The big sale on airline tickets to Europe is back on, with a vengeance.
Right now, all three mega-airlines — American, Delta and United — are offering good fares from both Anchorage and Fairbanks to Europe.
United’s deals drop off from Fairbanks next month, but Delta flies year-round from Fairbanks and Anchorage. American partners with Alaska Airlines on many of the trans-Atlantic flights. United offers year-round service from Anchorage via its daily Anchorage-Denver nonstop.
Some of these entry-level bargains to Europe are compelling: Anchorage-Madrid for $294 round trip, for example. Or Anchorage-Athens for $303 round trip. Both of these low-end bargains are offered by American Airlines. But there’s more to the story.
Remember: Airlines these days lure you in with a low base price, then tack on the extras. If you want a pre-assigned seat, it will cost you. If you want to check a bag, it will cost you. If you want a seat with extra legroom like an exit row, that will cost you.
Still, those add-ons will cost you no matter the base fare. So, a lower base fare is good.
Right now, American Airlines has the cheapest fares to Europe. The lowest of the low fares are for travel next month, in October.
Here are some of my favorite rates:
• Anchorage-Dublin: $287 round trip on Alaska and American Airlines. Travel Oct. 16-23. If you don’t want to travel on these dates, other dates are available for $319-$355 round trip. Book at American’s website. Fly from Fairbanks to Dublin for $289 round trip between Oct. 3 and Oct. 12.
• Anchorage/Fairbanks-Madrid: $294 round trip on Alaska and American Air. Travel between Oct. 5 and Oct. 29. Other dates are available between now and Feb. 26 for $350 round trip.
• Anchorage/Fairbanks-Athens for $303-$305 round trip. The best rates are available between Oct. 3 and Oct. 29 on American. After that, the prices go up a little bit, to around $366 round trip.
It makes a difference where you book the tickets. In my research, Google Flights offers a good overview of the flights, with a link to a website where you can purchase the tickets. A link to the American Airlines website doesn’t mean all the flights are on American. They could be on Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair or any other oneworld partner.
If you’re headed to Spain, there are many other destinations besides Madrid that are on sale: Barcelona (from $343 round trip) and Malaga (from $354 round trip) also are on sale. Nearby Lisbon, Portugal, is on sale for as little as $361 round trip (for October travel).
The airlines are mum on why the prices are so low. It’s not unusual to see fares to Europe drop to the $400-$500 level once or twice a year. But to see prices drop below $300 round trip is remarkable. It also underscores how soft the demand is for air travel this fall. Most airlines have reduced their predictions of how many people will travel this fall during a resurgence of COVID-19.
Most frequent travelers will not pay the lowest available fare. For example, from Anchorage to Rome, the cheapest fare displayed by American Airlines is $311 round trip. Pre-assigned seats cost extra, though. And your first checked bag is $150. However, if you choose “main cabin” for an extra $150, you get to pre-select your tiny coach seat. And you get one checked bag free. And if you’re an Alaska Airlines elite (MVP or MVP Gold), you can access the “Main Cabin Extra” seats with extra legroom.
If you want to take a quick trip to Europe, remember that entry requirements are changing. You may need to prove you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccination. You probably will need to get tested prior to departure. And you’ll need to make arrangements to get tested once again before returning to the U.S. Check American’s website for a country-by-country breakdown of entry requirements.
If you don’t want to use your passport, there are plenty of good deals available stateside.
One of my favorites is Anchorage-Fort Myers, Florida. Fly from Anchorage to Fort Myers for $101 right away on Delta. There’s no advance purchase. You could get on the plane tomorrow morning. Travel between now and May. From Fairbanks, the price is a little more: $118 one-way.
Flights from Anchorage to New York are really cheap. Fly right away for $116 one-way on American or Alaska Airlines. If you can wait a couple of weeks, the price goes down to $106 one-way. The prices stay low until Feb. 16. Fares are cheaper from Fairbanks. Fly to New York for as little as $98 one-way on Delta.
From Anchorage to Kansas City, the price is really low: $112 one-way on Alaska or Delta, starting in October. It’s a little more if you want to fly right away: $140 one-way. That’s still a nice price.
Don’t forget about Seattle. It’s $89 one-way with either Alaska or Delta, starting Sept. 25. The cheap fare is available through Feb. 28.
When I started checking the Europe fares early in the week, United had the lowest rates. The next day, Delta jumped on board with the lowest rates. Then American dropped the rates again on Thursday, So, after checking the rates on Thursday evening, I won’t be surprised if they changed again.
All fares are subject to change without notice. If you see a fare you like, buy it. You have 24 hours to change your mind. You’ll get a full refund, as mandated by federal regulations.