I’ve sat in my fair share of Business Class and let me tell you right away that after experiencing it for the very first time, I never wanted to go back to Economy. You really do get a little spoiled on Business class.
The first time I ever took advantage of Business class was right after one of the VIA Rail strikes (I was no longer a student anymore so I was going for adult fair tickets by then). Right after the strike, all tickets went on a 60%, quite the deal back then. I have yet to see another promotion that good. I bought several tickets at once for all my upcoming trips that I had planned anyway, so I really took advantage while I had the chance.
Moreover, I always wanted to check out the VIA Rail lounges, so this was my chance. Lounges may seem unnecessarily fancy, but when you’re sitting in there drinking free beverages, sitting on comfortable seats and in a quiet room, it can start making a difference in your travels. I remember after a few times in the lounge, I find myself purposely going to the train station a little earlier just to enjoy the lounge longer, rather than sitting at home waiting to go to the train station. If you have your laptop, tablet or smartphone, you can use the wi-fi while waiting too.
The lounge may not feel as great if you are just going from one city to the next because you will not have much time to be in there, but it can be useful if you need to transfer trains. If you have a few hours to kill before your transfer and you don’t feel like walking around the city while you wait, it’s raining, freezing cold outside or have some work to do, then the lounges can come in handy. But I would not overpay for a train ticket just to go into the lounge, unless it fits within your budget. I got lucky and on Business class a few times for work, if you can get that perk. With the economy ever so fragile, companies are starting to shift employee business trips to economy transportation, which is probably the right thing to do anyway.
Once on board the train, the seats are more spacious than economy. The seat can lean back a lot more and one fun thing is that they have curtains for your seats, so you won’t have to worry about the sun shinning in your face while you take a nap. The biggest perk in Business class to me is the free meal. There are times when the long train ride slips right into lunch or dinner time, so it’s great that they provide a free meal, as well as wine. I’ve always enjoyed the meals, so kudos to VIA Rail!
All in all, if you ever get the chance to sit in Business class (promotion/discount, fits your budget, paid by work, etc.), I would say go for the experience, even if it is just one time. Just remember that once you get sucked into the perks, it is hard to go backwards. Regardless of Business class, I still think travelling by the train is still the most comfortable way to travel. It definitely beats the bus and plane.