May is a busy month at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Not only are existing airlines staffing up for more flights, but the summer-only operators are securing counter space for the launch of their seasonal flights.
This year, there’s a new airline at the Anchorage airport, Allegiant Air. The airline’s first flight from Bellingham landed Wednesday, May 22. The airport rolled out the red carpet with a water cannon salute after the airplane landed, plus some snacks for travelers at the gate. Michelle Cohen, Allegiant’s director of station operations, said Anchorage was the carrier’s 122nd destination.
Allegiant, known mostly for its low fares, is flying an Airbus A319 on the route twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays), with 156 seats. Marshall Norman, Allegiant’s first officer on the flight, grew up in Anchorage and is a Service High School graduate. “If things go as planned, I’ll be coming up here each Saturday all summer long,” he said.
Diane Kindle used to live in Anchorage, but now resides in the Bellingham, Washington, area. “I was so excited when Allegiant announced the new service to Anchorage,” she said. “Until now, the hardest part of a trip back to Alaska was navigating Sea-Tac Airport.”
While Allegiant is this season’s new airline, there are several other new flights, new routes and new developments for travelers.
American Airlines will offer the first-ever Boeing 787 service on its nonstop between Anchorage and Dallas. The airline already is flying a 757 each evening to DFW Airport. But on June 6, American will upgrade it to a daily 787 flight.
American also will start up its nonstop flights from Anchorage to Phoenix on June 7, flying an Airbus “321neo,” which is the latest version of the popular single-aisle jet. American’s three-class configuration has 196 seats.
Five times a week this summer, American will offer nonstop flights between Anchorage and Los Angeles. Alaska Air also offers two flights per day on this route during the summer.
Year round, the only flight United flies each day is Anchorage-Denver. But already this year, United is flying two 737 nonstops each day to Chicago, which leave within an hour and a half of each other.
Between Anchorage and Denver, United will double its lift from one to two daily 737s on June 6. On the same day, United will resume its Anchorage-San Francisco nonstop, as well as its daily Anchorage-Houston flights.
On June 20, United will launch a daily 757 flight from Anchorage to Newark.
Right now, Delta Air Lines is flying four flights each day to Seattle. By June 24, they increase it to six nonstops per day. Delta also resumes its Anchorage-Salt Lake nonstop on June 8. On Friday, May 24, Delta started its popular Anchorage-Atlanta nonstop on a 757.
Delta flies nonstop from Anchorage to Minneapolis all year. But on June 7, they increase it to three flights each day.
Sun Country Airlines re-started its Anchorage-Minneapolis flights earlier this month, but will boost it to three flights daily on June 22. Sun Country also is flying nonstop from Anchorage to Las Vegas.
Although they are smaller planes, regional flights on Ravn and PenAir are important links to rural Alaska. Since Ravn bought PenAir, all of the flights are departing from the “A” concourse. Ravn offers nonstop flights from Anchorage to Kodiak, Valdez, Homer, Kenai, Bethel, Fairbanks, McGrath, Kotzebue (starting June 23), Dillingham, King Salmon, Aniak, St. Paul, Cold Bay, Dutch Harbor, Sand Point and Unalakleet.
Grant Aviation also flies from Anchorage to Kenai with six flights each day, leaving from the “L” gates, near the baggage claim.
The largest airline at the airport, Alaska Airlines, just keeps getting bigger. From Anchorage to Seattle, I counted 21 flights on June 19. From Anchorage to Portland, there are four daily nonstops. From Anchorage to Los Angeles, pick from two daily flights. There’s a single nonstop each day from Anchorage to Honolulu or from Anchorage to Chicago. Choose from seven flights each day up to Fairbanks. Other nonstop destinations include Anchorage-Nome, Anchorage-Adak, Anchorage-Kodiak, Anchorage-Kotzebue and Anchorage-Prudhoe Bay.
JetBlue has started its daily Anchorage-Seattle red-eye. The Anchorage-Portland flight, also a red-eye, starts on June 13.
On the international front, Condor’s nonstop flights to Frankfurt started this weekend. Icelandair’s nonstop flights to Reykjavik started last week. Yakutia Air will offer three flights this summer between Anchorage and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on Aug. 18, 25 and Sept. 1.