The Great PD Shortbread Brouhaha

Open Jaw

There are bigger issues in aviation, to be sure, but a recent move by YTO-based Porter Airlines has revealed the importance to pax of the free cookies it offers in-flight and in its lounges.

PD announced earlier this month that it will replace its in-flight cookie offering — a beloved chocolate chip shortbread from Canadian cookie purveyor Cookie It Up — with Scotland's Walkers Shortbread. 

At first glance, this doesn't seem like a bad move. Walkers boasts that it makes "The World's Finest Shortbread." In fact, according to a PD news release, it's the leading brand of food exported from Scotland, sold in over 100 countries.

Open Jaw remembers when Walker Shortbread was the original cookie snack offered by Porter. It was certainly popular then, because it is really good shortbread.

Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines, sang Walker Shortbread's praises.

"We are the only Canadian airline to offer Walkers Shortbread. This premium snack has been enjoyed by our passengers in the past and we know that they will appreciate having it available again," he said in a press release, noting the airline first served the snack when it launched in 2006.

However, the homegrown Cookie It Up shortbread – complete with chocolate chips – has developed a passionate following among PD pax (for good reason), and online reaction has been fierce.

Here are a couple of Twitter posts on the issue:

  • “RIP Cookie It Up chocolate chip shortbread. Porter must be trying to trim margins by offering a cookie no one will want to steal.” 
  • About to fly Porter for the first time, finally, later this month. And all the tales I've heard of the cookies, lost like tears in the rain.” 

We have two things to say about these responses: 

  1. Walker Shortbread is worth ‘stealing.’
  2. Perhaps stealing is part of the problem, as illustrated by this review posted on the Cookie It Up website:

“I travel frequently with Porter Airlines and I tell ya, when I’m at the lobby, I make sure my bag and my pockets are full of the cookies. It is so delicious I had to sneak some out so my friends could try it. Call it abuse, but I call it obsession.”

OK, but it’s still abuse. Premium shortbread doesn’t grow on trees you know.

We have to offer kudos to PD too. Like many airlines, they could have just taken something away altogether. Instead, they replaced something good with something good. Not everyone is going to be happy, but it beats making YTZ and the PD fleet shortbread-free zones. Now that would be a real tragedy.

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