Review: Air North Economy 737 Whitehorse To Vancouver

Filed Under: Other Airlines

It’s not often I review economy flights, though this will be an exception. While we could have flown Air Canada between Whitehorse and Vancouver, we went out of our way to fly Air North, which bills itself as Yukon’s airline.

We arrived at Whitehorse Airport at around 6:20AM for our 7:30AM flight To Vancouver. The airport was still quiet at this point (heck, I’m guessing it’s almost always quiet).

Whitehorse Airport exterior

The Air Canada and WestJet check-in desks were empty, while the Air North desk had quite some activity.

Whitehorse Airport check-in hall

The wait wasn’t long, though, and within a few minutes we were issued boarding passes. Andrew was forced to check his bag as they were weighing them, but at least they were friendly about it, and they also don’t charge for checked bags. This also very much felt like a “mom-and-pop” airline, as the check-in agents knew several of the passengers and hugged them.

Air North check-in Whitehorse Airport

The security checkpoint was just a short walk from check-in, and the security process was friendly and efficient. I generally haven’t found security personnel at US and Canadian airports to be particularly friendly (to put it mildly), but these folks were nice.

Whitehorse Airport check-in hall

The airport’s airside area is quite small, though feels modern and well maintained.

Whitehorse Airport departure gate

Our flight to Vancouver was the only one departing around this time.

Air North check-in Whitehorse Airport

At around 6:45AM the friendly gate agent introduced herself and encouraged passengers to help themselves to some complimentary juice, coffee, and cookies. Seriously, what kind of North American airline offers this level of service?!

Air North complimentary drinks & snacks at gate

Air North complimentary cookies

The flight seemed to have an equipment swap from a 737-300 to a 737-500, so the plane had fewer rows than expected. As a result they were calling up a few people to switch their seats around.

At 7:05AM boarding started — they first boarded those seated in rows 11 and up, and then boarded all other passengers. As my boarding pass was scanned the gate agent asked me how my morning was and wished me a pleasant flight.

Whitehorse Airport departure gate

The gates at Whitehorse Airport are designed so that they can really only board one flight at a time.

Boarding at Whitehorse Airport

There was some signage for the Condor flight, which at this point was done for the season, since we had taken the last flight of the year from Frankfurt to Whitehorse. Hopefully it returns next year!

Boarding at Whitehorse Airport

Boarding at Whitehorse Airport

Air North 737

Air North 505
Whitehorse (YXY) – Vancouver (YVR)
Tuesday, September 18
Depart: 7:30AM
Arrive: 9:45AM
Duration: 2hr15min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500
Seat: 18A (Economy Class)

At the door we were greeted by a flight attendant. The guy boarding in front of us said “so you’re not just in the magazine!” I’m not sure if she’s the “face” of Air North or what, but despite reading the inflight magazine cover to cover, I didn’t see her in there.

Our Air North plane was a blast from the past, and that’s a good thing. The seats were old, comfortable, and spacious, unlike the slimline seats that so many airlines are installing nowadays.

Air North 737 bulkhead row

Air North 737 legroom

We were seated towards the back of the plane, in row 18 (there’s something I like about sitting behind the wing, and I also figured it maximized our odds of getting an empty middle seat).

Air North 737 cabin

Air North 737 cabin

The legroom was excellent and the seat padding was phenomenal.

Air North 737 cabin

Air North 737 cabin

The old overhead console had individual air nozzles, a feature I always appreciate.

Air North 737 cabin

The boarding process was efficient, and passengers seemed to be a good mix of German tourists (presumably some people toured Yukon before heading to Vancouver) and also locals. The older lady seated across from us mentioned to the flight attendant that it was her first ever flight. How cool!

The boarding process was efficient, and by 7:25AM the main cabin door was closed. The plane was about 90% full, but we managed to score an empty middle seat.

Air North 737 cabin

One rather annoying thing is that Air North requires you to turn off your electronics completely during taxi, takeoff, and landing, unlike most other airlines, as this is no longer required by Canadian regulations.

The sunrise was just so beautiful that I couldn’t help myself, though.

Pushing back Whitehorse Airport

At 7:30AM we began our pushback, at which point the crew performed their manual safety demonstration.

Pushing back Whitehorse Airport

Taxiing Whitehorse Airport

Our taxi was really quick, and by 7:35AM we were cleared for takeoff. I’ll let the views on the climb out speak for themselves!

