I'm sitting in an airport lounge that feels a bit different... it's Porter Air, at the Toronto Island Airport. A fellow sitting nearby just said to his buddy, "This is civilization!". And indeed, so far this trip has lacked half the hassle of flying out of Pearson.
[Above: ferry waiting area]
For starters, the lounge is free to everyone. And wireless access is free. There are nice flat-screen computers like the one shown above, and branded water.
The guy beside me -- who has a combat pattern skinned onto his Blackberry -- just finished an espresso.
You get here via a short ferry trip from downtown. You can pass the short wait by watching the scoters bob and dive for fish. You get to the ferry terminal via a comfortable shuttle bus from the downtown check-in kiosk. And it's a NICE bus. And all the staff are NICE! They say things like "have a great trip" while giving you a smile.
There are a few mis-steps. I wasn't sure what floor the checkin kiosk was on, so they could have better signage there. Plus, I just heard Frank Sinatra sing "New York, New York" on the audio for the second time in an hour. And "The Girl from Ipanema" just started. Tape definitely not long enough. But interesting ambiance, and obviously thought through by someone. (Note to self: remember to put the new Sennheiser headphones in briefcase for the next trip)
But the main advantage has to be the ease of access from downtown, and no $50 taxi ride to get to the airport. I actually came to my first meeting via public transit, and then walked over to the shuttle kiosk. I have to agree: it feels VERY civilized.
I confess I was not in favor of keeping this airport, when it has come up as an issue in municipal politics. And there has been more than enough jiggery-pokery on the funding to keep us taxpayers in a state of rage for years. But as long as this thing is rolling, I plan to give it a try.