Earlier this week, Porter Airlines announced the imminent launch of new routes departing from Toronto Pearson International Airport on its brand-new Embarer E195-E2 jets.
As the airline is set to take delivery of up to 100 new jets in the near future, it has plans to expand its network across North America and promises to offer a rejigged economy class flying experience.
We now know the first routes on which Porter Airlines will operate its new jets, and they’re all in Canada. Beginning in February 2023, Porter Airlines will fly from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Porter Airlines Launches New Embraer E195-E2 Routes
The first three routes to be served by Porter Airlines’s newest aircraft will be Vancouver (YVR), Ottawa (YOW), and Montreal (YUL). The flights are set to begin in February 2023, and will depart from Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Porter Airlines already flies to Montreal and Ottawa from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on its De Haviland Dash 8-400 turboprop aircraft. The flights from Toronto Pearson will be in addition to the flights from Toronto Billy Bishop, giving passengers a choice of which airport they wish to depart from and fly into on certain routes.
The Toronto Pearson (YYZ)–Montreal (YUL) service will begin on February 1, 2023, with up to four daily flights as of February 7, 2023. Round-trip fares start at $225 (CAD).
The flight times from Toronto Pearson to Montreal are as follows:
- PD103 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Montreal (YUL), departing 6:55am and arriving 8:15am
- PD119 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Montreal (YUL), departing 2:15pm and arriving 3:35pm (as of February 7, 2023)
- PD125 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Montreal (YUL), departing 5:25pm and arriving 6:35pm
- PD135 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Montreal (YUL), departing 10:20pm and arriving 11:40pm
Between Montreal and Toronto Pearson, the flight times are as follows:
- PD102 Montreal (YUL) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 7:05am and arriving 8:40am
- PD106 Montreal (YUL) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 9:35am and arriving 11:10am
- PD120 Montreal (YUL) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 4:20pm and arriving 5:55pm (as of February 7, 2023)
- PD126 Montreal (YUL) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 7:55pm and arriving 9:30pm
The Toronto Pearson (YYZ)–Ottawa (YOW) service will also begin on February 1, 2023, with up to four daily flights from the outset. Round-trip fares between the two cities also start at $225 (CAD).
The flight times from Toronto Pearson to Ottawa are as follows:
- PD155 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW), departing 7:25am and arriving 8:30am
- PD169 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW), departing 1:55pm and arriving 3:00pm
- PD185 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW), departing 7:00pm and arriving 8:05pm
- PD191 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW), departing 10:30pm and arriving 11:35pm
And the flight times from Ottawa to Toronto Pearson are as follows:
- PD150 Ottawa (YOW) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 7:40am and arriving 8:58am
- PD156 Ottawa (YOW) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 9:20am and arriving 10:38am
- PD170 Ottawa (YOW) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 3:50pm and arriving 5:08pm
- PD188 Ottawa (YOW) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 9:00pm and arriving 10:18pm
For the first time, Porter Airlines will operate flights from Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR) as of February 7, 2023. By the end of March, it will operate up to three flights daily, with round-trip fares beginning at $248 (CAD).
The flight times from Toronto Pearson to Vancouver are as follows:
- PD305 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR), departing 10:15am and arriving 12:34pm
- PD313 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR), departing 5:59pm and arriving 8:18pm (as of February 14, 2023)
- PD319 Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR), departing 10:15pm and arriving 12:34am the next day (as of March 21, 2023)
And the flight times from Vancouver to Toronto Pearson are as follows:
- PD302 Vancouver (YVR) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 6:30am and arriving 1:59pm (as of March 22, 2023)
- PD306 Vancouver (YVR) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 2:00pm and arriving 9:32pm
- PD318 Vancouver (YVR) to Toronto Pearson (YYZ), departing 10:55pm and arriving 6:27am the next day (as of February 14, 2023)
Flights to all destinations are already loaded on Porter Airlines’s website, and can be booked throughout the schedule.
Porter Airlines Offers New Fare Options
With the roll-out of these routes, Porter Airlines has also debuted PorterClassic and PorterReserve bundles. PorterClassic is a budget à la carte option, where passengers get lower fares but have to pay for extras, while PorterReserve is all inclusive, but comes with a price to match.
We now can see how fares break down within each bundle. Let’s use the Toronto Pearson–Vancouver route as an example, as it’s arguably the most interesting of the new routes.
For the inaugural flight from Toronto Pearson to Vancouver, Porter Airlines is offering fares starting at $128 (CAD) for a one-way booking.
Selecting PorterClassic, we are presented with a further four fare options to choose from: Basic, Standard, Flexible, and Freedom.
It’s important to note that all passengers flying with Porter Airlines on the new Embraer E195-E2 will get free beer, wine, snacks, and Wi-Fi on the flights, which is how Porter Airlines argues that it is “redefining” the economy class flying experience.
Beginning with Basic, you’re essentially getting a seat on the plane and a personal item of up to 9 kg (20 lbs) to bring with you. That’s slightly more generous than the 7kg (15.5 lbs) Canadian ultra-low-cost-carriers allow for.
Notably, you’ll have to stand in line at the airport to get your boarding pass, as Basic fares don’t include an electronic boarding pass. An extra bag begins at $27.50 (CAD), and it doesn’t appear that you’ll be able to pay for another carry-on bag during the check-out process.
