Porter Airlines is Canada’s third-largest carrier and is based at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. The airline currently offers flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, New York (Newark), Chicago (Midway), Boston, Washington (Dulles) and has seasonal flights to Mt. Tremblant, Que., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Burlington, VT.
Porter offers just three types of fares (Firm, Flexible, Freedom), so you know what you’re getting and the ticket rules don’t require a Master’s degree to understand like those of most other airlines.
Porter Airport Lounges
One of the best parts about flying Porter is that they offer an airport lounge experience for ALL passengers. That means you get free drinks (including bottled water), shortbread cookies, newspapers, free Wi-Fi, computers and comfortable seating. The lounge in Toronto is beautiful but the one in Newark is nothing to rave about…but it sure beats sitting around the regular gate area.
When I first flew Porter several years ago, I was skeptical because I’d never heard of them and don’t like small prop planes. However, Porter’s planes are not that small. They fly all Canadian-built Bombardier Q400s, which hold 70 passengers (in one class of service), and have leather seats, lots of legroom, and a 2×2 seat configuration, so there’s no dreaded middle seat.
Did you know? The Q400 aircraft is built in Toronto at the Bombardier Aerospace plant.
The boarding process goes like this: Those who need extra time (elderly and families with small children) board first. Then rows 10 through 18 board second, followed by everyone else.
The friendly flight attendants wear retro uniforms, complete with a hat and scarf, and offer a snack and beverage service on all flights, including complimentary soft drinks, wine and beer. On my flight, the snack choices were Terra chips, a cookie or almonds. Porter’s own branded bottles of water are shaped like the mini Fiji bottles of water, but these are bottled in Montreal at Blue Orchid Waters.
Did you know? The PA announcements and the safety demonstration are done in Canada’s two official languages, English and French.
Newark to Toronto
Flight time is an hour (plus or minus a few minutes) and if you want to see Niagara Falls from the air, sit on the left-hand side for an amazing view. I tend to sit on the right side because usually that’s the side with jaw-dropping views of Toronto’s skyline but yesterday we landed from the left; I think that was because there was a storm. Good thing I was happy on the left-hand side since Porter’s landings seriously have incredible views of the city.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ)
Porter only flies into Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport, formerly known as Toronto City Centre Airport or the Toronto Island Airport. The airport code is YTZ.
At YTZ, the immigration lines are never that long. I’m a NEXUS/Global Entry member (here’s how you can become one, too!) so I usually just breeze through immigrations anyway. However, YTZ only has one NEXUS machine and it’s usually broken.
Once through customs, it’s just a 50-yard walk indoors to the airport’s ferry. That’s right…the airport is actually on an island. The free ferry travels back and forth to the mainland (400 feet/121 meters) every 15 minutes. It takes just two minutes to cross, which is way too short to enjoy the stunning view of downtown Toronto. Good to know: This ferry is often noted as the world’s shortest scheduled ferry run.
If you are going into the city center, this is one of the most convenient city airports in the world. Porter offers a free shuttle approximately every 15 minutes that goes to The Royal York Hotel, which is centrally located. FYI: Due to city road closures, the shuttle pick-up and drop-off location downtown is moving to the south side of Front St., just past the southwest corner of York and Front streets. The designated stop is located near Starbucks.
Porter Airlines, Tel: 416-619-8622 or toll-free 1-888-619-8622.
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