The Best Airline Experience You Haven’t Heard Of Yet

There’s a personal story behind why we invited one of our speakers to be on the main stage at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, 2011.

A few months back, I had to take a trip from Boston to Toronto. My colleague Jeff Thurston said, “You’ve got to fly Porter.” I asked why, and he just said “trust me.” Well, I do trust Jeff so I went ahead and booked a flight on Porter Airlines.

When I got back to Boston I concluded two things. First, the only way I was going to fly to Toronto from now on was via Porter. Second, I needed to get someone from Porter on stage to talk about the butt-kicking customer experience I’d just had.

What’s so great about Porter? Let me give you my take. It starts with flying into Billy Bishop airport, which is basically in the city of Toronto — as opposed to Toronto Pearson International airport, which is a long cab ride outside of Toronto. So when you get off the plane at Billy Bishop, you just saved yourself about 15 miles worth of traffic.

That’s the convenient part. Now for the cool part. The flight experience is retro 1960s (maybe earlier, I wasn’t flying in the 60s). The seats are wide and comfortable. The crew treats you like they want your business. You get snacks that are basically meals plus wine or beer — and it’s complimentary! I almost fell out of my leather seat when  the flight attendant told me that.

All in all, I felt that when it comes to customer experience, I had lucked into the new JetBlue (of which I’m also a fan, but sorry guys, I have a new love — can we still be friends?).

Anyway, I did go after a speaker from Porter, and I feel extremely grateful that we managed to get Robert J. Deluce, president and chief executive officer of Porter Airlines to be that “someone” who came to tell the story. Not only does he run my new favorite airline but he’s like a Canadian version of Jimmy Stewart.



Will the service scale?

I couldn't agree more that Mr. Deluce is like a Canadian version of Jimmy Stewart!!!

This seems to bring back fuzzy memories of the buzz around Jetblue when they first launched. Problem was, as they scaled up, the service scaled down. Perhaps Porter can keep a tight rein on service quality for a 'commoditized' product like a short haul economy seat and match larger LCC stars like AirAsia, JetStar or Virgin America. However, history tells us this is an up hill battle at best - even for Jimmy Stewart.

Either way, they are now on my radar...I have not flow Porter, but after reading this, I will give them a try.

Porter is the only way to fly!!!

I had the luxury of flying with Porter a few times! Any time I have to fly to downtown Toronto, I will fly Porter, no other airline will do! Heck I have even tried to convince Microsoft Canada to move their office from Mississauga to downtown Toronto so that I can fly Porter more often!

What I would “love” Porter to do, is expand their services to provide a vacation getaways to Mexico or Jamaica!

What have you done for me lately?

Contrast this shining example with the common [poor] experience one receives on the larger carriers. Service does matter and Porter shows just how much of a difference it can make.

Some of his comments remind me of the Janet Jackson song, "What have you done for me lately?" Reminds us all that we have to be at our best in each interaction... history may help retain customers, but only consistent performance spreads the word and creates new loyal customers.