Now I'm not really sure why I have "YYZ" by Rush stuck in my head as I write this trip report. YYZ was only a minor part of this trip, a necessity to get back home after my flight on Porter. Nevertheless, Rush's Morse code tapped out on finger cymbals and electric guitar is stuck on repeat in my head as I write this report...
This circuitous adventure started as a daydream as I browsed the FlyerTalk forums a month ago. Stumbling across a post titled "Porter Airlines?", I read a new member's inquiry about the small airline, he asked how their service was, where they flew to, and how much their flights typically cost. I've heard plenty of good things about the airline, and sharing my last name with the airline I was inclined to reply in support of Porter. But I stopped myself. I couldn't write an airline review about an airline I've never tried myself, no matter how cool their name is! With that, I headed over to Porter's website to see what I could find.
...what I found were some very, very affordable fares. Porter flies eight daily round trips between New York Newark Airport and Toronto's Billy Bishop City Airport (recently re-named from the Toronto City Center Airport after Canada's first military flying ace). Base fares for the trip start around $90, but I happened to stumble upon their website in the midst of a summer fare sale. Searching a random weekend in the future, I found that I could buy a one-way trip from Toronto to Newark for just about $60, a little more than a 45% discount from the base fare! Considering the fact that Porter offers free booze and snacks on board, operates only Turboprop equipment, operates into a cool little island airport, has the same name as I do, and has a raccoon mascot (my favorite animal as a child), I decided that I had to go for it!
Since I live in neither Newark nor Toronto, I had to deal with the small matter of getting from Atlanta to catch my flight. Both Newark and Toronto (YYZ) are served by Delta, and luckily for me as a non-rev Delta charges absolutely ridiculous fares into both airports. Since both ATL-EWR and YYZ-ATL are unpopular with revenue travelers, I was confident in my ability to find standby seats to and from my destinations. In the end I was able to snag seats on an MD-88 up to Newark and a CRJ-900 back down to Atlanta. I'll include the highlights of these flights to remind everyone that not all North American domestic travel is as awesome as Porter Airlines...
This trip report will include ATL-EWR in Y on DL, EWR-YTZ in Y (well, lets call it Y+) on PD, and YYZ-ATL in domestic first on DL. Without further ado, on to the flights!
Flight # DAL 2242
Equipment:McDonnell Douglas MD-88 (N935DL) Scheduled Departure: 17:55 Actual Departure: 18:00 Scheduled Arrival: 20:45 Actual Arrival: 20:15
Holding a confirmed ticket for a 12:10 Saturday departure from EWR, but only having a standby listing to get to EWR I found myself in a small predicament. The first flight of the day on Saturday would get me to EWR at 11:00am, giving me just enough time to catch my flight. Missing the morning flight would also mean missing my Porter flight and my paid ticket. After much debate and carefully watching the flight loads to Newark I decided to give myself a safety net and fly up to Newark the night before. The cost of my trip went up by $50 for a very seedy hotel, but at least I got to see some of scenic Newark before my Porter flight!
Leaving work a few minutes early, I parked my car, hopped on a shuttle, and made it through security (surprisingly quickly) to my gate by about 5:15.
My ride up to Newark, arriving about ten minutes behind schedule.
The summer travel season has begun in the US, meaning crowded airports and very high load factors. Delta does a big favor to its standby passengers at most hub airports, posting the actual standby/cleared lists (including the actual number of seats available) on the gate information screens. Walking up to the gate I didn't like what I saw... Sitting at position #11 for seven available seats it didn't look like I'd make the 5:55 to Newark. I began to formulate an alternate plan - it looked like my best bet would be the 6:30 flight to LaGuardia, followed by a public-transit adventure across Manhattan at night.
I had just about talked myself into the prospect of going to LaGuardia when I was shocked to hear my name called. It turns out that a family of four was ahead of me on the standby list, but only one seat was available. The family wasn't able to split up, so I was assigned the last seat! Win!
For the load-factor gurus out there, this flight was 100% full (I know, I was the last 0.58%). I was assigned seat 14C, an aisle seat on the left hand (3-seat) side of the aircraft. With no windows I wasn't able to take many pictures, but the DL MD-88 is hardly the point of this trip report...
Working the crossword puzzle (almost had it finished before rotation this time!)
Simple snack service. Soft drinks and a choice of peanuts, pretzels, or cookies.
Despite a very circuitous descent route (landing to the South on 22L) we made it to the gate well ahead of the padded scheduled arrival time.
