I went to Toronto for the TBEX travel blogger conference, and flew Porter Airlines for the first time. While most flights go into the Pearson airport, my Porter flight arrived at the downtown Billy Bishop Airport, which is two minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. You can actually see the CN Tower (which looks like Seattle’s Space Needle) and downtown from the airline exit ramp. And if your staying downtown, even better. They run a free shuttle every 20 minutes dropping you off very close to the MTCC, Toronto’s convention center. My hotel was 1.5 blocks from there, making it a cheap way to get to/from the airport.
On board, the flight attendants are dressed in really cute designer outfits with retro pill box hats. I couldn’t find a royalty-free photo to use, but you can see the Porter uniforms here. Even on short flights, they serve complementary mini meals, including free wine and beer in actual glass.
If flying out of Billy Bishop Airport, get there early to enjoy the nicest waiting areas I’ve seen (outside of airport clubs you have to pay for). While they do offer food for purchase (salads, sandwiches), the snack area includes complementary shortbread cookies, roasted almonds, soda/juice/water, Starbuck’s coffee, tea, and cappuccino/latte machines.
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The seating area is comfortable and sectioned off for more privacy. There are different types of seating areas too. Some that are more open, some near the food/drinks.
So it’s all perfect, right? Well, Porter mechanics are striking right now, which led to a lot of grumbling by fellow passengers who blamed the strike for cancelled flights the day I traveled as well as in previous weeks. I can’t verify if that’s true. The night I was traveling, it was very chaotic, with numerous cancelled flights which the airline said was because of storms in Toronto and around the U.S. East Coast. Having seen the storms that day, and arriving in Newark late that night (to huge thunderstorms) it’s quite possible that the storms were the culprit that day. The airport has a curfew (it’s on an island with residents), so I’d advise not scheduling the last flight out of the night in case of delays.
In any case, it was a pleasure to fly Porter, especially to hang out in the Porter waiting area where not only weren’t we nickle-and-dimed, we were given lots of freebies. And you can check one bag for free. I had to gate check my bag because the planes are pretty small and normal wheelie bags won’t fit in the overhead. They bring the bags back to you at the gate.
Have you flown Porter? What’s your favorite airline?