Affordable Travel Guide to Porter Airlines

Toronto-based Porter Airlines Revives Civilized Air Travel

Porter Airlines

Right down to the 1960s pillbox caps that the female flight attendants wear, Porter Airlines has ushered in a new era of style and civility in passenger airlines flights. Beyond the chic uniforms, travelers are consistently surprised to be welcomed on board with a complimentary beverage (beer, wine or a soft drink), comfy leather seats and a soothing taupe décor on its fleet of 26 (and growing) Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turboprops. These aircraft are widely regarded for their quietness (hence the “Q”400), low emissions, excellent fuel efficiency and speed.

Taking Off with Opportunity

Porter Airlines stepped out of the gate in 2006, answering multiple needs (and they did it right): over-congestion at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (the major facility that serves Toronto, Canada’s busiest air traffic hub); the efficiency of having a downtown Toronto airport for business travelers (you land at Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island, within minutes of the main downtown commercial areas, hospitals and universities); access to frequent flights between cities in Ontario (Toronto and the nation’s capital Ottawa), Québec (Montréal, Québec City and ski resort Mont Tremblant), Moncton, New Brunswick, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Once Porter established itself and its reputation for good service grew, it expanded into flying to other Ontario cities such as Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Windsor, and Sault Ste. Marie. Now it has further expanded its routes to include Boston, New York, Burlington (Vermont), Chicago, Washington DC, and Myrtle Beach. Proposed routes that will be added on in the future are Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. There has always been a joking east-versus-west competitiveness in Canada, and the east now has it all over the west; the west doesn’t have Porter!

Airport and Fleet

Using Toronto’s island airport as its hub (the Q400s are suitable for STOL (short take-off and landing) runways, making it able to land almost anywhere), Porter Airlines keeps its jaunts short, and enables less serviced routes to be accessible, even if there’s a stop-over required to make them viable. Porter has provided an excellent alternative to the other carriers servicing these cities. They even offer private charters.

The VIPorter rewards program offers travelers a way to earn free flights. Other perquisites include a lounge at the main terminal that features very comfortable upholstered seating, and a snack bar when passengers can get free soft drinks and snacks while they wait for connecting flights. But be warned: the section of the restaurant area that sells beer and wine, and light meals such as sandwiches does not accept cash as payment; credit or debit card only. Porter continues to focus heavily on service, offering regular seat sales to its patrons. With just 70 seats per aircraft, the flights never feel crowded (you can only have one seat mate) and empty quite quickly if you need to zoom across the narrow channel to downtown Toronto; right now, that short hop is serviced by a ferry that runs every 15 minutes, but a tunnel is currently under construction and expected to be ready by some time in 2014.

The Future of Porter?

Porter is currently working on purchasing planes that permit long-haul flights; this is being protested by some residents of the downtown Toronto waterfront condominiums (citing noise issues), and the runways will have to be extended, so it’s far from a done deal. If it is all approved, this would expand Porter’s destinations and carry its great service outside of just Canada and the United States. We’ll keep you posted on any news from Porter when it happens. Porter Airlines manages to make you feel like the heyday of airline travel has returned. And these days, that’s a big bonus. Civility in the air is back.

More in Airlines

Air Canada

Air Canada

Still a Major Global Airline Despite Inherent Service Issues
Air Pacific Airlines

Air Pacific Airlines

Flying the Friendly Skies of Fiji
Air Tahiti Nui

Air Tahiti Nui

Start Your South Pacific Vacation Right; Fly Local
Iberia Airlines

Iberia Airlines

Spain’s Venerable Airline Benefits from Merger with British Airways
Qantas Airlines

Qantas Airlines

Australia’s Largest Airline is a Globally Recognized Brand
Ryanair

Ryanair

Ryanair leads the way with cheap flights around Europe
Westjet

Westjet

An Affordable Alternative Canadian Airline