I had only heard great things about flying Porter Airlines out of Toronto. Free specialty coffees, juices, and yummy snacks… free Internet on snazzy Macs in the fancy departure lounge… happy flight attendants in jaunty uniforms… Ah yes – but these are business travelers – just how would a family of four (flying with an infant and preschooler) fare on a boutique airline with amenities tailored to business travelers?
I was more than pleasantly surprised… Flying Porter with a baby was a great experience – and I can’t remember the last time I actually enjoyed a flight (kiddos in tow or not!) Granted, it’s only 90min to Quebec City and there was no issue of customs to deal with, but I would go out of my way to fly with them again.
With tots in tow, luggage allowance is a concern, and Porter’s is as generous (if not more so) than most major airlines. Two pieces per passenger weighing a total of 50lbs max. (and you are allowed to combine your allotment amongst your party) with a great gate check system. They didn’t blink an eye at our stroller and myriad car seats, and even had the thick plastic bags to protect our daughter’s seat as we were checking it (ed. note: don’t do this).
Lucky for us, our flight out wasn’t full, and we were able to bring our baby on board in his ‘bucket’. Now I had planned on nursing him for takeoff and landing, but was notified by the flight attendant that he would be safest in his seat, and if he was to be in my lap, regulations suggest I should hold him to my shoulder so I couldn’t feed him anyway. (I smell a future piece on this – if babies should be sucking during takeoff & landing but you’re not supposed to hold them that way, is a pacifier the only or safest option? Hmmm.) Luckily he passed out just as we were taking off and did not wake up until we had checked into our hotel (yes, I know I’m lucky – he’s a great sleeper).
Anyhoo, the flight attendants couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful. We actually got fed a light lunch (on the way back free beer & wine – woot!) and Porter does still allow pre-boarding for families with young children. The jury is out for most families if that’s a good idea but it totally works for us–it allows us to get organized.
The one caveat is the washroom on the plane. It’s so small that taking my daughter in was a feat of human Tetris, and there’s no way my 6’7″ husband could ever fit. There’s no change table either, so you’d have to resort to the dreaded ‘diaper change on seat’ if you absolutely had to. Be sure to change baby right before you board (nice big space in the departure lounge washroom) and work “The Secret” to avoid in-flight blowouts! (Hey, it can’t hurt.)
One thing I couldn’t get my head around was actually getting to the Island airport. I wasn’t sure how big a deal the ferry would be with our kids and bags and car seats and stroller in tow. We actually parked on the island ($100 for a week) but now I see a taxi would have been fine as there are carts on the mainland side and everything is very accessible. (Ed. note: now there’s a tunnel so this whole thing is moot)
We enjoyed our experience flying with Porter so much, we’d go out of our way to fly with them again. For Quebec City it was WAY easier than going out of Pearson, we had direct flights at civilized times, plus the fare was our lowest option. Hmmm – I’ve always wanted to see Boston – maybe there’s my excuse to fly them again!
Hmmm… every time I have flown with my baby, he was nursing… or had just fallen asleep after nursing, so I didn’t hold him the way I was suppose to for take-off… but you know – when a baby has just fallen asleep on a plane, you do NOT want to move the child AT ALL for fear that he’ll wake up!
Good to know. Did you buy a seat for the baby, or were you just going to hold him? Is their policy, free until 2?
I have also been told to hold my baby in ‘burping’ position for take off and landing, but will rebel if necessary (like if baby is screaming, possibly due to ear pain).
We didn’t buy a seat for him but were lucky that our flight out wasn’t full. Their policy is free until 2 and they were cool with gate checking his seat at the last minute on the way home.
The flight attendant was cool about the whole ‘holding’ thing. I think they have to tell you to hold them that way but she did say that I was his mama and know best. It was very refreshing!
Is the pricing much different? More? Less? Sounds like a good airline to check out.
One pre-boarding tip. If there are two parents/adults: one goes on the plane to pre-board with all the stuff, install car seat if you have one. Let the kid(s) run around/be free right until the final boarding call.
I got such STRANGE looks from the crew when I was there with the car seat and no child 🙂
It was actually less than Air Canada or WestJet and the travel times were far more civilized.
Great idea about splitting up the pre-board. The trouble with waiting to board usually means not having access to the overhead bins. This solves that one!
Actually i never flying in airplanes with baby so i don’t have any experience to use this but after read your post i suggest parents who regularly travel in airplanes.
That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
Brief but very precise info Thanks for sharing this
one. A must read article!