Going Solo, Travel Narrative

Airline Adoration: I Heart Porter Air


While I love to travel, I don’t always love all of the hassle that goes along with it.  From security lines to taxi queues, sometimes I just want to get there already.  You see, I’m a rather impatient person; I’ve long believed that the eight most beautiful words in the English language–at least for anyone who flies frequently–are:

We are currently first in line for takeoff.

That is, until I discovered an airport (well, really two airports) and an airline that has completely reaffirmed my faith in–and love for–air travel.  Gather round, grab a complimentary bag of peanuts, and listen to the tale of Porter Airlines.

Porter considers itself a ’boutique’ airline; that is, it is small, customer-service focused, and a bit unique (though you could argue that simply being an airline that is customer-service based qualifies Porter as ‘unique’).  It is a Canadian company, but lucky for us down here in the states, Porter also flies to an ever-expanding number of cities in the US, including Boston, Washington, and New York City–though the main hub is Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Airport.  Which brings me to my first of many reasons why Porter Air rocks…


Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Airport is Fabulous

Where do I begin?  Oh right–at the beginning.  Let’s talk about parking.  You park in a tiny little lot that is steps from the…ferry dock.  Yes, you have to take a ferry to get to the airport.  The ferry spans a small channel of water maybe (MAYBE) two hundred yards across (possibly less than one hundred yards; I don’t know, I wasn’t measuring.  And were I to measure, I suppose I should measure in meters…)  From said ferry, you get a fabulous view of the Toronto skyline (see photo above).

And then you arrive at the airport.

stewardporterHassle-Free Security and Ticketing

Upon disembarking the ferry, you enter an area with two tiny check in desks and a set of washrooms (those are restrooms for those of us in the states–but I like the way ‘washroom’ sounds far better, don’t you?)  A lovely woman with a jaunty hat will scan your passport or driver’s license and produce a ticket.  You will marvel at how quick that was as you make your way toward the terminal.

Free Nuts: It’s the Little Things

The same person who scans your bag will also check your boarding pass, and you will be free to enjoy Porter Air’s A-MAZ-ING lounge.  There’s wifi, and a fleet of desktop Macs (if you left your own Macbook at home, which I did not).  There’s free water, juice, cookies, and almonds.  There are overstuffed chairs with tables bearing beaded lamps.  I’ve been to nice restaurants with less ambiance.

The ‘Mama Bear’ of Airplanes

At the time, this was the smallest airport I’d ever seen.  That’s because I’d not yet arrived in Sudbury, where there are three gates–that’s gates, not terminals–and all planes are boarded by walking out onto the tarmac (Sudbury tarmac pictured in the header image).  But I have been on smaller planes (a seven-seater probably-a-cessna from Providence to Martha’s Vineyard.)

The Porter planes–at least the ones that fly from Toronto to Sudbury–are the perfect size.  I’m calling them ‘the mama bear of airplanes’ because, just like in Goldilocks, they are not too big nor too small (I could have gone with a less-than-PG size comparison; I did not.  You’re welcome).  Each row is two by two–a window and asile seat on each side of the plane.  I was in row seven and was directly over the wing–so there were maybe 20 rows in entirety.  There was a lavatory on board–always important to me, even on ‘short’ flights.

And speaking of short, even on a flight as short as Toronto to Sudbury–about an hour–they found the space and time to serve snacks and drinks. Complimentary snacks and drinks.  Yes, that’s right folks–a coach seat on an airplane that comes with ‘free’ wine.  Free in quotes, of course, because you paid for your seat.  But I’ve paid for lots of seats on lots of airplanes, and this was the first time I was asked if I’d like red or white wine.

Honestly, this did not even feel like air travel.  For me to feel as though I’ve flown somewhere, I simply must arrive slightly more stressed out and disheveled than when I left.  But flying with Porter was…enjoyable.  Almost unsettlingly so.

Disclosure: While I was hosted by Porter Air as part of a press trip to Sudbury, Ontario (amazing little town, blog post coming soon) all thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

NOTE:  Because I was at an airport and, thus, schlepping around a(n) (expertly-packed) carry-on bag, I did not have my ‘real’ camera out (as it was part of the expert packing).  Thus, all photos in this post are iPhone photos; apologies for the quality.  

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