To get the best airfares, sometimes you have to do a little cut-and-paste. That also can mean a long layover in another gateway city like Seattle or LA to make sure you have enough time to do a “hard transfer.” That means collecting your luggage, if any, then exiting security and checking in at the ticket counter for your next flight. Sometimes, it makes sense to just spend the night.
First, let’s review the best end-of-summer fares for Anchorage travelers heading south.
Anchorage-Seattle: What’s not to love about a $77 midsummer ticket from Anchorage to Seattle? Thank JetBlue for the deal. Delta and Alaska offer the fare on select dates, but only as long as JetBlue flies the route, through Sept. 15. You have to plan 21 days in advance to catch this deal.
Anchorage-Portland: JetBlue’s nonstop from Anchorage gets in early (4:33 a.m.), but you can’t beat the price: $108 one-way (available through Sept. 3). Actually, there are a couple of seats available on the night of Aug. 6 (the flight leaves at 11:59 p.m.) for $88 one-way.
Buh-bye: JetBlue always has been a summer-only airline in Anchorage. But the airline will not be returning next summer for the 2020 season.
Anchorage-Bellingham: You want cheap? Allegiant (https://www.allegiantair.com/) offers cheap. Fly round trip on the airline’s twice-weekly nonstop for as little as $117 round trip through Sept. 9. Have the agents at the airport write the ticket for you and save an additional $36, for a net cost of just $81 round trip. Seriously, though, you have to go out to the airport in person and have the agent write your ticket to get the cheapest price.
Anchorage-Los Angeles/LAX: Los Angeles is one of my favorite gateways for flights to Europe, South America and Asia, especially when fares are cheap. Starting on Aug. 12, rates range from $139-$150 each way. That’s a great price. On the cheapest flights, Alaska Air mandates a three- to four-hour layover in Seattle. I’d pay an extra $10-$20 for a nonstop flight!
Anchorage-Las Vegas: Sun Country’s (http://www.suncountry.com) nonstop flight is selling for $128 one-way through Sept. 2. But the airline has been offering last-minute specials for $99 one-way.
Anchorage-Minneapolis: This is another market where Sun Country is offering last-minute specials: $149 one-way. That’s a little less than the airline’s regular rate of $178 one-way through Sept. 2. And it’s much less than Delta. Right now, there are exactly three dates between now and September where Delta offers one-way tickets for $193. Of course, prices are subject to change without notice.
Anchorage-Boston: Between Aug. 21 and Sept. 11, you can get a ticket on United to Boston for $173 one-way. After that, the price goes up to $200 one-way, which still is a great price. From there, you’re well-positioned to catch a cheap flight to Europe, such as $160 one-way on Norwegian to Rome. Or, fly Boston-Madrid on Norwegian for $140 one-way.
Anchorage-San Jose, Costa Rica: Delta has some excellent fares from Anchorage and Fairbanks to San Jose, Costa Rica between Sept. 5 and Nov. 21: $524 round trip.
My favorite gateway cities are on the West Coast. Just buy a cheap ticket to Seattle or Los Angeles. If you want to fly from San Francisco, Oakland, New York/Newark, Boston or Honolulu, it may be worth it to cash in some miles.
Seattle-London: With the cheap tickets to Seattle, it makes sense to buy a separate ticket to London. Norwegian (http://www.norwegian.com) is my favorite airline on the route, but they only fly through Oct. 25. The outbound flights are available for as little as $180 one-way from Seattle to London’s Gatwick Airport. The return flights start at $244 one-way, or $424 round trip. Checked bags, advance seat assignments and meals are extra. Most travelers on my Norwegian flight stopped to get a salad or sandwich to bring aboard. Norwegian flies Boeing 787s on the route.
Seattle-Nairobi: Lufthansa is offering a great deal on tickets to Nairobi, Kenya. I found tickets for as little as $625 round trip. Lufthansa offers the rate, but other Star Alliance carriers such as United and Air Canada may provide some of the lift. The best rates I found were from Oct. 29 to Dec. 11, or from Jan. 14 to March 30, 2020. Still, there are tickets for $661 round trip all the way through June. Please remember: Prices are subject to change without notice.
Los Angeles/LAX-Barcelona: I always prefer a nonstop, but Delta offers a great deal via Minneapolis and Amsterdam: $352 round trip starting Sept. 10. Pick your dates in October carefully and you can fly nonstop on Norwegian for $200-$220 one-way. There are a few dates in October and November when you can get a return flight, nonstop, for $192 one-way.
Los Angeles-Paris: Fly nonstop in October with Norwegian for as little as $349 round trip.
San Francisco-Rome: Take advantage of TAP Air Portugal’s new nonstop to Lisbon to connect to Rome for $490 round trip, between Oct. 14 and Dec. 13.
New York-Athens: Fly in October nonstop from New York’s JFK airport to Athens for $140-$190 one-way on Norwegian (Athens-New York is $252-$289 one-way on Norwegian). The airline flies until Oct. 26. Or, fly nonstop Newark-Athens on Emirates, which is an Alaska Air partner. Right now, the price is $657 round trip. Last week, the rate was $557 roundtrip. I’ve seen it drop to as low as $448 round trip.
Honolulu-Sydney: Fly JetStar (https://www.jetstar.com/us/en/home) nonstop on a Boeing 787 between Honolulu and Sydney during September for $118-$188 one-way. Wait until October to return for $176 one-way. JetStar also offers nonstop service from Honolulu to Melbourne, Australia for as little as $175 one-way during September.
Honolulu-Osaka: Fares have gone up on this route since Singapore’s “Scoot” stopped flying from Honolulu to Osaka’s Kansai Airport (KIX). Even though Air Asia is the only super-discounter flying the route, it’s still cheap: as low as $167 one-way starting Oct. 8. The return trip costs $185 one-way for the nine-hour flight.
To research these fares and the rules, I used Google’s ITA Software site (matrix.itasoftware.com), Google Flights (google.com/flights), Kayak.com’s map feature (kayak.com/explore/ANC ) and the individual airline sites for Alaska Air, Norwegian, Delta, JetStar, Sun Country and Allegiant. Fares are subject to change without notice. And they change all the time.