I flew Porter Airlines, one of the best-rated airlines in North America that few people have heard of, and it was one of the best flying experiences I've had

porter airlines

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Porter Airlines uses propeller planes.

  • On a recent trip from New York to Toronto, I decided to try out the boutique Porter Airlines, which has generated some buzz and been named one of the best in North America.
  • The flight was moderately priced and extremely easy to book.
  • There is no class distinction on Porter, rather travelers can choose what kind of ticket they want to purchase - different ticket levels include different amounts of luggage and ability for seat selection.
  • Regardless of ticket type, all travelers get complimentary snacks and beverages during the flight - that includes wine or beer!
  • Porter has its own section of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is completely separate from the major international airport in the city. It was really convenient to land basically in downtown Toronto, only a short drive from my hotel.
  • After going through the $200, hiccup-free flying experience, I would choose Porter every time when possible.
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Porter Airlines specializes in short-haul flights within, to, and from Canada. There are 17 destinations throughout Canada and five throughout the US.

Porter Airlines specializes in short-haul flights within, to, and from Canada. There are 17 destinations throughout Canada and five throughout the US.

Source: Porter

The carrier — along with its boutique Toronto airport — has been voted among the best in the world by travelers.

The carrier — along with its boutique Toronto airport — has been voted among the best in the world by travelers.

Source: Business Insider, Travel Week, Condé Nast Traveler via Porter, The Star, Ports Toronto

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So when I had to book a flight to Toronto from New York, I thought I would check it out.

So when I had to book a flight to Toronto from New York, I thought I would check it out.

I was immediately impressed with the airline from the moment I started the booking process. I went to the website …

I was immediately impressed with the airline from the moment I started the booking process. I went to the website …
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… and found the flight schedule without a problem. When I looked into booking with Porter, I noticed consistent prices for each date and time I was considering.

… and found the flight schedule without a problem. When I looked into booking with Porter, I noticed consistent prices for each date and time I was considering.

Porter Airlines told Business Insider that consistent prices won't always be the case. They said prices often vary depending on the route, demand for the flight, and other factors.

Porter Airlines told Business Insider that consistent prices won't always be the case. They said prices often vary depending on the route, demand for the flight, and other factors.
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At the time I booked, a basic fare ticket was priced at $182. That ticket restricts travelers to a personal item only — like the small backpack below — and doesn't allow for flight changes.

At the time I booked, a basic fare ticket was priced at $182. That ticket restricts travelers to a personal item only — like the small backpack below — and doesn't allow for flight changes.

Basic fare passengers can only get their boarding passes at the check-in counter. I chose to fly with a Standard fare ticket for $20 more, which included a carry-on, and I was able to download my boarding pass from the online check-in process.

Basic fare passengers can only get their boarding passes at the check-in counter. I chose to fly with a Standard fare ticket for $20 more, which included a carry-on, and I was able to download my boarding pass from the online check-in process.
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If you're traveling for same-day business, Basic would be a good option since you won't need an overnight bag. Upgrading to the Standard fare was less expensive than paying for a checked bag with Basic — so I'd recommend doing the math before choosing a ticket.

If you're traveling for same-day business, Basic would be a good option since you won't need an overnight bag. Upgrading to the Standard fare was less expensive than paying for a checked bag with Basic — so I'd recommend doing the math before choosing a ticket.

The most expensive ticket option is Freedom fare, which allows passengers to change their flight without paying a fee. This may be a good option if you're unsure of your travel dates.

The most expensive ticket option is Freedom fare, which allows passengers to change their flight without paying a fee. This may be a good option if you're unsure of your travel dates.
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I was traveling for more than a week, so I had to bring a suitcase. I fit everything in a carry-on and a backpack, so a Standard ticket worked for me.

I was traveling for more than a week, so I had to bring a suitcase. I fit everything in a carry-on and a backpack, so a Standard ticket worked for me.

I had checked in to my flight the night before online — which was a pretty seamless experience ...

