Travel

At least 5 airlines are planning international flights to and from Anchorage next summer

Travelers are asking lots of questions about trips next summer. Will there be cars to rent? Will we still have to wear masks on planes?

But one question keeps coming up: Will Anchorage have any international flights next summer?

Five airlines have made plans and filed schedules to fly internationally, now that more international travelers are able to come to the U.S. That includes working with the airport, lining up crew and contracting for catering, baggage handling and staff at the ticket counter. It takes a lot of planning.

You can go online and purchase tickets with four of the five carriers.

And still, after all that planning, the answer is a definite “maybe.”

Condor is offering nonstop flights from Anchorage to Frankfurt starting May 21. Condor’s nonstops will operate on Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 24. Condor also will operate a third weekly flight on Thursdays, starting on June 9. The Thursday flights stop in Fairbanks before flying over the pole.

I think the chances are very good that Condor will fly this summer. Starting next week, Europeans once again will be allowed to travel to the U.S., provided they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Travelers on Condor earn Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles. You also can burn your Alaska miles on Condor, although I was only able to book Condor flights via Seattle.

Prices for Condor’s first flights in May start at about $920 round-trip. Condor has flown this route for 20 years. Once again, the airline is flying the route with a 767-300.

Another German Airline, Eurowings Discover, plans to offer three flights per week (Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays) between Anchorage and Frankfurt, starting June 13. Eurowings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa. “Eurowings Discover is fully integrated into the Lufthansa network. Thus, travelers can benefit from direct connections and seamless transfers to and from all German and European Lufthansa destinations,” writes Leonie Bueb, a spokesperson for the airline.

Eurowings’ nonstops are scheduled through Sept. 8. Prices are high: more than $1,500 per person round-trip. However, I expect that to change as summer approaches.

Although Eurowings does not have its own loyalty plan, Lufthansa is a member of the Star Alliance. So, if you have a United Airlines “Mileage Plus” account or Lufthansa’s “Miles and More” plan, you can accrue miles with Eurowings.

Eurowings plans to offer a newer aircraft on the route, either an Airbus A330-200 or -300 series.

Icelandair once again will offer twice-weekly nonstop flights from Anchorage to Reykjavik’s international airport at Keflavik. Flights are scheduled on Mondays and Thursdays, starting May 16, through Sept. 19.

Flight time on Icelandair’s 757 is seven hours and 20 minutes. Icelandair is a partner with Alaska Airlines, so frequent flyers can earn and burn miles with Icelandair.

From Icelandair’s hub at Keflavik Airport, travelers can transfer to fly on to many Nordic capitals, including Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Right now, Icelandair’s lowest advertised price for nonstop service is $745 round-trip. But I expect those prices to change as summer approaches.

Flying west from Anchorage, Yakutia Airlines offers the only nonstop flights from Anchorage to Asia. In this case, it’s to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

Mark Dudley works with Air Russia in Seattle. Air Russia charters Yakutia’s 737-800, which actually starts each flight in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, along the Lena River. The first stop is in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and then to Anchorage. Yakutia’s schedule this year starts on July 11 and ends on Aug. 29. The flight is a little over four hours long.

Most of the passengers on each flight are anglers who are on package tours arranged by fly-fishing companies. Anglers want to fish the wilderness rivers along the Kamchatka Peninsula. After arriving at the airport near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, they take helicopters out to the river camps or to lodges. Prices for round-trip travel start at about $1,230 per person, plus tax.

All visitors to Russia need a visa. Dudley recommends working with a visa agency like Red Star Travel in Seattle.

To learn more about fly-fishing packages in Kamchatka, check out the online offers from The Fly Shop in Redding, California.

Beyond the lure of fishing, Kamchatka is a mecca for adventure travelers. There are volcanoes, geysers and all kinds of hiking and camping adventures. Red Rivers is a local company that offers a variety of packages for independent travelers.

Dudley expects to have tickets available for the summertime flights later this month.

Air Canada is the fifth international airline planning flights to and from Anchorage this summer. The airline plans a daily flight to Vancouver, B.C., between May 11 and Sept. 13, flying a 737 MAX 8 on the route.

Air Canada is a member of United’s Star Alliance, so you can accrue United miles on each flight.

If these limited nonstops don’t mesh with your schedule next summer, there will be more nonstop flights to international hubs like Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York. But it’s nice to have nonstop, over-the-top options again this summer.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all of the planning that’s going on results in some actual flights.

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