The Seat: When it comes to economy flying, it’s easy to like flying smaller planes if you’re in the right seat. This set of seats in the very first row aboard this Porter Airlines Q400 hands out extra legroom on the window and unlimited legroom on the aisle…if you’e less than say, 9 feet tall. Width suffers a little because of the armrest-housed tray table but takes up no more than half an inch in my guesstimation. Some argue that the leather seats aren’t padded well in this row which I didn’t notice on this flight. Even if you do find them to be less than comfortable, the shorter ranges these planes fly mean you’ll be at your destination soon anyway.
Tech/Connectivity: You’ll have to load up on battery juice and post your instagrams while in the all-can-access Porter Lounge at select airports before hopping on board. There are no outlets or any wi-fi to be found on Porter Airlines aircraft.
Service: It’s never great to create unrealistic expectations, either for you or myself so I’ll proceed with caution here. Perhaps my experience aboard this flight was just contrasting itself against recent cold, unfriendly (even rude) service on recent hops aboard the big guys, but this was impressive. The crew was personable, friendly and even helpful. I walked off the plane cheerful and armed with new ideas for lunch and things to do in Toronto while I was there. This crew gets 5 hops.
Food: While the snack basket is a dreadful site in a domestic first class cabin, it seems special aboard an all-economy flight. During meal times, you’ll get a small meal but if your flight’s at say 2:30 in the afternoon, you’ll still have something to munch on. Nothing will be served in fine china or even IKEA-grade glassware, but that you’re getting food of any sort on a short modhop to Thunder Bay, is a modern air-travel miracle.
Summary: This Porter Airlines gush is brought to you by 2 very friendly flight attendants, pre-flight lounge access (free wi-fi & snacks) for all who fly and tons of legroom via a pretty reasonably priced bulkhead seat upgrade. Results may vary, but Porter’s approach to business travel is a good one. In-flight wi-fi and power are missed, but not much on these shorter flights. Porter Airlines is our current fave (as of Feb. 2013) to/from Toronto and the Canadian spots it serves.
Rating: 4 “hops” (of 5).
Strategy: Extra legroom seats 1A-B and 2C-D are available for purchase when booking your flight. Porter’s other seats on the plane come with an extra inch or two over competing airlines in economy so even if you don’t want to cough up the extra few bucks, you’ll have more space for your knees.