I recently traveled with Porter Airlines – an airline company that I have been raving about since first trying it out for the past couple of years now. It has everything: flying out of the Billy Bishop (or, City) Airport in Toronto, you are welcomed with a lounge that you don’t normally see unless you’re paying the big bucks, which contains free delicious cookies, juices, water, coffee (all types), and teas of your choosing. It’s a small airport, which admittedly also welcomes flights from Air Canada, but Billy Bishop is the only airport, in Toronto at least, that will allow you to fly Porter. Porter itself even dishes out a fully boxed meal, and complimentary wine, which is never something to overlook.

Porter Meals
photo from torontolife

I have never experienced a problem with the airline; in fact, I’ve always thought it was a step above the others that I usually fly on my routes back and forth from Canada to Bermuda: United, Air Canada, and West Jet all seemed to pale in comparison to me when Porter was an option. Now, though, I am hit with a feeling of intense insecurity when even thinking about booking my next flight with the aforementioned Porter Airlines.

Some may have heard about the most recent flight to cause trouble to the Porter name, from Billy Bishop in Toronto to Montreal on the early Saturday morning of January 3rd. About twenty minutes into the flight, a faint smell that grew inescapably stronger started to inflict its presence on the aircraft. Me, being already somewhat of a nervous flier, looked around cautiously to figure out if anyone else was as concerned. Usually this is pretty cut-and-dry – my own worries for flying are more often than not quelled by others going about their business. However, upon resuming the laid back, relaxed position that one is supposed to take up during a flight, strike two happened. The smoke detectors went off, sending a loud, nerve-racking, constant and all together uncomfortable noise at barely ten thousand feet in the air, through the plane.

Let the concerns commence. We were duly informed that the restroom smoke detectors had gone off, and we returned safely to Toronto, as per protocol. Everything about the malfunction was handled in the quick and efficient manner in which one would expect on an aircraft, where safety should be the number one priority.

Billy Bishop Airport
photo from thestar

However, my issue was not with the ways in which the problems on board were handled, far from it. My issues came later that night, when I discovered that this was not the first time that Porter had experienced a smoke problem on board. It wasn’t even the first time that they had experienced a smoke problem on board that week.

Now, obviously the plane, and more importantly the passengers, thankfully, survived the flight, but the more pressing concern were the various news articles that I read online: “Toronto Porter flight forced to land en route to Washington”; and, “Porter still investigating troubled Sudbury flight”, to name a couple, popped up in my search engine after my curiosity got the best of me. Upon further digging, it was clear that all of these articles had two things in common: Porter, and smoke.

All told, smoke on an airplane doesn’t spell out inescapable doom. There have been far greater troubles in the skies of late, but that should not take away from the fact that four smoke-related issues with the same airline – all within a similar two-month period, I might add – is a problem that needs addressing immediately.

I will say that Porter Airlines kept classy after the debacle – they gave out two $100 vouchers for further flights on their airline, a gesture that I can only assume had been repeated for the previous three aforementioned flights. So on that note I will end where I began in saying that Porter is one of the best in regards to customer service – trumping countless others that I have flown on – but it is in the aircraft’s themselves that future problems may lie, and which require thorough further investigation to prevent any similar, or worse, problems.