Flight Review: Porter Airlines – Toronto City Airport to Newark, New Jersey / New York (PD147)

Getting in and out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport can be a bit of a pain. Though a new express train service installed for the Pan Am Games in June has made the process of getting in and out a slightly less tiresome affair, it remains an expensive one. Luckily, for some routes, another airport lays within literal walking distance of the centre of the city. The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport only serves two airlines – for now – Porter Airlines and Air Canada. One of its most popular routes, flying direct to New York’s Newark Airport with Porter Airlines, is what Larry Heath recently tried out:

Airline: Porter
Route: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to New York Newark
Seat: 6B (Aisle in a 2-2 Configuration)
Aircraft: Bombardier Q400
Class: Economy (All economy seats though front row at a premium rate due to extra leg room)
Flight Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
On Schedule? Departed a few minutes late, arrived a few minutes early
Frequent Flyer Program: VIPorter
Lounge Access: No – but the waiting area may as well be a lounge.
Web/Mobile Check-In? Yes
Points and Status Credits Earned: Yes

Pre-Flight Experience:

Toronto City Airport is Porter’s hub, so they’ve made it their own. You start off on the mainland, where you can print tickets and check in with US and Canadian passports only, before you board a short, free ferry to get to the island that houses the terminal. Only takes a 90 seconds to get over there and it runs every 15 minutes. Though this was the only way to get to the airport at the time of flight, the airport just opened a new pedestrian tunnel which they say takes six minutes to walk through – while the ferry remains an option, too. You can read about the new walkway HERE.

When you arrive at the terminal, nothing is available pre-security clearance except for a bathroom and a currency exchange booth. But once you’ve dropped off your bags and made it through customs – a relatively quick process – you’re greeted to the waiting area, which has the feel of a frequent flyer’s lounge. Comfortable seats line the room, and complimentary drinks and some snacks like nuts, including Starbucks Coffee, sits in the lounge for everyone. Beer, wine and additional snacks are available with a debit or credit card.

Meal Service:

They made one service of the plane on the less than 60 minutes we were actually in the air. The amount of options made complimentary was quite surprising – you could enjoy water, soft drinks or even wine and beer, from local Toronto brewery Steam Whistle (I can’t recommend this option enough!). You also have a choice of snacks, including nuts, vegetable chips and cookies. By the time they make the announcements, feed everyone, it’s almost time to land again! Easy way to pass the time.

In-Flight Entertainment:

None. Though announcements are in French AND English!

Flight Experience and Comfort:

These are smaller planes, with only 74 seats, but it’s a short ride and thankfully was a bump free one! Turbulence on these smaller planes is rarely fun. The seats have a 32″ pitch and 17″ width, which places it on the smaller side, but typical for this sort of aircraft. The leather seats are more than comfortable enough, however, and there seems to be a couple extra inches of legroom to help keep you comfortable.

Customer Service:

Very friendly and attentive staff both on the ground and in the air.

Baggage:

The cost of a checked bag (Standard 23kg/50lbs allowance), if paid at the airport, is C$35. Prebook your baggage online when you check in and you’ll get a $10+ discount depending on route and item. A “Freedom” ticket includes baggage. Take a look at all their rates HERE.

The Destination:

Unlike some Canadian airports which offer US immigration at the originating airport, Billy Bishop does not. So, when you land in Newark, you have to go through customs, which does takes a while. And out of the three New York airports you’d most typically land in (the others being JFK and La Guardia), Newark is the furthest away from your destination, technically sitting in New Jersey. There are a few ways to get to Manhattan from the airport though, and you can read about some of those options HERE.

The Bottom Line:

Getting to Pearson International can cost an arm and a leg from downtown, and if you’re driving, it can take a good hour… add in the fact that at the time of booking, this was the cheapest available route between Toronto and New York (albeit New York City) and you have to wonder why you’d fly any other way on this route. Being a small airport there aren’t the lines and hassles you deal with at the larger airports, you get a free beer on board and the waiting area is one of the most comfortable of any airport I’ve ever been to. Plus, how many airports can you walk to from the downtown centre?

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Porter Airlines fly to multiple locations in the US and Canada from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, including Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Halifax and more. There are connections available at Boston with partner airline JetBlue onto other destinations in the U.S.A. For all routes, tickets and details head to: https://www.flyporter.com/

The writer flew at his own expense.