Booking an international trip starting from a city outside Alaska can save you big bucks

Finding the best deal on an airline ticket can be tricky. The deal that was there yesterday is gone. Perhaps the airline itself has disappeared. Or, if you’ve saved up your miles for a trip, perhaps the airline increased the number of miles required.

All of these things have happened. Still, Anchorage is a competitive market and deals keep popping up.

Sometimes, though, you have to look beyond your home airport to a bigger gateway like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Honolulu.

How you get to the gateway city is up to you. Sometimes you can grab a good deal. Sometimes you use miles. But starting your foreign trip from another gateway outside Alaska can save you big bucks.

Fly from Los Angeles to Oslo nonstop on Norse, a new Norwegian airline that flies Boeing 787s. The airline is having a sale, with seats as low as $344 round-trip. Buy now for travel between Aug. 19 and Oct. 28.

Norse flies twice each week between L.A. and Oslo, on Sundays and Tuesdays. It’s the only nonstop flight to Oslo. You can bring a small backpack or purse with you in the cabin, but a rolling carry-on suitcase costs $45 in each direction. A standard checked bag will cost between $60 and $75.

You don’t have to purchase a seat in advance. But if you want to make sure you’re seated toward the front of the plane — or at least away from the potty — pre-assigned seats cost $25-$75 per segment.


Pre-purchase a meal for $30. A second “light meal” served before landing is $20. There are extra charges to check in at the airport (instead of at home online) and for priority boarding.

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Another West Coast route for Norse is San Francisco-London. Norse flies into Gatwick Airport. The base price for an economy ticket is $416 round-trip. Travel from Sept. 7 to Oct. 28, and Norse offers three weekly nonstops. Three other airlines fly nonstop from San Francisco to London’s Heathrow Airport: United, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Virgin has the cheapest fare, from $564 round-trip.

Norse is not affiliated with any mileage plan. You’re not going to accrue any points on these cheap flights.

Norse’s biggest gateway is New York’s JFK airport. Right now, you can book seats during the airline’s nonstop flights to Rome, Paris, Berlin and Oslo. Travel through Oct. 28.

Honolulu is a good gateway for travel to Australia. Right now it costs about as much to get to Hawaii as it does to travel from Honolulu to Sydney or Melbourne on Jetstar. Fly on Aug. 20 for $223 one-way. Or, fly on Oct. 22 for $143 one-way. A small carry-on is included, but it’s $39 to check a bag. Jetstar charges $7-$25 for a regular seat, or $45 for extra legroom. If you don’t pre-select a seat, you’ll receive an assigned seat at the airport.

Return seats on Jetstar to Honolulu range from $204 to $251 for the best dates. But prices vary quite a bit.

Fly Jetstar nonstop from Honolulu to Sydney on select dates between Aug. 18 and Sept. 11 for $227 one-way. Return flights from Sydney to Honolulu cost between $238 and $299 one-way for travel between Aug. 25-Sept. 9.

Next week ZipAir is running a sale between Honolulu and Tokyo: just $212 one-way, nonstop. The fare is valid only on July 28, 30 and 31. If you want a lie-flat seat on these dates, it’s just $576 one-way.

On other dates in the fall, fly one of the thrice-weekly nonstops for $350 one-way. Return flights cost $275-$330 one-way. A bundled add-on package, including a checked bag, pre-assigned seat and in-flight meal costs $58 one-way.

The cheap seats are not the only ones on sale.

Fly with La Compagnie in their all-business-class jets from Newark to Paris, Nice or Milan. The company flies single-aisle Airbus A321neo planes configured with just 77 lie-flat seats.

Choose from any of the company’s three destinations, from $2,400 round-trip.

Other strange fares keep popping up, such as United’s odd-ball routing from Anchorage to Seattle. The airline doesn’t offer nonstop flights between here and Seattle. But they do fly each evening from Anchorage to Denver. From there, catch a connecting flight back to Seattle. Instead of $157 one-way on Alaska or Delta, the cost on United is $125 one-way. That price is available between Oct. 22 and Dec. 11 and again from Jan. 7 to Feb. 26.

Getting back from Seattle to Anchorage for that price is harder. The rate is only available on Sept. 27, Oct. 3 and Oct. 7.

[Flying during summer storm season? Better have a backup plan.]

Bottom line: Sometimes you have to shop different gateways and cobble together your international tickets to get the best bargains. Remember to leave yourself enough time between connecting flights. Usually, that means an overnight stay. But often, the tickets still are cheaper than the “through fare” offered from Anchorage.

I expect more fares to go down as fall approaches.

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