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We flew on Porter’s inaugural flight from Toronto Pearson to Vancouver

Porter Airlines recently made a game-changing announcement: its expansion to Toronto Pearson International Airport. This was a huge moment for the airline, as they start up long-haul direct flights to Vancouver, Calgary & Edmonton. They are now also flying to Montreal, Ottawa & Halifax from Pearson. The airline has been known for its elevated experience at Billy Bishop Airport providing its passengers with comfortable seating and complimentary snacks and beverages. 

To promote the expansion, they released $1 base fare flights (plus taxes and fees) on their inaugural flights from Pearson. We notified our members who were part of our Discord group immediately and then proceeded to book two tickets for ourselves. We’ve flown Porter in the past for many short-haul flights to Montreal (back when they had a full lounge at Billy Bishop where you could grab as many shortbread cookies and drinks as you wanted) but we were curious to see how they would do flying all the way to Vancouver. The price was a total of $48.16 per person one-way. All seats sold were under the PorterClassic Flexible Fare which included a carry-on and free seat selection – normally this would go for $414. 

We arrived at Pearson airport Terminal 3 and immediately saw Porter’s huge banners. They are focusing on a better economy experience by eliminating the middle seat, offering complimentary snacks and alcoholic beverages, and best of all, free WIFI.

In my opinion, charging for a carry-on puts them in the same category as other low-cost carriers even though having the lowest price for a bag.

Price comparison for taking a carry-on on the most basic fare one-way:
Porter – $42 (checked bag only – no carry-on allowed)
Flair – $55 ($78 checked)
Swoop – $68 ($68 checked)
Lynx – $56 ($68 checked)

Check-in was easily done online where they gave options to print your boarding pass or download it directly to your Apple Wallet. There were no options for Google Wallet. 

We headed straight to security bypassing the check-in counters. 

At the gate, there were lots of Porter representatives for the special occasion of their first flight to Vancouver. They had set up a special backdrop for photo opportunities as well as a coffee station and snacks. They also had a grand prize for anyone who could find the right key to open a box. The winner received two roundtrip tickets to anywhere that Porter flew in the PorterReserve fare, which includes full meals, extra legroom seats & extra baggage. 

Upon entering the plane, I got the whiff of “new plane” smell. It was a brand new Embraer E195-E2. A new highly fuel-efficient aircraft that has a longer range to reach further destinations. The seats were 2 x 2 configuration with no middle seat.

The middle aisle was tall but narrow. Although the overhead bins were spacious, they were lower than average; both of us hit our heads at one point when getting into our seats. The seats were comfortable and spacious.

Bi-folding tray tables provide more space when you’re done eating and just need a small table for your coffee. The windows were unaligned from the seats but I was still able to get some amazing photos. 

All inaugural flight passengers received a $150 voucher to use on future porter flights and a keychain to commemorate the day. 

Porter is the only Canadian airline to offer free WIFI which is one of its best features. It’s 2023, free WIFI should be everywhere. Due to the nature of Next Departure, we need to be online 24/7 to catch that next flight deal so we always need to make sure that any flight we book has access to WIFI. It’s really important to us and Porter gave us that piece of mind as business owners.

The instructions on how to connect were easy and simple. The downside to it was it was heavily sponsored; if you’re a VIPorter member you only have to watch an ad once to unlock the WIFI, if you’re not a member, you have to watch an ad every 30 minutes. I recommend signing up for a VIPorter account beforehand. 

It was open to as many devices as you wanted. As opposed to most airlines, where WIFI can be purchased, you can only log in to one device at a time.

We checked the speeds of the WIFI both on Android and iOS devices and they were decent. It was enough to check for flight deals but not fast enough to stream YouTube without buffering. It did get spotty at times. 

All seats had 2 outlets, both standard and not USB. There were no screens to watch in-flight entertainment, we needed to use our own devices. The entertainment selection was average. I personally didn’t find anything I wanted to watch but that’s when the free WIFI helped. 

There are only 2 bathrooms on these aircraft, one in the front and one at the back. Due to the narrow middle aisle and only a single stall, the lineups got long. Also, it was difficult to pass through the line since there was not much room for two people to pass each other. I don’t recommend getting seats in the last 5 rows if you don’t want a bathroom lineup near you.

The bathroom was very small but clean, it did the job. Halfway through the flight, it seemed they ran out of sink water. The stewardess did her best to alleviate the situation by placing extra hand sanitizer and paper towels. 

I was very excited to try their fresh meals, especially their salmon poke bowl. We both skipped breakfast as we planned to purchase their meals.

But unfortunately, the food situation was a little bit of a mess. Upon boarding, we got a card saying they wanted us to try their fresh meals for free which would normally be included in PorterReserve fare and available for purchase for PorterClassic.

A little bit famished, we waited until 2 hours and 30 mins into the flight for service to begin. They had run out of food and only had 1 option from their breakfast menu; a small raspberry smoothie chia bowl which would normally go for $7.99. We were in the last row to get them and unfortunately, the passengers seated behind us were offered snacks; almonds, shortbread cookies, or banana bread. The second service began with only 1 hour left of the flight where we were offered more of the complimentary snacks. There was no option of even purchasing some food as they completely ran out. 

Even though we were quite hungry for most of the 5-hour flight, their beverage service was great! Free beer, wine, or spirits in real glassware and generous in their pouring! It makes a big difference in taste when using glassware and is a great feature by Porter. They also offer Balzac’s coffee on all flights which is one of the best coffee shops in Toronto.

When we arrived at YVR, there were media set up ready for a press conference from the CEO of Porter Airlines. They were getting ready to set on their first flight back; from Vancouver to Toronto Pearson.

The service was great. They were doing the best they can with what they had with smiles on their faces. Overall, it was a comfortable experience. Porter delivers the items most important to us such as no middle seats and free WIFI across all devices. It’s another airline that has added a direct route between Toronto to Vancouver which helps in keeping prices competitive. This will lead to more flight deals with flights within Canada.

If you have any questions about our experience with Porter Airlines, feel free to send us an email at farah@nextdeparture.ca

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