Why Air North is the best airline you’ve never heard of

Why Air North is the best airline you’ve never heard of

Air North airlines reviewWhen a survey analyzed the sentiment of tweets mentioning airlines, familiar names like Air New Zealand, Air France and Icelandair popped up on the “most loved by travellers” list. But it was number two overall that had many people asking—“who?”

That’s right: Air North, the little Canadian airline that could, was found to be one of the world’s best when it comes to customer satisfaction. Chances are you’ve never even heard of the company which links remote spots in Canada’s northern territories like Dawson City, Inuvik and Old Crow to cities including Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary. I have to admit I hadn’t (despite living in Calgary) until I found myself booked on a flight with them to Whitehorse one summer, and was a bit wary about what to expect. Well, the entire experience ended up being so wonderful that I was not one bit surprised to learn they’re being internationally recognized for their customer service. Here are a few reasons why Air North is the best airline you’ve never heard of.

No baggage fees

Let’s start with the one thing that pisses every traveller off: getting nickel and dimed. Fortunately Air North bucks this trend and has kept the experience as it was in the “golden days” of air travel, and doesn’t hit passengers with that pesky baggage fee. This is particularly helpful when taking into consideration the destinations they serve, as most people heading to Canada’s north need to pack lots of outerwear no matter what season they’re visiting in.luggage and baggage

The staff

One thing that immediately struck me as soon as I checked-in for my first Air North flight was how friendly the staff are. Welcoming guests with big smiles, easily accommodating seating requests and not being anal about baggage sizes are sadly things that travellers don’t come across too often anymore, but at Air North that seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

It’s also clear that Air North has lots of frequent flyers, as flight crew greeted many of my fellow passengers by name and were cracking jokes with them before takeoff. The service was great during the flight, and when we landed the entire crew including the pilots were at the front to say goodbye as we exited the plane.

The food

In another nod to the golden days of air travel, Air North also has meal service. That’s right folks, even when your flight is less than two hours the crew still comes around multiple times for drink service, and you’ll also get fed (usually something like a sandwich with crackers, or a hot meal on their longer routes). Canadian wines and beer from the Yukon Brewing Company are available for purchase, for about $5 per glass.
Air North airlines reviewBut that’s not even the best part. My favourite memory from my first Air North flight was when the heavenly smell of chocolate chip cookies wafted out from the crew area, and lo and behold a fresh-baked, warm cookie appeared on my tray a few minutes later. Yes you read that right—fresh baked chocolate chip cookies! Needless to say I was impressed, and only slightly disappointed when I was served a scrumptious slice of raspberry cheesecake the next time I flew with them. Cheesecake doesn’t trump cookies, but sure comes close!
Air North airlines review

The airplanes

Finally, while they’re no Dreamliners (my favourite jet), Air North also wins points for its planes thanks to one important feature: space. Their fleet mostly consists of Boeings with a fair amount of leg room, and as they don’t serve major routes Air North flights aren’t usually full. So on top of that extra leg room, chances are you’ll also get the whole row to spread out in. While there aren’t TVs in the seatbacks, there’s plenty of space on the tray table for a laptop, leaving one to beg the question—why can’t all airlines be like Air North?
Air North airlines review Have you ever flown Air North? What was your experience like? Share your review in the comments below!

Why Air North

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66 thoughts on “Why Air North is the best airline you’ve never heard of”

  1. After taking my first flight with Air North, I have to agree. How do they manage to offer all these perks and yet the other airlines can’t? Not that I care. I loved every second of my flight.

      1. Not to mention Airnorth gives credit to yukon residents yearly
        One year I paid only $37 for a flight for my son to fly from vancouver to whitehorse to visit his mom and sibling. Was the cheapest fare I ever paid to fly ?

  2. I always fly airnorth. My most memorable experience with Air North was on an evening flight from Vancouver to Whitehorse. I fell asleep on the plane and when I woke up I was covered with a blanket. Now that’s impressive. The service is top notch and the food is divine. If you are flying to Whitehorse make sure you book at flyairnorth.com. You’ll have a great experience!

  3. Air North is by far the most awesome flight experience. Everything in that article is correct. The longest journey across our nation… from Whitehorse Yukon to Halifax Nova Scotia is daunting no matter how you book it.
    But we always begin the trek with Air North.
    Now that they offer the flight from Whitehorse to Ottawa, our trip time has been cut by less than half and our pleasure has been multiplied!
    It’s only a quick jaunt with Porter Air on to Halifax.
    I am so proud of Yukon’s Airline!

  4. In Whitehorse, I had fallen on the ice early in the day, banging my knee so that I limped a little. While getting to my seat, one of the cabin crew asked if I needed transportation assistance in Vancouver airport. I told him what had happened and that I ‘d be fine, but thanked him for his concern. Just before take off he came to my seat, bringing a bag of ice wrapped in a towel and told me it was okay to change my mind in flight if I felt I did need transport help on landing…Air North not only consistently meets my expectations..but shows it wants exceed it with thoughtful actions like this

  5. Air North has been huge part of air transportation within the Yukon as well as outside of the Yukon for four decades. They are the best airline anywhere and make us Yukoners so proud. Thank you Air North for such great service and hospitality on flights as well as upon check-in.

