My friend Bart Parker loves to travel. Let me be more specific: He loves to travel first class. So much so, in fact, that from time to time he will pack up and fly across the country. On arrival, he'll enjoy a nice lunch at the airport before getting on the plane to come back home. It's called a Mileage Run. Many travelers do this to top off their frequent flyer plans each year and earn the coveted "elite status" for free upgrades, bonus miles and such.
Bart sent me a note the other day. He was excited about a new mileage-run destination: San Juan, Puerto Rico. Starting in late August, Delta Airlines is offering roundtrip tickets from Anchorage for as little as $567 roundtrip. Here's the kicker, though: you can fly up front in First Class for $854 roundtrip. That's a steal. If you're flying in coach, that's 9,800 miles. Bart is a big fan of Delta's frequent flyer program, Delta SkyMiles, because of Delta's worldwide network. Also, they have bigger planes and more first class seats (more upgrades!). But for most Alaskans using the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan those Delta miles count toward your MVP status, too. Miles earned on other Alaska-partnered airlines -- American Airlines and LAN Airlines of South America -- count as "partner miles" in Alaska's elite travel benefits tier.
Another mileage-run-worthy deal is Anchorage-Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for travel in late August. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways have been battling all summer for Southern California traffic. As JetBlue's seasonal flights from Alaska draw to a close, airfares are dropping to $309 roundtrip. The best prices are available between Aug. 21 and Sept. 2, 2012. Round-trip travel will earn you 4,788 miles.
True mileage junkies: Consider Delta's one-way deal from Anchorage to Kona International Airport (via connections in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles). Fly Anchorage-Kona for $163 one-way this Nov. 11, 12 or 13 – that's a net gain of 5,229 miles. True, you'll be stuck on the Big Island since there really isn't a cheap way back home. Alaska offers a nonstop back to Anchorage on Nov. 18 for – gasp -- $574.
Late-summer travel bargains
There are plenty of other late summer Alaska travel deals in addition to these top-of-the-heap mileage run specials. Please remember: Airfares change in real time, all the time – and super-cheap flights sell out very quickly. For real-time updates on great travel deals follow Alaska Travel Gram on Twitter.
Alaska Airlines is upping the ante in its war with JetBlue for Southern California primacy by offering great deals to airports besides LAX and Long Beach.
Other great deals:
Need more info? Check Flyer Talk. It's one of the best online forums for tracking late-breaking air fare deals and mileage run possibilities.
Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based travel marketing consultant who has lived in Alaska for three decades, spending much of that time traveling the far-flung corners of the state. Visit his website at www.alaskatravelgram.com. And follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/alaskatravelgrm for breaking updates.