Taxiing Whitehorse Airport

View after takeoff from Whitehorse

View after takeoff from Whitehorse

View after takeoff from Whitehorse

The seatbelt sign was turned off just 10 minutes after takeoff. A few minutes later the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr6min and our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet.

As we continued climbing out I browsed the inflight magazine, which was so cute, like Air North’s 2018 flight attendant class, consisting of just 14 people.

Their route network is cool as well — I’m sad we couldn’t make it to Old Crow or Dawson City.

Also check our their fleet, though sadly they don’t seem to regularly operate the Hawker Siddeley 748 anymore.

I also loved the interview they had that talked about how the airline only got their operating certificate hours before starting operations.

As we leveled off the flight attendant introduced the three flight attendants over the PA — Roxanne, Nicole, and Avey — and informed us of the service on this flight. She explained there would be a snack service, a beverage service, and then another beverage service.

She also explained that the three snack options were a fruit and fiber muffin, a yogurt parfait, or a slice of triple berry loaf.

Andrew had the loaf while I had the yogurt. Not only was the food good, but it was presented as if it was prepared in someone’s kitchen. SO CUTE.

Air North inflight snack service

To drink I ordered coffee. Air North serves coffee from Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters, and the coffee was very good.

Air North inflight coffee

While Air North doesn’t have any inflight entertainment (there are no TVs, Wi-Fi, power outlets, etc.), what more could you really want than views like this?

View enroute to Vancouver

View enroute to Vancouver

About halfway through the flight I visited the lavatory in the back of the cabin, which was well maintained but retro.

Air North 737 lavatory

Air North 737 cabin

Just minutes after completely finishing the first service, the crew came through with yet another beverage service. This time I just had a cup of water.

Second Air North beverage service

At 9:20AM the captain announced that we’d be descending soon, but that due to fog we’d be holding for 15-20 minutes, and he expected we’d be at the gate at 9:55AM.

Sure enough we started our descent pretty soon, though best I could tell we didn’t actually have to hold for very long. The views on approach were (still) beautiful.

View approaching Vancouver

View approaching Vancouver

View approaching Vancouver

We touched down at 9:55AM.

Touching down in Vancouver

Touchdown Vancouver

From there we had just a two minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked next to a WestJet 737.

Arrival gate Vancouver

We bid farewell to the crew and headed into the terminal after what was my most enjoyable economy flight in a long time.

View upon arrival in Vancouver

Air North 737 bottom line

Flying Air North was an absolute pleasure. We live in a time where airlines are so focused on squeezing more seats onto planes and cutting corners with service, so it’s nice to see an airline that’s still doing things like the “good old days.” And beyond that, I especially loved that this airline had such a small-town feel.

I can’t recommend flying with Air North enough, and if anything I’m even more excited to fly with some of the other unique Canadian airlines.

  1. I think this might be one of my favourite OMAAT flight reviews. That home baked berry loaf looks great! Would much prefer to have that than most airline food.

  2. @Lucky – Great review. Refreshing to know that there are still some inflight experiences that harken back to times past.

  3. Highly recommend you visit Dawson City next summer. You can join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club while there!

    “Drink it fast or drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe!”

  4. @Lucky – if you are ever in the Canadian north again, you should visit Yellowknife. It is home to Buffalo Airways, which flies WWII Warbirds such as the C-46 or DC-3. There was a whole Documentary series based off of them (Ice Pilots), and Buffalo Airways also offers hanger tours. While they used to offer a scheduled commercial flight to Hay River, that flight has since been canceled due to safety concerns. However, based on their website, I think they still do charters on which you can fly their DC-3s…

  5. This reminds me of that airline they also have in the U.S. called Alaska Airlines (with the Eskimo on the tail.) They don’t do the coffee or homemade muffins or complimentary food or any of that, but they’re friendly and their planes are the kind of simple old school style.

  6. @ Alpha
    I feel the same way about Alaska. When flying Alaska, I was treated like a friend and customer rather than just a number. Meanwhile AA treats people like walking freight. For this reason, 9/10 times I fly Delta for there mostly consistent southern hospitality.

    Also, I thoroughly enjoyed this review.