Oh hey, a Porter Q400! I'll be seeing much more of you tomorrow...
Delta's very polished airside concourse at EWR.
I had reserved myself a room at the Newark Airport Howard Johnson. After a ride on the Newark Airtrain (a quasi-monorail type people mover) and the hotel's deceptively clean shuttle van I checked in for the night. The fact that the hotel seemed to be falling apart didn't really bother me - I'd made it to Newark and I'd be flying Porter in the morning!
Never mind the holes in the wall and the stains on the ceiling...it's a cheap hotel room, I'll survive.
The following morning I was able to actually sleep in before heading back to the airport. I hadn't quite scheduled myself enough time to see the scenic downtown of Newark, so I just headed straight to the airport.
Normally, Porter's operation in Terminal B would be a quick ride on the AirTrain away, but on this Saturday morning the train was down for maintenance between the terminals. I took a quick ride from the shuttle drop off to the airport train station and back just for fun.
Is it just me, or are these trains really funny looking?
An airport shuttle bus ride dropped me off at the curb for a very deserted terminal B at around 9:50, 2:20 prior to departure. It turns out I probably could have shrunk that time to just 0:20 prior to departure and still made the flight, but I'm not one to complain about extra time at the airport.
Porter's check-in area.
I joined the check-in line with two people ahead of me. After a wait of no more than 30 seconds an agent was free to help me. As I walked towards the counter the agent greeted me "Good Morning! Your last name please?" "Porter" I responded. The agent looked at me, slightly confused. "Your last name sir?" I again responded "Yes, Porter." I could see the gears turning in the agent's head as he realized that I had been giving him my last name, not just blurting out the name of the airline. "aaahh, right. Cool. The 12:10 to Toronto, correct?"
I was handed a classy looking blue-and-white boarding pass (actual cardboard stock, not the flimsy receipt paper most airlines have moved to these days) and pointed in the direction of security. Before heading on my way I asked about the possibility of doing a same-day standby or change to an earlier flight. It turns out that Porter offers free changes to passengers flying on their "flexible" fares, but my cheap "firm" fare would cost $150 to change. Since the total cost of my ticket was only half that price I decided to wait it out...
I was the only passenger at the security checkpoint when I was screened. The ID-checker was one of the friendliest TSA agents I've ever interacted with. The gaggle of screeners running the milimeter wave scanner seemed quite bored and very curious about the T-shirt I was wearing. I was wearing a shirt printed with Keep Calm and Don't Blink in the style of the famous WWII Keep Calm and Carry On propaganda posters. I explained the reference to the Doctor Who episode "Blink", but the reference went straight over the TSA screeners' heads. One of them loudly stated "Well I don' know 'bout you, but my mind totally went somewhere else when I read that!"
Completely deserted international airside.
Porter's flights dominated the departures and arrivals board for their airside in the morning. The rest of the carriers making use of this concourse operated only once daily international flights, arriving and departing in the late afternoon. Porter's hourly Q400s hardly filled the large concourse.
The lack of operations also meant very few aircraft to watch. The occasional CO/UA aircraft taxied past on its way to terminal C, but the area outside was generally very quiet. The entire ramp was almost perfectly backlit (and hidden behind double panes of glass) as well, making photography less than satisfying.
Finally some Porter aircraft! Two of them at once at that.
The competition, headed to Toronto Pearson.
Only widebody action of the morning, a Continited 767-400 arriving from LHR.
The 11:10 flight, headed off to Toronto.
Almost half of the concourse was blocked off (under construction) and Porter's waiting area windows were blacked out with sheets of brown paper. While there was plenty of space to sit, I chose to camp out at Virgin Atlantic's gate. I had about 200 seats to myself and a decent view of the taxiways and runway.
At about 11:20 I caught sight of a Q400 in the distance. Newark is probably one of the biggest Dash-8 hubs in the US, with Continental Connection's Q400s and Q200s combined with Porter's Q400s. Zooming in with my camera, I confirmed that yes, this was a Porter plane on final, my aircraft right on time.
Now that looks like a PD Q400 in the distance!
My ride up to Toronto taxiing in, DHC-8-400 C-FLQY.
Taxiing past the Empire State Building.
After the aircraft taxied past I made my way to the gate to see if I could see any of the plane at all. Unfortunately, no, the under-construction gate area offered none of the views or amenities of YTZ's terminal. Next time I'll have to fly out of YTZ as well, to experience Porter's chic passenger lounge.
