Deep discounts on flights help connect N.W.T. residents over holiday season

Deep discounts on some regional airline fares mean a lot to far-flung family members in N.W.T.

Tulita resident Shelby Lennie scores the last seat on Friday’s flight to Yellowknife to visit her father

Shelby Lennie says she got a great deal on a flight from Tulita to Yellowknife thanks to a North-Wright Airways seat sale. (Submitted by Shelby Lennie)

It was a rush decision made in less than 10 minutes, but now Shelby Lennie has the last seat on Friday's North-Wright Airways flight from Tulita, N.W.T., to Yellowknife. She plans to spend the weekend in the city visiting family and friends, and doing a bit of Christmas shopping.

"It's a total steal," she said. "I wasn't aware that [my father] was just on his way south for awhile and I took the opportunity and called him and was like, 'Yeah, it'd be great to hang out,' and he was like, 'OK great.'"

North-Wright Airways is one of at least two Northern airlines holding steep seat sales for the holiday season. Canadian North is also offering a 75 per cent discount for holiday travel booked by Friday.

Seat sale helps connect families

Where a one-way ticket from Tulita to Yellowknife would normally cost Lennie approximately $900, the same ticket for this weekend's trip rings in at $450.

"My family members know that I'm on my way and I've got a list of things that you can't get here," she said.

Seat sales like these mean a lot to Lennie, who said she feels "really lucky" to get out of the community on such a low fare.

Tulita is a fly-in community of 587 people. According to the N.W.T.'s Department of Infrastructure, the winter road that connects the community to the Mackenzie Valley Highway usually opens on Jan. 1, and closes at the end of March.

Lennie has taken the trip more than once.

"I remember the last time I took that drive it was about a 20-something hour drive," she said. "We just kept driving and driving."

Susan Wright, North-Wright Airways human resources and safety manager, estimates this is the third year the company has offered 50 per cent discounts on flights for the holidays.

"We live in a very isolated and remote region," she explained.

"[We] can't just jump on the highway to see our families at Christmas time," she said. "So we give a fairly good discount to travellers who want to see their families in Yellowknife or in the South and also the reverse side, so people can go to the Sahtu and visit their family in the Sahtu region."

Canadian North communications manager Kelly Lewis stated in an email to CBC that his company works to stay on top of other deals and promotions in order to stay competitive.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly cited prices for one-way flights from Tulita to Yellowknife, when in fact the story referenced round-trip tickets.
    Dec 15, 2017 12:01 PM CT