TORONTO—Fortunately, there isn’t a “no-gloating section” on FlyGTA’s Toronto-to-Muskoka flights.
The temptation to quip: “So long, suckers,” as the eight-seat Piper Navajo swings north for the 32-minute trip with Hwy. 404 clearly in view 3,000 feet below is irresistible.
Flights on new cottage-country route are $140 each way, running up and back Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I did a roundtrip on a Sunday evening and traffic was disappointingly light for someone who wanted their flight served with a side of schadenfreude.
But having sat behind the wheel while crawling along a northbound highway for a couple of hours with steam coming out of my ears, I know all about the “wish-I-had-an-airplane” fantasy.
Here it is.
It’s hard not feel like a rock star when the rear door of the small plane opens to reveal two tiny stairs to hop on board.
FlyGTA, which does sightseeing swings and 13-minute trips across Lake Ontario to Niagara-the-Lake wineries, added weekend service from Billy Bishop Airport to Muskoka Airport in Gravenhurst in late June.
It’s something of a challenge to find the airline at Billy Bishop, despite a map included with my flight confirmation email.
I got lost. So did a couple about to take a sightseeing flight and a personable guy named Brent, who was the only passenger joining me for the flight up.
FlyGTA is on a service road fronting the Western Gap, southwest of the main terminal at the FBO (fixed base operations) area for non-Porter aircraft. Aside from a sign outside near the ferry dock pointing the way to hangars and offices, there’s nothing indicating it’s on the second-floor of a Porter building at the end.
FlyGTA communications manager Jazz Brar says the company knows it’s a problem but Ports Toronto has prevented it from putting up signs. The airline will arrange free pickup at the airport ferry for passengers requesting the service, he says.
Check-in is upstairs and only government ID required.
One free carry-on bag is included, with a charge for more items.
Boarding was casual. Capt. Ehsan Paydarnia and First Officer Connor Strudwick chatted with us before walking us out to the waiting plane.
Flying in and out of Billy Bishop, located in Lake Ontario, offers spectacular city and Toronto Island views. It carries the same excitement I remember from landing at the now-shuttered Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong, a feeling like you’re skimming the city. But the small prop plane adds another aspect to the experience, loud and a bit bouncy.
After a slow turn to follow the Humber River north, Strudwick casually looked back and said: “We’re going back to Toronto.”
Paydarnia wanted to check something on the aircraft, so we landed and waited for about half an hour in the Porter operations office, which has a small lounge with tea and coffee.
Ready to board again, Strudwick handed each of us a gift bag with a small bottle of sparkling wine and a plastic champagne flute “to enjoy on the way up and apologize for the delay.”
We quickly passed from city to suburbs, over farmland and green spaces dotted with impressive houses and golf courses. Once we crossed Lake Simcoe, rocky-shored lakes and forests came into view.
We had a few minutes on the ground at Muskoka Airport. I met my fellow passengers, a woman connecting to a Porter flight back to Montreal while her mom remained at the cottage and a man returning to Toronto while his fiancée enjoyed a few more days at the lake.
She said her prior alternative was the bus. He said they would have taken two cars up before the flight became an option.
But what happens when you get to Gravenhurst without transportation?
There are Discount and Enterprise car rental kiosks at the airport, but no cars on site. It’s a good idea to book ahead to have the car waiting. Or call a taxi to the rental offices in Bracebridge, about 15 minutes away.
You can also book with Hammond Transportation Ltd., which has a sizable fleet, including black cars and limos. Cars are waiting the terminal for incoming FlyGTA flights Friday and Saturday and there’s a booking link for Muskoka airport pickup and dropoff on the website.
FlyGTA is negotiating ground transportation, resort getaway and golf packages. Six golfers and their bags can head to Muskoka for a round and be back for dinner, said Brar.
Check the FlyGTA website for details as packages are added.
This story originally appeared on Canadian travel website, Vacay.ca