Summer’s coming — and so are visitors from the Lower 48.
Some of these visitors may inadvertently be bringing the COVID-19 virus with them (or one of its variants) on their journey to Alaska. That’s one reason why it’s important for Alaskans to get vaccinated soon.
If the increases in air service take effect on schedule, local residents will have more flights to choose from, including more nonstops. Plus, there’s a nice sale that’s good through Sunday, April 4, for travel between May 1 and June 30 this year.
Alaska Airlines started the sale earlier last week as a way to encourage visitors to fly north in May and June. But the rates work in both directions.
Sometimes airlines cut the price of tickets. Sometimes, they offer a flat percentage discount. And sometimes, when the stars align, they do both: They offer a discount on top of a really cheap fare. Today is one of those special days.
Alaska’s sale offers discounts between 10% and 21% off the base price of its tickets. The cheapest tickets are available for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. That’s when travelers can get the full 21% discount. On other days, or for first class tickets, the discount is 10%.
To get the lowest fares, travelers must shop at the Alaska Airlines website and enter the discount code TRAVEL2AK21. Using the discount code brings the price of a ticket from Anchorage or Fairbanks to Seattle down to $75 one-way. From Anchorage to Los Angeles, the fare is $83 one-way.
I know it’s a rush to plan a trip when the fare sale expires so quickly. But that’s part of the game when it comes to bargain airfares. Airlines are afraid to offer a deal that lasts more than a couple of days, lest a competitor come in and match the price — or offer a better deal.
That’s exactly what Delta did. Delta waited a couple of days before offering the same fares — without the discount codes. They also added more markets beyond the ones Alaska identified. For example, both Delta and American offer fares from Anchorage to Tucson, Arizona, for just $92 one-way. Alaska charges $107 one-way, even with the discount code applied.
Travelers to or from Texas can come from either San Antonio or Austin to get the best deal: just $116 one-way. Delta, United and Alaska (with the discount code) offer these fares.
Florida is another state where the fares are super cheap. From Anchorage to Fort Myers, Florida, Delta, American and United are offering flights for $112 each way. Anchorage-Tampa is $116 one-way on Delta, American or United. Alaska charges a little more, at $131 one-way.
Remember: These prices are for “Saver” or basic economy tickets, which are the most restrictive. If you like to get a pre-reserved seat near the front of the plane or you want some extra legroom, you’ll pay more money.
There are several standout destinations east of the Mississippi, including Nashville, Tennessee. Delta and American are offering tickets from $116 each way. The fare from Anchorage to Washington, D.C., has slipped to $132 each way on United, Delta or American. Although the fare rules say the deal is valid through June 30, it’s hard to find a seat at that price past June 15.
One of the best deals that’s been available for several weeks is between Anchorage and New York City. American and Delta are offering tickets for as little as $102 one-way. Right now, this deal is available almost every day between May 6 and June 17. Alaska Airlines charges a little bit more: $124 one-way.
Cash is not the only currency accepted by airlines these days. Frequent flyer miles are a powerful toll to build loyalty among frequent flyers. Both Delta and Alaska are offering some sweet deals using miles.
Last week, Delta was offering Anchorage-Seattle or Fairbanks-Seattle tickets for as little as 4,000 Skymiles round-trip. That deal is gone (they change all the time). But right now, you can fly to Seattle between May 1 and June 3 for 6,000-6,500 Skymiles.
If you have some Alaska Airlines miles and you’d like to go on a trip right away, you can fly today (no advance purchase) from Anchorage to San Francisco for 10,000 miles each way (20,000 round-trip). This special lasts through July 19.
Do you want to visit the heart of California’s wine country? The same mileage amounts apply to the Santa Rosa airport in Sonoma County: just 10,000 miles each way. Or, fly into Oakland or Sacramento for the same amount.
The “no advance purchase” element is really helpful if you want to plan a last-minute getaway.
When the airfares are so cheap, I think it’s wise to pay cash and continue to accumulate frequent flyer miles. However, many folks are sitting on lots of frequent flyer miles they’ve been unable to use for a year. In that case, it might make sense to burn some of those miles and take a trip.
Just make sure you get vaccinated before you go.