Travel

Flying from Anchorage to Seattle or LA opens up an array of direct international flights

Los Angeles International Airport LAX

The sun is setting on Anchorage’s international nonstops for the summer season. Condor’s last flight to Frankfurt is on Sept. 24. Both Eurowings and Air Canada pull out earlier in the month.

It’s nothing new for Alaskans to switch planes once, twice or even three times to reach their destination. In fact, that’s common practice for those travelers who live outside Anchorage. But with increased attention to flight delays and cancellations, nonstops are in higher demand.

Two gateways, Seattle and Los Angeles, offer an incredible selection of flight options. A third, Honolulu, has some nice surprises that only make sense when combined with Alaska Airlines’ nonstop to Honolulu, due to resume Nov. 16.

Alaska Airlines uses Seattle as an international hub for its flights to Canada, Belize and Mexico — Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, San Jose del Cabo and Cancun.

Because Alaska doesn’t have wide-body jets for long-haul international service, it partners with many airlines in Seattle. The international airlines benefit from Alaska’s extensive domestic network to get more passengers. Travelers benefit since they can “earn and burn” their frequent flyer miles to points far and near:

• Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance (United). But the airline also partners with Alaska Airlines on its flights from Seattle nonstop to Singapore three days a week.

• Aer Lingus flies from Seattle nonstop to Dublin five days a week.

• Air Tahiti Nui is starting twice-a-week nonstop service from Anchorage to Papeete on Oct. 5.

• Qatar Air offers daily flights from Seattle to its hub in Doha, Qatar.

• Finnair has started thrice-weekly nonstop service from Seattle to Helsinki, Finland.

• Condor flies three times a week to Frankfurt.

• British Air flies each day to London.

• Korean Air flies each day from Seattle to Seoul.

• Japan Air flies each day to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

• Icelandair flies each day from Seattle to Reykjavik.

Since establishing a hub in Seattle eight years ago, Delta Air Lines has increased its international flights to Europe, Asia and Latin America.

From Seattle, Delta flies to San Jose del Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.

To Europe, Delta offers flights to Amsterdam, Paris and London. Delta’s partners add additional lift in these markets: AirFrance, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

To Asia, Delta flies from Seattle to Tokyo and Seoul. The airline has filed to resume nonstop service to Shanghai starting Nov. 1.

[Nonstop flights are almost always preferable. Here are the best options out of Anchorage.]

Other international flights from Seattle include:

• Istanbul: Turkish Airlines started flying four times a week nonstop from Seattle in June. These flights allow the passenger to earn United MileagePlus points.

• Dubai: Emirates used to be partners with Alaska Airlines, but got kicked to the curb when Alaska joined oneworld, in favor of Qatar Air. Still, Emirates flies nonstop every day to Dubai.

• Taipei: Eva Air flies nonstop from Seattle four times a week, starting Oct. 2. Earn United miles on these flights.

• Canada: Fly Air Canada to Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto (earn United miles). Fly Alaska Airlines to Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria.

Los Angeles is the other international gateway that offers lots of international flights. I like it better than San Francisco because of Alaska’s nonstop Anchorage-LA flights.

LAX Airport offers a feast of foreign connections, unless you’re headed to Africa or India. If you want to see the incredible variety of planes and foreign carriers as they arrive, grab a burger at the nearby In-N-Out restaurant. Plane spotters from all over flock here to feel the jet blast as the planes land.

To Europe, airlines like Iberian, Austrian, Swiss, Lufthansa, SAS, British, Virgin Atlantic and ITA fly nonstop to their respective hubs. Recently LOT Polish Airlines recently started flying nonstop to Warsaw. European discounter Norse started nonstop service to Berlin and Oslo.

El Al offers nonstops to Israel six days a week.

Saudia offers three weekly nonstops to Jeddah. Both Qatar and Emirates offer daily flights to Doha and Dubai, respectively.

LAX’s strong suit is its proximity to Asia and Australia. Four airlines fly nonstop from LAX to Sydney: Qantas, American, United and Delta. Qantas also flies to Brisbane and Melbourne. Air New Zealand flies nonstop to Auckland.

To Tahiti, both Air France and Air Tahiti Nui fly nonstop from LAX. Recently, Delta announced plans to start nonstops from LAX on Dec. 22, 2022.

Fiji Airways flies each day from Nadi nonstop to LAX.

To Asia, there are nonstops each day to Manila (on Philippine Airlines), to Taipei (on both Eva and China Airlines and to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific).

To Tokyo, there are many choices: Singapore Air, United, Delta, ANA, Japan Air and American. There’s also Zipair, a discount carrier owned by Japan Air. They offer the cheapest tickets ($556 round-trip). Japan Air also offers a nonstop from Los Angeles to Osaka.

To Seoul, both Asiana and Korean Air offer nonstop flights.

LATAM, Copa, Volaris, Aeromexico, Avianca and Cayman Airways are some of the airlines you can fly from LAX to points south. That includes 13 destinations in Mexico, Grand Cayman, Lima, Panama City and Santiago, Chile.

Honolulu is a compelling international gateway, as long as you can fly nonstop from Anchorage.

There are lots of nonstops from Honolulu to islands in the South Pacific: Tahiti and Pago Pago (on Hawaiian Air), Nadi and Apia (Fiji Air) and Guam (on United).

Hawaiian Air also offers nonstop flights to three destinations in Japan: Fukuoka, Osaka and Sapporo.

But the best deal to Japan is with Zipair to Tokyo. Round-trip tickets in October are as little as $506.

To Australia, discounter Jetstar, owned by Qantas, offers round-trip Honolulu-Sydney nonstop tickets for as little as $445, in February 2023. That’s about one-third of the cost on either Qantas or Hawaiian.

It takes some research to find the best flights for your international journey, including which mileage plan fits best. But chances are good you can fly nonstop from either Seattle or Los Angeles. Once Anchorage-Honolulu nonstops resume Nov. 18, Alaskans will once again have better access to the Honolulu gateway. And that means better fares to Japan and Australia.

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at zoom907@me.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@alaskatravelGRM) and alaskatravelgram.com. For more information, visit alaskatravelgram.com/about.

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