Via Rail Toronto – Vancouver return: sleeper, all meals for $867!
Fellow Veterans who read my July 2013 blog, know ViaRail gives a special 25% military discount to Veterans with proof of service, and to serving Canadian military at any time of the year. This even applies when ViaRail already have a greatly discounted sale. The extra 25% military saving still applies even with a Via “50% off sale” price!
So, ViaRail announced a system-wide “50% off sale” today, running till Sunday, March 23rd for travel until June 15th, 2014.
Now imagine you had always wanted to travel by train from Toronto to Vancouver and back again. – It takes 4 overnights (3.5 days exactly) each way. The trip includes 3 excellent restaurant style meals every day. – Actually, the night you leave Toronto (at 10 pm), or Vancouver (at 8:30 pm) ViaRail assumes you have already had your supper. So, the passengers are entertained in the bar car and observation cars with an endless array of finger food sandwiches, cakes and free-flowing champagne, courtesy of ViaRail. -(It makes for a congenial start to feeling welcome aboard among the passengers, where at best 50% are Canadians!) – You have access to showers with free toiletries and towels provided, to bar cars and to observation cars. There are snacks, fruit, juice, tea and coffee and good conversation around the clock. The passenger train makes frequent stops to let 200 car plus freight trains pass, that would not fit on a siding. There is a good chance you will arrive at your destination a few hours late, but who is in a hurry. The “late arrival” thing is a game for many passengers, because if you are more than 4 hours late at either your Toronto or Vancouver destination, you get a huge credit for free future Via Rail travel in the next 12 months.
Price differences come in when ordering either an “upper” sleeper, a “lower” sleeper, or a “cabin” (Cabins are for either 1 or 2 people.)
Personally, I think ordering two “lowers” adjacent across an aisle is an excellent choice for a couple with some mobility issues. Lower beds are wider and more comfortable than uppers. Also, if as a couple, you order an upper and a lower together, the upper is a bit claustrophobic and has no view out the window at night. Also you have to be able you climb the few steps up on a ladder! (An upper is OK for a not too large adult, who can climb 5 steps and has good mobility.) – The same ladder issue applies to a “Cabin for 2”, which is the same price per person as a “Cabin for 1.” But a “Cabin for 1” has no ladders involved. All cabins have private toilets.
Very frequently, the “upper” sleepers that could go to same sex strangers remain unsold, which makes choosing 2 lowers across an aisle an even better choice for a (mature?) couple, who can manage having a 30 inch aisle and two heavy curtains separating them while sleeping. (You can barely hear your partner snore across an aisle, I am told!)
The following prices, include all meals, fees and taxes and are for one (1) person travelling Toronto to Vancouver and returning again Vancouver to Toronto:
……….Regular. / 50% off sale/ 50%off plus 25 % Mil. discount
Upper: ..$2312…./ $1156……/ ………. Only $867
Lower: ..$2721…./ $1361…../ ………. Only $1020
Cabin: ..$3487…./ $1744…../ ………. Only $1308
The above prices are per person going on a return trip between Toronto and Vancouver, starting from either city. Prices are rounded to the nearest dollar. For a single one way trip, just take half the prices shown above.
Going from Toronto to Vancouver a typical layover in Vancouver is either 1 or 2 nights. When my wife and I booked the downtown 3 star Sandman Hotel on Davie Street in February 2014 ( a king bed with kitchenette and a view of the Bay from an upper floor) the hotel dropped their daily rate from $149 to $109, when I required the “government rate” for our leisure travel on the strength of my NDI 75, military Record of Service card. No problem! – (The hotel manager even referred to me as “Captain Nanders”, having gleaned my former rank from my NDI75 photo card.)
These 50% off sales are put on a few times a year by Via Rail. The sale period is normally only a few days, but the travel period is usually up to about 90 days into the future, and applies to all travel, including short distances like Toronto to Montreal.
Remember, as I outlined in my July 2013 blog, you have to quote the military discount code 12070, and bring proof of military service to a ViaRail station agent for verification. Also carry your discharge papers or your handy NDI 75 (Record of Service Card) on your trip with you, for any inspection.
The good news is that your spouse, children or grandchildren traveling with you on the same trip get the same 25% military discount as you do.
In the above example of travelling across Canada it is particularly sweet. ViaRail lowered their regular fares from a 100% to only 50% for a few days. And now, as a Veteran you get another 25% off on the price that is already cut in half!! – That means you pay only 37.5%, or less than 38 cents on the dollar of the regular price to do your travelling before June 16th, 2014.
This is one advantage being a Veteran.
If you have the funds, it is a good time to travel as a Veteran!
P.S.: If you are in a hurry to book this travel and have a “burning question”, you can email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eventually, though, it would be interesting to fellow Veterans, if you would share your experiences here as a Blog.