Little-Known Porter Airlines Is a Great Way to Get to Toronto

More this week: worldwide travel warning issued, Illinois’s friendliest city, and a home-security checklist

Porter Airlines Beer
Photo: Nina Kokotas Hahn

A reason to fly to Toronto on Porter Airlines: free Canadian beer!

At a time when many major airlines are nickel and diming customers and, more recently, complicating their flight reward programs (read second item, “Change Is In the Air for Airline Loyalty Programs”), the Toronto-based Porter Airlines is a diamond in the rough.

Serving Midway International Airport since 2008, Porter recently added two more options for the quick hour-and-a-half flight from Chicago to Toronto:  an additional weekday flight through August 30, 2013, and a new Saturday flight. Porter is known for its perks. Toronto-bound passengers at Midway may use a priority security line. All passengers enjoy one free checked bag, complimentary wine and Canadian beer on board, leg room from the days of yore, and use of the airline’s hotel-like waiting lounge (with a free snack bar and business center) at the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

As for fares, Porter rates compete handily with those from the major airlines for the same trip: We found round-trip airfare to from Midway to Toronto starting from $315, compared to $322 from American and United.

Need more reasons to visit Toronto? The dazzling 259-room Four Seasons Toronto (60 Yorkville Ave., 416-964-0411; from $420) just opened last October in posh Yorkville; the flagship hotel has a 30,000-square-foot spa taking up the entire 9th floor and a restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud; the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) happens from September 5 through 15 (Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and Kate Winslet are among those expected to attend this year); and Momofuku, David Chang’s only restaurant outside of New York, just opened its tiny Milk Bar, where you can pick up dorm-room-nostalgic treats like cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies and cereal milk.

 

U.S. State Department Issues Worldwide Travel Alert Through August 31

On Friday, the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert following the decision on Sunday to close 21 U.S. embassies in Middle Eastern countries. In the related alert, the State Department warns that “al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.” U.S. citizens are urged to take precautions, especially when using public transportation. Read the Washington Post’s coverage.

Illinois’s Galena Is the Second Friendliest City in the U.S.

Condé Nast Traveler tackled its annual Readers’ Choice survey of The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.. Nearby Galena, Illinois, was voted the second-friendliest in the country (behind Charleston), with readers citing a quaint, welcoming city that’s also “relaxing, with plenty to do.”

How to Avoid Long Lines at the Airport

Global Entry, a fast-track solution for travelers re-entering the country through customs, was finalized this past year and may at last be paving the way to expedited, easier lines at the airport. Read more at USA Today.

Use This Vacation Checklist Before You Leave Town

By now, you know not to announce on Facebook that you’re somewhere sipping pina coladas, but what else should you do to protect your home while on vacation? Leave the blinds in their normal position, arrange to have the lawn mowed, and use a luggage tag that doesn’t detail your home address. Get Better Homes & Gardens’ handy checklist.

 

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