Travel

It’s the season for late-summer airfare deals. Here’s what to look for.

  • Author: Scott McMurren
    | Alaska Travel
  • Updated: August 4
  • Published August 4

Welcome to August — the official month of the late-season special.

There are a couple of categories for airfare deals for the last month of summer. The first batch is from summer-only carriers looking to scoop up the last of the high-season travelers.

Sun Country Airlines is having a sell-off on its Anchorage-Minneapolis flights. The outbound flights from Anchorage range from $188 to $226 one-way. The return flights are priced from $119 one-way right up until the last flight on Sept. 4. You can patch together a round-trip flight for $307, but you'll pay extra for advance seats, carry-on bags and so forth.

On Sun Country's Anchorage-Seattle flights, the last week is on sale for $69 one-way (Aug. 16-20). With the return flights priced at $71 one-way, you can put together a trip for $140 round-trip.

JetBlue's summer-only service from Anchorage to Seattle runs through Sept. 16. Flights from Aug. 16 are priced from $76 one-way or $154 round-trip. That's a great price to Seattle, without additional fees for carry-on bags or seat assignments.

JetBlue's nonstop flights to Portland are available between Aug. 16 and Sept. 4 from $238 round-trip.

The other airfare deals are from our year-round carriers who are discounting prices for the fall travel season.

For example, Alaska Airlines has offered discounted fares for travel in October all summer long. In the airline's weekly email alert to Club 49 members, a new city is offered for sale each week. Alaska Air sends the email out on Tuesdays and you have to buy tickets by Thursday evening.

If you don't mind stopping in Seattle, the fare from Anchorage to Los Angeles/LAX is about $361 round-trip. If you want to fly on Alaska's nonstop, it will cost you about $55 more ($416).

Starting on Sept. 21, you can fly Anchorage-Boston for $401 round-trip on Delta. Keep in mind this is a "basic economy" fare. That means there's no advance seat assignments permitted.

Starting on Sept. 24, Alaska Air is offering a $403 round-trip fare to Guadalajara, Mexico. This is a great deal. Delta and its joint-venture partner, Aeromexico, offer the same rate starting in October.

If you want to head farther south, Delta is offering a $508 round-trip fare from Anchorage to San Jose, Costa Rica. Tickets are available as soon as Aug. 24, all the way to Dec. 12.

Delta also is offering a good rate from Anchorage to Reykjavik for $600 round-trip. The rate is available between Oct. 20 and Nov. 17. You have to travel through Seattle and New York, so it's a 17-hour journey. That's longer than Icelandair's seven-hour summer-only nonstop flight. But "cheap" is rarely convenient.

Fares go up and down all the time. So if you see a good deal, be prepared to buy it. Typically, you have 24 hours after the time you purchase your ticket to cancel without penalty.

Last week, I found a great deal to Australia from Alaska. It was only available for one day (Aug. 2), for tickets through early December. But I had to do some quick calculations to verify the deal.

First, I noticed the deal on Kayak's airfare map. About 60 percent of the deals I see on Kayak's map are actually valid. I don't think Kayak is being malicious — it's just that fares change all the time.

Then, I went to Google Flights to see a price graph of how long the deal was valid. Hint: some fares have a minimum stay of seven days, particularly for international fares.

Kayak will offer you the opportunity to "check flights." I have not been satisfied with Kayak's offers — particularly when they use off-brand websites to complete the transaction. If possible, I prefer to book at the airline's own website. In this case, I could choose from United, Delta or Qantas. That way, there's a clear disclosure on extra costs for seat assignments, baggage and other fees.

Still, sometimes it's cheaper to go to a third-party website like Priceline or Orbitz  to get the sale price.

It's difficult to predict when and where the fall airfare deals will show up. But they will, indeed, show up. You just need to be prepared!