It's just short of a statewide holiday each year when the amount of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) is announced. This year's check of $878 for each man, woman and child in the state is less than last year -- but still a wonderful budget booster.
Travelers in Alaska's largest city are accustomed to good prices, since several other airlines fly in to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and provide a competitive balance on rates. But travelers from other Alaska Airlines gateway cities such as Juneau, Fairbanks and Barrow have few options, aside from the occasional Club 49 deals that Alaska offers each week. So this year's crop of PFD specials are especially valuable for rural Alaskans in Nome, Bethel and other jet destinations around the state.
In addition to the fare sale, Alaska has a "PFD Plus" program offering Club 49 travelers a 50 percent discount for travel in early 2013:
- Fly up to seven qualifying segments (to, from or within Alaska) between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2012.
- Then, a one-time 50 percent discount code will be awarded for travel between Jan. 15 and Feb. 26, 2013.
Alaska Airlines PFD airfare deals
First, let's take a look at some of the available fares from Alaska Airlines. All of the fares are one-way, including taxes and fees. Then, see below for the list of blackouts and restrictions, many of which are different from previous years.
Between Anchorage and:
Fairbanks: $99 each way
Kodiak: $122 each way
Seattle/Portland: $219 each way
Honolulu: $249 each way
Las Vegas: $229 each way
St. Louis: $224 each way
Santa Rosa, Calif.: $269 each way
Between Fairbanks and:
Barrow: $183 each way
Seattle: $259 each way
Portland: $269 each way
Las Vegas: $279 each way
Honolulu: $299 each way
Between Juneau and:
Ketchikan: $119 each way
Seattle: $199 each way
Portland: $209 each way
Palm Springs: $229 each way
Phoenix: $249 each way
San Francisco: $249 each way
Chicago: $249 each way
Los Angeles: $249 each way
Between Nome and:
Fairbanks: $219 each way
Honolulu: $329 each way
Portland/Seattle: $369 each way
Las Vegas: $379 each way
Phoenix: $399 each way
Between Bethel and:
Anchorage: $159 each way
Fairbanks: $209 each way
Honolulu: $334 each way
Portland/Seattle: $364 each way
Between Barrow and:
Anchorage: $199 each way
Honolulu: $329 each way
Portland/Seattle: $409 each way
Las Vegas: $419 each way
Los Angeles: $449 each way
With this crop of PFD bargains, there are deals to almost all Alaska Airlines destinations, including Mexico, Hawaii and the East Coast. Some prices are great, others are OK. Still others are no big deal. But the devil is in the details.
- You must purchase your tickets for the PFD specials by Oct. 30, 2012. There is a 14-day advance purchase requirement for all the fares.
- Available travel dates vary. Between Alaska and Midwest/East Coast destinations, you must complete your travel no later than May 15, 2013. Travel within Alaska and to/from most West Coast destinations is available through Aug. 13, 2013, with some blackouts to/from Dutch Harbor, Dillingham and King Salmon.
- Travel to Honolulu has its own set of blackout dates, which is most of the winter months: Nov. 19-Dec. 2, 2012, Dec. 12, 2012-Mar. 19, 2013 (all winter). Travel on the PFD deal must be completed no later than June 9, 2013.
- Blackout dates. Forget about Thanksgiving, Christmas or Spring Break. Travel is not permitted Nov. 14-28, 2012, Dec. 12, 2012-Jan. 9, 2013, March 5-April 2, 2013.
Again, all tickets must be purchased by Oct. 30, 2013. More details are available from Alaska Airlines.
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.