How to fix Via Rails wifi redirect problem

I was looking forward to getting some work done on the train from Toronto to Montreal – five hours of no interruptions, no meetings, no requests. However, when trying to connect to the train’s wifi, my browser went into a redirect loop, not allowing me to access the sign-in page to access the wifi network.

Strangely enough, my iPhone connected just fine so I went hunting for a solution. it looked like some people went as far as spoofing their MAC address, pretending to be a phone, but I found a simpler solution.

I use Cloud Flare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS server for privacy and speed. It turned out that the Via Rail wifi doesn’t work with custom DNS setups. This of course sucks, as the point of using Cloud Flare’s DNS is specifically to enhance security and prevent prying eyes from snooping on my connections. In effect, Via Rail’s wifi forced me to into a bare-bones connection to the train’s network.

Here’s how to fix Via Rail’s wifi redirect issue on a Mac. If you’re on a PC, I am sure there are similar steps you can take.

Open your system preferences

Open your network settings and select “Advanced”.

Click on “DNS”.

Remove all custom DNS settings and click “Apply”.

Reconnect to viarailwifi.ca and you should be able to connect to the train’s wifi network and get online. Good luck.

PS: Remember to reinstall your custom DNS settings when leaving the train. I highly recommend Cloud Flare’s 1.1.1.1 server. For me, it has been 100% fast, stable and secure while at the same time keeping my DNS requests out of my ISPs database. Why is this a good thing? DNS requests can be used to build databases on personal browsing habits, which in turn can get sold to advertisers. Keeping them private is an easy step towards online security.

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