Porter airlines E195-E2 parked at the hanger on a bright sunny day.

Porter to offer free Wi-Fi on E2s, but fewer ads for frequent flyers


Porter Airlines will join the small but growing group of carriers offering free inflight web surfing to all passengers — irrespective of loyalty status — when its new, all-economy Embraer E195-E2 twinjets enter service early next year with Viasat’s Ka-band connectivity system. The Canadian carrier has confirmed to RGN that it will offset some of the cost of providing free Wi-Fi through advertising.

But there is a small twist. While all passengers will be able to avail of complimentary Wi-Fi, Porter’s frequent flyers will see fewer advertisements.

“All passengers have access to free Wi-Fi on E195-E2 flights. This is partly advertising supported, with less ads shown to VIPorter frequent flyer members,” said Porter director, communications & public affairs Brad Cicero, when asked how Porter is facilitating the free Wi-Fi model, i.e, through sponsorships, advertising or wrapping the cost into the ticket.

Moreover, Porter will augment the Internet service with wireless IFE. Said Cicero:

A content library will be connected to the free Wi-Fi, supplementing personal streaming platforms. Content details will be announced ahead of service starting.

Last year, Porter selected Viasat Ka IFC for 30 new E2s, the first deliveries of which are expected to start before the end of this year. Viasat said the new E2s will be linefit with its IFC system. Porter later bolstered its order with the Brazilian airframer, adding 20 more E2s to the tally.

Now the airline has divulged more details about its plans for elevating the economy class experience in North America, saying it will offer — on its current Q400 turboprops and its new E2s — its traditional experience, now called PorterClassic, which includes free beer and wine and a selection of snacks; plus an all-inclusive PorterReserve experience with dedicated check-in: early boarding; extra legroom; fresh meals on longer flights; free cocktails, beer, wine and premium snacks; two checked bags and the ability to change flights without a fee.

Notably, all passengers on the E2s — whether flying in PorterClassic or PorterReserve — will have “free, fast Wi-Fi, with full access to web surfing or streaming favorite entertainment platforms”, Porter said in its statement, though as mentioned by Cicero, frequent flyers will see less advertisements than those who do not join the club.


The first three E2 routes, starting in February 2023, will be from Toronto Pearson to Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal-Trudeau. But the carrier is eyeing other possible destinations throughout North America, including to US sunspots, the West Coast plus Mexico and the Caribbean.

Continuing to operate its Q400 turboprops from Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop, where jets including the E2 are not permitted, Porter reveals to RGN that it intends to study the possibility of adding IFC to its Q400s.

“Wi-Fi isn’t available on the regional Dash 8-400 fleet. There is no planned retrofit at this time, but it will be considered in future,” said Cicero.

Many connected carriers now offer a free messaging tier to passengers. But Porter is the latest Viasat customer to announce free Internet browsing for all passengers (on fitted aircraft). Standard-setter JetBlue got the ball rolling several years ago, followed by Qantas and more recently, Azul, whose CEO previously told RGN it is wrapping the cost of the service into the price of the ticket and further offsetting with advertising.

Outside of the Viasat ecosystem, Air New Zealand offers free browsing with its Inmarsat GX-powered Wi-Fi. Anuvu customers Nok Air and Norwegian offer free Wi-Fi, though the latter is now only touting 15 minutes of free surfing with limited Internet speeds. Emirates offers free Wi-Fi to certain frequent flyers in business and first class, as well as to Platinum members of its loyalty program.

Other free Wi-Fi trials, which tie loyalty to connectivity, are underway, including at Delta, whose SkyMiles members can access free browsing on Viasat-equipped aircraft. Virgin Australia, meanwhile, says it will offer complimentary Wi-Fi to its business class guests and Beyond and Velocity Platinum members, as it reinstates Intelsat 2Ku-powered connectivity on its 737s, and offers it on future 737 MAXs.

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Featured image credited to Porter Airlines