Hidden off in a corner, Porter's gate area.
FIDS. Porter dominates this airside concourse until much later in the day.
Sitting in the dark gate area, I recalled seeing a window on my way in, near security. A quick walk away I found a window at the entrance to British Airways' first class lounge. A better view than at the gate area, but unfortunately plagued by the same window-dots that cover the Detroit terminal windows.
Found a window!
...unfortunately spoiled by Detroit-dots.
Porter Airlines offers advance seat selection for $15 extra on their cheapest "firm" fares, otherwise assigning seats at the airport at check-in. Porter's website allows a selection of preference (window or aisle), but offers no assurance for any type of seat. I had invested the $15 for a window seat at the back of the aircraft, just in case.
Back in the gate area I did a quick head count. In the immediate area I saw about thirty people, plus a number more lingering back in the main concourse rotunda. Porter's Q400s are configured for 70 passengers, so I was hoping for a light load and some space to spread out.
At about 11:55, pre-boarding was called. Five minutes later, general boarding for all passengers was called. I made my way down the jetway and onto the plane. I had reserved seat 13D, but somehow on the nearly empty plane someone had already poached my seat. The seat poacher had been assigned 13C and reluctantly complied when I asked to take my seat.
I had barely put on my seatbelt when I heard the sound of the jetway pulling away. After waiting a couple minutes to confirm that everyone was really onboard, I hopped up and claimed the empty row behind me, settling into 14D and allowing the seat poacher to have my seat back. Looking around, there were empty seats everywhere, probably only 30 or 35 total passengers on the flight.
Not a bad view from 13D.
Ah, even better in 14D. Ample leg-room.
Despite the very prompt boarding and the light load we sat at the gate for another 5 to 10 minutes before the cabin door was closed and we pushed back, maybe five minutes behind the scheduled 12:10 departure. During the delay I took a couple minutes to explore the seatback contents. Compared to Delta's typical stacks of magazines, advertisements, safety cards, etc, Porter's pockets were clean. The seat back pocket contained only a safety card, a single "re: porter" magazine, and a plain white airsickness bag.
Porter's Q400s are configured with only 70 seats, compared to the 74 typical for the Q400. I've heard rumor that this reduction is due to weight restrictions at YTZ, but regardless it means more seat pitch for everyone. Porter's seats are configured with 34" pitch, compared to 29-32" typical on most US domestic carriers. The extra 3-4" really did make a noticeable difference in personal space. The empty seat beside me didn't hurt either.
Safety card. (No, I didn't steal it, despite having my name written all over it...)
Safety card, continued.
Route map, in the re:porter magazine.
Aircraft information, in-flight service information, and a really cool ad for the Q400.
Dash-8 stylized seat belt buckle.
I quite like Porter's branding. While not as crisp and professional as some airlines, the graphics and typeface convey the image of a classy, respectable airline. The raccoon mascot and the comic style of the airline's advertising make it clear the Porter isn't a typical US domestic carrier.
Looking down the massive nacelle towards the prop.
Not much of a view while on the ground. I'm still surprised by how massive this nacelle is...
As I noticed on my previous Q400 flight with Continental, the Dash-8's engine nacelles are HUGE. The large cowlings block most of the view outside while on the ground, but the high wing affords great views of the ground once airborne.
Once the engines were started we had a very quick taxi to Runway 11. A single ERJ departed ahead of us before we turned onto the runway and were underway. The engines were almost totally silent throughout taxi, but shortly before pulling onto the runway the engine noise noticeably increased as the engine condition levers were pushed forward. The engine noise remained a consistent drone throughout takeoff and flight, still much much quieter than any jet.
Lined up on the runway, ready to go, I laughed to myself as I thought "How aboot takoff power, eh?" At that, the aircraft surged forward and seemingly leaped off the runway. I was thoroughly impressed - probably the first time I've ever experienced a true short field takeoff in an airliner. Compared to YTZ's 4000' runway Runway 11 at EWR offers plenty of room, but these pilots didn't use a foot more than they needed.
Rotate, positive rate, gear up.
Still in transit...
Gear up and locked, all well before the end of the 6800' runway.
After takeoff we made a turn Northbound, parallel to the island of Manhattan, before another left turn to the West-Northwest.
Turning northbound on course, away from the port of Newark.
Island of Manhattan coming into view.
Lower Manhatttan and the new World Trade Center building under construction.
Further North, including the Empire State Building.
Above the scattered cloud layer, well on our way up to a cruising altitude of 20,000ft.
