New summertime air service means better prices to/from Alaska

In Uncategorized by scott

The fire department at TSAIA offers a water cannon salute to Allegiant‘s first flight to Alaska.

Around the state, airlines are ramping up their service for the busy summer season. That’s important for travelers, because that means there are more options—and more deals.

I wrote an article about it in the Anchorage Daily News today (CLICK HERE) . But I wanted to offer you, dear Readers, a DEEP DIVE into what it means as you’re making your travel plans. Below, details to/from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Southeast Alaska.

Alaska Air pilots enjoy some “Salt n Straw” ice cream after landing in San Francisco.

TO/FROM Anchorage. Here are a few of the highlights for Anchorage travelers—and what it means.

Alaska Air: more nonstop flights to Seattle (21x daily) , to Portland (4x daily), L.A. (2x daily) and to Fairbanks (7x daily).  Daily nonstops to Chicago (2x daily)  and Honolulu. In-state nonstops to Juneau, Cordova, Kodiak, Dillingham, King Salmon, Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Prudhoe Bay, Adak. Connecting service to Yakutat, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Wrangell, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Utqiagvik (Barrow).

MY TAKE: Every traveler should be part of the Club 49 program to get two checked bags free. Alaska Air has the best loyalty plan, including the Bank of America credit card (40K bonus miles to sign up).

Delta Air Lines: Increased service from Anchorage to Seattle (6x daily), more nonstop service to Minneapolis/St Paul (3x daily), nonstop service to Salt Lake City and Atlanta.

MY TAKE: Delta still offers $77 o/w tickets to Seattle Jun 15-21. V-e-r-y competitive in that market. Connect to their Seattle hub for nonstops to both Europe and Asia.

United: During the winter, it’s just one flight per day Anchorage-Denver. But they double up in the summer, along with 2x/daily to Chicago, once per day Anchorage-Newark, San Francisco and Houston. 

MY TAKE: Good for United for offering nonstop service to New York ( even tho it’s $400 o/w). The airline doesn’t offer great fares…but two thumbs up for nonstop flights.

American: The airline doesn’t even fly here in the winter. Their mileage plan match-up with Alaska Air is next to worthless. This summer, American will fly a 787 each day to Dallas, an A321neo to Phoenix and one flight 5x weekly to LAX.

MY TAKE: I wanna ride on that 787 but have no interest in flying to DFW.

JetBlue: Another summer-only carrier. But JetBlue offers the most legroom in coach of any airline. There’s one flight each day to Seattle and one flight each day to Portland. Both red-eyes. 

MY TAKE: $77 one-way to Seattle, as low as $88 one-way to Portland. What’s not to love? 

Sun Country: The airline is flying three times per day to Minneapolis and 4x weekly nonstop to Las Vegas. 

MY TAKE: You think you’ve flown Sun Country? You have not. You flew last year’s Sun Country. There are more seats, less room and more fees. But it’s cheap: Anchorage-Minneapolis $149 o/w Jun 8-14 (then up to $188 o/w). Anchorage-Las Vegas $99 o/w Jun 6-30.

Allegiant: Anchorage-Bellingham twice each week all summer long (Wed/Sat). The airline is flying an A319 with 156 seats. Tight. 

MY TAKE: You want cheap? Allegiant is cheap: $117 roundtrip starting Jun 8. Everything is extra. Seats, carry-on bags, water. The airline has drawn the scrutiny of the FAA for safety issues (Here’s a link to the 60 Minutes report)…but they continue to fly. Cheaply.

Air Canada: The airline is flying twice each day nonstop from Anchorage to Vancouver, BC.

MY TAKE: You have to plan far ahead to get a fare of $500 roundtrip. It’s much easier and/or cheaper to fly to Seattle or Bellingham. But…nonstops are nice.

Condor: 2-3 flights per week nonstop Anchorage-Frankfurt. One additional flight each Thursday stops in Fairbanks to pick up more passengers. 

MY TAKE: I love flying over-the-top on Condor. The prices start at about $1100rt , but you also can burn your Alaska Air miles.

Icelandair: Two flights each week nonstop Anchorage-Keflavik (Reykjavik). This is a sweet seven-hour flight on a 757.

