© Simon Blakesley | Air North
By Christopher Griffiths
All of these things are true, but many of them are unusual: I’m on a direct flight to the Yukon from Vancouver, gazing out in comfort as spectacular coastal mountain scenery sweeps past below, with a delicious Whitehorse-roasted coffee, warm cookie and a sandwich on the tray table in front of me—and I didn’t have to dig through every pocket to find my wallet to pay for any of it. It was included in my fare.
“Oh, I see,” I can imagine you saying, “You’re in business class.”
Wrong. I’m flying with Air North, Yukon’s Airline, and this is all just part of the standard service, included with every fare.
This experience isn’t exclusive to Vancouver—Air North goes direct to the Yukon from Victoria, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary and even Ontario, with the first-ever flights between Toronto, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse launched last year.
Before 2022, travel from Canada’s largest city to these two northern capitals was an all-day affair that required running between gates and aircraft in at least one intermediary airport.
Air North encourages its passengers to enjoy a different rhythm of travel. If you look at the 46-year-old airline’s roots and operation, there’s very little about it that isn’t unique.
For just over 20 years, Air North has operated a fleet of Boeing 737s, connecting the Yukon with British Columbia and Alberta. It has never grown at a breakneck pace. Instead, it’s quietly looked after its own and offered its passengers true value for their travel dollars, gradually adding a new destination to link back to its home every few years.
No bundles. No upsells. Just quality service, which has earned Air North multiple Travellers’ Choice Awards from TripAdvisor.
Even ‘Yukon’s Airline’ in the company’s name is purposeful—and earned. The airline is 49 per cent owned by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation of Old Crow, Yukon, the territory’s only fly-in community and its northernmost.
Air North also boasts more than 1,500 Yukon shareholders and, with its headquarters and base of operations in Whitehorse, it’s a significant employer in the territory.
All of the friendly and attentive crew you’ll meet on-board are from the Yukon, and almost all of the inflight meals are made in the airline’s own kitchen in Whitehorse. These meals and desserts are so popular the airline launched its own line of frozen items that it sells in Whitehorse retailers.
You’ll also find unique northern products on each flight. In addition to our Whitehorse-based coffee roasters, you can buy beer from two award-winning Yukon breweries (among several breweries you can discover in Whitehorse, if you’re so inclined). And while not quite northern, though part of the airline’s route network, the airline also sells wine from the Okanagan.
You may be wondering, what about the destination? The journey to the Yukon sounds great, but do I want to go to a part of the world where moose outnumber people?
It goes without saying that if you’re interested in the outdoors, the Yukon is one of the greatest playgrounds you can imagine during any season, whether that’s under the summer’s midnight sun or the winter’s northern lights. From hiking and canoeing to snowshoeing and skiing, the Yukon is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of place.
Culture and heritage run deep, as do the arts. There’s hardly a weekend without an event or performance offering a vibrance as broad as the landscape.
A short drive south of Whitehorse, you’ll find Carcross. Nestled between Bennett and Nares lakes, the community is home to world-class mountain biking trails, Canada’s smallest desert, and a gorgeous cultural centre.
For those who want to venture a little further, there’s Dawson City—home of the famed Klondike gold rush—where you can easily be transported back 120 years, thanks to the many historic buildings and experiences.
If you’re feeling tentative or seeking something a bit more planned, the airline offers packages through its Air North Getaways website (at airnorth.vacations), ranging from simple air and accommodation combinations to much more elaborate adventure or spa packages.
As I sip some freshly brewed coffee and flip through the airline’s inflight magazine, Yukon, North of Ordinary, the bright and glossy images of my destination and its residents—from the quirky to the unexpected—are a reminder that I’ll be landing in one of Canada’s most intriguing places.
And I can’t wait to get there—but that’s not because I’ve picked the wrong way to arrive.
Experience everything the Yukon has to offer, on the ground and in the air, with Air North, Yukon’s Airline. Book or learn more at flyairnorth.com
Enjoy the full range of Air North, Yukon’s Airline air pass benefits, plus exclusive corporate perks such as complimentary standard seat selection.