VIA Corridor meals and business class?

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thully

OBS Chief
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Sep 2, 2011
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Ann Arbor, MI
I’m currently planning on taking the VIA corridor from Montreal to Windsor this Saturday (train 65, connecting to 75). While this looks like a solid connection, I am wondering about my food options onboard, particularly since I’ll probably have to board too early to get lunch elsewhere and may not have enough of a layover to grab dinner in Toronto. I’m also a bit concerned about sitting in coach that long, as the seats seemed kind of hard for the trip to Windsor and Montreal.

On my way up, I seem to remember them only having cold sandwiches, though I could be wrong. Is this generally the case on the VIA Corridor, and are the selections any better in Business class? Also, how does the business seating compare to coach? Just trying to decide if I should upgrade for this trip - it was less of an issue on the way up since I took the Windsor-Toronto and Toronto-Montreal legs on separate days, but now that I’m going all the way I’m wondering if I should upgrade…
 

Bob Dylan

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I’m currently planning on taking the VIA corridor from Montreal to Windsor this Saturday (train 65, connecting to 75). While this looks like a solid connection, I am wondering about my food options onboard, particularly since I’ll probably have to board too early to get lunch elsewhere and may not have enough of a layover to grab dinner in Toronto. I’m also a bit concerned about sitting in coach that long, as the seats seemed kind of hard for the trip to Windsor and Montreal.

On my way up, I seem to remember them only having cold sandwiches, though I could be wrong. Is this generally the case on the VIA Corridor, and are the selections any better in Business class? Also, how does the business seating compare to coach? Just trying to decide if I should upgrade for this trip - it was less of an issue on the way up since I took the Windsor-Toronto and Toronto-Montreal legs on separate days, but now that I’m going all the way I’m wondering if I should upgrade…
Nice trip, wish I was in the Great White North!

As you probably know, Food and Beverage Service on the VIA Corridor is done by the OBS utilizing a CART similar to what Airlines do and what the Hiawatha used to do.

Last time I rode on the Corridor ( pre COVID)the Coach Food was Cold Sandwiches, Salads and a prepared desert but my information isn't current.
BC was far Superior with Hot Entrees etc, similar to the Food and Drink on Acela FC.

Toronto's Union Station ( the Lounge there is nice,comparable to an Amtrak Metro Lounge) used to have lots of places to grab food and drink, but since I haven't been there in over 2 years I can't comment on this.

I've found Coach to be OK on the VIA Corridor Trains, but if the Upgrade to BC isn't too Much, it's worth it for the Long trip from Montreal to Windsor IMO.

Hopefully someone who has ridden recently has up to date info!
 
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fdaley

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upstate New York
I'm not sure if there are still pandemic-related reductions in service, but pre-pandemic the food options in VIA business class were far superior to what was available in coach. BC had hot meals, stainless cutlery and glassware vs. the cold sandwiches and snacks in coach. So the upgrade might be well worth it for an all-day trip.
 
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VIA's Business service was on the decline before Covid. Only one of three corridor trips we took in 2019 featured the "full business service" as @fdaley has described, which was the standard for many years. One featured meals served in the foil heating pans with plastic cutlery and plastic "glassware" and the other cold prepackaged sandwiches and salads with plastic forks and no dessert. On the one train many passengers (in Business) had brought takeout food and I joked with the woman across the aisle how good hers looked. She said that particular train was "always like this".
 

Urban Sky

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VIA's Business service was on the decline before Covid. Only one of three corridor trips we took in 2019 featured the "full business service" as @fdaley has described, which was the standard for many years. One featured meals served in the foil heating pans with plastic cutlery and plastic "glassware" and the other cold prepackaged sandwiches and salads with plastic forks and no dessert. On the one train many passengers (in Business) had brought takeout food and I joked with the woman across the aisle how good hers looked. She said that particular train was "always like this".
I've been travelling in Business Class between Montreal and Toronto quite a few times since last October and I recall the meal service to be what I was used to from the years before Covid. Not sure about the alcoholic beverage service (which was definitely suspended in February), but food was served hot and in a ceramic plate with metal cutlery and the customary bun and dessert...
 

chickpea

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East Coast
I just rode that route in large part. Cold food and hot drinks, but I don't remember hot food options. (I have not been in business class.) One issue I had: you needed to be where the cart started to have a bunch of options - by the time the cart got to me it was very limited. There are certainly options for food in and around the station in Toronto, but it also depends on your timing how many are open. (Honestly the only thing that seems to always be open are the zillion Beavertail outlets... LOL!) IMHO the best option is to get food in Montreal to take with you, there is a lot of choice there and better food generally. :)
 

thully

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733
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Ann Arbor, MI
I ended up upgrading to business class on train 65 connecting to 75 - was a bit unsure about the cost, but the price went down this morning and I used their current flex-can elation policy to cancel my economy ticket and book it (which incurred no fees, unlike a change). Switched into one of the single seats in the 2-1 configuration with the help of the agent at the Montreal business lounge. I do think it’s weird that VIA assigns seats but does not allow customers to select them online beyond an aisle/window preference - seems like they should either not reassign seats like Amtrak or allow interactive seat selection like airlines.

The food was hot - seemed somewhat like Amtrak flex meals, perhaps a little better. I am glad I upgraded since the train ended up being over an hour late into Toronto, making our layover considerably shorter. Would have been dicey running to get food with our train arriving after a the scheduled departure of 75 to Windsor. As it stood, 65 did in fact become 75, so I just remained in the business car, switching seats once the Toronto passengers left the car. It does seem a little odd that they do that but give it a different train number as opposed to running through trains with one number…

in any case, we're leaving Chatham now running about an hour late. I am happy I did the upgrade, though that is still a bit long for a corridor run. It is my longest train run since COVID, though, and nice to get a longer experience on VIA than just Windsor-Toronto. Hope to ride the Canadian soon…
 

Urban Sky

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I do think it’s weird that VIA assigns seats but does not allow customers to select them online beyond an aisle/window preference - seems like they should either not reassign seats like Amtrak or allow interactive seat selection like airlines.
A new, modern, reservation system with improved functionality is in the process of being implemented as we speak…

As it stood, 65 did in fact become 75, so I just remained in the business car, switching seats once the Toronto passengers left the car. It does seem a little odd that they do that but give it a different train number as opposed to running through trains with one number…
VIA already uses one single number for Quebec-Montreal-Ottawa trains, but these trains really operate as one single train with a layover of approximately 30 minutes in Montreal. Doing the same here would require a change in train number every time the cyling plan changes and needlessly cause confusion among staff and passengers…
 
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