Porter the - friendly, quirky & lovable - Canadian carrier with a raccoon as its mascot who flies solely a fleet of Bombardier Q400 Dash8s! Depending on where you live, you've probably never heard of them, but as Canada's third largest carrier they offer a relatively extensive domestic network as well as service to the US cities of: Chicago-Midway, Myrtle Beach, New York-Newark, Washington-Dulles & Boston.
What's with raccoon, you ask? He's a delightful nod to Porter's home base of Toronto - who at a time was overrun with raccoons, but being too polite and caring to eradicate them alternative methods of control were found. Since then, the raccoon has been an unofficial calling card for the city. In my mind, he's a brilliant marketing play with a lot of personality and a great differentiation for a different type of carrier.
We booked this flight directly with the airline at www.flyporter.com , selecting the standard fare to include a carry on bag, but not a seat assignment. Final cost came to $120.73 charged to my American Express Platinum Card earning 600 points thanks to the 5x points earned when booking directly with the airline.
Boarding started approximately 10 minutes behind schedule. Given that these are small aircraft, Porter boards via row number; my seat in 11B had me in the second boarding group and one of the first on the plane. Given the size of the overhead bins, anything larger than a backpack was required to be gate checked. During preparation for departure & arrival, announcements were made in both english and french; flight attendants were pleasant and cordial despite the early hour.
Cabin & Seat
Porter’s De Havilland Dash 8 - Q400s sport a standard 2-2 layout throughout the cabin. Most seats sported 17 inches of width and 32 inches of pitch, extra legroom seats sporting 34 inches were also available. The cabin felt fresh, open, and light - although a bit on the tired side - with its beige seats and white interior.
Food & Beverage
Given Porter’s relatively short hops from its Toronto - Billy Bishop Hub, it offers a fairly robust food and beverage program for free onboard. Name brand snacks were passed in a basket for customers to choose at will from followed very shortly by complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks. The real kicker? It’s all served in GLASSWARE, for real, for every passenger! I opted for a ginger ale, but my friend selected a beer from Ace Hill which was served cold and in a large can!
Amenities & Service
While these aircraft lack WiFi & Inflight entertainment, I personally didn’t find it a detriment given the flight time was approximately an hour. Porter does provide a very nice inflight magazine as well as newspapers on select routes as well.
The service department is where Porter really shines: friendly faces and authentic hospitality abound alongside regular updates and genuine thanks from the cockpit. Truly a winning combination.
Porter is a fun quirky airline that I would gladly fly again, potentially to other locations within Canada even when a non-stop route on another airline might be faster. Only warning is to be sure you’ve packed within the limits, and maybe to err towards a later flight to enjoy a complimentary adult beverage!