Friday, November 05, 2021

Trying Air Canada's new Ottawa to Toronto Island service

For years, Porter Airlines has had a lock on the Toronto Island Airport, aka Billy Bishop or YTZ, flying  Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft to points in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States. Air Canada's only service from the island was to Montreal.

That changed on Halloween, when Air Canada announced it would run four round-trips daily between the island and Ottawa. I head down to Scarborough for work every few months and usually fly Porter, because it's much easier to fly through the YTZ and get out to the borough than it is to go through Pearson. But if I could build up my Aeroplan points AND have the convenience of the island, that's a win-win.

So, needing to head down to the borough this week, I booked the new Air Canada service. Like Porter, they operate the  Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft on this route under the Air Canada Express banner.

On Thursday, I was on the 8:30 PM departure out of YOW. An Air Canada flight to Pearson leaving a little earlier had a decent size crowd board at the next gate over. My waiting area was empty, but eventually two other people came. Turns our, there would just be three of us on the flight.

The gate agent personally delivered us each new boarding passes as, due to the low passenger count, we had to be seated in the back of the plane for weight and balance. And instead of a booming recorded by zone boarding announcement, she just walked over and invited us each to board at our leisure.

And I was first off the plane...

I was curious to see if they'd match the Porter onboard service. While I'll have to wait for the flight back to see if they're offering wine, for the breakfast flight they did have the snack basket, and I was encouraged to take all I would like. No problem with my Diet Coke either -- full can for the win. Love the Biscoffs. Good bar was tasty. Packaged croissant so-so.

Breakfast of champions

Two flight attendants for the three passengers, and we both left and arrived early. Very bumpy descending through the clouds on the approach, as it often is flying into the island, but once below the layer the landing was smooth.

The Town of Trenton and CFB Trenton

All in all it was what I hoped for -- Porter with Aeroplan points (wasn't that supposed to happen though?). I'm sitting on 200k+ from my IT journalism days, so happy to consolidate. They'll be my regular for this route, as long as they operate it -- with passenger loads like this, it may not last long...

UPDATE: My afternoon snack selection during the return flight, which had a pax count of 10 or so.

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