Yesterday I had my first experience in flying Porter Airlines, a small intercity commuter airline based in Toronto with flights to Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax, Chicago, New York, and seasonal flights to Mont Tremblant; other Canadian and US cities are planned.
I can’t say enough nice things about this first experience with Porter. My mother, Jovette, warned me that I’d love flying with Porter. It must be the first stress free flight I’ve had in many years of flying.
Porter flies from Toronto’s island airport, which was only 15 minutes from the down town core and in spitting distance from the skydome. The island airport is handy to people living and working down town and really removes all the hassle of driving out to Pearson International airport, thus avoiding potential traffic problems and all the fussing, queuing, and waiting associated with going to any major airport the world over.
I arrived at the ferry terminal, which is a free service to passengers. I had some trouble with my reservation while using the automated check-in terminals and the ground attendant, Danielle, was very kind and helpful in resolving the issue with my ticket. The ferry ride was so short, one wonders why they just don’t build a road or concourse bridge. Still I welcomed the brief pause and chatted with Danielle as she shuttle back to the island at the end of her shift with the front desk.
Having already been issued a boarding pass, proceeding to the lounge was a simple matter of weighing and tagging my check-in luggage and passing through security, which was simplicity itself; I still had to pop-out the laptop, remove metal objects from my person, and my coat, but there were so few noon-day travellers that it took no time at all.
The lounge offered complementary coffee, sodas, juices, and bottled water along with free cookies, nuts, and WiFi. The lounge was clean and tidy, with lots of space and comfy chairs, lots of power points near chairs, several cubicles with internet connected Mac workstations and extra plugs, also free it appeared.
I had a short 15 minute wait before the flight. Boarding the aircraft took all of 5 minutes, partly do to the few travellers, but also because the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 aircraft only seats 70 passengers in total. It’s not like the typical overcrowded jets with their frustrated and tired travellers all fighting for storage space, arm rests, and comfortable exit row seats with some leg room. This aircraft appeared to have more leg room and comfortable seats than the average passenger jet. Departure was 5 minutes after the last person was seated; no long wait for tower clearance.
The Q400 is a turbo prop aircraft, yet is extremely quiet inside, maybe even quieter than your typical jet. Another nice thing about this flight and aircraft was that we flew much lower at 25 000 ft. vs 35 000 ft. of most commercial jet aircraft; this difference means there is actually a lot more interesting things to see outside the window on a clear day. Certainly handy for those who travel with children.
The flight attendants, Kathrina Celio and Joanne Perera were wonderful and because of the few passengers on this particular flight, had time to talk with me about the airline and listen to my cheery first impressions. They did say though that morning and evening flights tend to be a lot busier with almost full flights of people coming and going from one day meetings. The pair quickly served small sandwiches packs and choice of beverages from sodas, juices, beers, and wine were all free and included in the service. I myself had two small glasses of Canadian red wine served in a real glass, not plastic.
The hour and 15 minute flight to Montreal Trudeau (Dorval) passed by so quickly. The flight was so pleasant, that I wish it was just a bit longer, so that I might just sit and enjoy the moments of peace it afforded. Flying with Porter gave me the impression of train travel in Europe, simple, efficient, and comfortable. In many ways I wish I could fly with them between Canada and France. I’m sure Porter could out do the major international airlines for quality of service.
I found all the staff I talked to smiling, happy, and eager to help. Service was simple, efficient, and courteous. Once again, my thanks to Joanne, Kathrina, and Danielle for such a positive experience. It was much like how air travel used to be when I was a child travelling with my family.
I certainly will fly Porter again given the chance.