Ever since the launched service a couple years ago I’ve been looking for an excuse to fly on Porter Air. They’re a small airline based out of Toronto’s City Centre airport – on a small island in the heart of downtown – and they are a bit of a throwback to the classic era of aviation. No three course meals in flight but that’s because their average flight is only about an hour. And there are plenty things about the service to love.
The first is their home base, Toronto City Airport. Rather than a 30-40 minute drive (on a good day) out to the international airport north of town, City Airport is nestled right in the heart of downtown. The airline offers a free shuttle bus from Union Station (~10 minutes most days) and then there is the free ferry offered by the city. Yes, a ferry. That’s because the airport is actually an island. The ferry is fun (one Torontoian calls it the most fun part of the trip) but what awaits after the ferry is the true Porter Air experience.
|A couple Porter Air Q400s queue up for departure at Toronto’s City Centre Airport.|
Check-in was efficient and quick, as was the security screening. Because Porter is the only airline flying from the airport there are no crowds to speak of. But there is Mr. Porter’s Lounge. They’ve got a lounge that rivals just about every other lounge on the continent I’ve been inside for a North American carrier. Free drinks, and espresso/cappuccino machine and plenty of snacks. Plus free wifi and a few computers available to use. The best part of the lounge is that it is also the gate area. Everyone has access to it.
Boarding goes straight from the lounge and out to the planes – a fleet of DASH8-Q400s. They aren’t sexy, but they are damn efficient. And quiet. As an added bonus, Porter has two fewer rows of seats on their version, resulting in a very reasonable amount of legroom at every seat.
There are no long waits to taxi once the plane is ready to go – they close the door and you’re off.
|Our Flight Attendant, prepping the cabin for departure|
The in-flight crew was wonderfully friendly and seemed incredibly happy to be working there, even though their lunch went missing on our flight. Their uniforms are also a throw-back to the golden age of flying, with sharp lines and pill box hats. I’m a fan.
The in-flight service was also top notch. Plenty of choices for snacks and for drinks, including a Toronto micro-brew beer (Steamwhistle) and some decent wine options. The beverage service was in real glassware, something that even a first class ticket doesn’t guarantee these days, depending on the airline. And if you weren’t quite done with your drink (or your second, in my case) due to the short duration of the flight, they were happy to switch you over to a plastic cup that you could hold on to through the landing.
The only downside at all that I can figure is that there is no pre-clearance in Toronto for Porter Air departures. But we still saved time overall by not having to get to the airport ridiculously early and then waiting around after pre-clearance. And they don’t have all that great a frequent flyer program, at least when it comes to partners and whatnot. Still, the flights are short enough that I’m probably willing to give up the points for the quality of the flight experience.
And in the end most of that doesn’t seem to matter all that much when you get a view like this on departure. Yeah, I’m a fan, soup to nuts, of the Porter Air experience. Too bad I don’t fly to Canada all that often or I’d be using them a lot more.
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I'm glad it was so good for you! (And isn't the ferry fun? They're talking about building a tunnel, and there has been talk about a bridge. I say, MORE FERRY!)
Yeah, Porter is awesome. Living and working downtown, it makes it so quick and easy, even relaxing, to make little ventures to a good number of major north east North American cities. Who ever heard of *strolling* to the airport? This is very useful both for business and pleasure. Can’t for them to expand to Philly and DC.
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