While the Max 9 grounding is still complicating air travel, future options are opening up

There’s plenty of news for travelers this week. Some of it hasn’t changed too much from last week. But there are some bright spots looking toward the spring and summer.

First on the list, though, is a thorough reckoning of the 737 Max 9. Since last week, Alaska Airlines has reported that its fleet of 65 Max 9s has gone through a preliminary inspection. But the airline still is waiting for further instructions from the Federal Aviation Administration. In the meantime, none of the Max 9s are carrying passengers.

Since the affected planes make up 20% of Alaska Air’s fleet, changes and cancellations are happening every day. According to Ben Minicucci, Alaska’s CEO, the airline is canceling between 110 and 150 flights per day. That means more than 15,000 or more travelers need to be rebooked each day.

At this moment, Alaska Air is canceling flights day by day and rebooking as they find space on other aircraft. If you’re planning on traveling soon, make sure you’re flexible and make sure you’ve got travel insurance to cover canceled flights, hotels, rental cars, meals and more. Alaska Airlines has said they will reimburse travelers. But you may find a travel insurance policy that covers rebooking, lost luggage, and incidentals provides more peace of mind. You can compare policies at sites like and

Right now there are a few good fares to Europe, starting this month and stretching into April and May.

[Tips for navigating air travel after the grounding of 737 Max 9 planes snarls Alaska Airlines flights]

Fly between Anchorage and Barcelona for $450-$500 round trip on either Delta or United. Travel between Jan. 27 and May 10, although the best rates are not available on all dates. These are good fares, but they’re basic economy, which means you pay an extra $180 per person to get a checked bag and a pre-assigned seat.


Fly from Anchorage to Madrid on Delta for about the same price: $450-$500 round trip. Fly between Jan. 27 and April 26. Delta also offers tickets from Fairbanks to Madrid between $450-$500 round trip, but only between April 1-May 9. Again, add $180 round trip for full SkyMiles credit, a pre-assigned seat and a checked bag.

Tickets between Anchorage and London dipped below $600 last week. Just barely, though: $599 round trip on Delta and Virgin Atlantic. Fly between Jan. 28 and May 10. Add $180 for the most basic extras (mileage credit, seat assignment and one checked bag).

Delta offers tickets to Lisbon from Anchorage for a little more: $609 round trip. This also is a basic economy fare for travel through April 18.

Other destinations in Europe like Paris, Rome, Athens and Amsterdam all are priced higher ($697-$818 round trip). But these prices probably will change.

If you’re headed to Australia, United and Delta are offering fares between $819 and $842 round trip. Fly from Feb. 17 to June 11. You can get the basic economy fare and still get a free checked bag. On Delta, the only “extras” you receive by paying $200 for a main cabin fare are a pre-assigned seat and full SkyMiles credit.

If you want to fly from Anchorage to Auckland, New Zealand, you can leave right away for $903 round trip on Delta. Fly through March 21. Again, your first checked bag is free, even if you buy a basic economy ticket. It’s a $100 charge to get a pre-assigned seat and to earn SkyMiles credit.

For a trip to South America, the best deal is a ticket on American Airlines or United between Anchorage and Bogota, Colombia, for $438 round trip. The price of an American Airlines fare fluctuates from day to day, but you can get a ticket for between $438 and $500 round trip for travel between March 19 and May 2. The cost between basic and main is $90 round trip on American, and $110 on United for a checked bag and seat assignment.

Prices for tickets to the Lower 48 have gone up since Christmas — and again since the Max 9s were grounded. But there are a couple of destinations that stand out. Between Anchorage and Raleigh-Durham, rates are as low as $374 round trip between April 8 and May 1. Fly on Delta or American (basic economy).

Fly from Anchorage to Cleveland, Ohio, for as little as $353-$399 round trip on United, Alaska or Delta. The carrier and the price vary from day to day. Fly Feb. 2-12, Feb. 24-March 5, March 19-April 3. These prices are for basic economy.

Airfares are subject to change without notice and they change all the time.

The summer travel season brings out the best options for Alaskans who love nonstop flights.

Between Anchorage and Minneapolis, Delta offers year-round nonstop service. Daily nonstop service starts on March 10. Sun Country Airlines starts flying on May 18 and its daily service starts on June 12. Alaska Airlines starts daily Anchorage-Minneapolis nonstop flights on May 16.

Nonstop service between Chicago and Anchorage resumes on March 15, when Alaska starts weekend flights. Daily flights start on April 8. United resumes its daily flights on April 8. American Airlines resumes its daily Chicago-Anchorage flights on May 6.

New this year: Delta is resuming its long-dormant Anchorage-Detroit nonstop. The airline will fly the route three times a week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), starting Sunday, June 9.

Also new this year: Anchorage-New York/JFK with Alaska Airlines. This nonstop flight will be Alaska’s longest, at seven hours! It starts on Thursday, June 13.

United Airlines just announced a brand-new nonstop destination: Anchorage-Washington, D.C./Dulles. This is also a seven-hour flight, operating once a day starting on Thursday, May 23.

United wins a prize for adding the most nonstop flights during the summer, in addition to its year-round, daily Anchorage-Denver flights.


United’s Anchorage-New York/Newark daily flights start on Thursday, May 23.

United’s Anchorage-Houston daily flights start on Thursday, May 23.

United’s Anchorage-San Francisco daily flights start on Thursday, May 23.

Alaska Airlines also ramps up its daily Anchorage-San Francisco flights a week earlier on Thursday, May 16.

Delta Air Lines resumes its Anchorage-Atlanta nonstop on Thursday, May 23.

Delta also resumes its nonstop Anchorage-Salt Lake City flight, operating daily starting on Friday, June 7. Alaska Airlines starts a daily Anchorage-Salt Lake flight earlier, on Thursday, May 16.

American Airlines is coming back early this year with its Anchorage-Dallas nonstop, operating daily starting Sunday, March 10.

Alaska Air will continue its twice-weekly nonstops between Anchorage and Las Vegas (Fridays and Sundays).


New this year: Alaska Air will inaugurate weekly nonstop service between Anchorage and San Diego (on Saturdays).

Alaska Airlines continues its daily nonstop flights between Anchorage and Honolulu, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle.

Delta also continues its nonstop Anchorage-Seattle flights.

Delta resumes its daily Fairbanks-Minneapolis flights on Friday, June 7. Both Delta and Alaska also fly Fairbanks-Seattle every day.

United recently announced it is resuming its daily nonstop between Fairbanks and Denver, starting Thursday, May 23.

Condor will operate a new aircraft between Anchorage and Frankfurt for its summertime nonstops: A330-900neo. The flights start on Saturday, May 18 twice a week, increasing to three times per week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) on June 11.

Discover Airlines (formerly known as “Eurowings Discover”) will launch twice weekly nonstop service to Frankfurt on Tuesdays and Saturdays, starting June 8.

Air Canada resumes its daily Anchorage-Vancouver, B.C. flights on Thursday, May 14.

Alaska Air and its sister airline, Horizon Air, operate all jet flights within Alaska. From Anchorage, there are nonstops to Kodiak, King Salmon, Dillingham, Adak, Nome, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Cordova, Juneau, Prudhoe Bay and Utqiagvik.

We often take for granted the robust air schedules from Alaska’s major airports in Anchorage and Fairbanks. But the Max 9 crisis brings those schedules into sharp relief — and reminds us that safety must come first.

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