Scott McMurren

Many Anchorage travelers think nothing of going out to the airport and boarding a big jet, headed to Hawaii, Europe or to the Lower 48.

But for many Alaskans, a journey to those vacation spots starts on a much smaller plane and just a handful of fellow travelers. The runway may be a frozen lake or a gravel strip.

Alaska’s aviation matrix is made up of one big player (Alaska Airlines) and lots of smaller airlines. There are a few big hub cities (including Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau) and many smaller, regional hubs such as Bethel and Ketchikan...

Scott McMurren

There’s good news and bad news for mushing fans this week. The bad news is that after the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race on March 7, mushers and dogs will be headed north to Fairbanks for the restart on Monday.

The good news is that the restart is in Fairbanks. Our neighbors in the “Northern Kingdom” of Fairbanks know how to do winter right. If you want to see the dogs start their gallop to Nome, you’ll have a good time...

Scott McMurren

Every now and then there is a big flock of travel deals that lands at the same time. It’s tough to take advantage of all of them at once. Some are for summer travel. Others are for immediate use. But certainly you’ll find one or two that will work for you.

-- Fairbanks-Seattle on Alaska Airlines for $360 round-trip. This is a spring special on Alaska’s nonstop, valid from Feb. 24 to March 31. It’s not available every day (only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays), but it may be worth rearranging your schedule to save some money. Purchase by Feb. 9...

Scott McMurren

Juneau is open for business during Alaska’s legislative session.

You couldn’t ask for a prettier setting for a statewide gathering. But many legislators, state employees and staffers spend most of their time scurrying between meetings, hearings and offices while the Legislature is in session. If you’re in Juneau on state business or to visit with legislators, be sure to block out some time to see the sights and enjoy some of the community’s gracious hospitality...

Scott McMurren

Take advantage of some great rates to head Outside for a romantic getaway. But don’t forget about some excellent options closer to home.

First, check out Alaska Airlines ’ deal to Seattle: just $319 round-trip from Anchorage ($419 round-trip from Fairbanks). There are plenty of available dates in February...

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

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