As the aircraft passed through 10,000ft one of the two flight attendants made the typical welcome aboard announcement, with a couple of interesting parts I'd never heard before. Apparently Porter's policy is that all electronic devices are prohibited on board by default, only flight attendants may approve the use of other devices upon request. Additionally, the flight attendants announced that they would be coming through the cabin before beverage service handing out Canadian customs forms. In my experience most US airlines hand out the forms as an after-thought on approach.
Some pre-meal reading, Canada's massive customs arrival form.
It's a beautiful Saturday in June, boaters are out everywhere on the lakes of New York State.
Meal service (yes, you heard me right meal service on a 45 minute flight from the US) was served by the two flight attendants from a cart. The flight attendants were dressed in what I can only describe as "retro" uniforms, including pillbox hats that looked as if they were straight out of the '60s. One flight attendant distributed snack boxes containing the meals throughout the aircraft before returning to the cart to help with beverage service. With a very very light load onboard it didn't take long at all.
Simple and classy presentation of the meal on this short flight.
Contents of the snack box: a grilled chicken and cheddar sandwich, mixed bean salad, and a butterscotch brownie (plus some napkins, a spoon, and a wet-wipe.)
For beverages Porter offers the typical soft drink offerings as well as a number of wines and Steam Whistle pilsner lager. Steam Whistle is brewed in Toronto, just across from the City Center airport, and I'd heard nothing but good things about the brand, so I decided to give it a try.
The flight attendant serving me asked if I just wanted the can, or if I wanted a glass to pour it in. It took a few seconds to settle in, but I realized that, yes, I'm being served a beverage in a real glass, made of actual glass...in coach! "Yes, sure, I'll have a glass!"
Full meal with free booze, served in...what's this? A glass made of glass in coach?
They even had it etched with my name just for me...
The lunch was small, but quite tasty. The sandwich featured a piece of grilled chicken, a couple slices of white cheddar-like cheese, and a tangy mayonnaise on a wheat roll. On the side was a cup of mixed bean salad (string beans, kidney beans, and some chopped pickled vegetables) and a butterscotch chip brownie. The brownie was actually the same brand type served with Delta's domestic first class meals.
For the "Identify This: Airports" folks over in the Tech/Ops forums. Any ideas?
All the standard placards in English and French, even on the "coat hook."
Cabin view. Very light load on this flight.
By the time I finished my meal and beer it was almost time to begin the descent into Toronto. The flight attendants came around with trays to collect the used service items (can't really just drop the glasses in a garbage bag I suppose) and asked everyone to be seated as we passed 10,000ft. Our route brought us directly over Niagara Falls, unfortunately offset slightly to the right. The left hand side of the aircraft got an excellent view of the falls, I could see some rapids...
Niagra Falls International Airport. Some C-130s of the 914th Airlift Wing are out on the ramp.
The mouth of the Niagara River, opening into Lake Ontario.
After passing through 10,000ft the remainder of our route was over Lake Ontario. The airport briefly came into view on a wide right base to Runway 08 before we turned a long final. Out the right side of the aircraft the only view was water; no land was in sight. It felt as if we were skimming just feet above the water for a few seconds before the airport threshold came into view.
Billy Bishop City Airport coming into view, hidden behind the opening gear door.
Gear down, over the water.
The closest I ever want to be to the water in a non-floatplane.
Well, it would appear we made it to Toronto!
After a short taxi (there are no long taxis at YTZ) we pulled into a hard-stand at Porter's terminal. Porter doesn't use jetbridges in Toronto, deplaning using the inbuilt airstairs (the way it should be with any prop plane). A couple of hallways led me to the customs hall, where I was through to Canada in maybe ten minutes.
Deplaning down the airstairs.
One last look at the aircraft before heading off to customs and immigration.
Despite being sent off to secondary screening the Canadian border officials were polite and helpful through the entire process (one even offered some things I should see during my short stay in Toronto). Without realizing it I found myself boarding the ferry to the mainland. The terminal at YTZ is just as compact as the airport, I hadn't even realized that I'd exited the main terminal and was already "landside". Next time I fly with Porter I'll need to make a connecting flight so I can experience the lounge, free food, and other fancy things that are offered to all Porter passengers at YTZ.
Porter's not the only interesting thing at YTZ. Assorted GA and a couple of Dash-7s!
