A couple days ago, I was flying from Kingston YGK to Las Vegas LAS, via Toronto YYZ. Unfortunately, there was very heavy fog in YGK, and a flight from YYZ was diverted to Ottawa YOW, and there were rolling delays at YGK. As a result of the delays, there wasn’t going to be enough time to catch my connection to LAS. I approached Air Canada, and they suggested I wait for a couple hours (thank goodness I didn’t, the flight I was originally scheduled to fly, around 5PM, didn’t fly out until close to midnight!). I remembered reading about the Air Canada/VIA Rail Reprotection Agreement, which allows Air Canada passengers to use VIA Rail on a segment if it is significantly disrupted.
This is what happened. The Air Canada agent told me that she put notes in the PNR that I was travelling on VIA for YGK-YYZ, but the coupon for the flight segment remained intact. The agent put a “hold” on the first segment, so that the coupon wouldn’t change, either to no-show or anything else nefarious.
All I had to do is go to VIA Rail with my boarding pass, told them I was delayed, and they immediately issued tickets to YYZ within 5 minutes. It’s interesting that they made no verification that I actually had permission from Air Canada to take the train. I guess the understanding is that anybody can use their Air Canada boarding pass on VIA Rail, however, unless Air Canada has “protected” that segment within your itinerary, not flying it would act as a no-show and invalidate the rest of your itinerary.
All in all, it was a very simple process, and not one that is well-known or well-used. If you have a significant delay that could be easily remedied by travelling on VIA Rail instead, I recommend that you remind the Air Canada agent of this option!