I had checked in to my flight the night before online — which was a pretty seamless experience ...
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... but when I got to the airport I went to the check-in counter anyway. I added my Known Traveler Number upon check-in, but my boarding pass didn't show I had TSA PreCheck.

... but when I got to the airport I went to the check-in counter anyway. I added my Known Traveler Number upon check-in, but my boarding pass didn't show I had TSA PreCheck.

I was two hours early for my flight and there were only a few other people on the check-in line ahead of me at Newark Airport.

I was two hours early for my flight and there were only a few other people on the check-in line ahead of me at Newark Airport.
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I didn't have to check my bag, so I just got my boarding pass and went on to look for my gate.

I didn't have to check my bag, so I just got my boarding pass and went on to look for my gate.

The Porter terminal at Newark doesn't have a PreCheck line for TSA, but I was still able to take advantage of my clearance level because TSA PreCheck-eligible travelers are given this expedited security slip that let me skip the line.

The Porter terminal at Newark doesn't have a PreCheck line for TSA, but I was still able to take advantage of my clearance level because TSA PreCheck-eligible travelers are given this expedited security slip that let me skip the line.
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There was one Porter gate at Newark. In the time I was waiting for my flight, one other Porter flight boarded.

There was one Porter gate at Newark. In the time I was waiting for my flight, one other Porter flight boarded.

The gate was pretty crowded with travelers waiting for the first flight and for the second flight, which I was about to get on.

The gate was pretty crowded with travelers waiting for the first flight and for the second flight, which I was about to get on.
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When it came to boarding, the process went relatively smoothly.

When it came to boarding, the process went relatively smoothly.

There were a couple of line hold-ups, but I was in my seat less than 10 minutes after standing up from my chair at the gate — I've experienced some pretty lengthy boarding times on other airlines before.

There were a couple of line hold-ups, but I was in my seat less than 10 minutes after standing up from my chair at the gate — I've experienced some pretty lengthy boarding times on other airlines before.
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I recently purchased an AWAY carry-on bag and was sure to buy the one that's supposed to fit in the overhead of small airlines.

I recently purchased an AWAY carry-on bag and was sure to buy the one that's supposed to fit in the overhead of small airlines.

Technically, my bag did fit in the overhead, according to the bag sizers seen here that Porter provided. But the airline staff made the decision to check everyone's rolling luggage, regardless of whether it would fit.

Technically, my bag did fit in the overhead, according to the bag sizers seen here that Porter provided. But the airline staff made the decision to check everyone's rolling luggage, regardless of whether it would fit.
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I was frustrated especially since I was one of the first people to board, which meant the overhead compartments were still empty.

I was frustrated especially since I was one of the first people to board, which meant the overhead compartments were still empty.

Plus, people with non-rolling luggage got to hold onto their bags, even though some were even bigger than my carry-on.

Plus, people with non-rolling luggage got to hold onto their bags, even though some were even bigger than my carry-on.
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I had to take my essentials out of my carry-on and take them with me onto the plane. Here's my loot!

I had to take my essentials out of my carry-on and take them with me onto the plane. Here's my loot!

All the seats on my Porter plane were the same. They had this tan leather with a navy blue leather piece where passengers' heads would go.

All the seats on my Porter plane were the same. They had this tan leather with a navy blue leather piece where passengers' heads would go.
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Each seat had a pocket in the back of it with a safety pamphlet and magazine.

Each seat had a pocket in the back of it with a safety pamphlet and magazine.

There was no in-flight entertainment system on the back of the seat in front of me ...

There was no in-flight entertainment system on the back of the seat in front of me ...
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... but the flight was so short that I didn't miss it at all. Instead, I tuned into my playlist for the hour-and-15-minute flight and let Miley Cyrus sing me into a state of relaxation.

... but the flight was so short that I didn't miss it at all. Instead, I tuned into my playlist for the hour-and-15-minute flight and let Miley Cyrus sing me into a state of relaxation.

Since Porter is a Canada-based airline, the safety demo and all announcements were made in both English and French to accommodate all local travelers.

