Saddle up for summertime deals.

In Airfares, Alaska Travelgram, Consumer by scott

Photo: Climbing out over Washington, DC aboard an Alaska Airlines 737-800.

Now it gets interesting. Summertime air fares are dropping–and dropping fast. I’m still in the hunt for springtime deals–but that’s another story. Let’s review the bargains now available for travel between May and September:

Anchorage-Los Angeles: $496 roundtrip, all-in (including all taxes and fees), using Alaska Airlines‘ nonstop flight. Travel between June 6 and Aug. 21, 2010. This is less expensive than USAir‘s competing service because USAir stops in Phoenix, resulting in extra taxes and fees.

Anchorage-San Francisco: $475 roundtrip, all-in. Fly nonstop on Alaska Airlines. Travel valid June 6-Aug. 21, 2010. USAir also offers competing service. On their website, it shows a stop in Phoenix for a higher rate ($481). But they also code-share with United Airlines on UA’s nonstop to SFO.

NOTE: Working with my friends at USTravel (call Kelly Jo McGee or Melinda Spires here in Anchorage at (907)561-2434) , we’re able to really parse out the vagaries of code-share doublespeak by airlines to find the best deal. That’s one reason USTravel charges a ticketing fee (typically $38 for a ticket to/from the Lower 48). It’s worth it to have an expert in your corner when it comes to getting the best deals on your next trip or family vacation.

It’s nice to see Alaska Airlines offer these great deals on their nonstop flights. But it’s crucial to understand that it’s the competitive pressure from United, Continental and USAir that makes the lower fares possible.

Anchorage-Denver: This is shaping up to be a hot market for summer travel, with three nonstop flights each day: one each from Alaska Airlines, United and Frontier Airlines. Plus, Alaska Airlines offers connecting service over both Portland and Seattle. Fly for $475 roundtrip, all-in between May 16 and Aug. 20, 2010. Use Alaska’s nonstop flight for the best price.

Anchorage-Chicago. Yup: another three-fer. American, United and Alaska are offering nonstops from the Windy City this summer. Right now, Alaska’s flights are the best deal, at $487 roundtrip all-in. Travel between May 22 and Sept. 25, 2010. Competition matters.

Anchorage-New York. Fly to LaGuardia (LGA) for the best price: $475 roundtrip all-in on Continental Airlines. Travel between May 14 and Sept. 20, 2010 for the best price. Just for fun, check the corresponding price on Alaska Airlines to Newark in mid-June ($713.50!).

Anchorage-Washington, DC.  Fly Continental for as little as $485 roundtrip all-in. This is a great rate. In this particular case, Alaska Airlines has nearly matched the rate, coming in at $509.48 roundtrip. But here’s a bonus: Both carriers allow travel at this rate beginning in three weeks. You can fly on Mar. 17 at that price.

Compare those prices to Washington, DC to the fare between Anchorage and Seattle. You’d better sit down. If you want to fly in March or April, the fare is a whopping $544 on Alaska. On Continental, it’s worse: $614 (beyond belief).

Last weekend, there was a brief moment in time when Alaska was offering a $455 roundtrip fare to Seattle. But on Monday evening,  they withdrew the fare and let it float back to the higher level. That’s ridiculous.

Of course, there will be more fare-related fireworks as summer approaches. And I predict the fare to Seattle will, indeed, come back closer to Planet Earth. Check with Kelly Jo or Melinda in Anchorage at USTravel for the information on your city: (907)561-2434.

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