Emergency forces planeload of Americans to spend night in Whitehorse airport

Emergency forces planeload of Americans to spend night in Whitehorse airport

A planeload of Alaska-bound travellers got a lesson in Yukon hospitality over the weekend, after an airline emergency forced them to spend the night in the Whitehorse airport.

The 199 passengers were also introduced to a Canadian winter tradition during their short visit — Rolling Up the Rim.

The Anchorage-bound Delta Airlines Boeing 757, which left from St. Paul, Minn., was experiencing problems with the emergency oxygen system and had to make what's called an "urgent" landing in Whitehorse.

Airport manager Robert Manlig says he was at a social gathering Saturday night when he was called about the unscheduled landing.

He says management at Air North was alerted to help with docking and unloading the aircraft. Stranded passengers were forced to wait on board until Canada Border Services arrived to supervise the unscheduled layover.

"They were very frustrated, obviously, sitting waiting in the aircraft for [Border Services], but they were in good spirits at the end of the day. We gave them the best Yukon hospitality in a situation when they never expected to come to Canada."

The passengers were forced to spend the night at the in-transit boarding lounge at the Whitehorse terminal.

Air North manager Ed Peart says staff tried to make them as comfortable as possible.

"We got some pizza and some water for them right away, and then in the morning we got them good old Tim Hortons and muffins," he said.

Peart says they also explained "the importance of the Roll Up The Rim cups — to a plane full of Americans. It was great."

By 6 a.m., a rescue jetliner arrived from Seattle to take the passengers on to Anchorage.

Peart says Delta mechanics had the troubled plane airworthy a few hours later, and it returned to its base in Minneapolis.