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

It’s not like Delta Air Lines to play the underdog. As a global network carrier, Delta has hubs in Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Tokyo. Through its affiliations with KLM and Air France, they have hubs in Amsterdam and Paris. Through its ownership in Virgin Atlantic, Delta also enjoys hub status at London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s mostpopular port of entry...

Scott McMurren

My friends who track airfares and schedules assure me that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas features some of the best fares of the year. It’s a relatively slow time of year for travel, buoyed in part by mileage-runners who are topping off their frequent flyer accounts to get their “elite” status for the following year. Let’s take a look at some of the stand-out specials:

Anchorage-Los Angeles for as little as $319 round-trip on Alaska Airlines : Take the nonstop from Anchorage on Dec. 6 or 7, returning on select dates through Dec. 14. If you cannot take advantage of that, Delta offers a $375 round-trip fare between Anchorage and LA from early January through April 26...

Scott McMurren

Just as there are many types of travelers, there now are many types of airfares. Sometimes, the best rates are available to those who plan far ahead. Other times, it is those impulsive travelers who pick up the best deals. Usually, it’s a mix of both.

Today, there are several deals available with little or no advance purchase using the Alaska Airlines / Emirates connection through Seattle...

Scott McMurren

Traveling around Alaska is exciting. Whether you’re flying to a remote beach, climbing up a mountain for that million-dollar view or fighting hard to reel in that big fish, all of the excitement helps fuel a hearty appetite.

Throughout the state, you’ll find a variety of establishments where you can stop in, sit down and grab a bite to eat. Some provide fuel for the journey, while others are worth writing home about. Everyone has their favorite pizza joints, breakfast bars and coffee stands. I’ve organized some of mine together by community...

Scott McMurren

This week, Anchorage hosts its largest convention of the year for the Alaska Federation of Natives . After all, Anchorage is home to more Alaska Natives than any other community in the state.

There's a growing interest in “cultural tourism” around the world -- and that includes learning more about the history and lifestyle of Alaska’s native people. At this year’s AFN conference, Camille Ferguson of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) , will host a cultural tourism educational meeting. “We want to educate Alaska Natives on the economic opportunities cultural tourism can present,” she said...

Scott McMurren

Would you like to fly from Anchorage to Houston for $334 roundtrip? How about Anchorage to Salt Lake City for $326 roundtrip?

USAirways , a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines , is cutting the price for travel to United ’s hub in Houston and Delta ’s hub in Salt Lake City. There is a two-week advance purchase required. The rates are valid in November and December (excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas). Travelers will also find these rates available through April, 2015.


Because both Delta and United are undercutting USAirways on flights into its major hub in Phoenix...

Scott McMurren