Porter Airlines – A Comprehensive Review

It’s not very often as an airline reviewer that you get the opportunity to review your favourite airline in the world. Whilst the opening line to this review may seem incredibly biased, we can assure you that the following review will win you over as well.

This review is based on three different Porter flights over the month of May and June in 2018. The flights were Chicago to Toronto, Washington to Toronto, and Toronto to Montréal.

Porter Airlines (Canadian) operates regularly scheduled flights between Toronto and locations in Canada and the United States using Canadian-built Bombardier Dash-8 Q 400 turboprop aircraft. Their fleets are comprised of 29 of the above, which are in a 2×2 one class configuration.

All of the flights run through the hub Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. This airport is excellent as it is so close to downtown Toronto that you can literally walk to the Central Station. Because the airport is so small, flights are never 100% full due to weight restrictions of the runway (70/78 passengers).

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Porter is generally always the cheapest airline to fly in and out of Toronto, with flights going as cheap as $100 CA. You will have to pay for checked luggage but a beverage is included in the flight.

Boarding

Upon arrival at the airport, for the first time ever, I was put onto an earlier flight. This did not incur any fees or charges, but just a hasty run through security. Boarding the flight was completely seamless, with so few passengers actually getting on the plane for the 10 AM service.

Boarding was by a jet bridge, but it was awkward where the exit met the plane door. As the plane is so small they had a platform to connect the two.

Flight

Taking off from Toronto City Airport can be a little bit harrowing as it’s so short, but in return, you are given some of the best views of the city. Each of the destinations listed was only an hour away thus the flight experience being very short.

Because the plane is a twin turboprop Bombardier Dash 8, the interior cabin is very loud and it is highly recommended that you have noise cancelling headphones. There is no entertainment provided, and the tray table seems very slippery with no edging to prevent items from falling. It was also too small to fit a 17-inch laptop.

The air cabin crew, dressed in their retro uniforms, started immediately with in-cabin service, in both English and French (the two National languages of Canada). Surprisingly for this price point, you would expect to have to pay for food and beverages however these were all complimentary. They have the standard mix of beverages, including Starbucks coffee, as well as providing you with a choice of shortbread, biscuits or a muesli bar.

After the meal service, each guest was handed a large bar of chocolate with compliments from the airline. This offering was not repeated on the following Porter flights but was still very delightful at the time.

There was a single small bathroom on board, which for 70 passengers would seem to be not enough. However, the fights are so short that it did not seem to be a problem for most guests.

Because of the plane’s size, we were mildly affected by turbulence and all sorts of unusual engine noise.

Landing

Landing at the final destination we were very quickly routed to a gate. Taxiing around the airport was very much like being in a tuk-tuk in Bangkok, with one opportunity to witness why the captain asks you to remain seated until the seatbelt sign switched off, with a sudden slam on the breaks and an overzealous guest falling forwards.

At all final destinations, we had access to a jet bridge.

Transit

Uniquely Porter gives you access to a transit lounge at Toronto City Airport. This lounge has all the items that are available complimentary onboard, but you can have as many as you like. Needless to say, many other passengers stocked up on the very delicious shortbread biscuits.

Porter Airlines has found the magic balance between being a budget airline and delivering exceptional service and value. With news that they might soon be offering flights all the way to the West Coast, for me, that day can’t come soon enough.

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