What’s It Like To Fly Porter Airlines

Porter Airlines Toronto Canada -003Porter Airlines
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 Airlines free drinks in lounge

Porter Airlines free drinks in lounge

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.

Porter Airlines Q400

Porter Airlines Q400 on the tarmac

Planes
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.

Boarding
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.

Porter Airlines flight attendant

Porter Airlines flight attendant

Service
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.

The Toronto skyline

The Toronto skyline

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.

Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ)

Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ)

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.

Passport Control
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.

Ferry for airport

Ferry for airport

Ferry
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.

Free shuttle to the city

Free shuttle to the city

Free Shuttle
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.

Have you flown Porter Airlines? Would you recommend them to your friends/family? Please share your experience below.

Johnny Jet

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About the Author

Johnny Jet

I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

16 Comments on "What’s It Like To Fly Porter Airlines"

  1. You are the reason why I decided to give this flight a try. I flew from Washington Dulles to Toronto City on July 3 and returned on July 7 this year. You got all details right. However, I would like to note that a window seat can be somewhat uncomfortable. If possible, get an aisle seat.

  2. Thanks Johnny. Never flown Porter but booked on them in October to Chicago.

  3. Porter is terrible in irregular ops. We had a weather delay in DC in May. When the flight eventually took off we were rerouted from YTZ to Hamilton because YTZ closed for the night. Porter were not allowed to land at YYZ even though it was open and much more convenient. We waited an hour at Hamilton for a bus to pick us up, and it took more than another hour to get to YTZ. The 9.5 hour drive from Washington to Toronto would have been faster than flying with Porter. Never risk flying Porter, they are hopeless with irregular ops

  4. The airport may be convenient for Toronto but it is located at Newark which is inconvenient to Connecticut and most of NYC-traffic!

  5. John P Keating Jr | August 28, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply

    I have flown from Chicago to Toronto twice in the last few years. This is convenient form Midway to downtown Toronto. The service on the plane is outstanding. Little things are important. For instance, wine is served in a real glass – not plastic! The lounge in Toronto is free and stocked with snacks and soft driks and milk.

  6. I have been flying Porter from IAD to YTZ since it started flying out of IAD. Our daughter and her family live in Guelph, Ontario and flying into Billy Bishop Airport has worked out so well for our family. We have never been disappointed with Porter Airlines service. My other daughter and I just flew into YTZ from IAD last Saturday afternoon and apparently we did not recognize or see you Johnny on our flight! In short, BRAVO Porter Airlines for your great service!

  7. You forgot to mention the best thing about Porter: FREE BOOZE (in real glassware), which on such short flights is unheard of elsewhere!

  8. Many times i have flown Porter to Montreal and Toronto. Absolutely LOVE Porter. Just wish they flew out of MKE or ORD. Fantastic little gem of an airline. I have a friend in the FAA and he has nothing but good things to say about them.

  9. But please remember to TIP your Pilots.
    These highly-trained hard-working individuals would like to earn a decent living and provide for their families.

    Please be aware that many of the people – operating your aircraft – are paid less than your Bus- or Cab- or Subway driver.

    Little did they think, when they took on many tens of thousands of dollars of training, then years working in the bush up north, that this industry would come to value them less than the Snowplow Driver at the airport.

    If everyone gave only $1 – less than the price of a coffee – the pilot’s salary could almost double.

    As the OP said above – they give away free booze – surely that’s worth $1 to you ?

    Well, how about your Pilot.

    Please.
    Thank you.

  10. Tipping the pilot? How about Porter paying them a decent wage even if it means higher ticket prices? This isn’t colonial India where the “help” need to be tipped for everything. Professionals should be properly paid by the their company.

  11. I have flown Porter many many times. For school, for work, for leisure. They’ve always been decent but I agree that they’re terrible when something doesn’t go as planned. This time, I booked a flight Ottawa to Thunder Bay connecting in Toronto. I was unable to make the first portion, so instead I arrived at Toronto airport over 1.5hours early for the second portion. I told the check in attendant I had missed the first portion, Ottawa to Toronto. The attendant acknowledged that and checked in me and my baggage. I was issued a boarding pass. Upon boarding, I was held back. They said I had forfeited my seat by missing the first flight. They put me on the next flight, no charge. But I had to book a hotel room in Thunder Bay, rebook a $692 Bearskin flight to my final destination and miss a day of work because the check in attendant did not deal with this problem when I checked in and issued me an invalid boarding pass.

  12. I am planning a return flight from YUL through YTZ (to Dulles) however there is only a 30minute layover. Is that enough time? Will i have to go through customs? Are the terminals far apart? Any advice will be appreciated!

    • It’s a small airport and if they are allowing you to book it then yes, it will be enough time. But if there’s bad weather in DC or Toronto then you might have to take the flight after

  13. As was already said porter is extremely convenient and very pleasurable BUT ONLY IN A PERFECT WORLD!! As soon as something goes wrong they are utterly incompetent and you can end up paying upwards of $300 dollars in “late fees” as many people on my flight found out when they were late due to a marathon in downtown Toronto. The airline was at a total loss with how to deal with this influx of people so instead of helping them by holding their flight they charged them. Lost a great amount of customers that day.

  14. The airline (like others) has a policy that if they are late due to poor weather / snow storm etc. ‘beyond their control’ then to bad, so sad for the customer. I was in Halifax in early December and left for the airport over 2 1/2 hours before the flight was to leave. Unfortunately for me the highway I was on was brought to a halt for over an hour and 1/2 due to the snow storm / accident and as a result I was ‘stuck’ unable to move 10 feet in that time. I called the airline to see if I could get on the later flight given the travel problem ‘beyond my control’. They simply informed me that I would have to pay $170 (more than what I had originally paid for the one way fare). I have used Porter for years but I will no longer utilize their service. I (and you) have a choice in airlines and I would not recommend you choose Porter!!

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