If you want to take a vacation to the Lower 48, Hawaii or Costa Rica, now is a really good time to buy some tickets.
For travelers in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, it’s not the only time to buy tickets. But it’s a good time — a really good time. For travelers who live in Nome, Bethel, Kotzebue, Kodiak, King Salmon or some of the other far-flung Alaska Air destinations, this may be the best time all year to buy your tickets. Get out your calendar.
Alaska Airlines’ Permanent Fund dividend sale comes around every year in October, coinciding with the distribution of PFD checks to nearly every man, woman and child in Alaska.
Looking over the vast number of discounted fares, there are a few patterns. Some fares are lower and others are higher than they were for last year’s sale. There are some new destinations offered this year that were not available last year.
All PFD fares require a 21-day advance purchase. Travel must be completed by May 13, 2020. The best fares are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are some published blackout dates. But I’ve been checking Alaska’s flights — and there are several times when the discounted fares are available during blackout periods.
Here are the published blackout dates: Nov. 21-Dec. 2, Dec. 19-Jan. 5, Feb. 13-24 and March 5-April 1. Again, you’re wise to check your preferred dates even if they fall in a blackout period. That said, flights around Christmas and spring break already are filling up, which drives up prices.
Here are some of my favorite featured destinations:
• Anchorage-Honolulu: It’s great to see Hawaii included in the PFD sale — that’s not always the case. Fly southbound for $199 one-way in the Saver class. Add $30 each way to get a better seat and to play the upgrade lottery in main cabin. Available dates start in late October through Nov. 19, then Dec. 4-10 and Jan. 7-May 13. There are weeklong bumps from Feb. 11-6 and March 3-9 when the prices go up.
• Anchorage-Maui: The best deals are on Alaska’s nonstops from Anchorage to Maui, which start on Nov. 5. Prices start at $200 one-way, even though Alaska’s PFD fare is $229 one-way. That’s because Delta is offering a $208 one-way fare starting on Oct. 29. It’s a long day of flying, first to Seattle and then to Maui. But competition is pushing the price down.The $200 one-way fares are available through Jan. 6, after which it floats up to $239 one-way through March 31. Again, it’s $30 more for a seat in the main cabin. If you’re a Club 49 member with Alaska Air (it’s free to Alaska residents), you can take two checked bags at no additional charge.
• Anchorage-Kona: Alaska’s nonstops from Anchorage start on Nov. 5, but the bargains start on Nov. 10, at $229 one-way. Get that rate on flights through Dec. 11, then Jan. 8-March 29, when nonstop service ends for the season.
• Anchorage-Seattle: Right now, it’s just $98 to fly to Seattle on Delta or Alaska, with a 21-day advance purchase. The price goes up by $1 one-way (in Saver) on Nov. 26, all the way through May 13. There are some price spikes around Christmas and spring break.
• Anchorage-Portland: Alaska Air is offering nonstop flights from Anchorage to Portland for $119 one-way. Delta charges $127 one-way, which includes a stop in Seattle.
• Anchorage-San Francisco Bay Area: Alaska Air is offering flights from Anchorage to San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, California, for as little as $149 one-way. Actually, there are some dates in November available for $140 one-way. You just have to drill down on the dates you want; prices change all the time. Not only is Delta matching these rates, I found a flight on United for $149 one-way to San Francisco via Denver!
• Anchorage-Santa Rosa, California: Here’s the “other” Bay Area airport (no, not Sacramento). Fly from Anchorage to Santa Rosa, in the heart of wine country, for $169 one-way. I have flown in and out of this airport since my friend has a winery that’s five minutes away in Healdsburg. Fly to Seattle, Portland or Los Angeles/LAX on the big jet, then get in the Q400 turboprop for the trip to Santa Rosa. There’s no Bay Area traffic and it’s also a great option if you’re going to Napa or Sonoma.
By the way, you can fly to Sacramento on Delta or Alaska for $149 one-way all winter long.
• Anchorage-Los Angeles/LAX: I love Alaska Air’s nonstop flight to LAX. I love it more when it’s just $149 one-way. Delta charges an extra $1, at $150 one-way. Fly Anchorage-Burbank for $159 one-way. Anchorage-Orange County (SNA) is a little more: $176-$179 on either Alaska or Delta. Anchorage-Ontario, California, is $159 one-way. Fly Anchorage-Palm Springs for $189 one-way in November and December. Then it drops to $161 one-way on Alaska after Jan. 6.
• Anchorage-San Diego: Fly Alaska or Delta for $151-$159 one-way.
• Anchorage-Denver: Fly Alaska Air for $189 one-way. That’s a great price. But United’s got a better price for the nonstop: $161 one-way. Just remember United charges to bring anything with you in the cabin in addition to a small personal item. That means you’ll pay for a regular rolling suitcase.
There are some great deals to Texas, the Midwest and the East Coast, all under $200 one-way: Dallas, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, New York , Nashville and Detroit. Just get in there and search on the Alaska website or another search tool (I like google.com/flights).
If you want to go to Costa Rica, Alaska is offering tickets to Liberia from Anchorage for $247 one-way. Liberia is in the northern edge of the country. The capital, San Jose, Costa Rica, is priced higher.
All PFD tickets must be purchased no later than Oct. 14.