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Low fares, destinations may spur spring, summer travel for Alaskans

JetBlue leads this summer's price war, while Alaska and Delta airlines ramp up the Battle for Seattle. There are enticing airfares right now from the Last Frontier to California, Phoenix and Portland, too. AKDOT / Jeffrey Doerning

It’s a thrill a minute among the airlines serving Alaska. Almost all of them are busy positioning for the summer travel season with new routes and special fares. Plus, there are some good bargains for travel right now.

First, let’s review some hot springtime deals from JetBlue. The New York-based airline will return to Alaska on May 17, bringing some rock-bottom fares:

• Anchorage-Seattle as low as $196 roundtrip, starting May 17.

• Anchorage-Long Beach as low as $256 roundtrip, starting May 17.

• Anchorage-Boston as low as $383 roundtrip, starting May 19 (via Seattle).

• Anchorage-Austin, TX as low as $397 roundtrip, starting May 17 (via Long Beach). 

• Anchorage-Sacramento as low as $364 roundtrip, starting May 17 (via Long Beach).

• Anchorage-Oakland as low as $356 roundtrip, starting May 17 (via Long Beach).

• Anchorage-Las Vegas as low as $354 roundtrip, starting May 21 (via Long Beach).

Both of JetBlue’s daily nonstop flights to the Lower 48 (to Seattle and Long Beach) are red-eye departures. But the price is right. 

Meanwhile, Delta is offering a great fare from Anchorage to New York/JFK for as little as $404 roundtrip, starting May 19. And United has a great fare between Anchorage and Dallas for as little as $322 roundtrip, starting June 5. Actually, United’s deal to Dallas is available this month for as little as $366 roundtrip. Frontier Airlines starts seasonal service from both Anchorage and Fairbanks to Denver in mid-May. The Fairbanks-Denver flights are available for as little as $384 roundtrip, starting May 17.

In February and March, there is a smaller crop of deals, but they’re out there. Some of my favorites:

• Anchorage-Dallas as low as $322 roundtrip on United Airlines, starting March 24. You can leave sooner -- as soon as Feb. 24 -- for just $366 roundtrip on United. That’s a great deal!

• Anchorage-Las Vegas as low as $396 roundtrip (nonstop) on Alaska Airlines, starting March 30. 

• Anchorage-Los Angeles/LAX as low as $383 roundtrip on Alaska Airlines, starting Feb. 28.

• Anchorage-San Diego as low as $380 roundtrip on Delta, starting March 11.

• Anchorage-Burbank as low as $410 roundtrip, starting Feb. 27.

• Anchorage-Portland (nonstop) as low as $380 roundtrip on Alaska Airlines, starting March 12.

Rounding out this week’s airfare madness are some new route announcements, coupled with bonus mileage opportunities. Delta Air Lines has announced it will fly three nonstops each day between Anchorage and Seattle, starting June 5. The carrier also will offer one flight each day Fairbanks-Seattle and Juneau-Seattle. Earlier this week, they announced plans to offer five daily flights between Phoenix and Seattle.

Shortly after Delta’s announcement about Phoenix-Seattle service, Alaska Airlines announced service to three new destinations: New Orleans, Tampa and Detroit.

The Seattle-New Orleans flights start on June 12. Alaska has some introductory fares from Anchorage for $556 roundtrip, as well as a double-miles promotion for travel through Aug. 15. You must pre-register for the double miles at alaskaair.com.

The Seattle-Tampa flights start on June 20. Alaska’s introductory fare is $556 roundtrip -- and you can sign up for double miles on these flights as well.

The Seattle-Detroit flights start on Sept. 4. Actually, $556 roundtrip is a good price to Detroit. Plus, Alaska’s double miles offer is “elite qualifying miles,” which offers travelers a shortcut to MVP and MVP Gold status. It also means that Alaska still is very upset at Delta. Detroit, of course, is a “fortress hub” for Delta.

Remember, air fares change all the time. If you see a good fare you need to lock in, grab it. I doubt Alaska Airlines will match JetBlue’s low-ball prices. That, however, could change as May approaches.

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.