Scott McMurren

There’s quite a bit of buzz about Del ta ’s buildup of its international hub in Seattle. Last year, new service from Seattle to Fairbanks and Juneau led to lower fares all summer long. This year, new Delta service from Seattle to Ketchikan and Sitka is resulting in low-low fares for summer travel. Looking beyond Seattle, though, the fares are shaping up to be nice and low to key West Coast destinations as a result of the "Battle for Seattle.” Right now, the best fares are for travel between May 15 and June 15. This will change, but if you’re planning on traveling during that time, it’s worthwhile to consider locking in these low rates. In Anchorage, travelers are benefiting from Delta’s competitive push on the Seattle routes, but there are more choices for carriers -- and the prices fall...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. If you have the opportunity to travel throughout rural Alaska, you may have heard names like Ravn Alaska, Wings and Warbelow’s. But if you haven’t had the chance to explore Alaska’s vastness by air, here are some of the air transportation...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. Getting there You’re free to follow the convoy of pickups and trailers that will leave after the ceremonial start on the way to Fairbanks, but it’s a long drive. Both Alaska Airlines and Ravn have plenty of flights. Consider taking the Alaska Railroad on Saturday morning, March 7. It leaves early in the morning, so you’ll miss the ceremonial start. But it’...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. -- Anchorage-Fairbanks on the train. The Alaska Railroad typically runs only on Saturdays up to Fairbanks during the winter, returning on Sundays. This year, they’ve added a midweek departure on Tuesdays (returning on Wednesdays) between Feb...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. My flight from Anchorage to Juneau was a popular one. Every seat was filled on Alaska Flight 62 on Monday morning. There were a couple of legislators on board, but many travelers were with the Resource Development Council . The RDC hosts an annual “fly-in” for members for members to visit with lawmakers about key issues regarding...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. If you want to rent a car in Seattle, go ahead. But I like to take the light rail into downtown. From the Westlake Center station, it’s just a couple of blocks to the Hotel Ändra at the corner of Fourth and Virginia. Everything is nice and clean there, with plenty of light-colored wood finishes and that contemporary Scandinavian look. The “Romantik” package includes overnight accommodations, some chocolate, Champagne for two and a late check-out. The cost? From $279 per night. A bonus...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. American Airlines, through its US Airways subsidiary, offers year-round flights between Anchorage and Phoenix. On June 4, the airline revives its daily Anchorage-Dallas nonstop. Between now and then, use US Airways’ nonstop flight to Phoenix to connect to other destinations for some great deals, including Anchorage-...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. Like the Anchorage-Seattle and Anchorage-Long Beach flights, the Anchorage-Portland flight will be a late-...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! Sometimes when you’re stuck at the airport, you really are stuck. They’re working on the plane or waiting for weather to clear. If so, you can learn more about cool things to do from Harriet Baskas. She has the website Stuck at the Airport . She made some guides to popular airports , and the details may surprise you. There are museums, gardens, art exhibits, historic highlights -- the works. Often, though, you...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 . Go ahead and take a look at the site. It’s pretty slick, which is probably why United and Orbitz are suing Zaman. Be patient if you visit the site this week. Zaman and are getting quite a bit of...Scott McMurren