  6. Betty Lou Linville

    Air North Rocks !! I have had occasion to accompany a young person to medical care in Vancouver. Air North absolutely offered to do EVERYTHING possible to make him more comfortable. Quite a few of my family members travel with sports teams, and they always appreciate Air North Staff and considerations. I wish you much success with your ongoing business

  7. We too wish you continued success, we are very proud that our territory has such a wonderful airline. We love Air North, you are always our first choice. As has already been posted, you totally rock!!
    Thank-you. Stan Lancaster and Susanne Nageli

  8. Elizabeth Gibbs

    As a frequent flyer from the UK to Europe I can confirm that my trips with Air North from Vancouver to Whitehorse have been far far better. Great service and comfortable seats. I’ll definitely use Air North whenever I’m in Canada

  9. In 2004 I’d moved to Whitehorse & was readying for my 1st flight with Air North. I’d had a death in my circle of dear friends 2 days b4. Upon checking in I was told due to over booking my seat would be way in the back. Fine with me as I thought I was being bumped! As I was waiting for boarding my name was paged, so back to the counter, where I was told they’d managed to get me a better seat; Great! As I boarded the plane, they asked me if I could just stand for a moment. Next thing I know, my new seat was now in 1st Class!! Air North, not only Rocks; you talk about no baggage fees; how about flying your Best 4-legged friend for FREE!! Keep it up Air North, you really are the Bestest as my grandkids say!!

      1. I can confirm this. My son was living off grid outside Whitehorse and bought a new male breeder while visiting us in Vancouver. He was ‘restocking’ the rabbit hutch in Yukon. ‘Barney’ flew free and Air North even asked if they could take his picture for their website!!

        I can also confirm that Air Canada charged for this same service on the same route.

  10. I frequently fly Air North from Calgary to Whitehorse. They are awesome. It spoils you when having to take another airline elsewhere. Makes you realize again how GREAT Air North is. And the chocolate chip cookies are wonderful

  11. Michael Wanner

    AIR NORTH is SIMPLY THE BEST anywhere anytime. I take Air North when ever I fly to the Yukon or in Western Canada. I remember a number of years ago one of my nephews died tragically when he was still a teenager. My daughters wanted to attend the funeral of thier cousin but we couldn’t get the finances together right away to send them. I telephoned the president of Air North at his home at breakfast time and he accepted my call although he really did not know me. I explained the situation to him and he told me not to be concerned about payment at the moment; just get the girls on the next flight to Calgary and he would take care of the arrangements.
    Well, he did that, and my daughters had absolutely no problems either on the trip down or on the return flight after the funeral. They were taken care of wonderfully. And if I remember correctly he even arranged for a bereavement discount for us. Now my daughters were young at the time and this was their first flight. We managed to pay the fares after a few days and everything was fine. This is something I have never forgot. I now live in Ecuador, South America and in my travels,I have not found any airline that even comes close to the quality of service that Air North gives. Thank you Joe S. and thank you Air North.

  12. We were headed to Cuba and took Air North to Calgary. My partner left his passport on the plane and did not notice until we had already been in our hotel in Calgary for an hour (where we were overnighting). I called Air North in Whitehorse, Yukon to see if there was any lost and found at the Calgary airport, and if maybe someone had found this passport. They put me on hold and got back to me several minutes later saying that one of the ground staff was still waiting at the Calgary Airport, JUST IN CASE we noticed and returned for the passport! She was still standing there when we arrived to pick it up.

    This is normal behaviour for the Air North staff. They are human beings who care.

  13. Sheila Farrell

    We flew Air North from Kelowna to Whitehorse for Rendezvous weekend. While the crew and flight were great, and the warm cookies amazing, the most outstanding memory came as we approached Whitehorse. The flight attendant presented us with a “welcome package” complete with maps, brochures, and local information. It also included a hand written note from Air North thanking us for choosing them and provided a contact number should we need any further information or services while we were in town. Now THAT is service!

  14. There will also be some new fleet additions by this fall. An entirely new turboprop type and an additional B737.

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  17. I love it when there was a short lived attendant strike and they waited for us, as we were ready to go through security with $3 for us. Just in case they didnt serve us a beverage on that flight. They did have cabin service as usual but what stuck with me was their professionalism through and through. Air North should be in the No 1 position worldwide…so proud of them, I wont fly the other airelines down south!

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  19. Great post! I am currently living in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, so flying Air North is a regular occurrence for my husband and I (it’s more economical than Canadian North). And I agree with many comments above. They’re great and the warm cookies are such a nice tough. The Hawker Siddley aircraft servicing Dawson/Old Crow/Inuvik does have lesser baggage allowance, just FYI.

