Travel

VIA Rail Premier status

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 14th, 2019 3:28 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 30, 2018
136 posts
466 upvotes

VIA Rail Premier status

Hey RFDers, my total amount spent since 2018/04/01 will be around $1,850 by 2019/04/01. VIA Rail recently pre-bumped me to Privilege status. Was wondering if it’s worth it to spend the extra $150 to reach $2,000 for the Premier status.

Few perks unique to Premier status is the additional two coupons which would be only an additional 1,725 in Preference points. I travel a lot for work, but only book Escape fares, so the other perks are kind of useless as they relate all to having Economy Plus or Business class tickets. Priority boarding is not very important to me either.

Any thoughts? Much appreciated!
19 replies
Deal Addict
Oct 6, 2015
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You probably have a crazy big treasure trove of VIA Preference points by taking advantage of that 10k bonus promo earlier this year. So the 50% off coupon for the Canadian could be very useful if you wanted to take a trip out west. In Sleeper class, of course..

Having said that, VIA often gives all Preference members the ability to redeem at 40% off in the off-season, but they haven't this year (yet). If you've never done the Canadian through the mountains in the middle of the winter, its an interesting experience... And the food is excellent.


The so-called 'benefits', bleh, pretty meaningless if you just travel on Escape tickets most of the time.

BTW, 2925 points gets you a $500-$600 trip, so 1725 points, "in theory", could be worth $295. If you do a redemption on the excellent Jasper-Prince Rupert train, my personal favourite.
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Oct 18, 2014
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burnt69 wrote: You probably have a crazy big treasure trove of VIA Preference points by taking advantage of that 10k bonus promo earlier this year. So the 50% off coupon for the Canadian could be very useful if you wanted to take a trip out west. In Sleeper class, of course..

Having said that, VIA often gives all Preference members the ability to redeem at 40% off in the off-season, but they haven't this year (yet). If you've never done the Canadian through the mountains in the middle of the winter, its an interesting experience... And the food is excellent.


The so-called 'benefits', bleh, pretty meaningless if you just travel on Escape tickets most of the time.

BTW, 2925 points gets you a $500-$600 trip, so 1725 points, "in theory", could be worth $295. If you do a redemption on the excellent Jasper-Prince Rupert train, my personal favourite.
I've never done my research on VIA and this post alone convinced me to try it out as an alternative to flying. $2k is very reasonable (compared to AC's $20k) and worth it for the 50% coupon alone.
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Oct 6, 2015
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McKinsey wrote: I've never done my research on VIA and this post alone convinced me to try it out as an alternative to flying. $2k is very reasonable (compared to AC's $20k) and worth it for the 50% coupon alone.

Lol, well definitely do your research, and if you are going to spend 4 days on the train, in sleeper, you will need to have a high tolerance for delays. As they are very often delayed. But you'll always be well fed with great food, that's for sure.
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Feb 7, 2017
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And...
Nothing beats train travel for meeting interesting people
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Dec 18, 2007
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I would say it's worth it to spend the extra bit.
Not sure if they still do it, but I spent a bunch of points on travel within Italy. Amazing experience.

I miss taking the train...I'm considering taking the Canadian during Christmas time...
We'll see though...
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Oct 6, 2015
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IceBlueShoes wrote: I would say it's worth it to spend the extra bit.
Not sure if they still do it, but I spent a bunch of points on travel within Italy.
No the ability to redeem outside of VIA was deleted years ago.
Deal Addict
Mar 1, 2016
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also, and not sure if this is always the way, when I got the Premier status in December they awarded status then, I got the 4 coupons, and then the 4 coupons again May 1, so the gain was doubled.
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Mar 1, 2016
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burnt69 wrote: Lol, well definitely do your research, and if you are going to spend 4 days on the train, in sleeper, you will need to have a high tolerance for delays. As they are very often delayed. But you'll always be well fed with great food, that's for sure.
it's a fun experience. actually did segment runs in September to get the 10000 points to do the trip again,
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Oct 6, 2015
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foreigncontent wrote: it's a fun experience. actually did segment runs in September to get the 10000 points to do the trip again,
Yeah it'd be really fun to do as a group. I find its full of foreigners (literally), which can be pretty interesting. There's a trip that's organized for retired railway managers that they put on every February and its a riot apparently.
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Nov 10, 2018
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PointsHubby wrote: And...
Nothing beats train travel for meeting interesting people
And nothing beats sitting at one of the forward cars sucking in/breathing in all of that diesel smoke. Canadian Rail standards are pretty poor when it comes to the pollution those engines make.
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Feb 7, 2017
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angryaudifanatic wrote: And nothing beats sitting at one of the forward cars sucking in/breathing in all of that diesel smoke. Canadian Rail standards are pretty poor when it comes to the pollution those engines make.
What’s your point
And exactly how does this contribute to the convo at hand
:facepalm:

