Life’s Too Short for Ordinary


Stephen Grundmanis © Photo Courtesy of Simon Blakesley

Yukon’s airline treats passengers as friends and family

By Stephen Grundmanis

You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve flown 1,232 times with Air North, Yukon’s Airline. Yes, I’ve tracked every flight over the past four years and have been to every one of their destinations across the territories and southern provinces. I know that’s pretty amazing for any traveller, but there’s a good reason for that.

I’m a pilot. And I’m more than proud to call both Air North and Yukon my home.

This regional airline is all about connecting the North. Up here, people matter. It’s a philosophy that plays into the level of customer service our guests rank as best-in-class. That’s because we’ve always believed flying should be fun and that the journey to and from your destination should be an enjoyable and memorable part of the experience.

When you fly Yukon’s airline, you can be assured of a genuine northern Canadian experience. We know that doing everything we can to put passengers at ease will ensure our guests feel welcome. Our flight attendants are friendly and attentive, always going above and beyond to make sure you’re safe, comfortable and content. If you need a blanket or something to eat or drink, they have that for you.

We offer complimentary meals from our own inflight kitchen. Up in the cockpit, we love the smell of the coffee and fresh-from-the-oven cookies. We know how much our cabin guests wait for that moment as well. Yes, we serve coffee from our local roasters and Yukon-brewed beers. Our locally made Yukon beverages and menu items from our very own Red Seal Chef, Michael Bock, can’t be found on any other airline.

© Photo Courtesy of Air North

Our famous Yukon hospitality is at the core of the Air North experience. From the moment you step on board, you’ll be treated as friends and family. Over the 46 years since our president, Joe Sparling, first started Air North, he’s promoted one important mantra, other than safety first: make passengers feel cared for.

Air North delivers on that promise like no one else in the industry. It’s how we’ve always done business. I can stand by that because I’ve worked in many positions at Air North before becoming a pilot, and I’ve seen a delivery on that promise time and time again.

All 400 of our employees—from check-in and cabin crew to baggage handlers—work hard to make that a reality. It’s this attention to service and hospitality that had us recognized by Trip Advisor as Best Specialty and Leisure Airline in North America.

As a regional airline, we take pride in showcasing the best of our beautiful territory. If you’re coming to explore the Yukon, we’ll share our stories and tips about the best places to visit. I especially enjoy Keno City. It’s a tiny mining town with a whopping population of 12. My dad grew up in the area, and we have a cabin close by. It’s quiet, peaceful, full of beautiful sights and rich with history. I also enjoy Dawson City, particularly catching a show at Diamond Tooth Gerties!

At Air North, we care, and it shows. Every member of our team is empowered to improve the customer experience where we can, to act to resolve issues and to treat travellers as you would friends or family.

I’d like to mention baggage for a minute. We understand that travellers want to pack everything they need for their adventure or bring back treasures from the Yukon. That’s why we offer two free checked bags per passenger on every flight, so you don’t have to worry about paying extra for luggage. We have very generous weight limitations, and anything extra can go cargo. Believe me; we’ve seen everything in our affordable cargo service, from bikes, kayaks and large river canoes to harvested caribou and whole roasted pigs for a local cultural event.

What makes us unique, too, is the fact that Air North is 100 per cent owned by Yukoners, including the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. Their investment in 2000 led to the robust jet service and affordable fares that northern fly-in communities now enjoy. Today, one in 15 Yukoners holds an equity or employment position in Air North.

Air North touches down daily at more than a dozen destinations across Canada, including Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa. Our newest route—Toronto-Yellowknife-Whitehorse—came online last year, conveniently opening the North to international and eastern Canadian travellers. We’re a competitive and attractive alternative, even for a short hop to Vancouver from Victoria or Kelowna.

In celebration of our deep ties to the Yukon, our “Spirit in Action” sponsorship initiative is our way of supporting communities and giving back. I have played in many Air North-sponsored squash tournaments. Our focus is on health and wellness programs, improving quality of life and providing funding for the arts, culture and sports. We’re also involved intensively with youth development and the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Recently we partnered with Canada Goose to assist in hosting a Resource Centre for Yukon First Nations, donating nearly 70 kilometres of fabric to Indigenous crafters and artisans, including the transportation of materials and partnering with local companies to physically house the initiative.

Air North truly is Yukon’s airline. We care about our guests, and we care about the North. As a pilot, every time I buckle in, I remind myself what a lifeline this airline really is—in our commitment to connecting our people and our communities—and doing it in a way that makes everybody proud.

Come home to the Yukon.

Book your flight today at

Stephen Grundmanis has been a First Officer with Air North since 2019 and started working with Air North in 2011. Born and raised in Whitehorse, he grew up building model aircraft and flying remote control airplanes. Stephen welcomes your comments on Instagram @stephengrundmanis.

Get your free copy of Global Heroes, jam-packed with positive news, straight in your inbox.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Air North was founded in 1977 by Joe Sparling and Tom “Ace” Wood as Air North Charter and Training. The original intent was to offer charter flights to the mining industry and flight training services—but it didn’t take long to grow beyond the original vision.


Subscribe to our Newsletter and Access all issues of Global Heroes News straight in your inbox. 100% free, no purchase necessary, for life. Uplifting stories, highlighting the inspirational efforts of everyday people, celebrities, and organizations, who are diligently working together towards practical solutions to global problems.