Very confusing. Is a "cabin for one" only available at certain times of the year?

https://is.gd/ThIKFT
 
This chart is missing some of the classes - if you go to book, you will see economy (coach) seats, both lower and upper berths, cabins for 1 and 2, and Prestige cabins for 2. Sleeper Plus encompasses all non-Prestige sleeper classes - berths and cabins for 1/2.

The berths are beds with a privacy curtain which fold into seats during the day. They don’t have outlets, toilets/sinks, or privacy in the daytime configuration (though bathrooms and showers are down the hal)l, but are less costly than cabins. The cabin for 1 is like an Amtrak roomette, but with only one fold-down Murphy bed and an in room toilet (that is covered by the bed at night) and sink. Cabin for 2 is more like a bedroom, but without the in-room shower (the toilet is in a separate room though) - it can be booked by 1 but at 50% higher cost than a cabin for 1. Prestige is a premium-class cabin for 2 in a newly-refurbished car.

I’m currently riding the Canadian, and am riding as a single passenger in a cabin for 2. The reason I chose that is that when I booked there were discounted cabins for 2 available, but not discounted cabins for 1. As a result, the former was slightly less expensive. I’d have been fine with a cabin for 1, though I avoided berths because 1) they have no outlets, and outlets are scarce in the lounge cars (except the Park car, which in peak season is limited to Prestige before 4pm - though that won’t apply to you) and 2) masks must be worn in open spaces under current Transport Canada regulations, which includes berths in the daytime seating configuration but not cabins. Those may not apply in the winter (or if you don’t care about outlets/have a massive battery pack), in which case it may be a good deal (I’d get a lower berth though since it would be easier to get in and has a window.

Hope this helps…
 
There are three classes:

Economy = coach
Sleeper Plus (which derives from Sleeper Plus Meals) and includes 3 accommodation types
- Open Section Berths
- "Cabins for One" = traditional roomettes. Room has sink and "combolet" a toilet disguised as a footstool. Underneath bed at night.
- "Cabins for Two = traditional Double Bedrooms and Compartments (room F). Room has sink and enclosed toilet annex.
Common shower.

Prestige - large room with double bed, toilet, shower.

All accommodation types are available year round. Berths were not sold during the height of the pandemic but became available again in April.

Pricing is much simpler than Amtrak. Three fare seasons, peak, shoulder and off-peak. Two inventory classes, discount and non-discount. Discount has refund limits and inventory is limited, but there is no "bucket" guesswork. Off-peak fares about 1/3rd lower the peak fares.

VIA does not structure their fares using the traditional rail fare plus accommodation charge method that Amtrak still does. All fares are per person. The per person fares quoted for the Cabin for 2 person in the chart you linked to is the same as per person in a Cabin for 1. Single occupancy in a Cabin for 2 is 150% of that.
 
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Appreciate that VIA's fare structure is simpler than Amtrak's. I am now seriously considering a trip next year on The Canadian, most likely during one the off-peak periods. How far in advance does it make sense to buy sleeper fares, and does VIA ever have "flash sales?" Does it, like Amtrak, re-price you for said sales if you have already purchased tickets? In other words, what are the best VIA pricing strategies? Appreciate any and all inisights.
 
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Appreciate that VIA's fare structure is simpler than Amtrak's. I am now seriously considering a trip next year on The Canadian, most likely during one the off-peak periods. How far in advance does it make sense to buy sleeper fares, and does VIA ever have "flash sales?" Does it, like Amtrak, re-price you for said sales if you have already purchased tickets? In other words, what are the best VIA pricing strategies? Appreciate any and all inisights.
They do run sales, but perhaps not so much in peak periods. You should sign up for the VIA Préférence rewards program, and for emails. For example, a sale in June offered 40% off Sleeper Plus during November-January.

My trip was in February of 2018, and I booked at a very substantial discount during a Thanksgiving sale in 2017. And on top of that, I was selected apparently at random a few weeks before the trip to receive an upgrade from Cabin for 1 to a Cabin for 2.

Unless things have changed, a single cross-country trip on the Canadian will elevate your status in VIA Préférence, bringing you coupons for discounts on Via travel the following year.
 
They do run sales, but perhaps not so much in peak periods. You should sign up for the VIA Préférence rewards program, and for emails. For example, a sale in June offered 40% off Sleeper Plus during November-January.

My trip was in February of 2018, and I booked at a very substantial discount during a Thanksgiving sale in 2017. And on top of that, I was selected apparently at random a few weeks before the trip to receive an upgrade from Cabin for 1 to a Cabin for 2.

Unless things have changed, a single cross-country trip on the Canadian will elevate your status in VIA Préférence, bringing you coupons for discounts on Via travel the following year.

Interestingly, I am a VIA Preference member. No joke: I joined 14 years ago and accumulated a grand total of 70 points and haven't been back to Canada since and those points have not expired, which is amazing.
 
