Scott McMurren

Even though it’s only January, airlines are gearing up for the busy summer Alaska travel season. That means more flights, more airlines, more competition and lower fares.

None of the new flights is an in-state route. Rather, all of the competitive action is for flights to and from the Lower 48. There's also a smattering of international flights to Europe, China and Russia. The big changes are with JetBlue, Delta and Alaska Airlines. Still, it’s good to review who flies where...

Scott McMurren

JetBlue Airways announced new seasonal service between Anchorage and Portland, starting June 18. The Anchorage-Portland flight will operate daily through Sept. 8, 2015.

The Anchorage-Portland nonstop marks the third city the New York-based carrier will serve on a seasonal basis. JetBlue starts its summer-only service from Anchorage to Seattle and from Anchorage to Long Beach on May 16. These flights also will operate until Sept. 8.

The airline is offering introductory fares of $99 each way between Anchorage and Portland for travelers who purchase their tickets by Tuesday, Jan. 13. Anchorage-Long Beach also is on sale for $128 each way (nonstop) and Anchorage-Seattle for $97 each way...

Scott McMurren

It’s exciting to be a traveler in the Jet Age. But it also can be inconvenient.

Planes come and go, but at odd hours. Sometimes you have to wait just an hour or two for a connecting flight, but there are times when you have to wait 15 or 20 hours. Or the plane gets busted. Or the weather is lousy. On your next trip, you may get the “opportunity” for a stopover -- planned or not!...

Scott McMurren

Hidden cities. What are they?

I’m not talking about Atlantis or Pompeii. Rather, “hidden cities” is a travel term that means buying a ticket to a point beyond your final destination. The difference in the price can amount to hundreds of dollars per person. This is not a new practice. In fact, it’s a byproduct of the incredibly complex web of ever-changing airfares.

The hidden cities strategy is receiving more attention this week after United Airlines and Orbitz, the online travel agency, sued Aktarer Zaman, a 22-year-old entrepreneur who started the website Skiplagged.com ...

Scott McMurren

The U.S.-based airline Dynamic Airways has started weekly charter service between Changsha, China, and Los Angeles (LAX) with an intermediate stop in Anchorage. Soon, Alaskans may be able to board the flights for nonstop service to China and Los Angeles, according to Paul Kraus, Dynamic Air’s CEO.

“Our hope is that most of the seats will be sold to Chinese tour groups, but we’ll always have a few seats,” said Kraus...

Scott McMurren

Just stand at the airport and you’ll see travelers of all kinds: workers headed to the North Slope, fishermen flying to the crab boats in Dutch Harbor or police officers escorting prisoners to court hearings. In the next concourse you might see newlyweds going to their honeymoon, kids going to Grandma’s house or students going back to school.

What kind of traveler will you be next year? It’s a fair question, since the odds are good that we’ll all take a trip or two. Or three. It’s the Alaska way.

Home for the holidays...

Scott McMurren

It wasn’t quite the night before Christmas when I bumped into Santa Claus.

Up in Fairbanks, Santa was doing a little work to make sure his fancy sleigh was up to specs for his busy night on Christmas Eve. I caught up with him in the pilots' lounge, warming up some hot chocolate in the microwave.

“Santa!” I exclaimed. “It’s great to see you, especially since I have a long list of Christmas wishes.”

“That’s nice,” he said. “But aren’t you a little old for this? Why don’t you just write me a letter like the rest of the children?”

Santa was distracted by a detached fastener on one of his skis. I pressed on, undeterred...

Scott McMurren

Going to Seattle? Alaska travelers often pass through the Emerald City. Sometimes it’s just to change planes. But often there are friends to visit, a game to see or a great concert that draws us south.

Since Seattle is our closest “big city” and air hub, many Alaskans have a routine when they visit: where they stay, whom they visit, where they shop.

Don’t miss the essentials, though. My first trip to Seattle was to see the World’s Fair in 1962. That’s when I got my first million-dollar view from the Space Needle . It’s still at the top of my list, but there’s a lot more!...

Scott McMurren

Airlines are offering up some good news and some not-so-good news for travelers this week.

Alaska Airlines’ Cyber Monday sale is a hit. You have until next Monday, Dec. 8, to purchase tickets.

The lower rates are available for travel from Jan. 6 to March 10 in most markets. For most routes, the best-priced days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Not all routes are included in the sale (like Hawaii). But there are some great deals, including:

- Fairbanks-Seattle for $318 round-trip.

- Fairbanks-Anchorage for $140 round-trip.

- Anchorage-Seattle for $318 round-trip

- Anchorage-Los Angeles for $319 round-trip (nonstop)

- Anchorage-Las Vegas for $319 round-trip (nonstop)...

Scott McMurren

Are you ready to fly? Ready or not, the holidays are here -- and it’s the busiest time of the year. Let’s review a few simple steps to make your trip more enjoyable.

If you’ve already bought your tickets, take a moment to make sure you have reserved seats. If not, go ahead and call the airline or your travel agent to get some seats assigned -- even if they’re in the middle. If you’re unable to secure assigned seats, make plans to arrive at least two hours before departure. While you’re looking at your itinerary, make sure you check in on the right day. If you’re flying on the red-eye (an Alaska tradition), your check-in time is the day before. For example, if you’re leaving at 1:00 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 19, your check-in time is at 11:00 p.m. on Dec. 18...

Scott McMurren

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