    One tip I would like to offer for frequent flyers or those visiting this region, is to keep an eye out for Air Passes. The airline offers a few different types and they usually go on sale in the fall (early Oct – valid until April) and spring (mid-late April, valid until Sept). These can offer significant savings and up to two people can travel on the same pass. For example, the Meridan Air Pass (~$799 + tax) can get me a round trip from Inuvik to Vancouver or Edmonton. Or a round-trip for TWO from Whitehorse to Vancouver/Edmonton. Bargain! Compared to the standard fare.

    Just wanted to share 🙂 Happy travels! And come visit Inuvik.

  20. Wow. I find it hard to believe that I am the only one that will never fly with this airline again!

    Flew Vancouver to Kelowna during which time they managed to loose my luggage and not know if it was on the plane or still in Vancouver. In this day and age of technology and bar scanners how does an airline not know where the baggage is.

    The aircraft was comfortable for its age but smelled of puke.

    Overall very disappointed in the customer service!

    1. Good! You must be one of those customers that always finds something to complain about and are generally unpleasant. I don’t want to sit besides you for 2 hours.

  21. I grew up in Whitehorse so have flown Air North many times throughout my life. My favourite story about this airline was actually about my mom, though.

    She was once connecting to an Air North flight in Vancouver from another airline, and had given Air North a call when she found out that her first flight was going to be delayed. She knew it’d be close as to whether she could make the connection. When she landed in Vancouver, an announcement over the airplane intercom asked everyone to remain seated, and called her name. As it turned out, an Air North employee had come to meet her flight at the gate, had her bag pulled off first and in hand, got her off the airplane prior to everyone else, and escorted her right to her gate where they were holding off on closing the doors early, knowing she’d be right there. I don’t think there’s another airline in the world that would go to that extent with their customer service.

  22. Air North is simply the best of the best. I have used it for personal travel, medical travel, and regularly use it to transport pups to Vancouver, Calgary, Kelowna and Ottawa. I never worry about the pups as they are in the best of hands. I volunteer with the Red Cross and always assure my clients who are flying out for medical care that Air North will take good care of them on the plane and in the airport. Everyone gets treated like family on Air North. We are so blessed to have Joe and crew here in the north.

  23. I flew with Air North for 1 1/2 years out of Ottawa to Yellowknife every 21 days and cannot say enough about the entire operation. They were outstanding people and the food was tremendous. I almost want to book another flight just to have the salmon again!!
    Air North is a fantastic organization so the remaining airlines should pay attention and aspire to reach a similar level of service that they have attained!

  24. I was in Mexico last February when the phone call came that my daughter, her partner and their 3 week old baby were in a car accident in Whitehorse. All were in hospital with no life threatening injuries, but were pretty beat up ! I immediately called West Jet to get out of Mexico and explained the situation. This was on a Friday afternoon. They said they could get me out on SUNDAY at 3:00 p.m. and it would be an additional $900.00 dollars !!! I paid it and left on Sunday, with a few kind words to West Jet people ! I called Air North and explained the situation and they put me on the first flight available when I arrived in Vancouver at NO additional charge ! Thank you again Air North !

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  27. Sandra Henderson

    I always fly Air North south or east. No matter how many airlines move into the Yukon, I will still be an AN passenger. Their service is awesome.

  28. This is my favourite story to demonstrate the kindness and caring of Air North. Heading out to Vancouver with my son one Christmas, we arrive at the airport to discover the conveyor belt broken and baggage everywhere. We left Whitehorse late and in the air I realized that we were going to miss the last ferry to Vancouver Island, and our Charles Dickens dinner with friends. I was able to tell the stewardess my dilemma and she listened very sincerely and assured me she would look into it. Within 10 minutes she returned to let us know that the “Klondike Shuttle” would take us to the ferry terminal so we wouldn’t miss the boat! On the ground, Joe Sparling himself, the owner of Air North and his lovely wife, who had been on the flight………personally transported Danny and I to the ferry terminal themselves. They were on their way to their home in Richmond!! I know why the employees at Air North are so friendly – it starts at the top!!

  29. Years ago I worked for another airline that started in the north “Wardair” it must be the northern way of treating people. I loved working there and to this day I have never heard a negative comment about Wardair, it sounds like Air North is the same type of airline. The other airlines should take a hint

  30. Best ever was the flight thru the Aurora after being feted by Canada best chefs. I went with my daughters and it was more magnify than a flight to the moon. Thank you Air North

  31. My sweet friend Suzanne Perrin would fit right in with these accolades. A definite asset to the Flight Crew! 🙂

  32. I am a member of Civil Air Search & Rescue. Back in 2016 my crew flew to Yellowknife in a private aircraft for a week long exercise. There was no room for me. I mentioned it to Air North and Joe gave me a free return flight so I could attend. Also, in 2014 I had an expensive large painting that had to get to Whitehorse from Vancouver for the Yukon Transportation Museum. Air North found room for it in the cabin and it arrived undamaged. No one mentions flying to and from Edmonton as well. Love the airline, the staff, the warm cookies, the comfort and most of all the smiles even from the pilots on landing.

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