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Airline review: Air North economy class, Vancouver to Whitehorse, Canada

TIME : 2016/2/26 18:22:33


Boeing 737-400. "Yukon's Airline" has one of these aircraft in its fleet; it has 156 economy seats. 


Vancouver (British Columbia) to Whitehorse (Yukon Territory), Canada.




Economy. Seat 23C in a 3-3 layout. 


Two hours and 25 minutes.


Air North flies Vancouver to Whitehorse twice a day.


Twenty-six rows of seats. The seat pitch on the fleet's Boeing 737-400 and 737-500 aircraft, both of which fly this route, averages 81cm and seats recline 38 degrees.


Checked baggage limit is up to two bags with an overly generous combined weight of 45 kilograms plus up to two carry-on pieces with a combined weight of 10 kilograms.


The cabin is neat and clean, doesn't feel cramped, and the dark blue all-leather seats are a little bit schmancy. 


It's BYO and I spy a few books and newspapers among the devices, and someone knitting a neck-warmer. The airline has its own glossy inflight magazine: Yukon, North of Ordinary. There's also a brochure in the seat pockets for a walking tour of Old Crow – the Yukon's most northern community – where Air North takes its Hawker Siddeley 748s. 


Good old-fashioned. Cabin crew are down to earth, friendly, relaxed, professional and a little bit cheeky. They seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves and are accommodating when passengers need blankets and pillows, and even encourage people with spare seats next to them to stretch out. Our pilot is company president and co-founder Joe Sparling.


Most of the food served on Air North is prepared daily by its Whitehorse-based flight kitchen team led by chef Michael Bock, and beverages include Yukon brewing beer, Yukon spring water and locally roasted Midnight Sun coffee. We're offered a complimentary sandwich – turkey bacon, beef or vegetarian – on this late-morning flight. There are two beverage services of complimentary water, soft drink, juice, tea or coffee and with alcoholic drinks for $5 each (cash only). 

While three staff serve beverages from the front with the food cart, another cabin attendant serves drinks starting at the back so no one has to wait very long no matter where they're sitting. By the time you get handed a warm cookie in a paper bag, the cabin's just about ready to be prepared for landing. When flying out of the Yukon, a cart of free coffee and cookies is wheeled into the Whitehorse waiting lounge for Air North passengers. 


I'm travelling mid-summer but it's good to know that as soon as the thermometer drops to -40 degrees, Air North operations and ramp teams carefully evaluate the conditions to determine whether there's any risk to their equipment. They're a northern airline experienced in extreme conditions and have even operated in temperatures as low as -55 degrees  with wind chill, so the chance of a cancelled flight because of cold weather is low.


The passenger experience is obviously a much higher priority than steadily increasing the profit margin. And flying Air North means supporting a much-loved and well-respected business that supports other local enterprises.

See also: Flight test: United AIrlines Economy Plus