OPs clearly on a budget
Their options are going to be...
Bus or Train
(Individual Car or Plane... probably too expensive for them)
Of all 4 the Train has the smallest carbon footprint
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Oct 6, 2015
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angryaudifanatic wrote: And nothing beats sitting at one of the forward cars sucking in/breathing in all of that diesel smoke. Canadian Rail standards are pretty poor when it comes to the pollution those engines make.
Fortunately on the long distance trains, you're almost always at least 2-3 cars back, and can be as many as 25-27 cars back if you book in a sleeper over the summer.
Of all 4 the Train has the smallest carbon footprint.
Actually planes probably have lower carbon footprints than long-distance Canadian passenger trains. Montreal-Vancouver costs AC something like $75 worth of fuel to fly (as I read in one of their in-flight magazines a few years back), or maybe 30-40 gallons of jet fuel. A train like the Canadian with 400 passengers has those 2 huge engines to fuel that burn 300-400 gallons an hour over 4 days.
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burnt69 wrote: Actually planes probably have lower carbon footprints than long-distance Canadian passenger trains. Montreal-Vancouver costs AC something like $75 worth of fuel to fly (as I read in one of their in-flight magazines a few years back), or maybe 30-40 gallons of jet fuel. A train like the Canadian with 400 passengers has those 2 huge engines to fuel that burn 300-400 gallons an hour over 4 days.
Well a 747 burns approximately one gallon of jet fuel per second, so unless the new ones are many multiples more efficient, that seems a bit off?

I think the $75 figure is/was per seat, rather than for the entire plane.
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Oct 6, 2015
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Manatus wrote: Well a 747 burns approximately one gallon of jet fuel per second, so unless the new ones are many multiples more efficient, that seems a bit off?

I think the $75 figure is per seat, rather than for the entire plane.
5154 gallons or so for an A320 which can fly 6.5 hours and 150 passengers is 5.28 gallons/hour/seat. Montreal-Vancouver is 4.5 hours, so 23.76 gallons. $3/gallon for jet fuel sounds about right, so $75/hour/seat makes sense. That was basically what the article I read in enRoute magazine implied.

A SD40-2 train engine (basically the same EMD 645 engine VIA uses in their engines) burns 180 gallons/hour in "notch 8", and there's 2 of them (plus generators) on a long-distance train like the Canadian. They're at the high power setting maybe half the time over a 96 hour trip or so. So 180 gallons * 96 / 400 seats = 43 gallons of diesel/jet fuel.

The train is interesting to take for other reasons, but don't think for a moment you're "saving the Earth" by taking it instead of flying long distances across Canada.
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Nov 3, 2006
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There's no way to redeem Via Preference points on the Maple Leaf train between Toronto-New York right?
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twotterdhc6 wrote: There's no way to redeem Via Preference points on the Maple Leaf train between Toronto-New York right?
You can redeem to Niagara Falls, ie: as far as the VIA-operated part of the trip goes. Normal "Corridor" rules apply.

But the rest has to be a paid (or reward) Amtrak reservation.
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burnt69 wrote: You can redeem to Niagara Falls, ie: as far as the VIA-operated part of the trip goes. Normal "Corridor" rules apply.

