Had to travel to the Notional Capital Region for a family event this past weekend.  Point of departure was the Port George VI Airfield, a.k.a. Toronto City Centre Airport.  I’ve flown out of YTZ many times, commercially and privately, but the most recent trip (before today) was four or five years ago.  How things have changed.

My first commercial trip out of YTZ was back in 1983 aboard an Air Otonabee piston-engined twin.  The passenger terminal at that time was the original (and slightly dilapidated) wooden structure dating from 1939.  The building still exists today, but mainly as a shell for a Druxy’s Deli.  I don’t remember a lot about it, except that it lacked everything that a kid of ten expected to find in an airport.  Including jets.

When Air Ontario (now folded into Air Canada Jazz) occupied a newly-built passenger terminal, the amenities were similarly disappointing.  Bus-terminal-style moulded plastic seats, no bar, and a tiny, sad Druxy’s on the upper level.  The sole attraction of the island airport was that you avoided the horrific lineups to be found at Pearson (CYYZ).

Porter’s new terminal is gorgeous and indulgent, especially when compared to its predecessors.  On the mainland, there is a climate-controlled ferry waiting lounge which replaces the sad old open-to-the-elements fibreglass bus shelter.  The ferry itself can accommodate passengers and luggage in a spacious upper cabin; previously, the passenger areas were mere crawlways (barely one person wide) along the ferry’s longitudinal sides.

dsc_0002The Porter departure lounge now features large, comfortable seats in place of Air Canada Jazz’s uncomfortable, moulded-plastic monstrosities.  There’s also a little kitchen/cafe area with complimentary coffee (or espresso, or cappuccino), plus juice, soft drinks, or bottled water.  If you’re peckish, there is an ample supply of cookies and snacks.  To top it all off, the departure lounge also has complimentary wifi, so you can browse your favourite blogs (or make last-minute itinerary adjustments) prior to boarding.

I’ve always liked the convenience of departing via YTZ, but now it’s comfortable as well.   This is how air travel used to be, before 9/11 and spiralling fuel costs forced the airlines to cut fares and perqs in a deadly race to self-extinction.  As Darcey would say, two thumbs up but—as always—get a second opinion.

Category: Aeronautics  Tags: ,
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2 Responses
  1. Josh says:

    I’m pretty sure I sat in that exact chair in the foreground of your photo in October. My only complaint is that the wait for the shuttle bus from Union was not exactly short. Were there any moronic protesters outside the airport when you there?

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    No protestors on departure or arrival. We took a cab to the terminal so I didn’t encounter the shuttle phenomena until the return trip. That was the only off-putting part of the whole deal.