As the sun rises on a new year, there’s a new crop of airfares available to popular destinations. Some of the deals are straightforward, while travelers have to jump through some hoops to take advantage of the cheapest of the cheap.
Most of the bargains are in the back of the bus. But if you want to fly in first class to Seattle, Alaska Airlines is offering seats at $268 one-way. Sure, that’s just a little more than three times the coach fare of $88 one-way. But you don’t have to play the upgrade lottery. Not every flight has the sale price, but if you can plan three weeks in advance, chances are good you’ll find one, two or even three flights from which to choose.
If “cheap” is your favorite flavor of airfare, you’ll love the new crop of deals offered by Allegiant Air starting in May. The discount carrier is back for another season of Anchorage-Bellingham nonstops starting May 22. Tickets on the inaugural flight cost $68.50, with a return flight on May 25 costing $62. Those are very cheap deals. But if you want the cheapest available price, you have to go out to the airport and have the ticket agent write the ticket. That move will save you an extra $36. That’s because Allegiant charges an extra fee called a “carrier usage charge” to book your tickets online.
It gets better. Since Allegiant’s flights don’t start until May, there’s nobody at the airport counter right now. That’s likely to change, though. Last year, several months before the flights started, Allegiant’s ticket agent was available for a couple of hours on two days each week. That’s probably what will happen this year, although there’s no firm date when an agent will be available to write tickets.
Another discount carrier, Sun Country Air, has scheduled its nonstop Anchorage-Minneapolis flights starting on Friday, May 15. The early season price is $149 one way. Delta has responded by offering a $154 one-way fare during the same time period. The return trip is $155 one way on Sun Country, but it’s only available on one day: May 25.
Going from Anchorage to California still is a real bargain. Nonstop flights from Anchorage to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines start at just $148 one way. But flights to San Diego are even cheaper: $131 one way on Alaska Air. You have to purchase your California trip three to four weeks in advance to get the best price. You can get a ticket from Anchorage to San Francisco right now for $140 one-way. But if you wait until April 21, you can fly there nonstop with Alaska Air for $158 one-way.
A couple of long-haul international flights popped up over the weekend:
Fly from Anchorage or Fairbanks all the way to Cape Town, South Africa, for between $1,014 and $1,047 round trip. While the price is a little high, this fare includes pre-assigned seats and two free checked bags. When I checked, seats were available between Jan. 16 and May 27. While the tickets are sold by Delta, you may end up flying KLM or AirFrance.
Between March 14 and April 16, I found some nice flights from Anchorage to Buenos Aires from $1,051 to $1,071 round trip on Delta. There are just a few dates from which to choose. I found the best selection on Delta’s site and I had to be flexible with the number of days to get the best rates to pop up. By choosing an 11-day stay, I was offered nine options for departure dates. Choose the wrong day and the price could go up to more than $2,000. Search Delta’s site using the price calendar option under “flexible dates.” Pre-assigned seats are included with this fare, along with two checked bags.
If you want to go to China, fly from Anchorage to Shanghai on Delta. The cost is just $449 per person between Jan. 23 and May 24. The price includes pre-assigned seats, as well as two checked bags.
Fares from Anchorage to New York are very cheap right now on Alaska Air, from $379 round trip (between Jan. 24 and March 4). That means you can use New York as a low-fare gateway to Europe. Fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Barcelona, Paris or Madrid for less than $300 round trip (on Norwegian or American Airlines).
Fly from Honolulu to Osaka for as little as $209 one way with Air Asia. This is a great deal for a nonstop flight, especially since it’s available at the last minute, between Jan. 15 and Jan. 22. Return flights are a little more: $313 one way. Or, continue with Air Asia to its hub in Kuala Lumpur: just $300 one way from Honolulu (available Jan. 15 or Jan. 30).
Here’s a secret with Air Asia, though. In addition to the bargains in coach, they offer a few rows with the “Premium Flatbed” at bargain prices. On Jan. 11, you can lie down flat between Honolulu and Osaka for $700. On June 24 or 25, Air Asia offers a $1,000 one-way “flat bed” from Honolulu to Osaka, then on to Kuala Lumpur. I haven’t found a calendar view where I can easily search for the lie-flat seats. I just had to go day by day. The rates vary wildly, from $700 to $2,000 one way.
The prices from Honolulu to Australia have gone down since JetStar started flying nonstop a few years ago. Starting on Feb. 7, you can fly nonstop from Honolulu to Melbourne for $215 one way. The return flight costs less, from $183 one way on Feb. 19. That adds up to $398 round trip for a 10.5-hour flight on a Boeing 787!
Fly nonstop from Honolulu to Sydney for $188 one way, starting Feb. 17. If you want to wait until March 30, the fare drops to $148 one way. The return flight is a little more, from $194 one way, for a total of $342 round trip.
I’m still waiting for some lower fares on Anchorage’s international flights to Europe, particularly to Frankfurt. This summer, two airlines will compete for travelers: Eurowings and Condor.