Porter Airlines Introduces Lighter, Tighter Seats

Porter Airlines Introduces Lighter, Tighter Seats

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Porter Airlines is a quirky regional Canadian airline based at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. The airline has been grounded since the start of the pandemic, given the border restrictions between Canada and the United States. Porter Airlines will be resuming flights as of September 8, 2021, and ahead of that, the carrier is revealing some changes to aircraft cabins.

Porter Airlines introduces world’s lightest seats

Porter Airlines has updated the interiors of its fleet of 29 Bombardier Q400 aircraft. The most significant change is that these planes now feature the new TiSeat E2 from Expliseat, marketed as being the world’s lightest aircraft seat. With this, the airline has also added an additional row of seats to each plane:

  • Porter Airlines’ Q400s used to feature 74 seats with 32″ of pitch
  • Porter Airlines’ Q400s now feature 78 seats with 30″ of pitch
  • The airline claims that the slim design of the seats enhances the legroom (since seat pitch doesn’t measure legroom, but rather how much space a seat takes up)

In addition to these thin seats allowing Porter to squeeze in more seats, the airline also highlights that they’re roughly 50% lighter than previous seats, and reduce aircraft weight by about 1,000 pounds. The airline expects this will reduce annual fuel consumption by around 500,000 liters, and corresponding CO2 emissions by around 1,200 metric tons.

In addition to the new seats, Porter Airlines has also added new carpeting, lavatory enhancements, and new sideboards and updated LED lighting.

Porter Airlines’ new cabin interiors

My take on Porter Airlines cabin changes

Porter Airlines has historically differentiated itself from other airlines, both by the airport it operates out of, and by the product it offers. The airline has primarily targeted business travelers, and a great product has been part of the selling point — the airline has a lounge for everyone at the airport, there are free alcoholic drinks onboard served in glassware, and more.

Not your average short haul economy service!

With that in mind, a few thoughts on these Porter Airlines changes:

  • No matter how you slice it, I’d be willing to bet that the world’s lightest seats with 30″ of pitch aren’t as comfortable as the previous seats with 32″ of pitch
  • That being said, airlines are much more easily able to get away with new slimline seats in the name of the environment nowadays — when Frontier Airlines introduced a tighter configuration in late 2020, the airline highlighted how “American’s greenest airline is about to get even greener”
  • On some level I respect the environmental benefits, because those fuel savings are significant; that being said, I think it’s safe to say the cost savings are what airlines are really after (fair enough)
  • Porter Airlines will be facing a major new competitor soon, as Connect Airlines also plans to fly Q400s on transborder flights from Toronto City Airport; Connect Airlines’ Q400s will feature 74 seats, so won’t be as dense

I feel like Porter Airlines is going to have a rough time as we emerge from the pandemic, given that transborder business travel likely won’t recover for a long time. I certainly can’t blame the airline for these changes, and I don’t think the new configuration will materially alter peoples’ purchase decisions.

Connect Airlines will soon launch flights from Toronto

Bottom line

Porter Airlines’ fleet has been grounded for about 18 months, and during this time the airline has reconfigured its Q400s. The airline has installed the world’s lightest airplane seats on these planes, and in the process has managed to increase the number of seats on planes by four, to 78.

While the environmental aspect of this is cool, I can’t imagine flying in the world’s lightest airplane seat will be much of a passenger experience upgrade.

What do you make of these changes to Porter Airlines’ Q400 interiors?

Conversations (33)
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  1. J.g. Guest

    Just flew porter including these new seats. Most uncomfortable seats ever.

    Where the seat back meets the seat pan, there's a large section of the seat that is literally just metal with leather over it that dug into my tailbone the entire flight to and from my destination. My butt was numb after only 20 minutes. I felt bad for the passengers that were on the AC already coming from Toronto....

    Not impressed.

    Also...

    Just flew porter including these new seats. Most uncomfortable seats ever.

    Where the seat back meets the seat pan, there's a large section of the seat that is literally just metal with leather over it that dug into my tailbone the entire flight to and from my destination. My butt was numb after only 20 minutes. I felt bad for the passengers that were on the AC already coming from Toronto....

    Not impressed.

    Also they removed the water taps from all the lavs and just replaced them with sanitizer. Yuck. What happens if you need to actually wash hands for other sanitary reasons....

