OK, I’ll admit it’s exciting to find a really good rate to fly halfway around the world.
But lately, more travelers are asking about good deals to fly around Alaska. When cornered on this question, usually I just laugh nervously and try and change the subject.
That’s because, compared to fares from Alaska to the Lower 48, in-state rates are higher. Plus, there’s not as much volatility with prices, since just one or two air carriers set the fares.
Still, after doing a quick review of spring and summer in-state fares, some destinations are better deals than others. Plus, if you have some Alaska Airlines miles to burn, there are more affordable options.
To get the best deals flying around Alaska, you need to plan at least 21 days in advance. Last month, when I flew to Fairbanks at the last minute, it cost me 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles. If you make your plans in advance, seats are available for as little as 5,000 miles one-way. If you want to pay for the ticket 21 days in advance, it’s just $88 one-way.
Headed farther north? Fly nonstop from Anchorage to Utqiagvik for as little as $154 one-way on Alaska. Or, cash in 7,500 Alaska Air miles each way. The best rates are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
[New travels deals for Alaskans keep popping up. Here’s a guide to the latest.]
Looking northwest from Anchorage, flights to both Nome and Kotzebue are priced the same as Utqiagvik: $154 one-way on Alaska Airlines. But mileage tickets are cheaper: 5,000 miles each way.
If you’re headed to Nome and want to get an insider’s view, consider a tour with Carol Gates, of Roam Nome. Gates loves birding and is anxious to show off the variety of birds in the area.
A friend who visited Nome recently said “Carol knows everybody” and can put together a tour just for you. Subjects range from Gold Rush history to wildlife (musk ox), to details of the last Iditarod race.
Real birding enthusiasts should set their sites on a trip to St. Paul Island. Set in the middle of the Bering Sea, St. Paul hosts a variety of rare birds that draws birders from around the world with their “life list” in hand.
In addition to the birds on the island, there are thousands of northern fur seals pulled out on beaches around the island.
The St. Paul Island Tour, owned by the Alaska Native Corporation TDX, offers an up-close tour of the birds, the seals and the heritage of the island. The all-inclusive tours range from three to eight days and include meals, accommodations and guided tours by naturalists. Prices start at $2,495 per person, not including airfare. The guides know all the best places to see the critters.
It’s not cheap to fly there. Ravn Alaska offers four flights per week on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. The cheapest tickets start at $593 one-way. Ravn is a mileage partner with Alaska, but it takes a whopping 40,000 miles to get a one-way ticket.
Another birding hotspot is Cold Bay, next to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The eelgrass in the refuge is a magnet for migrating ducks and geese. Most of the folks eyeing the birds in this area get a good look before pulling the trigger. The best bird hunting is between Labor Day and the end of October. Before that, the silver salmon fishing at Russell Creek is legendary.
Several lodges, including the Izembek Lodge and Cold Bay Lodge offer packages for anglers and hunters.
Ravn Alaska offers the only scheduled passenger service, starting at $589 one-way. But, starting on May 11, Aleutian Airways will begin offering service. Right now, the price is identical: $589 one-way. With Ravn, you can get a mileage seat with your Alaska Airlines miles (40,000 miles one-way).
[Alaska flights largely back to normal after days of disruptions from volcanic ash]
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Dutch Harbor. But now, two carriers, Aleutian Airways and Ravn Alaska, offer service. Both carrier charge at least $689 one-way. Aleutian’s planes are much faster, but with Ravn you can burn Alaska Airlines miles (40,000 miles each way).
If you don’t have 80,000 Alaska Airlines miles to burn on a roundtrip ticket to an Alaska island, consider heading to Kodiak. Prices are much lower: $143 one-way for a ticket, or just 5,000 Alaska Airlines miles. The fishing is fabulous just outside the harbor. If you haven’t been — you should go!
Another fishing village that’s relatively close by is Cordova: just 5,000 miles each way, or $155 one-way.
If you’re flying from Anchorage to Southeast Alaska, it means you’re flying on Alaska Airlines.
To Juneau, the cost of a ticket starts at $177 one-way, or 5,000 miles. To Sitka, it’s $249 one-way, or 5,000 miles. To Ketchikan, the cost is $319 one-way, or 15,000 miles one-way.
Alaska Airlines ramps up seasonal service from Juneau to Gustavus, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. If you go, take the Glacier Bay cruise from Bartlett Cove. The all-day tour cruises up to the top of Glacier Bay for good views of the Big Ice. Watch for humpbacks and orcas, black and brown bears — and more. Fly all the way to Juneau and Gustavus for $249 one-way or 7,500 miles.
These are not the only places you can fly in Alaska — but it’s a place to start, whether you’re using cash or frequent flyer miles to get there.