Review: Porter Airlines and Toronto City Airport

Heavens knows the pandemic has curtailed a lot of travel plans across the globe. For me, one of the most acute negatives was not being able to see my cousins in Canada. But, since travel to our neighbors to the north was reopened in August I was finally able to meet the new four-month-old in the family. I knew I was going to travel by air and pondered taking my usual LaGuardia Airport –> Toronto Pearson route but I had heard of Porter Airlines before and decided this was my chance to experiment. They exclusively fly the Dash 8-400 propeller plane, which I don’t always like, but for around $150 less round-trip, it became the best option very quickly.

I started my journey by getting to Newark Airport, the only location Porter flies into/out of in the NYC area. They leave from a far gate in Terminal B but luckily there is plenty of space. I had to approach the gate agent and show my proof of negative covid test before they would let me onto the plane. A few minutes after that I was allowed to board and saw how small the plane was, how little space there was to store onboard luggage, and what the chairs felt like. The one thing that struck me was so many people were gate-checking their bags but I asked to keep mine and was allowed. I recommend this as it makes it faster to exit and not worry about your bags. My bag just barely fit into the overhead storage area.

Once we landed in Toronto we exited the plane directly onto the tarmac and had short walk to the very small terminal. Customs was relatively quick with digital kiosks taking most of the time and then a quick conversation with a customs agent to verify information. I was through it about 10 minutes.

It was quite cute. There were definitely enough clean bathrooms and a small shop to buy snacks. I tried to buy a SIM card there for use but since it was after customer service hours I could not use my US address to activate the SIM. The gentleman behind the counter kindly refunded my money. The key thing to note is that the airport is not on the mainland so you have to either take a few-minute walk in a tunnel or a ferry across. Since I was renting a car whose offices were on the island I had to wait for the ferry to get across (but not before being confused by instructions and walking along the tunnel twice).

When I flew back to the US I reversed the trip during daylight hours and got a few better photos of the airport. Since it is so small you don’t do customs preclearance, instead waiting until arrival into the US. That was not the biggest deal so it is not a deterrent to flying into/out of this airport. I strongly recommend it, especially if the price and timing work for you.

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