  2. Joanne Guest

    I've flown on the new seats and have been a Porter flyer for many, many years. They have started charging for the carry on bags when they changed their ticket pricing and introduced three levels of ticket purchases.
    OK, fine. Everyone is charging for bags but these have extra restrictions that others do not. The last two times I flew to Toronto from Boston were on these horrific seats. I swore I wouldn't fly...

    I've flown on the new seats and have been a Porter flyer for many, many years. They have started charging for the carry on bags when they changed their ticket pricing and introduced three levels of ticket purchases.
    OK, fine. Everyone is charging for bags but these have extra restrictions that others do not. The last two times I flew to Toronto from Boston were on these horrific seats. I swore I wouldn't fly Air Canada ever again, but with all the changes to Porters fleet and charges...I'm reconsidering. Porter was the one to fly to Toronto, but I would now search for a better way. Lovely free snacks on board, but I can buy a bag of chips at the airport and still save hundreds of dollars.

  3. Mike warren Guest

    I’ve experienced these “light seats”. I was not impressed with the comfort. They made me think of a military aircraft for moving troops. One where comfort wasn’t a high priority. One of the reasons I flew with Porter many yrs ago was for their comfortable leather seats. Which they promoted. The flight crew were great, the seats were not.

  4. James Tiberius Kirk Guest

    Just flew to Thunder Bay from Toronto. 2 hours 10 min + ground time. The seats are incredibly uncomfortable. Very little butt padding, and they also do not recline, not at all. Seats do not support your legs properly, which I remedied by rolling my fleece jacket and putting it under my things by my knees. That’s what it has come to.
    It’s a complete 180 from the original Porter proposition of ‘Flying, refined’....

    Just flew to Thunder Bay from Toronto. 2 hours 10 min + ground time. The seats are incredibly uncomfortable. Very little butt padding, and they also do not recline, not at all. Seats do not support your legs properly, which I remedied by rolling my fleece jacket and putting it under my things by my knees. That’s what it has come to.
    It’s a complete 180 from the original Porter proposition of ‘Flying, refined’. So sad to see how far they have fallen. Will look at WestJet or Air Canada from now on for any flight over an hour.

  5. HLynn Guest

    Just had my 1st and 2nd Porter flights with these new seats. They certainly aren’t as comfortable. Being a short haul operator maybe they can get away with this with some. I can’t imagine sitting more than 2hrs in these seats. I won’t fly Porter again if there is another option (even if it costs a bit more).

    1. Unhappy Traveller Guest

      Same situation. First round trip flight in these seats. I fit fine but still found the seat uncomfortable - even on the exit row. My 6 foot 5 hubby was extremely unhappy, having had to raise the aisle armrest just for the privilege of being able to sit in the seat. We’ll be flying other carriers - which will be a waste of points.

  6. Jen Guest

    These new seats just caused the most uncomfortable flight experience of my life. Tiny and uncomfortable, hard, no arm rest as thing strip of metal useless, no reclining. I don’t think I will fly Porter again as a result, previously it was far and away my favourite airline. This was so disappointing. I understand seats are getting smaller and smaller etc, but this crossed a line.

  7. Vs Guest

    Just experienced the new seats. Hard and annoying. And it will influence my choice of airlines to fly with. I always recommended porter for good service and comfortable seats. No more. Porter lounges are gone at airports and the seats are uncomfortable and make the porter experience unpleasant. Staff are still nice but I’m not sure it makes up for such uncomfortable seats.
    I can’t believe I now would prefer air Canada over porter. Never thought I’d say that.

  8. [email protected] Guest

    Just on Porter for the first time in the new seats (after about 150 flights in the old). They are horrible. Worst I've experienced on any airline in over a million miles. I usually don't mind slimline seats (e.g. on LH) but these are really uncomfortable (lack of padding, bad upright angle, too shallow i.e. not enough support for mylegs). At least legroom is OK. They also look rreally ugly, almost as if they're unfinished or missing covering around the bottom.

    1. [email protected] Guest

      Also the arm rests are so uncomfortable on my arms due to location, size, shape and lack of padding, I had to put my jacket on top of them for comfort

    2. Cheryl Mackinnon Guest

      I hated the seats. Very uncomfortable. I flew from Fredericton to Windsor. I used to really like Porter. But not so much anymore

  9. DeborahcNeice Guest

    I have always flown Porter. And have also prebooked for December. I just flew to Halifax from Toronto. The seat was like a torture seat like sitting on a board covered in vinyl. The ridge around the outside edge around 3” is raised and hard it dug into my rear end I am going to buy a seat cushion for my return flight. I could hardly walk when I got off the plane. Whoever approved...