There are three classes:

Economy = coach
Sleeper Plus (which derives from Sleeper Plus Meals) and includes 3 accommodation types
- Open Section Berths
- "Cabins for One" = traditional roomettes. Room has sink and "combolet" a toilet disguised as a footstool. Underneath bed at night.
- "Cabins for Two = traditional Double Bedrooms and Compartments (room F). Room has sink and enclosed toilet annex.
Common shower.

Prestige - large room with double bed, toilet, shower.

All accommodation types are available year round. Berths were not sold during the height of the pandemic but became available again in April.

Pricing is much simpler than Amtrak. Three fare seasons, peak, shoulder and off-peak. Two inventory classes, discount and non-discount. Discount has refund limits and inventory is limited, but there is no "bucket" guesswork. Off-peak fares about 1/3rd lower the peak fares.

VIA does not structure their fares using the traditional rail fare plus accommodation charge method that Amtrak still does. All fares are per person. The per person fares quoted for the Cabin for 2 person in the chart you linked to is the same as per person in a Cabin for 1. Single occupancy in a Cabin for 2 is 150% of that.
Do you happen to know the dates and range of Peak, Shoulder, and Off-Peak fares?
 
Do you happen to know the dates and range of Peak, Shoulder, and Off-Peak fares?

I called VIA last week and got this information because I am pining to do a trip next year:

Oct. 15-April 14 -- Off-Peak
April 15-May 31 -- Shoulder Season
June 1-Oct. 14 -- Peak

Unfettered access to Park car for Sleeper Plus passengers is only during off-peak. During peak and shoulder seasons Sleeper Plus passengers have access only from 4 to 10:30 p.m.

At least this is what my notes tell me. Others may have to confirm.
 
Sounds right to me. Looks like they dropped the Fall Shoulder season. Used to be September 15th-October 31st. Surprised me a couple months ago when I booked my Fall trip and I was able to get the same fare on October 29th as I was on November 1st and it made my trip work better. In 2019 and prior years November 1st was the earliest I could get off peak fares. Shoulder season fares are almost expensive as peak, only about 10% less. Full off peak is much cheaper.
 
Started to look at this trip and can't see at first glance whether meals are (only) included if you book a room, or even if there are different levels of 'meal' for different types of room.

Is it the same as Amtrak where roomette and bedroom passengers eat the same food in the same place at the same time or are there different dining arrangement dependant on which ticket you buy?

Also is one type of accomodation more social than another?

When is the end of winter for this trip as end to end snow may not be as interesting as seeing snow only in the mountains?

As mentioned here a few times the Canadian in more money than similar Amtrak LD journeys, are they still value for money?

Lots of questions

Thanks
 
Started to look at this trip and can't see at first glance whether meals are (only) included if you book a room, or even if there are different levels of 'meal' for different types of room.

Is it the same as Amtrak where roomette and bedroom passengers eat the same food in the same place at the same time or are there different dining arrangement dependant on which ticket you buy?

Also is one type of accomodation more social than another?

When is the end of winter for this trip as end to end snow may not be as interesting as seeing snow only in the mountains?

As mentioned here a few times the Canadian in more money than similar Amtrak LD journeys, are they still value for money?

Lots of questions

Thanks
Meals are included with any type of sleeper including upper/lower berths. Everyone enjoys the same meals in same dining car.

All accommodations have access to the Park car, With Prestige Class having slightly better options, but otherwise all equal.

To avoid total snow, maybe end of March/early April?

Value? Personal opinion is The Canadian is a whole different (better) class than any current Amtrak service.
 
There are 2 classes of sleeper service: Prestige and Sleeper Plus. All sleeping accommodations other than Prestige are Sleeper Plus, so they all get the same amenities.

During the off-season, Sleeper Plus passengers have full access to the Park car, but the first few rows in the dome are reserved for Prestige. During the peak season, Sleeper Plus passengers only have access to the Park car during certain times of the day. I don't know what the cutover date is from off to peak season, nor what the Park car access schedule is during peak.
 
Meals are included with any type of sleeper including upper/lower berths. Everyone enjoys the same meals in same dining car.

All accommodations have access to the Park car, With Prestige Class having slightly better options, but otherwise all equal.

To avoid total snow, maybe end of March/early April?

Value? Personal opinion is The Canadian is a whole different (better) class than any current Amtrak service.

Is there a specific place on the VIA website where the different accomodations and other cars are fully described? Being a lazy here but did spend 15 minutes last night and couldn't find full descriptions. I'm into detail planning on 2 other journeys at the moment and not giving this the attention it needs, sorry.


There are 2 classes of sleeper service: Prestige and Sleeper Plus. All sleeping accommodations other than Prestige are Sleeper Plus, so they all get the same amenities.