Toronto's Billy Bishop City Airport isn't connected to mainland Toronto at all. The only method of getting to the city is via ferry, advertised as one of the shortest scheduled ferry routes in the world. The boat runs approximately every 15 minutes, carrying passengers and cars across the channel (I don't know why anyone would drive to the airport, it's literally ten feet from the ferry to the terminal on foot...) The ferry is free, and certainly a unique method of accessing the airport. A pedestrian tunnel is under construction, a connection that's been debated in Canadian politics for decades now.
Boarding the ferry to the mainland.
Underway across the channel.
Aaand, we're there. Shortest scheduled ferry route in the world...
In addition to the amenities onboard and in the terminal, Porter offers a free shuttle bus to downtown Toronto every 15-20 minutes. Stepping off the ferry I took another dozen steps or so and noticed the brightly painted bus with Porter Airlines advertising written all over it. Another ten minutes on the bus and I was in downtown Toronto...not that I was planning on staying very long.
Boarding the free shuttle to downtown. I could go for some Poutine right now...
One of Porter's destination ads on the bus. The raccoon mascot kind of creeps me out in this one.
Quick glimpse of downtown Toronto.
Union Station and the CN Tower, about to hop on the subway.
Since the purpose of this trip was solely to fly Porter, I hadn't scheduled myself much time in Toronto. I theoretically had two hours to spend sightseeing, but after spending twenty minutes searching for an ATM that wasn't closed (who closes ATMs on weekends?) I decided it wasn't worth the risk of missing my flight out of Pearson and found my way to the subway. From downtown to Pearson airport I had to do a little bit more traveling than just a free shuttle bus. Catching the subway at Union Station I took a quick hop to St George Station, where I caught a Bloor-Danforth line train all the way to the end of the line, before hopping on an express bus to Pearson terminal 1. At terminal 1, I found my way to the terminal connector train and took a ride to terminal 3 to check in for my Delta flight back to Atlanta. Lots of public transit to enjoy, but I had no idea how long it would take. Google Maps put a conservative estimate on the trip of about 1:40, which turned out to be just about right.
Subway arriving. Wish I could have ridden it all the way out to Downsview, where the Dash 8 and the Global Express are manufactured.
KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 385 posts, RR: 2 Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 9258 times:
"Be Safe and Considerate" if only messages as simple as this worked in the US...
Arriving at Pearson's Terminal 3.
Interesting variety of carriers. Carribean, KLM, BA, and Transaero (as seen from the airport connector train).
Checking in at Toronto, I printed off my boarding pass, filled out a US customs form, and made my way through the US border pre-clearance. A set of A-gates at Pearson are behind the "US Border" allowing flights to arrive in the US as domestic flights. After having my passport checked and going through security I was "in the US" (phew, that was a quick flight...) I made my way to the Delta gates, noticing that the previous flight to Atlanta hadn't left yet.
Using Toronto's free WiFi I was able to check to see if any seats were available and listed myself for the previous flight thinking I might get home a little earlier than I planned. As soon as I had a new boarding pass in hand the gate agent announced "This aircraft is experiencing a fuel leak. We will be delayed by at least two hours." The scheduled departure was pushed back to 6:30, my original flight was scheduled for 6:40. At least I might still save ten minutes...
This aircraft was scheduled to depart at 3:30, it's already 5:00...
Watching the standby list, I noticed more and more passengers transferring from the 3:30 flight to the 6:40. Apparently the passengers (and gate agents) weren't very confident that the 3:30 flight would be fixed in time. It turns out they were right...
By 7:30 the 3:30 flight had officially been canceled, the 6:40 had gone out packed full, and three revenue passengers (as well as about ten standby passengers) were stuck in Toronto for the night. Delta attempted to rebook the three revenue passengers on Air Canada, but apparently they all missed that flight too. Tired, stressed out beyond belief, and a little angry at the CRJ for breaking, I found myself a hotel for the night in Toronto...
Well, this is the plane I was planning on taking...
Luckily I was able to find a decent hotel (much much nicer than the one in Newark) for only about $80, and the early morning flight to Atlanta was looking wide-open with 45 seats available in coach and another ten in first. I would still make it home at a reasonable time and I wasn't spending too much for the hotel. Oh well, if I had known that I'd spend my whole afternoon waiting on a flight that would never depart I would have stayed in Toronto and done a little more sightseeing...
The next morning I woke up bright and early, headed back to the airport, and hoped that my new CRJ wasn't broken too...
Arriving at the airport I found Delta's lines almost non-existent, despite the fact that flights were scheduled to depart to ATL, LGA, DTW, and MSP all within the next couple hours. The largest equipment DL flies into Toronto is the CRJ-900, explaining the lack of crowds.