    I have always flown Porter. And have also prebooked for December. I just flew to Halifax from Toronto. The seat was like a torture seat like sitting on a board covered in vinyl. The ridge around the outside edge around 3” is raised and hard it dug into my rear end I am going to buy a seat cushion for my return flight. I could hardly walk when I got off the plane. Whoever approved these awful seats has not done Porter any favours. I don’t think I will fly with them after my December trip

  10. Robert Guest

    I've been a loyal Porter customer from the beginning and have flown many, many times. I just flew Porter again for the first time since the Pandemic and was unpleasantly surprised. We had 3rd row premium seats and they were awful. Certainly less legroom than the prior premium seats and I'm pretty sure less than the previous "normal" seats. I'm 6 feet tall and I was very uncomfortable. The seats themselves were flimsy, the arm...

    I've been a loyal Porter customer from the beginning and have flown many, many times. I just flew Porter again for the first time since the Pandemic and was unpleasantly surprised. We had 3rd row premium seats and they were awful. Certainly less legroom than the prior premium seats and I'm pretty sure less than the previous "normal" seats. I'm 6 feet tall and I was very uncomfortable. The seats themselves were flimsy, the arm rests thin and really only dividers and the thin plastic trays almost comical. What I find most appalling is the obviously pre-rehearsed spiel about how this was all done to make the planes more environmentally friendly and more comfortable! Please. Are travellers that stupid? We're told that they have added 1 row of 4 seats (now 78). Your story says there used to be 74. I seem to recall that at the beginning, there were 70? I'm afraid that unless Air Canada makes the same changes, next time I fly to/from the Island, it won't be with Porter. This is too bad. I understand the need to make adjustments in order to survive but at a certain point, you compromise the whole reason for Porter in the first place.

  11. Ryan Guest

    So...1,000 lbs reduction in aircraft weight by going to slimline seats. But then you add an extra row of seats with passengers (180X4=750). Not exactly the most robust green initiative, unless we're talking about the color of money.

  12. Marc B Guest

    Sadly the free lounge is no more. More merchants squeezed into the area, but it's all for purchase now.

  13. stogieguy7 Diamond

    The original idea of Porter, which was pretty brilliant, was to make traveling to downtown Toronto much easier. The ability to bypass Pearson was a big draw. However, it meant taking smaller turboprops. No problem, Porter said; every economy seat will be ample and we'll treat everyone like they're flying in premium economy - free drinks, snacks, etc. That worked to draw some folks away from AC, that combination of convenience and comfort (in spite...

    The original idea of Porter, which was pretty brilliant, was to make traveling to downtown Toronto much easier. The ability to bypass Pearson was a big draw. However, it meant taking smaller turboprops. No problem, Porter said; every economy seat will be ample and we'll treat everyone like they're flying in premium economy - free drinks, snacks, etc. That worked to draw some folks away from AC, that combination of convenience and comfort (in spite of being in a prop). Now, we've taken away the lounge atmosphere and crammed more and more seats into each plane. And, they're talking about diversifying beyond Toronto City (which is ok in theory) and basically becoming another typical airline. So why even bother with them?

    1. Robert Guest

      Exactly! And wait until you experience the new interior, like I did. This doesn’t bode well for Porter unless I’m a completely unrepresentative flyer. But I would have paid more for greater comfort.

    2. DeborahcNeice Guest

      I have always flown Porter. And have also prebooked for December. I just flew to Halifax from Toronto. The seat was like a torture seat like sitting on a board covered in vinyl. The ridge around the outside edge around 3” is raised and hard it dug into my rear end I am going to buy a seat cushion for my return flight. I could hardly walk when I got off the plane. Whoever approved...

      I have always flown Porter. And have also prebooked for December. I just flew to Halifax from Toronto. The seat was like a torture seat like sitting on a board covered in vinyl. The ridge around the outside edge around 3” is raised and hard it dug into my rear end I am going to buy a seat cushion for my return flight. I could hardly walk when I got off the plane. Whoever approved these awful seats has not done Porter any favours. I don’t think I will fly with them after my December trip

  14. Andy 11235 Guest

    Ultimately transborder flights are not long, so the relative comfort of the seats isn't that big an issue. Honestly, my bigger gripe is the price. IAD is painful to get to, which rather offsets the convenience of YTZ. Sure, it's faster than driving, but not that much faster.