But the rest has to be a paid (or reward) Amtrak reservation.
Right of course, I guess that makes sense. But it costs $20 to get there with the daily GO service, so it would be a waste of points.
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twotterdhc6 wrote: Right of course, I guess that makes sense. But it costs $20 to get there with the daily GO service, so it would be a waste of points.
Yeah best redemptions points per dollar seem to be on the Canadian in Sleeper, or Jasper-Prince Rupert in Touring. 20 cents a point or so compared to "normal" prices.
Newbie
Nov 19, 2019
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5154 gallons or so for an A320 which can fly 6.5 hours and 150 passengers is 5.28 gallons/hour/seat. Montreal-Vancouver is 4.5 hours, so 23.76 gallons. $3/gallon for jet fuel sounds about right, so $75/hour/seat makes sense. That was basically what the article I read in enRoute magazine implied.

A SD40-2 train engine (basically the same EMD 645 engine VIA uses in their engines) burns 180 gallons/hour in "notch 8", and there's 2 of them (plus generators) on a long-distance train like the Canadian. They're at the high power setting maybe half the time over a 96 hour trip or so. So 180 gallons * 96 / 400 seats = 43 gallons of diesel/jet fuel.

The train is interesting to take for other reasons, but don't think for a moment you're "saving the Earth" by taking it instead of flying long distances across Canada.
Long time lurker, first time poster -- but I could not let this one stand unchallenged.

Airplanes burn most of their fuel on takeoff and landing. The numbers above assume a single direct Montreal --> Vancouver flight with no stops and no connections. Equally with the numbers you quoted above, VIA Rail services many cities in between, including major cities such as Kingston, Toronto, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Kamloops, as well as dozens of smaller cities and towns.

You also mention 400 passengers as a fixed number. Such fixed numbers have to be true for non-stop flights: you take off at the first destination, you land at the final destination, and no passengers get on in between. However, as noted above, train routes have intermediate stops, lots of them. Each of the in-between major cities mentioned above turns over enough passengers on the trans-Canada route, even in the depths of winter, to fill a commercial flight (varying sizes) on their own. Even with extreme cold warnings, there were enough passengers getting on in Winnipeg to pack the loading area of the station -- in summer, that line spills out and winds around the station lobby. (Jasper has this kind of turnover as well, but it uses the Edmonton airport for access, so I just fold it in with Edmonton for this purpose.) If you want to compare the Montreal --> Vancouver route on a total per-passenger basis, you need to add that multiplier in when calculating fuel economy per passenger. Alternately, you can calculate an approximate fuel cost comparison by including the flight fuel cost for each major segment and sub-segment of the cross-Canada journey: ie. Winnipeg --> Saskatoon plus Kingston --> Edmonton plus Toronto --> Vancouver plus Montreal -->Sudbury, and so on.

However, when you start adding in all those intermediate flights, you will quickly notice that most of them are not non-stop itineraries. Instead, you have to transfer at hubs (Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Calgary), several of which require the passenger to go out of their way to make the connection (increasing total km/miles flown and thus fuel spent). So many of the flight segments above will have two or more legs, which at least doubles fuel cost for that distance.

All these multipliers are cumulative.

Finally, I noticed you mentioned that the cross-Canada train had more than 27 cars in summer ... which carries a bit more than 400 passengers. In the HEP fleet, each coach car (fleet #s 8100–8147) can carry 60-62 passengers, so there are easily upwards of 400 passengers in the Economy section alone. Even in the depths of winter, I have never been on a train with fewer than 10 sleepers: and by the time you hit the Rockies, nearly every sleeping compartment will be booked.

In the spirit of RFD, I have found that maintaining Premier membership, without additional spending or promotion, will always give you enough points for a free once-a-year Montreal --> Vancouver sleeper trip, provided you take it between November and April. You require $2000 to reach Premier level. Each of those points is worth $3 at Premier level, so that gives you 6000 points. Two of your four coupons will give you 1125 points each and the third gives 550 points, making 8800 points. The fourth coupon halves the number of points required for a cross-country sleeper (including meals), which places the Toronto --> Vancouver route at 7500 point cost. The remainder goes to a free Montreal --> Toronto trip. This part is completely self-sustaining. (Or you could use one of the other coupons to halve the point cost of a Via 1 fare, or get a 20% $ reduction, or you could save those points toward a winter Prestige cross-country trip.)

I don't work for VIA Rail, I am just a moderately frequent passenger who still looks forward to my first Winnipeg --> Churchill run. Maybe next year.

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