You won’t be able to change or cancel your flight, even for a fee, with the Basic fare.
Moving up to the Standard fare, you can skip the line at the airport by receiving an electronic boarding pass, and you can also bring another carry-on item onboard. Checked luggage still begins at $27.50 (CAD), and you can pay $100–150 (CAD) to change your flight.
In this case, you’d pay an extra $30 (CAD) to skip the line at the airport and get an extra carry-on bag. If you tend to travel with carry-on baggage only, the extra charge is more or less equal to the cost of a checked bag, so you get the convenience of an electronic boarding pass as a bonus.
Moving up to the Flexible fare, which costs around three times the Basic fare, you can choose a standard PorterClassic seat for free, and you can upgrade to a PorterStretch seat with more legroom (34 inches compared to the standard 30 inches) beginning at $15 (CAD). The change fees for the Flexible fare are 50% of what you’d pay on the Standard fare.
The Freedom fare is fully refundable, has no change fees, includes a PorterStretch seat, and comes with two free checked bags. Indeed, all of those extras come at a steep cost.
For most passengers, the Basic or Standard fares will be suitable. If you don’t like waiting in lines at the airport, the Standard fare could very well be worth the extra cost, especially if you have two pieces of carry-on baggage to bring.
If you choose the PorterReserve option, you can choose between a Navigate and Ultimate fare.
Anyone flying on a PorterReserve booking will enjoy a separate check-in area at airports, the most legroom (36 inches on the Embraer E195-E2 or 32 inches on the De Haviland Dash 8-400), better food and drink, two free checked bags, two carry-on items, electronic boarding passes, and no change fees.
The only real difference between the Navigate and Ultimate fares is that the Ultimate fare is refundable and the Navigate fare isn’t.
Interestingly, you stand to earn more VIPorter points on the Navigate fare than the more expensive Ultimate fare, at least according to the above example.
If you’re looking to save money, then either the Basic or Standard PorterClassic fares would be the way to go. Otherwise, consider looking at either of the PorterReserve fares instead of the Flexible or Freedom fares, as the prices are similar but you stand to benefit from a better in-flight experience, more VIPorter points, no change fees, and more baggage.
Competition Is Heating Up
Porter Airlines is entering a hotly contested space for its first transcontinental flight, and it brings the total number of Canadian airlines that fly between two of Canada’s largest cities at some point throughout the year to eight (nine if you include Swoop’s service from Abbotsford to Toronto).
Beginning in 2023, passengers can choose between Air Canada, WestJet, Porter Airlines, Flair Airlines, Canada Jetlines, Lynx Air, Air Transat, and Sunwing on flights between Toronto and Vancouver. Some of the airlines only operate seasonally, while other carriers have multiple flights per day.
Porter Airlines’s all-economy cabin configurations surely can’t compete with the lie-flat seats offered in Air Canada Signature Class, but there’s an argument to be made that nobody really needs a bed for a five-hour flight (although it’s certainly lovely).
No other airline in Canada can boast that all guests in economy are offered complimentary beer and wine served in glassware and a 100% chance of not being in the middle seat. Indeed, this is where Porter Airlines has a competitive advantage against its full-service and ultra-low-cost contenders.
On a random date in April, there are no fewer than 25 direct flights between Vancouver and Toronto. Of these, the following prices are the lowest for each airline flying on that date:
- Air Canada: $122 (CAD)
- Canada Jetlines: $138 (CAD)
- Flair Airlines: $67 (CAD)
- Lynx Air: $69 (CAD)
- Porter Airlines: $114 (CAD)
- WestJet: $122 (CAD)
Porter Airlines finds itself smack dab in the middle of the pack. Its lowest fare is around $60 (CAD) more than two of the three ultra-low-cost-carriers, but $24 (CAD) lower than Canada Jetlines. Meanwhile, the price is almost equal to Air Canada and WestJet’s lowest fares, at just $8 (CAD) less.
Putting aside things like airline elite status, loyalty points, and the ability to upgrade to a higher class of service, Porter Airlines brings a unique proposition to Canadian airspace.
Would you rather spend less at the outset with an ultra-low-cost-carrier and risk flying in a middle seat for five hours, or spend a bit more and get a better in-flight experience for a nominal fee? Or, will Porter Airlines’s revised economy class experience be enough to sway passengers from their loyalty to other airlines if the price is similar?
2023 will surely be an interesting year for flying within Canada. Having more options available can only be beneficial to passengers, and hopefully Porter Airlines’s escapade into transcontinental flights fares well.
Porter Airlines has announced the first three destinations that will be served by its upcoming delivery of Embraer E195-E2 aircraft. Once flights begin from Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2023, passengers can fly to Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver in an all-economy cabin without middle seats.
We are now able to see how Porter Airlines is structuring its PorterClassic and PorterReserve fares. The former offers a lower price with less inclusions, while the latter provides the best experience from check-in to arrival at a higher price.
Porter Airlines is joining a slew of other Canadian airlines who operate flights between Toronto and Vancouver. Passengers now have an even greater range of choices for getting between two of Canada’s largest city centres, with Porter Airlines promising to redefine the economy class flying experience.
It remains to be seen how successful the airline will be with its expansion plans, and we expect to hear more route announcements as it takes delivery of more aircraft in the near future.