Based at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, Porter Airlines is a low cost Canadian-owned carrier which focuses on providing connections to US cities. The airline was founded in 2006, and now operates a fleet of 29 Dash 8-400 planes (all made in Canada). If you need to reach the United States affordably, Porter is bound to be a good option to consider.
Routes available from Porter Airlines all involve Toronto at some stage. From there, travelers can head to domestic destinations like Halifax, Montreal, Thunder Bay, or Quebec City. And they can also fly to Boston, Chicago, New York (Newark), Myrtle Beach, and Washington, D.C..
Porter's motto is "Experience what flying refined truly means" - so it's not all about low cost fares. Many passengers are part of the VIPorter scheme, which allows them to earn points for future journeys. The high level of service provided has also elevated Porter into the top ranks of global airlines, with Condé Nast ranking the airline 9th our of al global carriers in its 2016 list.
Safety-wise, Porter performs very well, and its planes have never experienced any serious accidents. Any instances of complaints from the past seem to have been resolved, and the company is not bracketed among the safest in North America.
Finally, travelers should note that Porter isn't part of the Star Alliance, but does have code-sharing agreements with many major global airlines, including JetBlue, El Al, IcelandAir, Qatar Airways, and Azores. So it may be possible to book multi-leg tickets to destinations not directly covered by Porter.
Porter Airlines offers four different classes when booking tickets: Basic, Standard, Flexible, and Freedom. However, the company does not operate a traditional division beween Economy, Business and First Class. Instead, a relatively high level of comfort is guaranteed for all, and travelers can pick different features to suit their unique needs.
Porter Airlines On-Board Services
All seats on Porter's Bombardier jets come with a seat pitch of 80 cm (32-inches), and all of them should include ample leg room. Passengers can enjoy free beers or wines as they fly, and snacks are also provided at no extra charge, while meals can be ordered as required.
Unusually for international carriers, seats are all arranged in pairs, so there's no middle seat. Everyone has access to the window or aisle, making the experience more enjoyable and spacious. However, Porter does not provide any entertainment on-board, Wi-Fi is not available, and electrical sockets are also not included.
Standard, Basic, Freedom, and Flexible Classes
The various seat classes come with different add-ons. Basic tickets come with no checked baggage, inflexible cancelations, no options to change dates, and no seat preselection. As you move up the scale to Standard and Freedom, the options change. By paying more, travelers can book specific seats, add baggage, and enjoy more scope for refunds.
Travelers can also enhance their flights by signing up for VIPorter. The Premium Access feature allows members to access priority boarding lines and security lines, streamlining their route through Billy Bishop Airport. However, there are Porter airport lounges - just comfortable seating in the boarding zone.
Passengers flying on Porter's domestic flights must check in 20 minutes before departure from Billy Bishop, and 30 minutes before flying from other Canadian airports. Those catching international flights must check in at least 1 hour before they take off.
Online check in starts 24 hours before departure and closes 1 hour before planes leave.
Passengers in Freedom Class can check in a single piece of luggage free of charge. Items must weigh less than 50lbs (23kg).
Freedom Class passengers can also take on board a single bag or case, and a single personal item. In any case, items taken on board must weigh no more than 20lbs (9kg).
Economy (Basic or Standard) passengers do not receive a free baggage allowance and must pay to check in any items. The same weight limit applies as for Freedom Class fares: 50lbs (23kg).
Economy passengers can take a single personal item of carry-on luggage. This item must store safely underneath the seats in front, and cannot weigh more than 20lbs (9kg).
All checked baggage must have maximum dimensions of 158cm (62-inches). Bags or cases taken on board must measure less than 40 x 23 x 55cm (16 x 9 x 22-inches). Personal items can have maximum dimensions of 43 x 16 x 33cm (17 x 6 x 13-inches).
If travellers need to take items that exceed the weight and size limits detailed above, oversize baggage fees will apply. This includes musical instruments and sports equipment such as golf clubs or skiing kit. Fees will be between C$100 and C$115 in all cases.
If infants require a special seat, parents will need to pay for an additional place. On the other hand, lap infants travel for free (aged 7 days to 2 years). All children above 2 years of age must pay full ticket prices to travel with Porter Airlines.
As we noted earlier, VIPPorter members also enjoy a few useful benefits regarding luggage. Most importantly, VIP Tier members can check in an extra bag at no extra cost - a handy benefit for frequent travelers.