MY TAKE: A little spendy, at about $840 roundtrip. You also can burn Alaska  Air miles on these flights, which can take the sting out of the price.

Yakutia Air: Anchorage’s only nonstop passenger service to Asia. Only three Anchorage-Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky flights this summer: Aug. 18, 25 and Sept. 1. 

MY TAKE. The Kamchatka Peninsula is a great adventure paradise. You have to pay extra to fly the choppers up to the volcano-lined valleys. And the fishing is great, if you pay extra to get to some of the wilderness rivers. Cost for airfare alone is about $1,300, plus your Russian Visa. Check with Martha Madsen (she’s from Homer) on her b-n-b near the airport ….also with Visa issues. Airline questions? Check with AirRussia.us

Goofing off in Alaska Air’s Anchorage hangar.

TO/FROM Fairbanks

Alaska Air. Five nonstops Fairbanks-Seattle, priced from $111 each way. #GreatSchedule. One flight daily to Prudhoe Bay, which continues to Utqiagvik (BRW). Seven flights daily between Anchorage and Fairbanks, from $72 each way .

MY TAKE. Alaska Air offers the best schedules/prices for Fairbanks travelers around the state. The battle with Delta (below) keeps fares low to Seattle. 

Delta. During the summer, Delta doubles its schedule to two daily 737s nonstop to Seattle, from $111 each way. Delta also flies once each day nonstop Fairbanks-Minneapolis. The prices are good: from $219 on the outbound, return from $307 ($526rt).

MY TAKE. Fares to Seattle are cheap because of competition between Delta and Alaska. This also keeps fares down to Minneapolis and to other cities in the Lower 48. Delta’s year-round presence (via a smaller RJ in the winter) means Fairbanks travelers can access great deals to Europe when fares go on sale.

United. This is United’s biggest summer in Fairbanks. With daily nonstop flights to Chicago ($186 o/w), Denver ($164 o/w) and San Francisco ($184 o/w), Fairbanks travelers have lots of low-priced travel options. 

MY TAKE. United has great prices this summer, but travelers should be aware of the airline’s penchant for charging extra for carry-on baggage. 

Condor: Fly nonstop Fairbanks-Frankfurt on Condor each Thursday. The return flight stops in Anchorage.

MY TAKE: Nonstops to Europe are good! 

On final approach to SFO aboard Cathay Pacific’s new A350 aircraft from Hong Kong.

TO/FROM Juneau

Alaska Air: On weekdays, there are four nonstops to Anchorage-Juneau. But it’s the fifth flight that’s radical: it stops in Codova and Yakutat. Choose from five nonstops each day to Seattle.  There are three nonstops per day from Juneau to Sitka (just a 40-minute flight). There’s one flight daily to Petersburg, which continues on to Wrangell. There are three flights to Ketchikan, but you want to catch the nonstop at 7:40am! Alaska also offers a daily flight to Gustavus, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park.

MY TAKE: Big Dog! If you’re flying around Alaska, you’re flying Alaska.

Delta. There’s just one 737 per day from Juneau to Seattle, at $113 one-way. 

MY TAKE: The competition between Delta and Alaska is what keeps the fares to Seattle low.

TO/FROM Sitka. 

Alaska Air: Alaska flies to Juneau, Ketchikan and Seattle from Sitka, with two nonstops to SEA.

Delta: Delta flies a regional jet from Seattle to Sitka, priced from $114 each way.

MY TAKE: Competition between Alaska and Delta keeps fares low to Seattle. 

TO/FROM Ketchikan.

Alaska Air: Alaska flies to Juneau, Sitka and Seattle from Ketchikan. There are five flights daily from Ketchikan to Seattle. 

Delta: Delta flies a regional jet from Ketchikan to Seattle, priced from $118 o/w.

MY TAKE: Competition between Alaska and Delta keeps prices low to Seattle. 

SUMMARY: These are the most-competitive routes in Alaska, but they are not the only ones. We’ll touch on commuter airlines, Bethel, Nome and Western Alaska another time.  But this should give you a good idea about service and fares between Alaska’s most-popular destinations and the Lower 48.

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