Now is the time of year when most air schedules are set in stone for the summer. Oh, there may be a few changes, but prospects for this summer point to busy airports and lots of flights. Why is that important? Because increased competition means the airlines will get mad at each other. And when the airlines are mad, the traveler wins.
1. United lays low all winter with a single nonstop flight to Denver. But when the sun comes out, it’s fly, fly, fly, with nonstop flights to six key destinations. This summer the airline will double its flights to Denver (2x daily). United’s nonstop from Anchorage to Chicago comes back on May 8, ramping up to twice a day at the peak of the summer. The nonstop will operate until Oct. 24.
Between Anchorage and San Francisco, as well as Anchorage-Los Angeles, United will offer a single daily nonstop between mid-June and Aug. 18. United is bringing in a pair of 757s for the summer. One will fly each day from Anchorage to Houston between June 4 and Aug. 17. The other will fly all the way to United’s hub at Newark’s Liberty Airport between June 4 and Sept. 8.
United is returning to Fairbanks with a daily 737 flight to Chicago between May 8 and Sept. 30. United also is offering daily nonstops between Fairbanks and Denver between June 18 and Aug. 17.
2. American Airlines is returning this summer to Anchorage with daily nonstops to Dallas (May 7-Oct. 6), to Chicago (May 7-Oct. 6) and Los Angeles/LAX (June 4-Sept. 8). American also will fly from Fairbanks to Chicago (May 7-Oct. 6) and Dallas (May 7-Oct. 6). American dropped out of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan last year, although the two airlines still cooperate on code-share flights. But you won’t earn any Alaska Air miles on these nonstops.
3. Delta is adding flights to Seattle. The airline operates year-round between both Anchorage and Fairbanks to its hub in Seattle, in addition to a daily Anchorage-Minneapolis flight. Right now, Delta offers two flights a day to Seattle. But in the summer that goes up to seven flights per day. Also, there will be three flights per day between Anchorage and Minneapolis on a 757.
Delta brings in another 757 for the daily Anchorage-Atlanta nonstop, which operates between May 22 and Sept. 13. The airline will use a 737 for its daily Anchorage-Salt Lake City flight between June 10 and Aug. 23.
In addition to its year-round Fairbanks-Seattle flights, Delta is bringing back its daily Fairbanks-Minneapolis flight, operating between May 22 and Sept. 7.
Prices between Southeast Alaska and Seattle go down in the summertime, due to competition between Alaska Air and Delta. Delta flies each day between Seattle and Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. Delta uses a 737 on the Juneau route and a smaller “regional jet” for the flights from Sitka and Ketchikan (Embraer E-175). The flights from Southeast Alaska to Seattle on Delta operate between June 9 and Aug. 31.
Alaska Airlines has more flights in and out of Anchorage than all the other interstate airlines combined. That’s a lot of lift. And the airline is adding flights for the summer.
Between Anchorage and Seattle, Alaska Air operates 10 flights each day. But that ramps up as summer travelers head north to 21 flights each day.
Alaska Air is the only carrier offering nonstop service to Portland. Right now, there are two flights each day. But this summer, there will be four nonstops each day.
On April 21, Alaska Air is starting nonstop service between Anchorage and San Francisco. Right now, these nonstop flights are scheduled through Oct. 7, but I hope they keep keep it year-round. If you plan carefully, you can pick up a $99 one-way ticket during the first week of May.
Right now, Alaska has one nonstop per day between Anchorage and Los Angeles. But starting June 11, they’ll fly two nonstops each day.
To Hawaii, Alaska is flying nonstop to Maui, Kona and Honolulu. On March 18, Alaska is stopping the flights to Maui and Kona, but will continue operating a daily nonstop to Honolulu.
Phoenix is another wintertime nonstop destination for Alaska Air. But the airline is ending the nonstop service on April 19.
Just two days later, on April 21, Alaska Air will resume nonstop Anchorage-Chicago service, adding a second daily flight on July 2.
From Fairbanks, Alaska Air operates four flights each day, increasing to five each day in the summertime.
Allegiant Air will return on Friday, May 22 with twice-weekly nonstop service between Anchorage and Bellingham. But after the first flight, the airline will operate on Thursdays and Mondays through Aug. 16. The flights are really cheap: $115.50 round-trip for travel between June 7 and 14. But the airline charges for everything else, including a full-sized carry-on bag. There is a trick to trim an extra $36 off the ticket cost: have the airline counter agent write your ticket. However, ticket agents won’t be available until the flights start on May 22.
Sun Country Air will be back with daily nonstop Anchorage-Minneapolis flights, starting May 22. Depending on the day of the week, Sun Country may operate up to three flights per day. If you pick your dates carefully between May 15 and May 31, you can find a ticket for $299 round-trip. Like other discounters, Sun Country will charge you extra for everything.
1. Air Canada. It’s not fair to call this airline “international” since it’s a shorter flight than the nonstop to Seattle. But, you still need a passport to board the plane. Seasonal nonstops from Anchorage to Vancouver start on May 11. Then, on June 1, Air Canada adds a second nonstop flight. Both operate until Sept. 18. Air Canada is part of the “Star Alliance,” so you can accrue United Air points with each flight.
2. Icelandair. Iceland’s namesake carrier will return on May 11 with twice-weekly Anchorage-Reykjavik nonstops to Keflavik Airport. The flights operate on Mondays and Thursdays. Icelandair is an Alaska Airlines mileage partner.
3. Condor Airlines just got bought by LOT Polish Airlines. I think that means Condor’s flights will operate between Anchorage and Frankfurt this summer. That’s good news for travelers who redeemed Alaska Airlines miles for European travel this year. The carrier operates up to four 767 flights each week between May 17 and Sept. 22. Thursday’s outbound flights stop in Fairbanks.
4. Eurowings. The low-fare subsidiary of Lufthansa is offering three nonstops each week between Anchorage and Frankfurt between June 1 and Sept. 22. Eurowings’ rates are about $300 more than Condor — so I think prices will drop as summer approaches. In fact, you have to go to the Lufthansa website to book these flights. Eurowings and Lufthansa are part of United’s “Star Alliance."
5. Yakutia. This Russian aircraft, a 737-700, is chartered by Air Russia, which is offering once-a-week flights between Anchorage and Petropavlavsk-Kamchatsky on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The flights will operate on Mondays between July 13 and Sept. 14. You have to plan ahead for a trip to Russia to get a visa and make some arrangements.
We’re going to miss JetBlue this summer, but I think there are more than enough airlines fighting for travelers. And that means prices will stay low this summer.