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The Travel Entrepreneur of the Year Robert Deluce's Porter Airlines put a secondary airport back on the map and brought civility back to flying.

By Bruce Schoenfeld

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Robert Deluce's vision of what air travel should be today looks a lot like 1990. Everybody gets to check a bag free of charge. Coffee, tea and cookies are served in an open-to-all departure lounge, and beer, wine and snacks are complimentary on the plane. There's plenty of legroom--all the way to the back row--and an in-flight magazine so interesting you'd buy it off the newsstand. And when you land, you're hustled off to the heart of downtown by a free shuttle.

With the addition of modern innovations such as free Wi-Fi in the lounge and a high-end travel boutique selling $31 Australian hand balm and $800 Leica cameras, that's what Deluce has put into place as president and CEO of Porter Airlines, which he co-founded in 2006. "We're a customer-service organization," Deluce says, "that happens to operate aircraft."

The Toronto-based airline, ranked last year by Condé Nast Traveler as the second-best small airline worldwide (after OpenSkies), is by far the most enjoyable to fly in North America. It's also a growing business. From two planes in 2006, it now has 26 Bombardier Q400 turboprops, along with 1,400 employees serving 19 cities and transporting 2.5 million passengers annually. "Since we've moved into many of our markets, air traffic has grown exponentially," Deluce says. "We stimulated it the way Southwest can do, but this isn't about pricing. It's about a travel experience and a value proposition that's fair."

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