During the off-season, Sleeper Plus passengers have full access to the Park car, but the first few rows in the dome are reserved for Prestige. During the peak season, Sleeper Plus passengers only have access to the Park car during certain times of the day. I don't know what the cutover date is from off to peak season, nor what the Park car access schedule is during peak.

Sounds a bit overcomplicted reading that, but does it work well in practice?


The Park car is accessible after 4pm to Sleeper Plus passengers during peak season - or at least that was the case in summer 2022. Typically peak season starts sometime in April and ends sometime in October.

OK, it is obviously a good idea to understand how the train is set up, more research on my part.

Thanks to you all for usual excellent information, and sorry Northwestern for hi-jacking your thread.
 
The Park car is accessible after 4pm to Sleeper Plus passengers during peak season - or at least that was the case in summer 2022. Typically peak season starts sometime in April and ends sometime in October.
According to VIA's own documentation (the amenities comparison PDF) peak season Park Car restrictions are April 15th-October 15th. However reports on FB recently were that on the October 17th departure, restrictions were still in force. By my trip on October 31st the restrictions were off. All my trips since Prestige was instituted have been at the very end of October or the first week in November and the restrictions have always been off for those. I'd treat October 15th as soft and give it another week or so before counting on Park access.

The meals are the same, except Prestige gets hors d'oeuvres. Open section berth passengers are Sleeper Plus passengers entitled to full Sleeper Plus amenities, including meals, same as those in Sleeper Plus rooms. Prestige passengers are mixed in the same diner at meal times, although in peak when they run two diners, the forward diner is Sleeper Plus, while the rear is mixed Sleeper Plus and Prestige.

Prestige and Sleeper Plus passengers mix and the social situation is much the same. Perforce, open section berth passengers have to be a bit more social because they don't have doors to close😉.

Winter can last well into April in the mountains, although it might break earlier. It's Canada.

Service, food, and amenities,
are much better on the Canadian than anything Amtrak offers. VIA's off peak fares compare favorably Amtrak sleepers these days, with the generally higher bucket Amtrak fares now due to equipment shortage, so difference between Amtrak and VIA fares is much less, sometimes VIA can even be cheaper (especially with current USD/CAD exchange rates). VIA is a much better value proposition versus Amtrak these days.
 
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Another splendid answer, thank you zephyr17.

One aspect of the VIA Canadian not really covered here is how does the overall view compare with the Empire Builder and California Zephyr? Better, less interesting, different?
 
In terms of views, it is better somewhat better than the Empire Builder, although the time in the Rockies is likewise limited. Basically the best part is between Valemont and about an hour east of Jasper. The current schedule is good for viewing both directions, although the westbound you miss views east of Jasper because that is pre-dawn.

The views are not as good as the California Zephyr but the environment for taking in those views is much better with multiple dome cars.

The trip is most comparable with the Builder, with much time spent in the prairies. East of Winnipeg I find the many lakes and granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield quite interesting, especially around Sioux Lookout.
 
In terms of views, it is better somewhat better than the Empire Builder, although the time in the Rockies is likewise limited. Basically the best part is between Valemont and about an hour east of Jasper. The current schedule is good for viewing both directions, although the westbound you miss views east of Jasper because that is pre-dawn.

The views are not as good as the California Zephyr but the environment for taking in those views is much better with multiple dome cars.

The trip is most comparable with the Builder, with much time spent in the prairies. East of Winnipeg I find the many lakes and granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield quite interesting, especially around Sioux Lookout.
For some reasons that I am not quite able to lay my fingers on, Sioux Lookout has always been one of my favorite stops and the area around it holds a charm in my mind. The Canadian Shield overall is both fascinating and boring at the same time depending on ones mood. I enjoy just sitting in the dome and alternately looking out or dreaming away unless I am kicked out of the dome. Fortunately spending time in the Dome through the Canadian Shield was not a popular thing to do among the patrons on the trips that I took on the Canadian.
 
In terms of views, it is better somewhat better than the Empire Builder, although the time in the Rockies is likewise limited. Basically the best part is between Valemont and about an hour east of Jasper. The current schedule is good for viewing both directions, although the westbound you miss views east of Jasper because that is pre-dawn.

The views are not as good as the California Zephyr but the environment for taking in those views is much better with multiple dome cars.

The trip is most comparable with the Builder, with much time spent in the prairies. East of Winnipeg I find the many lakes and granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield quite interesting, especially around Sioux Lookout.

Superb, thank you.

Maybe not to everyone's taste but we appreciate the prairies and the deserts as much as the high mountains, The Empire Builder is one of our favourites so it sounds as though this is a trip for us.
 
This may have been mentioned earlier in this thread, but:

If you're flexible and willing to make last minute arrangements, you may be able to save $1,600 on 2 adults in a Cabin for 2 booked within a few weeks of departure on this web page:
https://www.viarail.ca/en/offers/sleeper-plus-class-deals/
Tickets on this page are non-refundable, non-exchangeable, and non-discountable.
 
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