Summer's here! There's never been a better excuse to get out of town — and there are great deals to do just that.
You can sail away on Monday, July 2, on the Norwegian Jewel from Seward for as little as $399 per person, double occupancy (source: Alaskacruises.com). That's an inside cabin, though. Still, for under $400 you can cruise from Seward to Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan before getting off in Vancouver, B.C. Bring your passport. If you'd rather have an ocean view, spend a little more ($470 per person, double) and sail from Whittier on July 4. The Island Princess follows a similar itinerary to Vancouver.
Many flights from Anchorage to the Lower 48 are full. But not all of them. You still can get a one-way ticket from Anchorage to Seattle for $97 this month on Sun Country. If you wait until mid-July, the base price drops to as little as $89. The key word is "base price." You'll pay extra to bring aboard your rolling carry-on. You'll pay extra for a pre-assigned seat. Still, Delta, JetBlue and Alaska Air cost more: between $150 and $200 for a one-way ticket (source: google.com/flights). Of course, prices vary from day to day and from flight to flight. So — do the math.
Flights between Anchorage and Los Angeles/LAX also are relatively cheap. That's because American Airlines is flying a nonstop from Anchorage this summer. There are many days between now and July 12 where you can fly nonstop for as little as $175 one-way. United, Delta and Alaska also are offering lower-priced tickets — but American is the lowest.
It's great to have a selection of nonstop flights from Anchorage to L.A. JetBlue used to fly nonstop to Long Beach, but now the flights stop in either Seattle or Portland. Still, it's cheaper than flying to LAX. One-way tickets to Long Beach from Anchorage start at $116 on JetBlue, but there are just a couple of dates available throughout the summer (July 17, Aug. 8). More dates are available for $140 one-way.
There's a mini-fare war going on between Alaska and Delta. And it's not just between Anchorage and the Lower 48. Travelers from Juneau and Fairbanks also can cash in on this competitive battle.
Between Anchorage and Minneapolis, a Delta hub, Sun Country has the cheapest nonstop flights: $137 one-way (not including bag fees, reserved-seat fees, etc.). But Alaska is offering rates from $170 each way, albeit with a long layover in Seattle. Alaska is offering the same price from Fairbanks for travel through July 20. Delta's price is more than $300 one-way.
Alaska Air also is offering a $170 one-way fare from Anchorage to Atlanta. That's less than half of what Delta is charging ($407 one-way). The cheap flights are available July 2-5, then Aug. 8-28. Pick any Delta hub: Anchorage-Detroit is $170 one-way. Anchorage-Salt Lake City is $170 one-way (the same fare also is available from both Juneau and Fairbanks).
These peak-season fare wars are a reminder that Alaska and Delta still are competing for travelers between the Lower 48 and Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Delta also operates seasonal service from Sitka and Ketchikan to Seattle.
Alaska and Delta aren't the only fighters in the ring. They're just the biggest ones.
Between Anchorage and Portland, JetBlue is offering one-way deals on its nonstop flights for as little as $84. There are just a couple of days available at that price (July 5 or 6). More dates are available for $125. That's a great price for a nonstop flight, even though it's a red-eye. Of course, you can fly nonstop during the day on Alaska Air. It just costs more. Alaska flies four nonstops per day from Anchorage to Portland, starting at $187 one-way for a red-eye. The daytime flight on July 5, departing at 3:12 p.m., costs $309 one-way.
If you'd rather stay closer to home, take a ride on Princess Tours' rail cars from Anchorage to Denali. They've got a special package (tour "W2A") for $299 per person (double) which includes a couple of nights at a Denali-area hotel. Princess owns the two biggest hotels near the park entrance: the Denali Princess and the McKinley Chalet. When I checked recently, you still could book this package departing July 6, but more dates are available starting July 19.
Plan now for a September trip to Costa Rica. Fly from either Anchorage or Fairbanks to San Jose, Costa Rica for about $503 round trip on Delta. Travel between Sept. 15 and Oct. 29.
Remember that prices are subject to change — and they change all the time.