We planned to take a single flight from Ottawa to Thunder Bay. Our flight included a scheduled stop in Toronto to exchange some passengers and then get back in the air. The plan looked great. It could be the easiest trip we’ve had from Ottawa to Thunder Bay. But it was not meant to be.
Our flight was delayed due to the fog at the Porter Airport Island (Billy Bishop). Nearly 40 minutes later we finally took off, the rumor being that the fog had finally lifted. But when we approached Billy Bishop and prepared to land I looked outside the window of the plane and said to Chris, “Wow, look at all that fog, I wonder how they can see the runway to land this thing.” It turned out they couldn’t. Just as we thought we would touch down, a huge pull dragged us into our seat as the plane accelerated back into the air and the pilot announced we couldn’t land at that airport.
Eventually fuel became an issue so we were redirected to Toronto Pearson Airport where apparently Porter has no partners so nobody cared to help us out. We waited on the middle of the tarmac somewhere for what seemed like hours but was more like one hour and being asked to vacate the plane. Porter put us on the bus to a terminal and we’d have to find our own way back to Billy Bishop with bad directions. I didn’t even hear a, “sorry about that,” comment as I left the plane to grab my luggage on this adventure that wasn’t supposed to happen. The questions started from my kids, “what’s going on?” and wouldn’t end for several hours.
Outside the plane our bags were pulled from cargo and handed to us. A single bus is all Porter managed to scramble together and everyone on the flight and their baggage crammed onto this tiny bus. If you like your personal space, this wasn’t the trip for you. Porter was kind enough to give us a pass for a train ticket back to Union station with vague directions of how to get back to Billy Bishop. In fact if we didn’t know what we were doing and the rough layout of Toronto, it could have been disastrous (as I’m sure it was for a few people on that flight).
After our bus ride we managed to get onto the train with help from a random person in the Airport. The train ride lasted 25 minutes of which we tried to relax, hoping we’d find our way back to the correct airport and eventually to our destination. The kids fell asleep on one of the train benches and were difficult to wake up when we finally arrived at Union Station – the ride was great. As part of a group of lost souls with other Porter passengers we made our way to a hotel, which led us to a bus to a ferry and eventually the Bishop Airport.
When we arrived at Bishop I expected some direction but found none from Porter. We waited in line for twenty minutes before someone who works for Porter heard us talking about our flight situation and directed us to drop our bags and get to our originally scheduled plane before it took off. Yes, that’s right, the same crew had made it back and were ready to fly us out.
We made it to the plane and finally to Thunder Bay.
This adventure included a bus, train and ferry ride that we never expected but the kids pulled together and seemed to enjoy the adventure. In retrospect it went well, but this story would be quite different if we hadn’t made it back in time for our plane and every other plane that afternoon didn’t have space for us.
Porter will hopefully learn something from this, but I doubt they will. Surely there must be a better way to deal with a situation like this other than giving a ticket, our luggage and waiving goodbye at us from the plane. If you fly Porter into Toronto, be mindful of things going wrong and know the route back. Porter won’t be helping you too much.