  7. Great fascinating review and pictures! My next adventure will take me through Whitehorse to the mesmerizing Gold Rush town of Dawson City, where hundreds of silent films were discovered in the permafrost. The films were discarded as trash as it was too expensive to mail them back to Hollywood after the movies’ run, but those movies (many considered lost) were inadvertently saved by lying in the ground for decades. The find was documented in the recent movie ‘Dawson City: Frozen Time’. Thanks again for the excellent preview of Air North!

  8. Thanks for this review. It was such a joy to read and browse the pictures. I definitely want to give Air North a try the next time I’m in the area!

    The airport and boarding gate experience reminds me of some of the airports throughout Alaska. AS also used to offer free coffee and sometimes even snacks on their early morning flights at the gate as well (like Sitka to Juneau at 6 AM). Gosh, I miss those times.

  9. That Berry loaf clearly isn’t home made, I don’t know why you all think it is just because it’s on a paper plate…

  10. You should try Flair Air. I recently took a return trip on them from YVR to YEG and found them to be so much better then Air Canada and Westjet. The reviews I read online about flair got me worried but we lucked out on both flights, departed on time and the luggage made it there too. Plus very friendly crew!

  11. Sometimes it’s not the latest, luxurious or food. It’s all about the journey, the little things, the staff, holding departure cause John’s running 5 minutes late. I get it.

  12. Wow. Genuinely one of the best reviews I’ve ever read here. It put a smile on my face throughout. Maybe the big boys can learn something from this level of genuine service.

  13. Haha, I was going to say the same thing about Alaska, @Alpha and @Chip. There’s definitely a homey feel to the airline, especially on their Horizon flights. I used to fly Seattle to Spokane and Pullman pretty often, and they still offer free local wine and beer on all their flights. The Pullman airport is just one big room divided by pre and post security. One time, my flight was cancelled, and one of the agents at the airport personally called me to discuss my options.

  14. @Alpha @Chip and @Ana — I feel the same way about Alaska Airlines! Especially on their intra-Alaska flights. I always enjoyed flying the B737-Combi to Adak or the milk run in Southeast. The 10-minute flight between WRG and PBG never gets above 5,000’. It’s like bush flying in a 737. And don’t forget the pie in SIT! Seeing Air North’s planes is like looking at an all-economy version of Alaska’s in-state fleet.

    Lucky, if you enjoyed that flight, you should burn a few AS miles flying to small towns in Alaska (only 5k o/w). Adak should be high on your list of the weirdest and most fascinating destinations.

    Great review!

  15. @Julian calling Ice Pilots a Documentary Series is pretty generous to the show and to Buffalo airways. The show just over dramaticized everything like any other reality show does and made them out to be heroes without mentioning that there are plenty of other companies doing the same things better up there.

  16. Happy to read this Air North interview! I love to cheer for the ‘little guys’ over the big-box corporates such as American; it was refreshing to read through this facsinating review; worlds apart from your recent AirBaltic Economy 737 Tallinn To Riga. Hope this review generates some good ‘word-of-mouth’ vibes for Air North:)

  17. I remember westjet being like this when they first started. Still had old 737 s maybe a dozen with the ashtrays having Chinese writing on it. Commuted on them to Calgary from Vancouver weekly and the feel was very much like this . A few times the CEO was on board and would stand up and thank everyone for their patronage. Now indistinguishable from Air Canada other them most of the time more expensive. Oh the good old days.

  18. The Air North cheesecakes are so popular they are now sold in the grocery stores. And, everything on the plane is sourced, prepared, and cooked at the flight kitchen at the Whitehorse airport. You should see the meals on the Yellowknife/Ottawa flights!

  19. Ice Pilots has Lockheed Electras, recently acquiring several from a freight airline called Air Atlantic based at Coventry in England.

    Loved this review – took me back to flying in the 70s thru early 90s on Air NZ’s old 737 219s – I see these guys still have one with JT8-D engines – and the later 737-319s, all since replaced with A320s. British Airways used to have 737s with those padded seats and decent legroom. I often run the tail number to see who’s owned such a plane before.

    Loved the food service. I have occasionally had food packaged like that on charter services to obscure parts of Eastern Europe where the ‘flight kitchen’ is a local caterer. The grub is always excellent.

  20. Next to Air North our next favourite airline is Pacific Coastal which efficiently serves many small towns in BC that might not otherwise have any air connection- some far inland like the Smelter City of Trail . Pacific Coastal also has an unusual agreement to fly between Cranbrook BC and Calgary using their 34 passenger prop jets .

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