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Roundup: Airfares sizzle for travel into and out of Alaska's two largest cities

Scott McMurren
It's been a summer of epic midnight sunshine, hot weather and airfares worth flying for into and out of the Last Frontier. Here's a look at 17 great opportunities from Fairbanks to Orlando, Fla., and most points in-between. Dan4th / cc via flickr

There are all sorts of great airfare deals. In-state, out-of-state, heck, out of this world! Like all good deals, though, the devil is in the details: matching up the departure and return dates, the advance purchase, mileage credit, layovers -- and so forth. Still, just like the Alaska summertime sun, the deals this season are h-a-w-t. And not just from Anchorage, either.

This week's crop has some great deals for everyone. Let's review:

Airfare deals on travel from Anchorage:

1. Anchorage-Cordova. This is a Club 49 deal from Alaska Airlines, July 30-Aug. 28, 2013. Fly from Anchorage for as little as $187 roundtrip. Climb Mount Eyak. Fish for some awesome salmon. Check out the awesome Childs Glacier on what's left of the Copper River Highway! You must purchase no later than Thursday, July 18. 

2. Anchorage-Boston. The great deals from Anchorage to Boston start on Sept. 5, with rates from $358 roundtrip. The best deal is a mix-n-match special using American and United. Or, fly United or American both ways for just a few dollars more. There are sub-$400 roundtrip fares available on most days in September. 

3. Anchorage-New York. This is great: leave with as little as seven days advance notice (depart on July 23, for example), for as little as $382 roundtrip on Delta. In August, fly on American to JFK, returning on United from LaGuardia. The price? $351 roundtrip. If you search for the lowest fare, "Sun Country" keeps coming up. But be careful--there is an overnight layover in Minneapolis in both directions to get the $358 roundtrip fare. Mm-hmm. Just think of the money you'll be saving.

4. Anchorage-Washington, D.C. The good fares start popping up on Aug. 14 from Anchorage to Washington, DC, as low as $392 roundtrip on United. This is a great fare to close-in Reagan Airport. 

5. Anchorage-Orlando, Fla. Here's a great fare on American Airlines: Anchorage-Orlando for as little as $396, traveling Aug. 15-26, 2013. There also are quite a few seats available in the second and third week of September.

6. Anchorage-San Francisco. Both United and Virgin America fly nonstop on this route--thank Virgin America for the low fares. Leave on Thursday night (early Friday morning) for $398 roundtrip on either Virgin America or United. That's an amazing last-minute deal. Wait until Aug. 17, when the fares drop to $376 roundtrip on Virigin America. 

7. Anchorage-Denver. The best fares to Denver start on Aug. 22, for $356 roundtrip on Frontier. Nonstop. That's a great deal. 

8. Anchorage-Los Angeles area. This includes Los Angeles Int'l (LAX), Long Beach, Orange County, Burbank and Ontario. Travelers from Anchorage can count on low fares through Oct. 15, 2013, thanks to JetBlue's red-eye nonstop to Long Beach. In mid-September, the flight changes to a one-stop through Seattle. Right now, the best rates in August Anchorage-LAX are on Alaska Airlines at $276 roundtrip (Aug. 27-31, 2013). If you're a Club 49 member, you'll automatically receive double miles through Sept. 3, 2013. Between Anchorage and Long Beach, JetBlue offers $296 roundtrip as early as Aug. 7. It drops by $10, to $286 roundtrip, onAug. 13. Then, between Aug. 18 and Aug. 30, it's just $276 roundtrip. Nonstop .That's a great deal. 

Rates between Anchorage and Orange County are a little more expensive--from $383 roundtrip starting July 24 on United. The rate drops to $338 roundtrip on Delta, starting Aug. 28. 

Between Anchorage and Ontario, Calif., air fares drop to $377 roundtrip on Delta starting Aug. 7. Anchorage-Burbank fares are a little less, at $338 roundtrip, starting Aug. 14 on United. 

9. Anchorage-Austin. Flights from Anchorage to Austin have been low-low-low all summer long. On Aug. 8, fly Virgin America for as little as $376 roundtrip, with a stop in San Francisco. Fly on United later in the month: $348 roundtrip, departing Aug. 27. 

10. Anchorage-Seattle. Drumroll, please: this airfare war  has been the value leader all summer long. Leave next week for as little as $347 roundtrip. Nonstop, on JetBlue. Sure, it's a red-eye. But that's half the price of last year's short-notice tickets. After Aug. 15, the price drops to $216 roundtrip on United. But with four airlines in the Battle for Seattle (Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and United), fares will be low through Oct. 15, 2013. 

Hello, Fairbanks! Golden Heart air travel values

The Golden Heart City also enjoys some new service this summer, including nonstops to Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Frankfurt and Chicago. Here are some of the best deals:

1. Fairbanks-Portland, Ore. I love this new nonstop with Alaska Airlines. Right now the price is $397 roundtrip through the month of August. Remember: double miles on Alaska Airlines if you're a Club 49 member. Pro-tip: sign up just to get the two-bags-free benefit! It's free.

2. Fairbanks-Kansas City. Fly starting July 31 on United through Chicago on the outbound. Return on American Airlines through Dallas and Seattle. The last Seattle-Fairbanks flight is on Alaska Airlines. It's just $427 roundtrip. Can you wait until Aug. 21? Fly American Airlines for as little as $375 roundtrip. That's a great deal.

3. Fairbanks-St. Louis. Here's another American Airlines deal: $463 roundtrip Fairbanks-St. Louis, starting Aug. 16. The Fairbanks-Seattle portion is on Alaska Airlines, then fly through Dallas. Remember, you earn Alaska Airlines miles on American. 

4. Fairbanks-Denver. Frontier is the price-leader in this market--by a long shot. Fly nonstop for as little as $357 roundtrip, starting next week: July 24. 

5. Fairbanks-Los Angeles/LAX. Stand back for this one: $381 roundtrip on United, starting Aug. 14. This is nothing short of awesome. Sure, you're connecting through Denver. But the stage length is less than 10 hours in each direction. That's quick--certainly quicker than driving to Anchorage to pick up the cheap rate.

6. Fairbanks-Las Vegas. Leave on Aug. 10, 17 or 24. Stay five nights. It's just $369 roundtrip on Frontier. Through Denver. With a fare like that, you're already money ahead on your trip to Sin City. Get lucky! 

7. Fairbanks-New Orleans. Starting Aug. 16, fly from Fairbanks to New Orleans for as little as $479 roundtrip. This is a great deal on American Airlines. Seats are available each week through Sept. 11. 

Southeast Alaska airfare deals: Forecast not so sunny

From Juneau or Sitka, the best deal out there is the Club 49 special to Chicago for the month of October. The cost is $500 roundtrip Juneau-Chicago, $504 roundtrip Sitka-Chicago. You must purchase by Thursday, July 18. 

Air fares and seat availability change all the time. I use Google's ITA software ( http://matrix.itasoftware.com/search.htm)  to research the fares, in addition to airlines' respective websites. You're free to do the same -- these tools are available to anyone. But don't beat yourself up if you're unable to find the rates -- airlines like to play hide-and-seek with discounts -- travel agents have more robust software, on desktop, to nail down the best fares. They also can advise you right away if there are impossible connections, long layovers or other surprises. 

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based travel marketing consultant who has lived in Alaska for three decades, spending much of that time traveling the far-flung corners of the state. Visit his website at www.alaskatravelgram.com or follow him on Twitter for breaking travel news.