In transit at Toronto’s City Airport, sitting in the comfortable confines of porter’s departure lounge. I confess to secretly enjoying air travel, even at its most stressful, but porter is an airline that any design-conscious flyer would appreciate. They fly only turboprops, and just to a handful of destinations from Toronto, but each flight comes with a snack–or even a full lunch–in a neat box. The lounge has free coffee, snacks, and sodas, and it’s laid out with low privacy screens, subtle but reasonably stylish chairs, and low lighting. And, of course, free wi-fi. It goes without saying that the in-flight magazine is a work of art, and their logo (a stylized raccoon) appeals to all ages. All of this qualifies as ornament on a reasonably efficient operations set, but details are, of course, what you notice in a space or en route.
It’s been a while since any airline made such a conscious statement about design. Virgin Atlantic did great things with their cabins and lounges in the 1990s, but most of that was reserved for business class fliers (reader, I confess, I partook). porter does all this with budget fares. We flew these guys to the F1 race in June, and immediately changed our mind about driving back to Montreal for the past month. I hope they inspire some competitive design/comfort/price/efficiency-minded thinking in some of their competitors, but until then we may travel exclusively to eastern Canada.