Travel

Deals on last-minute flights out of Alaska include destinations such as Hawaii, Florida, New York

Anchorage travelers are in a great spot right now regarding airline tickets, particularly when it comes to tickets within the U.S. You can literally fly across the country for just over $100 one-way.

But there are many ways to slice this cake. Not all fares are cheap. They’re not cheap on every flight, every day. Every seat, it seems, has its own price: in basic economy, in the main cabin and in premium class.

The price of your ticket depends on many things, including your final destination, whether there’s competition on the route and when you’re traveling.

Often, it’s the “when” component that really throws a wrench in the plans. Sure, your ticket back home to Denver might be very affordable in November ($283 round-trip). But if you want to go at Christmas (Dec. 23-Jan. 2), the price jumps to $807 round-trip.

The other spoiler for your travel plans is if you need to travel right away. Many Alaskans have gotten late-night calls from loved ones about a family emergency. It’s almost always a shock to discover that short-notice travel can break the bank. Between Anchorage and Denver, a last-minute one-way ticket can cost $459 on Alaska Airlines, or $498 one-way on United’s daily nonstop.

This fall, though, tickets are cheap. The combination of extra competition and a demand-killing pandemic means airlines are throwing everything they have against the wall to see what will stimulate demand.

One of the first levers that airlines pull is to drop the price of tickets for travel at least three weeks from the time you buy the ticket. If that doesn’t work, then they back it up to two weeks. In some markets, though, the competition is so tough that airlines abandon the advance purchase component completely. Last-minute travelers love that.

There are plenty of good deals for last-minute travelers right now. One important consideration to keep in mind, of course, is COVID-19: On top of weighing local virus concerns here, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear picture of the status of the pandemic and potential restrictions in place at your destination.

If you can wait three weeks, a one-way ticket from Anchorage to Seattle costs as little as $89 on Alaska or Delta. But if you want to fly tomorrow, the cost is $199 one-way. That’s a great price for last-minute travel on Alaska or Delta.

There are no last-minute deals on mileage tickets, though. Alaska Airlines charges 30,000 miles for a one-way, last-minute ticket. Delta is not much better: 21,500 SkyMiles, one-way.

It’s a little more to fly from Anchorage to Portland last minute. On Delta, it’s $264 one-way. Or, fly nonstop on Alaska Airlines for $305 one-way.

Anchorage-Los Angeles is a competitive market. So, the price is less. Alaska Airlines charges $250 one-way on the nonstop red-eye flight.

One of the best deals right now for last-minute travel is Anchorage-Kansas City. The cost is just $140 one-way on either Alaska Airlines or Delta.

Another surprise in the last-minute department is the group of nonstop flights that Alaska Airlines offers to Hawaii. Fly right away to either Honolulu or Maui for $218 one-way. Delta offers a good deal from Anchorage to Kona via Seattle for $227 one-way.

If you want to use your Alaska Airlines miles, it’s 20,000 miles each way. Those are excellent rates, whether you’re using cash or miles.

Tickets from Anchorage to Las Vegas also are priced low for last-minute travel: $194 one-way on either Alaska or Delta. You can even fly United for that price, via Denver.

Fly from Anchorage to Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas in Mexico for $209 one-way on Alaska or Delta. The return flights are a little more: $236 one-way.

My favorite transcontinental deal is Anchorage or Fairbanks to New York City for $116 one-way on Alaska or Delta. A trip to the Big Apple also is a great way to pad your mileage account, in your quest for MVP or MVP Gold status. Fly round-trip from Anchorage to Seattle and on to New York’s JFK airport. The trip will net you an extra 7,700 miles toward your elite status.

If you want some Florida sunshine immediately, hop aboard Delta tomorrow to Fort Myers. The cost is $101 one-way.

If you have your passport, you can fly from Anchorage to Costa Rica right away. There are two gateways: Costa Rica’s capital is San Jose and the second international airport is in Liberia, in the northwest corner of the country. Fly from Anchorage to either airport for about $590 round-trip on either United or Delta.

Usually, it takes me at least a couple of weeks to wrap up everything to take a trip. But sometimes, you just need to get out of town right away. I wish you fair winds on your journey.

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