In security I bumped into a Delta flight attendant who had also been trying to get on the previous night's flight as a standby. She smiled and greeted me with a cheerful "Good Morning! Good news, it looks like we'll all get first class!" Surprisingly, she was right. The flight down to Atlanta was so empty that there were still 11 seats in first class available; only one revenue passenger or medallion had upgraded for this flight.
It was odd to clear customs for the second time in twelve hours, and apparently something about my travel had been flagged as suspicious; my boarding pass was tagged with an "SSSS". The secondary screening consisted of a pat-down, cursory bag search, and a few questions from a very bored guard.
Peering through the reflections; that vaguely looks like a DL CRJ-900.
At the gate all standbys were promptly cleared and I gladly took a boarding pass for seat 1A. First class in the CRJ-900 is a 1-2 configuration, with the single seats being on the A-side. 1A is about as good as seats get when you're stuck on a CRJ. Boarding was quick (despite the computer beeping angrily at my 'SSSS' and demanding a "random security screening") and the aircraft pushed back from the gate ten minutes ahead of schedule.
Ah, 1A, my favorite seat number.
Pre-departure beverage service.
Sun rising over a CRJ-200 headed to DTW.
Is that...a farm tractor towing that airplane?
Apparently Toronto has a noise curfew program in effect. As we taxied out we joined a line of CRJs and ERJs heading to the US, all waiting for takeoff clearance at exactly 06:30. We somehow sneaked into line as #3 and were soon airborne.
Airborne from Toronto, five minutes early, but about 12 hours late...
Delta's first class meal policy only provides meals on flights greater than 900 miles long. This flight from YYZ to ATL is only about 740 miles, so service would consist of standard drinks and the "snack basket", a collection of non-perishable snack items offered up by the flight attendants in a big wicker basket. Choices typically include bananas, muffins, sun chips, candy bars, and of course Biscoff cookies. I wasn't feeling hungry so I just grabbed a bag of Sun Chips for breakfast.
A downside of seat 1A on any airplane is the condition of the window. Jetbridge awnings are always coming down atop the first row windows, scratching and gouging the outer pane of plastic. This CRJ had certainly suffered from its fare share of jetbridge encounters. While the view was spectacular across the row in 1D, my view was quite hazy, scratchy, and slightly obstructed by the unfortunate window placement far forward of the seat.
Not much of a view from this seat.
I'm not sure if I fell asleep or if the flight was just very short, but we were soon descending into Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. We entered a left downwind for runway 8L and flew way out to about a 20-mile final before turning inbound.
Entering a left downwind for Runway 8L.
Downtown Atlanta rising through the early morning mist.
Gathering my things I disembarked out into the D-concourse, right next to the stairs to the newly renamed "Plane Train" station. At least my luck was working out alright in that regard. A people mover, shuttle bus, and car later I was home. Only about 11 hours later than I expected to be, but home at least. Looks like I picked a good day to get stranded as a non-rev.
At the gate, awfully close to AirTran territory.
Aha! Finally got the registration, N170PQ.
Hope you've all enjoyed my trip report, and as always, comments and questions are welcome and appreciated! Thanks!
Porter Airlines: Porter Airlines was everything I hoped it would be. Between the great service, fun planes, and an awesome airport and terminal, I really wish I had a reason to fly with them more often. Given a slight difference in fare between Porter and any other US or Canadian carrier, I would certainly choose Porter. I had heard that their load factors are notoriously low, and my flight certainly supported that theory. At the same time, I've heard that you only need a 45% load factor to make money with a Q400. I hope Porter continues to do well, and doesn't go the way of the legacy carrier, cutting back service to save some pennies.
Delta Air Lines: Delta was...Delta. Delta's Y class product continues to be on par with or slightly better than the rest of the US domestic market these days. Coming back from Toronto, I got screwed by the CRJ's technical problems (kind of ironic, having it happen in the birthplace of the CRJ.) The gate agents managed to rebook all but three revenue passengers and handled the delay relatively well, despite constant nagging and demands from angry pax. Domestic first class really isn't worth much in the US until you hit the magical 900 mile mark. A slightly more comfortable seat and some sun chips certainly isn't worth the premium fare. As the summer travel season ramps up, I really hope I won't spend too much time stuck in IROPS like this...
flightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1078 posts, RR: 5 Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 9014 times:
How nice to have a name of the airline you are to fly with
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): I could buy a one-way trip from Toronto to Newark for just about $60, a little more than a 45% discount from the base fare! Considering the fact that Porter offers free booze and snacks on board, operates only Turboprop equipment, operates into a cool little island airport, has the same name as I do, and has a raccoon mascot (my favorite animal as a child), I decided that I had to go for it!
