Oops, First Class

As regular readers have noticed, I have been quite absent for these pages. I guess life has caught up with me and my interest in photography has also been pulling on my attention. One reason I have had less free time is because I’ve been travelling more. Primarily because one of our guys at work, who used to make these trips, has moved on to more Anglophone pastures in Toronto. So I’ve the calls and piling up frequent flier miles.

Yesterday I travelled to Ottawa for an inspection with one of our more interesting clients. In the rush to book my train fare, I either accidentally chose the wrong category (the difference between “Value” and “Comfort” doesn’t necessarily suggest difference in standing) or all of the “Value” tickets had been taken. I’m fairly sure it was the latter, but I’m not entirely sure. In any case, our client isn’t really a penny pincher.

Completely forgetting what type of ticket I had booked, yesterday morning I stocked up on coffee and a bite to eat since my train would be getting into Ottawa around noon. As I showed my ticket to the agent at the gate he said “First class, car at the end.” I was a bit dumbfounded. “Huh? Did I mistakenly reserve a first class ticket?” I panicked a little thinking that the client would complain that I was living high-on-the-hog on their dime. Then I thought about it a little. It was still less than the price of a plane ticket and really not that much more than renting a car. So I just enjoyed it while I could.

It was quite an experience for economy class boy like me who’s used to long distance ground travel consisting of buses with overflowing toilets and a mix of body odor and pot smoke or packed trains with more body odor and men pleasuring themselves. First of all, they had train attendants who came around and served food. Kinda like they used to do on planes, remember? But it wasn’t just some sort of turkey wrap heated up in a paper-foil bag. It was a real meal like they used to serve on planes. It had like three or four courses. And they came around with hot towels beforehand to freshen up. Then on the return trip, there was a complimentary cocktail plus up to two glasses of wine with dinner. I can see how the fat cats get fat. Then… then… they came around with little cups of chocolate which was in addition to the mille feuille dessert that had come with dinner.

As you can see I’m quite blown away. Though I think I still have my head on straight enough not to ‘require’ traveling this way from now on. But I have to say I wouldn’t pass on it if offered, especially for a long distance trip. So from now on I’ll know that when flying that those on the other side of the curtain are getting more than just foot massages and candied yams.


~ by Frank on September 24, 2008.

7 Responses to “Oops, First Class”

  1. Live it up, man.

  2. There’s also free wifi in first class (as far as I know).

    According to my reliable sources, there is hardly any difference between the “full fare” economy price and the first class price. Economy is subject to various discounts, usually based on booking in advance. But if you’re booking last minute you might as well go all the way and go first class. (But shhhh! Don’t tell anyone or first class will be sold out!)

  3. OK, I just poked around on Via’s web site. Montreal to Ottawa (return) can go as low as $69 if you can get the deep discounts. But full price economy class is $115. First class with discounts is $155, but first class full fare is $189.

    The whole process of fares is pretty Byzantine, but there you are. If I had the choice between $115 in plug class and $155 in first class (with bigger seats, a meal, free drinks, free newspapers, and free wifi), I’d be all over that first class fare.

  4. Alison often travels to Toronto by VIA 1. It takes slightly longer (with two cab rides from downtown Montreal to Dorval and from Pearson to downtown Toronto plus the required time to show up early, wait for lugagge etc.) but it is much more relaxing. An cheaper than flying with current surcharges and the taxi fares.

    I went along once and it was really nice (ommitting the fact that I forgot my laptop in the train, but they found it and handed it back to me; probably wouldn’t have happened in Economy).

    I think there is an open bar as well, since I saw a Russian in our cabin getting very drunk. But that is maybe only on the evening trains…

  5. I used to take that 1st Class train…to Ottawa.. Once it was the week between Xmas and New Years,,, there was an attendant for just the 4 of us in first class.
    I was like so impressed with the service…


  6. That sounds marvelous. Maybe we’ll try going to Winterlude again this year, on the train.

  7. Lucky you! and you know what, I’ll bet it’s probably far more relaxing a ride than domestic first class on AC or worse, United. Which I was ‘lucky’ to try once and is really 3 times the price for very little benefit IMO (free booze on the way to a client meeting…)

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