Porter Airlines Eliminates Free Snacks & Drinks At Billy Bishop Airport

In the past I’ve called Porter North America’s most civilized airline (though now having flown Air North, I think they rank up there as well in terms of hospitality).

Porter operates a fleet of Bombardier Q400 aircraft out of Billy Bishop Airport in a one cabin configuration (there’s no premium cabin), which doesn’t sound terribly exciting, though the airline really makes an effort to make the experience special.

Porter offers complimentary beer, wine, and snacks onboard, served in glassware (where else do you get that in economy on a shorthaul flight?).

At Billy Bishop Airport, the airline has also offered passengers complimentary snacks, soft drinks, water, and coffee. Essentially Porter Airlines has a “lounge” for all passengers.

Well, unfortunately there’s some bad news on this front… or good news, depending on how you look at it.

Porter Airlines is no longer offering passengers free drinks and snacks at Billy Bishop Airport. However, there’s a reason for this, and it’s not all bad news. This is because Billy Bishop Airport has undergone a huge renovation, which saw it getting several new shops, restaurants, and cafes. Previously the terminal just had a newsstand, so passengers didn’t have any options for more substantial food and drink options.

So it sure sounds like the new concessions didn’t want to compete with the “free” snacks and drinks offered by Porter Airlines, which I’m guessing is at least part of the reason this was eliminated, rather than it being purely a cost cutting move on Porter’s part.

I’m sad to see this development, as it’s something that set Porter Airlines apart. But at least the airport now has more options for those willing to pay.

Have you ever flown out of Billy Bishop Airport? Will you miss the free drinks and snacks, or are you happy to see more options?

(Tip of the hat to @hankypankynyc)

Comments

  1. End of an era for those of us who fly in and out for the Toronto City (TYZ) airport (Billy Bishop). Those who don’t know, the big Tonroto airport (YYZ) is way out of town, while BB is right in the middle of the city near all the office building and cultural spots.

    This makes it ideal for business travelers coming in for day meetings

    Loss of airport snacks is sad. But the in flight service plus the location of YTZ is still Aces in Porters business model.

  2. As long as the new retailers are not gouging customers and keeping items like coffee and bagels, etc at street level prices all is good. Just hope they didn’t take away waiting room seats for this to happen.

  3. They also removed all of the niceties from the Newark mini-lounge that they used to have. Not the biggest loss, but hopefully US border preclearance comes to Toronto Island airport in the near future so that they can fly to LaGuardia instead of or in addition to Newark. WestJet’s Simplicity service to LaGuardia is just as good as flying Porter, and I’d rather take Toronto’s UP Express than NJ Transit any day.

  4. I don’t see why they can’t do what Jetblue does at LGA and allow travelers to get a free coffee at the concessionaire by showing their boarding pass.

  5. “Porter offers complimentary beer, wine, and snacks onboard, served in glassware (where else do you get that in economy on a shorthaul flight?).”

    Doesn’t Horizon Air on their Q400’s flying for AS still do that? Last I checked they offered free local beer/wine and snacks on their flights.

  6. its the little free things that people remember. Like when Southwest use to have morning bagels at San Jose. or when drinks and decent snacks were free. Kind of like vegas was when the mob ran it. now its all corporate and they charge more for beer than I paid in Sweden.

  7. I have yet to fly through Billy Bishop (named after the WW1 Cdn Flying Ace) to experience Porter which I have heard so much about from this website and friends who have flown Porter. Despite the new paid concessions, I am very sad to hear their lounge is closing. It was such a civilized concept and what could be nicer than a good free coffee and Walker’s Scottish Shortbread while waiting for a flight. I guess passengers will just have to get it onboard now.

  8. Still wishing the PIT route could have survived – I much preferred flying with them than the national disappointment called Air Canada. Fares across both were much better as well, and have sadly risen back to their pre-Porter days.

  9. A couple corrections required. First, technically it isn’t Porter eliminating the snacks, but rather the airport. AC flies to YUL from Billy Bishop as well and the AC passengers are in the same lounge. Second, there are still complimentary refreshments, albeit significantly reduced and not well advertised. (If I was not a frequent Porter flyer specifically looking for the expected complimentary refreshments, I likely would have not noticed them). I was there on Sunday in the domestic lounge and they now have a trolley in the back corner (near gate 1) with complimentary water bottles and shortbread cookies. Interestingly they are not the Walker’s shortbread but the chocolate chip ones they used to have before they switched to Walker’s several years ago (referenced in the blogto article you linked to). It is a different packaging but I’m pretty sure they are the same ones because I’ve had far too many over the years. While the new restaurant menus sound enticingly “gourmet”, I had a chicken breast sandwich that wasn’t all that special and at $14 (without even any sides) was quite overpriced.