Looks like you had every reason to fly them!!
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): I'll include the highlights of these flights to remind everyone that not all North American domestic travel is as awesome as Porter Airlines...
Please do. I am glad you did!!
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): I had reserved myself a room at the Newark Airport Howard Johnson. After a ride on the Newark Airtrain (a quasi-monorail type people mover) and the hotel's deceptively clean shuttle van I checked in for the night. The fact that the hotel seemed to be falling apart didn't really bother me - I'd made it to Newark and I'd be flying Porter in the morning!
Glad to know about that hotel. Had nearly booked that if we had flown to Newark last year. Landing up staying at Times Square instead, as we go there by train...Yes I know it took forever. Never again.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Before heading on my way I asked about the possibility of doing a same-day standby or change to an earlier flight. It turns out that Porter offers free changes to passengers flying on their "flexible" fares, but my cheap "firm" fare would cost $150 to change. Since the total cost of my ticket was only half that price I decided to wait it out...
Good to know about this.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): I was the only passenger at the security checkpoint when I was screened. The ID-checker was one of the friendliest TSA agents I've ever interacted with. The gaggle of screeners running the milimeter wave scanner seemed quite bored and very curious about the T-shirt I was wearing. I was wearing a shirt printed with Keep Calm and Don't Blink in the style of the famous WWII Keep Calm and Carry On propaganda posters. I explained the reference to the Doctor Who episode "Blink", but the reference went straight over the TSA screeners' heads. One of them loudly stated "Well I don' know 'bout you, but my mind totally went somewhere else when I read that!"
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): In addition to the amenities onboard and in the terminal, Porter offers a free shuttle bus to downtown Toronto every 15-20 minutes. Stepping off the ferry I took another dozen steps or so and noticed the brightly painted bus with Porter Airlines advertising written all over it. Another ten minutes on the bus and I was in downtown Toronto...not that I was planning on staying very long.
Those racoons can be seen buzzing that route all day long....that mascot is quite cute and scary at the same time!!
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Since the purpose of this trip was solely to fly Porter, I hadn't scheduled myself much time in Toronto. I theoretically had two hours to spend sightseeing, but after spending twenty minutes searching for an ATM that wasn't closed (who closes ATMs on weekends?)
Really?? I've never heard of a closed ATM at all. Where were you trying to access this. There are tons in that area of the downtown core.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): From downtown to Pearson airport I had to do a little bit more traveling than just a free shuttle bus. Catching the subway at Union Station I took a quick hop to St George Station, where I caught a Bloor-Danforth line train all the way to the end of the line, before hopping on an express bus to Pearson terminal 1. At terminal 1, I found my way to the terminal connector train and took a ride to terminal 3
You could have also taken the Airport Express, which is usually parked right in front of the Porter bus where you got dropped off. But it's about 8-10 times the fare you paid for the subway
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Luckily I was able to find a decent hotel (much much nicer than the one in Newark) for only about $80, and the early morning flight to Atlanta was looking wide-open with 45 seats available in coach and another ten in first.
Was that the Sheraton just across from Terminal 3?
I've sat here on a few AA ERJ's, and a few times on larger jets, like Austrian Airlines' A340-300 back in 99 when I flew in their "Grand Class" and Continental Business First once back in 2002. Definitely a great seat!
I would love to try Porter - what an awesome little airline!
KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 385 posts, RR: 2 Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 8206 times:
Thanks for the comments!
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 2): Really?? I've never heard of a closed ATM at all. Where were you trying to access this. There are tons in that area of the downtown core.
I hadn't either. I'm guessing that there was a local power failure or something, the whole underground mall adjacent to Union Station was deserted and quite dark. I didn't have to go far to find an ATM, but was slightly discouraged when the first two I found were turned off.
I ended up in the Best Western on the South side of the airport. It was a bit of a drive to get there, but it was the cheapest option I could find.