Since Porter is a Canada-based airline, the safety demo and all announcements were made in both English and French to accommodate all local travelers.
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Around 15 minutes into the flight, the cabin crew started to make their way down the aisle with complimentary drinks. Travelers could choose from beer, wine, or a selection of soft drinks.

Around 15 minutes into the flight, the cabin crew started to make their way down the aisle with complimentary drinks. Travelers could choose from beer, wine, or a selection of soft drinks.

I asked for red wine, but they were out of it by the time they reached my row — I was sitting in row 16 of 19 — so I went with white.

I asked for red wine, but they were out of it by the time they reached my row — I was sitting in row 16 of 19 — so I went with white.
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They also came around with a basket of snacks.

They also came around with a basket of snacks.

I chose this bag of potato chips.

I chose this bag of potato chips.
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The tray table was decently sized and large enough for some food and a drink ...

The tray table was decently sized and large enough for some food and a drink ...

... but I couldn't fit my glass of wine on it at the same time as my computer.

... but I couldn't fit my glass of wine on it at the same time as my computer.
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The plane landed at Billy Bishop Airport on-time and emptied rather quickly.

The plane landed at Billy Bishop Airport on-time and emptied rather quickly.

We walked off the train and onto the tarmac at around 9:45 p.m. ...

We walked off the train and onto the tarmac at around 9:45 p.m. ...
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... and entered the nearly empty airport.

... and entered the nearly empty airport.

I gathered up all of my stuff again and made my way through customs to baggage claim. Thankfully it wasn't a long walk.

I gathered up all of my stuff again and made my way through customs to baggage claim. Thankfully it wasn't a long walk.
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Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a small space located on an island off the coast of downtown Toronto. It sees around 2.8 million travelers every year.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a small space located on an island off the coast of downtown Toronto. It sees around 2.8 million travelers every year.

Source: Billy Bishop Airport

It was ranked the fourth-best international airport by Condé Nast Traveler in 2016.

It was ranked the fourth-best international airport by Condé Nast Traveler in 2016.

Source: Ports Toronto

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Porter Airlines told Business Insider that their flights make up the majority of those passing through the airport. They said Air Canada has a route between Toronto and Montreal that also uses the commercial terminal, but chartered planes use a different terminal on the island.

Porter Airlines told Business Insider that their flights make up the majority of those passing through the airport. They said Air Canada has a route between Toronto and Montreal that also uses the commercial terminal, but chartered planes use a different terminal on the island.

By the time my flight arrived, it looked as though no one else was in the airport — including staff! I only saw two people working at the airport, which posed a struggle since I wasn't totally sure where I was going.

By the time my flight arrived, it looked as though no one else was in the airport — including staff! I only saw two people working at the airport, which posed a struggle since I wasn't totally sure where I was going.
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I followed some signs to the ferry that takes people from the airport to the mainland ...

I followed some signs to the ferry that takes people from the airport to the mainland ...

... but I ended up outside, in the dark, alone, standing in a parking lot. No ferry in sight.

... but I ended up outside, in the dark, alone, standing in a parking lot. No ferry in sight.
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I walked around for a bit and found an airport employee on her way home for the night. She pointed me in the right direction and I wound up walking through a tunnel, and popped up near the parking lot on the mainland!

I walked around for a bit and found an airport employee on her way home for the night. She pointed me in the right direction and I wound up walking through a tunnel, and popped up near the parking lot on the mainland!

Both shuttles and car services come through the parking lot. The shuttle brings passengers to Toronto Union train station. It was only a 10-minute drive from the parking lot to my hotel.

Both shuttles and car services come through the parking lot. The shuttle brings passengers to Toronto Union train station. It was only a 10-minute drive from the parking lot to my hotel.
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Overall, I would recommend flying with Porter. The complimentary snacks and beverages really put this economy experience over the edge, and everything from booking to landing was pretty seamless. Plus, landing just a few minutes from downtown was a huge bonus.

Overall, I would recommend flying with Porter. The complimentary snacks and beverages really put this economy experience over the edge, and everything from booking to landing was pretty seamless. Plus, landing just a few minutes from downtown was a huge bonus.