  10. The end of an era, indeed. I used to fly Porter a couple of times per year from YUL, and always enjoyed the experience. Initially the YTZ lounge was very nice, indeed, as Porter had it all to themselves. Then Air Canada decided to offer flights to YUL, so Porter had to share the space, and the offerings were reduced. (I remember a scotch tasting once in YTZ.)

    Still, Porter remains a very fine airline. Now living in YEG, I’ve only had the opportunity to fly with them once in 7 years. Given the opportunity, I’d fly with them again in a heartbeat.

  11. The airport was sold to a group of investors so they needed to increase revenue. Maybe one of the eating spots will become a Priority Pass partner? If there is indeed a cart tucked away, then the loss will just be a wider range of liquid refreshment (coffee, tea, juices and sodas…which we Canadians call soft drinks) and change of cookies. Not a great loss. Balzac is a local quality coffee chain that also runs the concession at the UnionPearson Express station in the city.

  12. Porter’s bread and butter is business travel in the eastern triangle (Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal), and is the airline of choice for most people with business in downtown Toronto. If I’m at YTZ, I’m on an expense account, and I’d much rather have decent concessions than mediocre free snacks. Given the weather delays that tend to plague YTZ, too, this is a welcome addition. I can’t even count the number if times I’ve had an unexpected dinner at Billy Bishop thanks to low clouds over the islands or light rain or snow.

  13. Lucky your logic is unsound here. You are saying that the concessions did not want to compete with the free lounge offerings. However the airport is run by PortsToronto, a completely different entity. Are you telling me that PT dictated terms to Porter Airlines with regards to their own lounge food? I highly doubt that. YTZ has always had, albeit small, concessions. PT are expanding the offerings and Porter are using it as cover to reduce their own costs. Disgusting.

  14. The snacks are one thing. The fact that YTZ (90%+ Porter) has the worst on-time performance of any N. American airport, by a huge margin, every single month, is much worse (see https://www.flightstats.com/v2/monthly-performance-reports/airports under N. America, YTZ is under regionals). They use the pretense of weather but this is mid-summer and early fall – the problem is a lack of pilots at their wage level. They also have begun charging for bags, no longer own the airport itself, and are planning to shift their FF program into the rapidly decaying Aeroplan.

    From the business side, I totally understand their shift to “slightly nicer LCC” and away from premium. But as a flyer, it is quite a bummer.

  15. As mentioned but also clarified:

    The airport has been owned by Nieuport Aviation for over a year now and these changes have been common knowledge among those who fly from the island for a while, especially as constructing has been ongoing in the airport remodel for a while now. Signs about the concession changes have been in the lounges for at least a month and any employee would have been able to tell people about the upcoming changes.

    Passengers have been asking and lamenting the lack of food choices for a while. While the free coffee was very nice, it also wasn’t very good. Other than that almost nothing is changing. the cookies and water are still here, with a happy return to the old delicious cookies. The pop and granola/snack mix are gone, yes, but you can now have real hot food like in most other airports. Is it overpriced? Yes. It’s an airport, what do people expect.

    YULtide, the scotch tasting you had would have been the add campaign for Aberlour scotch and it’s happened twice in the last few years. It has nothing to do with Porter or Air Canada and they will probably come back again in a year or two.

    Unfortunately for YTZ, the airport is very dependent of weather conditions. The runway is just long enough to safely land and any kind of conditions that make a longer runway necessary cause cancellations. The airport is also surrounded by tall buildings making visibility a necessity (it’s inside a semi-circle of smoke stacks and skyscrapers). While Porter’s pilot problems have exacerbated the cancellations the continued extreme weather has been one of the leading causes for delays and cancellations at YTZ.

  16. If you liked Air North’s service, you really ought to fly First Air or Canadian North on the Trans Arctic route.

    Did it a couple years ago on a gravel kitted 737-200 combi, great fun!

  17. They pulled the free snacks from EWR? Nooooo! That was literally the only thing that made flying out of decrepit Terminal B worthwhile. And Nieuport doesn’t own Newark, so what’s the excuse?

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