Open Jaw on Porter's New Embraer Jet Service YYZ-YYC: The New “Big” Little Airline

The interior of the 132 pax PD Embraer

Founded just 16 years ago, Porter (PD) originally had the reputation of being the quirky little airline with personality. You know, the base at the almost-forgotten Island Airport (YTZ) near Toronto’s CN Tower. The prop De Havilland Dash 8-400 fleet. The female flight attendants’ retro pillbox hats. The free wine and beer – served in glasses!

After a sure and steady growth (of both schedule and customer loyalty), Porter has expanded to serve a much broader geographic area, including YYC, YVR and YEG – all from, for the first time, YYZ. These recently-introduced routes are served by new 132-pax Embraer E195-E2 jets, which are offering that now-beloved PD service on flights 2+ hours. For the moment, the airline is also offering all pax free meals such as a cheese tray, mango chicken dish and a noodle bowl.

Relaxed Check-in at YYZ

There is also free and fast WiFi, a nice bonus and a replacement for inflight entertainment; an inflight magazine; and in-seat power for both conventional and USB plugs.

Worth noting is that like the Dash 8s, the Embraers offer an all 2 x 2 seat configuration so that there is never a dreaded middle seat. The first 4 rows (“PorterReserve”) offer 36” pitch and include a dedicated check-in, advance boarding, checked luggage and free flight changes. The bulk of the cabin is 30” pitch.

Pax love that wine and beer are served in glasses, not plastic

On my recent flights YYZ-YYC-YYZ it was interesting to see the combination of pax: a definite mix of leisure and corporate (one seatmate was travelling on business for a major bank). The corporate travellers I chatted with were firm and longtime fans, stating they were delighted with the new expanded routes. “They treat us like humans,” one frequent flyer told me.

The leisure pax I spoke to were new to PD, lured by attractive pricing but delighted by the newness of the aircraft and inflight service. “I will definitely recommend this to my friends,” one traveller, fresh from a snowboarding vacation in Banff, told me.

A point worth mentioning: your clients’ PD flight ex YYZ may be departing from a B gate (1 to 5). If so, counsel them to build in time to get from security to the gate: I timed my brisk walk at 25 minutes.

“Actually enjoy economy,” claims the PD website. And if my recent experiences are anything to go by, they are gaining a whole new fan base who will love the airline’s attitude, inclusions – and new routes.

Martha Chapman


A contributor to Open Jaw since 2006 - and known to all in the business - Martha has worked in the travel industry all of her career and covers events, destinations, personalities and issues in the travel world.

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