  15. Steven E Guest

    I guess people will need to experience this new revamp first before passing judgement - just seems reasonable to me - It’s not like you’re flying across the Atlantic or great distances and there is or will be a few choices available

  16. bhcompy Member

    The planes were already tight as it was. 30" is ridiculous. I don't think a lot of their routes have much competition, though. I didn't have many options to get to places like Sudbury. Guess I'll just fold myself up like a transformer. Didn't want those knees anyways

  17. Russ Member

    I have the same issues with the blog page and have to manually reload it in my browser to get the latest articles. I have been seeing them come through on the social media platforms before.

  18. Lukas Guest

    @Ben - something is wrong with the ”blog” page at OMAAT and have been for at least a week now. For me, it leaves out a lot of recent posts and the time stamp is incorrect. Eg it currently says that the most recent article was about Qatar airways Executive jets ”32 minutes ago”, even though that post was posted several days ago. These newer articles don’t show up at all. You really need to...

    @Ben - something is wrong with the ”blog” page at OMAAT and have been for at least a week now. For me, it leaves out a lot of recent posts and the time stamp is incorrect. Eg it currently says that the most recent article was about Qatar airways Executive jets ”32 minutes ago”, even though that post was posted several days ago. These newer articles don’t show up at all. You really need to fix it, since the blog section is probably the most popular section for us ULTRA frequent readers (10+ daily visits 365 days a year for many, many years). Please!! :)

    1. Roamingredcoat Gold

      May be your browser cache. Add ? and a word to the end of the url, like https://onemileatatime.com/blog/?go and it'll force load fresh.

    2. Dustin Guest

      No, this is a recent development. I'm having the same problem with my browser where I have to manually refresh the screen to see any new articles added since the last time I visited the page. This only started happening within the last week or so.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      My apologies to everyone reporting issues with the /blog page, I'll look into it. The good news is that there should be a significant improvement going live very, very shortly, which will make the /blog page unnecessary. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

  19. JL Guest

    Lucky,
    Porter doesn't have lounges anymore, hence no more free food/drinks at airports.
    They also got rid of free alcoholic drinks onboard.
    All these changes occurred before COVID, so they are not pandemic related.
    You should update your post with these changes, as they are a big deal.

    1. Unhappy Traveller Guest

      There is still free wine and beer on board. Good thing - it is required to anesthetize oneself against the uncomfortable seating.

  20. [email protected] Guest

    Originally Porter's Q400s had 70 seats. It was like an all-Economy Plus plane, which was great. Later they increased to 74 (per Wikipedia, this occurred in 2013). It is unfortunate that they have further increased density, although the seats were due for replacement - on some of the older planes they didn't look great.

    A correction: They no longer have "a lounge for everyone at the airport". YTZ expanded a couple years ago and put...

    Originally Porter's Q400s had 70 seats. It was like an all-Economy Plus plane, which was great. Later they increased to 74 (per Wikipedia, this occurred in 2013). It is unfortunate that they have further increased density, although the seats were due for replacement - on some of the older planes they didn't look great.

    A correction: They no longer have "a lounge for everyone at the airport". YTZ expanded a couple years ago and put in real food and beverage concessions, which eliminated the free drinks and snacks that had been a Porter hallmark. They also closed their lounge at YOW and the space became a Priority Pass affiliated lounge (closed at the moment due to Covid). Similarly the makeshift lounge area beside their gate at EWR no longer exists.

  21. James Saunders Guest

    Living in Toronto and walking along the waterfront Porter have been ‘shunting ‘ their fleet around the airport

  22. Sam Guest

    I think the "1000 pound seat savings" thing is silly, since that could easily be cancelled out by the passengers sitting in the 4 additional seats and their bags.

    1. Evan Guest

      Just what I was thinking!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

My apologies to everyone reporting issues with the /blog page, I'll look into it. The good news is that there should be a significant improvement going live very, very shortly, which will make the /blog page unnecessary. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

1
Russ Member

I have the same issues with the blog page and have to manually reload it in my browser to get the latest articles. I have been seeing them come through on the social media platforms before.

1
Lukas Guest

@Ben - something is wrong with the ”blog” page at OMAAT and have been for at least a week now. For me, it leaves out a lot of recent posts and the time stamp is incorrect. Eg it currently says that the most recent article was about Qatar airways Executive jets ”32 minutes ago”, even though that post was posted several days ago. These newer articles don’t show up at all. You really need to fix it, since the blog section is probably the most popular section for us ULTRA frequent readers (10+ daily visits 365 days a year for many, many years). Please!! :)

1
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