Summer airfares have been sky high, but they’re finally returning to Earth

This has been an incredible summer for travel prices. Sure, there are some deals out there, especially on cruises between Alaska and Vancouver.

But for airfares, car rentals and hotel rooms, it feels like operators are making up for the ghost years of COVID-19 when nobody was traveling and rates were super-cheap. It’s hard to imagine that hotel rooms would cost $400 per night, that rental cars would be over $100 a day and that it would cost $1,500 to fly to the Lower 48. But that’s where we are right now.

My first line of defense when faced with these daunting prices is to use frequent flyer miles. But I got stung for 75,000 miles for a ticket to the West Coast next month. Still, it was easier to part with the miles than to shell out $700.

But what goes up must come down. That’s especially true for airline tickets. For many destinations, the magic day when fares start to drop is Aug. 22. One destination, Las Vegas, is available for $154 one-way right now. Today. There’s no advance purchase and the return tickets are the same price: $154 one-way. Fly on either Delta or United.

Remember: all fares are subject to change without notice and they change all the time. Airfares already have dropped from their midsummer highs. But the low prices are not available on all flights on any day.

Between Anchorage and Seattle, fares departing in late July are $208 one-way on Delta. But starting Aug. 22, the rates drop to $157 one-way on either Delta or Alaska — or $139 one-way from Fairbanks. Compare those prices with fares from Juneau and Sitka, which have averaged $100 one-way all summer long.

The lowest available fares are “Basic Economy” on Delta or “Saver” on Alaska Airlines. On Delta, travelers don’t get any SkyMiles points if they purchase Basic Economy tickets. After July 19, Alaska Air travelers will only accrue 30% of the actual miles flown toward their Mileage Plan accounts.


If you’re headed to Portland during July, prices are high: $328 one-way on Alaska Air or Delta. But after Aug. 22, prices drop by more than 50%: $157 one-way on Delta. Alaska Air charges a little more for a nonstop flight on that particular day: $218 one-way.

During the summer, both Alaska Air and United fly nonstop between Anchorage and San Francisco. Fares are high this month: $331 one-way on Alaska on July 21, or $377 nonstop with either United or Alaska. But you can cash in 15,000 Alaska Airlines miles on that date, July 21, for a ticket on the nonstop. Return on July 24 or 29 for 20,000 miles. That’s a good conversion rate on miles.

Later in August, prices come down on United’s nonstop Anchorage-San Francisco flights: $149 one-way on Aug. 22.

Between Anchorage and Los Angeles, Alaska Air charges $418 one-way to fly on July 22, or 35,000 miles, on the nonstop. Rates drop by more than 50% starting Aug. 21, when United offers tickets for $157 one-way, via Denver.

Alaska Air offers nonstop flights to Phoenix this summer. Later this month, on July 23, the airline is charging $418 one-way per person, or 40,000 miles. If you can wait until Aug. 22, you can fly on Delta for $187 one-way. Alaska Air charges a little more on that date: $273 one-way.

Between Anchorage and Denver, both Alaska Air and United offer nonstop service. United flies the nonstop year-round. Both airlines are charging $367 one-way for a ticket on July 21. And both airlines drop their fares to exactly the same level on Aug. 21: $197 one-way.

The best flight from Anchorage to Dallas is on one of American’s nonstops. The airline is flying twice each day. If you can leave on short notice, American is offering seats on July 18 for $330 one-way. But later in the month, the price shoots up to $879 one-way. And yes — that’s in coach.

On Aug. 21, United offers tickets to Dallas starting at $204 one-way. Although I love nonstop flights, especially when I can earn Alaska Air miles — American Air is a mileage partner — I would change planes to save several hundred dollars.

Flights between Anchorage and Chicago are expensive this summer. The fares would have been higher, but three airlines compete with nonstop flights: Alaska, American and United. On July 21, both United and Alaska charge $259 one-way for nonstop flights. United reduces the fare, starting Aug. 27, to $167 one-way.

Last-minute European travelers can get a deal on Condor, but just on select dates. If you pick the right dates, you can fly nonstop from Anchorage to Frankfurt for as little as $650 round-trip, Aug. 13-24. There are more dates available for $710 round-trip: July 27-Aug. 6, July 23-Aug. 3, Aug. 20-31 and Aug. 27-Sept. 7. If you hunt around on Condor’s website, you might find a few more dates, since the airline is trying hard to fill up the plane.

Condor is an Alaska Air mileage partner. But there’s no place on Condor’s site to put your mileage number. You have to tell the counter attendant when you’re checking in at the airport.

If you want to use your Alaska Air miles on Condor, I found economy, premium and business class seats available in July, August and September. Search for dates on Alaska’s website. Between Anchorage and Frankfurt, nonstop flights are available for 30,000 miles one-way in economy, 45,000 miles in premium economy and 55,000 miles in lie-flat business class.

It bears repeating that these fares are subject to change without notice — and they changed since I started scanning them last night. But they represent a good trend for travelers. Rates are returning to Earth after being in orbit for several months.

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 Subscribe to his e-newsletter at For more information, visit