I took the first Porter Airlines flight from Toronto to Vancouver so you know what to expect.
Most travellers have always associated Porter as the airline that flies propeller planes from Toronto’s island airport. However, that might change.
Porter Airlines has introduced longer flights with newly purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson Terminal 3.
There are now flights from Toronto to Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax and other cities.
To introduce the public to these new flights, Porter offered $1 flights (before taxes and fees). I was lucky enough to snag two roundtrip tickets for their first Toronto to Vancouver flight.
Each ticket came down to roughly $83 per person roundtrip, which is not bad when a regular roundtrip from Toronto to Vancouver costs around $450.
It’s not often you can catch an inaugural flight for an airline, but when you do, you can expect a lot of extra goodies.
Porter offered passengers free refreshments, their popular shortbread cookies (I’m pretty sure they were the same ones they used to give out as free snacks at Billy Bishop), a keychain and a $150 voucher for future travel for each passenger.
It’s always a bit nerve-wracking flying a brand-new plane, especially one that the public hasn’t yet had access to.
One great reassurance I had was that Porter Airlines President and CEO Michael Deluce was on the flight with us. If he’s willing to take this flight, then I can be reassured that it’s a safe flight.
Goodies and CEO appearances aside, I’m here to talk about the experience of the flight.
What it was like on the flight
The boarding process was standard, with a bit of a wait, but the Porter Airlines gate employees moved quickly.
Upon actually boarding the plane, my first impression is that it’s small. It felt like I was walking into a longer version of their propeller planes.
Porter prides itself as a “no middle seat” airline. The seating layout is 2×2. This makes life way easier because who really wants to sit in the middle?
One common complaint I usually have with Porter is the lack of overhead baggage room. Specifically the height clearance. I’ll admit my “carry-on” is a bit larger than the typical carry-on pieces of luggage that are permitted. However, I was surprised to find out my luggage did fit this time.
The flight was 95% full, but there were multiple passengers who were not able to store their carry-on in the overhead compartment. And that’s not their fault, it’s a small plane.
When I got to my seat, the grey leather gave me a sense of calm and it looked perfectly clean. Maybe it’s because I was the first one to sit in it.
Now here’s the part everyone wants to know about. Legroom.
I’m 5’11” and there were roughly two inches between my knees and the seat in front of me. The legs of the seat in front of me spread back and my size 12 men’s feet struggled to get in.
It’s not super uncomfortable, but for a five-hour flight, I can deal with it. If it was any longer, I might have to opt to pay extra for legroom.
Take off was a bit rough, the turbulence had me grasping onto my armrests. Once settled to cruising altitude, the flight was fairly smooth.
Canadian flight attendants have always been so kind. Always helpful with anything we need and very accommodating. The three women working this flight were incredible.
We all know airplane lavatories are small; however, the Embraer E195 might be the smallest I’ve ever been in. My head touched the ceiling and I had to crouch down a bit.
Sadly, someone forgot to stock the toilet seat covers and there was a half-empty bottle of soap to clean your hands. One thing that grossed me out the most was a passenger who walked barefoot, although, it’s not Porter’s fault.
Since it was the inaugural flight, food was complimentary. You might be interested to know that the most expensive item on the menu is $11.99 for a salmon poke bowl. Not sure who would want to eat raw fish from a plane, but it’s available.
We were given the Raspberry Chia Smoothie Bowl ($7.99). It was very small. Almost the size of a kid’s meal. To me, it was a bit too sour of my liking. But the drink options made the meal a bit more bearable.
Snacks are a given. Porter has brought back the popular milk chocolate shortbread cookie. I could easily eat half a dozen of them.
There’s not much for in-flight entertainment. There are no shared screens or personal screens. Porter does give you unlimited WiFi if you’re a VIPorter member and there are a few flicks you can watch.
I opted in for just using unlimited WiFi, but as you could imagine, it was not stable. My BeReal was posted late because of the slow WiFi connection.
The flight time was about five hours, which is pretty typical for a flight from Toronto to Vancouver.
Upon arrival, our flight was met with dozens of local media on the tarmac capturing the arrival of the first Porter Airlines flight. Employees were taking selfies and you could feel the excitement in the air.
Now would I choose Porter over Air Canada, WestJet, Flair or Swoop? Possibly.
Was the experience worth it? Yes, for $83 roundtrip. But it has to come down to the price of a roundtrip. If it’s the same price as Air Canada, I’d go with Air Canada, especially if all the flights are coming out of Toronto Pearson.
With Porter now in the mix of airlines providing flights from Toronto to Vancouver, hopefully, this move makes the market competitive and lowers ticket prices for travellers.