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 2): Don't you agree you got more in Y on Porter than you got on F on Delta
Yes, I did. Not sure if that's because Porter is above-and-beyond expectations, or if domestic first class has sunk to an unfortunate low. Either way, it's odd to think that short haul Y was more enjoyable than medium-haul F...
brilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 3806 posts, RR: 1 Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 7458 times:
I always enjoy flying PD to YUL when we are in YXU to visit our parents. To clarify, we go to YXU to visit our parents and then we take the train to YTO to transfer to YTZ for our flight to YUL to visit friends in Montreal. I was wondering why you took the TTC from downtown Toronto to the airport, when you could have taken the Airport Express bus from across the street at the Royal York and takes only about 30-40 minutes instead of the disgusting subway and bus to the airport.
KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 385 posts, RR: 2 Reply 7, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 7026 times:
Quoting baje427 (Reply 5): Nice report but I cant imagine how PD can offer so much and charge so little.
I was wondering that myself. I think their Q400s help, such low operating costs (especially on their short-haul route network) must certainly keep costs down.
Quoting brilondon (Reply 6): I was wondering why you took the TTC from downtown Toronto to the airport, when you could have taken the Airport Express bus from across the street at the Royal York and takes only about 30-40 minutes instead of the disgusting subway and bus to the airport.
Honestly, I didn't know the express bus existed... I'm a bit of a transit geek, so I probably would have taken the subway anyways. (How am I to pass up a chance to ride a train that brands itself as "The Rocket"?)
MSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2472 posts, RR: 15 Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 6221 times:
Thanks for covering Porter, they seem to be a nice airline to fly with
I flew between YUL and YTZ last february on Air Canada's Q400 so could enjoy the YTZ experciene partially.
It was very nice to be in town just a mere few minutes after arriving in YTZ
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 385 posts, RR: 2 Reply 11, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5950 times:
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 8): The air fares between the USA to Canada are astronomically high due to huge Canadian taxes. That's why no one I know bothers visiting Montreal or Toronto.
I know, it's a shame. I've driven up to Montreal from my home in Maine. It's a great city, but getting there by air sometimes costs as much as a trip across the Atlantic. I don't think it's entirely because of the taxes either (on my Porter flight the total taxes were only about $25, same with my DL return), I think most US carriers have determined that they can charge that premium and get away with it. I really want to fly the Air Georgian B1900 between PWM and YYZ, but the price is absolutely ridiculous.
Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 9): Hint #2: You can do a web check-in up to 24 hours before your flight, during which there is complimentary seat selection
Thanks for the tips!
Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 9): Well for one thing, they don't pay any sort of terminal usage fees. In fact, they make money off of it.
I had read that before. It's cool that they operate a GA FBO facility as well. Most air carriers wouldn't touch GA with a ten foot pole...
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 10): I flew between YUL and YTZ last february on Air Canada's Q400 so could enjoy the YTZ experciene partially. It was very nice to be in town just a mere few minutes after arriving in YTZ
How was the Air Canada express service? It seems that they're trying to go head-to-head with Porter. Were their in-flight offerings enhanced to be competitive, or was it a standard domestic flight service?
WestJet747 From Canada, joined Aug 2011, 1641 posts, RR: 9 Reply 12, posted (1 year 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 5904 times:
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 11): I don't think it's entirely because of the taxes either (on my Porter flight the total taxes were only about $25, same with my DL return)
Well there are many variables that go into Canadian taxes. Sometimes you can pay only $25 (like on your flight) and sometimes taxes will be 40% of your ticket. You can find a brief breakdown of the taxes and fees imposed by the government here.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 11): I really want to fly the Air Georgian B1900 between PWM and YYZ, but the price is absolutely ridiculous.
I've wanted to do this as well. But I can't justify spending that kind of money to go somewhere I don't need to go.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 11): How was the Air Canada express service? It seems that they're trying to go head-to-head with Porter. Were their in-flight offerings enhanced to be competitive, or was it a standard domestic flight service?
Air Canada has their head in their a** with this one. They have this dangerous need to not allow anyone else to have a monopoly on a domestic route. As can reasonably be expected, Porter is hammering them on this route. AC obviously doesn't make their numbers public on a route-by-route basis, but estimates put them at a ~30% LF on YTZ-YUL (a.k.a. a losing effort).
It's actually somewhat amusing because Porter operates somewhat of an oligopoly on this route. They are the market leader on it, and every time they do anything, AC is makes the exact same change within hours. Every time Porter introduces a sale on YTZ-YUL, AC conveniently lowers their prices to the same level almost immediately. Same goes with service. AC has similar onboard offerings as Porter, which is not standard across AC mainline (in fact, this is the only route in which AC offers this enhanced Y product). They try their hardest, but this is Porter's niche, and they do it better.