Scott McMurren

Airfares are a moving target. They go up, they go down, they go all around. They appear, they disappear and they reappear. Still, since we Alaskans love to travel, there’s a certain amount of sport in the quest to nail down a great price to a popular destination. Call it the “game-ification” of travel. Grab your credit card and your laptop and get ready to score one of these deals before they expire. Fair warning: Rates are subject to change without notice. Here’s my special of the day: Anchorage-Seattle for $207 round-trip on either Alaska Airlines (12 flights daily) or Delta (three flights daily). For the best deals, you have to plan at least 21 days in advance. Oh — forget about spring break. The cheap seats for travel between March 11 and March 23 have been gone for months. Those that...Scott McMurren
Back in 1903, the world took notice of the Wright brothers’ famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. That short flight ushered in a feverish drive to get “up in the air” with companies and aviators around the world. In 1916, the Boeing Company was founded in Seattle. The last 100 years has ushered in an incredible array of flying machines. And while Boeing is the world’s biggest aerospace company, it’s not the only one. Airbus, Cessna, Bombardier, Embraer, Sukhoi and the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China all make passenger planes. Still, Boeing is the most recognizable brand when it comes to jet aircraft. Even though they build the airplanes, they are purchased by airlines who configure them according to their own need. In fact, Boeing used to own United Airlines . But antitrust...Scott McMurren
Isn’t it time for a weekend in Seattle? Whether you like to shop, eat or be entertained, there are plenty of opportunities to keep you busy. The Seattle Boat Show is coming up (Jan. 29-Feb. 6). This is a popular event with Alaska mariners. The indoor boat displays are spread out at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks play. But you can check out the boats in the water at Chandler’s Cove on South Lake Union. Another popular “magnet event” for Alaskans is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (Feb. 17-21) at the Washington State Convention Center. Face it, though. Any reason will do for a trip to the Emerald City. Many Alaskans have their favorite hotels, their favorite restaurants and their favorite attractions. Maybe next time you can branch out and see some new sights. Here are some...Scott McMurren
The holidays are over and the credit card bills are trickling in. That’s one reason the first quarter is a slow one for airlines. In competitive markets, airlines cut fares to fill the seats since the planes are flying anyway. That’s good news for travelers in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Fares are dropping to many destinations starting at the beginning of February. From Anchorage to Seattle, the best fare is $253 round-trip on either Alaska Airlines or Delta . To get that rate, you have to purchase your ticket 21 days in advance. Right now, this rate is available for travel through the end of April. From Fairbanks to Seattle, the rate is a little higher — but not much: $264 round-trip on either Alaska Airlines of Delta. Again, a 21-day advance purchase is required. From Juneau to...Scott McMurren
This is a difficult time for ardent frequent fliers. At the beginning of each year, travelers look at the status bar in their frequent-flier account. There’s a big zero next to the qualifying miles bar. That’s the number of elite qualifying miles travelers need to be one of the lucky passengers who get special treatment. This is all part of the “gamification” of travel. Just as gamers get excited about their online contests, frequent fliers get caught up in the game of getting upgrades and free tickets. I’m not sure “loyalty plan” is the right phrase for today’s frequent-flier plans. “ Amazing Race ” might be more appropriate. Most Alaskans are members of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan . I also have an account with Delta's SkyMiles plan — as do many other travelers, although you still...Scott McMurren
The forecast for travel in 2016 is right out of a Clint Eastwood movie ; there's the good, the bad and the ugly. By most counts, 2015 was a good year for travel to Alaska. The airlines and cruise ships all plan to return in force for the summer season. New hotels are being constructed . The Alaska Railroad is planning for a big summer season — not only with its own train cars, but hauling private cars from cruise lines and tour operators. This matters to Alaska travelers because we fly, ride or sail on the back-haul from the tourists. Alaska Airlines is unique among the incumbent airlines: flying year-round to hotspots like Barrow, Nome, Kodiak and Petersburg for residents and travelers alike. Other airlines, including Delta , United and American, operate on a limited schedule year-round...Scott McMurren
It’s not too late to get the traveler on your Christmas list the mother-of-all-travel-gifts: a round-the-world airline ticket. Sean Keener founded BootsnAll Travel Network 17 years ago because he believed in travel as a learning tool. Whether it’s for a “gap year” between high school and college or a breakaway moment for grown-ups, travel opens up many doors for people to learn about the world’s cultures and people. “We see an opportunity for the gap year and an accompanying round-the-world trip to be as ubiquitous as a college education,” said Keener. The BootsnAll network includes a couple of sites, including , which features round-the-world specialists to help plan out the specific dates and flights for your itinerary. A big part of the BootsnAll site is devoted to folks...Scott McMurren
What do travelers want for Christmas? A variety of things, it seems. But there is an overarching list that floats to the top of most discussions. So, instead of delivering the list to Santa’s “helpers” here in Anchorage, I headed north. You know -- to North Pole. Reindeer on the runway? Santa in a bathing suit? These things, apparently, are not unusual occurrences in Interior Alaska, particularly as Christmas approaches. This is not the first report of Santa checking out his sleigh with a series of touch-and-go approaches at the Chena Hot Springs air strip. It’s pretty close to his North Pole workshop. And not many airports can offer an on-site hot spring. I caught up with Santa in the outdoor pool. “The indoor pool is for the kids,” he said. As usual, it was frosty above the waterline...Scott McMurren
Nobody likes to get sick while traveling. The last time I was in Hawaii, for example, I spent most of the time in bed. It was a total travel fail. It turns out, I violated rule No. 1 for traveling, according to Donna Phillips, a nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center 's intensive care unit. Phillips is a frequent traveler (Alaska Airlines MVP “Gold 75K”) through her work as an advocate with the Alaska Nurses Association . As a nurse, Phillips sees all the points where travelers can catch a cold or the flu in the air and on the ground. “Don’t travel when you’re sick,” she said. “It’s better for you and your fellow travelers to just stay home for a day or two.” This is rule No. 1. Truthfully, I thought I had kicked the bug. But after a red-eye departure to Seattle and a five-hour flight...Scott McMurren
One of my favorite travel quotes is a saying first uttered by my friend Alan Swensen: “Fare wars are like buses; there’s one that comes along every few minutes.” Those are words to live by. Still, some buses are bigger than others. Alaska Airlines rolled out a big Cyber Monday sale earlier this week that the company says is “the biggest sale of the year.” Cyber Monday now has spread into Cyber Week at , which means you have until Monday, Dec. 7, to purchase tickets. For most of the destinations, seats are available in January and February. While other airlines like Delta and United are offering better fares to a few destinations, Alaska Airlines is standing tall as the “low price leader” for travel next month. Let’s take a look at some of the best rates, starting with Alaska...Scott McMurren