As airfare deals pop up like a game of whack-a-mole, dig deeper to find their true value

Finding a good airfare is part whack-a-mole, where a good deal pops up unexpectedly in one corner of the map. Then it’s another part hide-and-seek, because you often have to dig a little deeper to find the true cost.

If you’re looking for a deal in all the old, familiar places, you may be disappointed. For example, fares have increased from Anchorage to Seattle by more than 50% in the last two months (from $108 one-way to $168 one-way). Both Alaska Airlines and Delta have the same rates.

But if you look beyond the Emerald City, there are some better fares to popular destinations. Remember — the rates change all the time.

No passport is required to get some sun in Southern California or Arizona. Between Anchorage and Los Angeles, Delta dropped the fare to $163 one-way for travel through May 22. If you want to skip the stop in Seattle, pay an extra $20 each way to fly Alaska Air’s nonstop to LAX: $183 each way.

For a dose of desert sunshine, fly from Anchorage to Phoenix between March 23 and May 22. On Delta, the cheapest fare is $154 one-way. Remember — when you fly basic economy, there are no pre-assigned seats and no SkyMiles credit. It’s an extra $30 for those extras. Fly nonstop on Alaska Airlines for $174 one-way. On the date I checked, March 24, Alaska offers two nonstop flights, including one non-red-eye, departing at 4:05 p.m. and arriving at 10:39 p.m.

Headed to Texas? Flights to Austin are the most affordable option today, for flights starting on April 8. Both American and United offer one-way fares starting at $184. With American Airlines, you’ll earn Alaska Airlines miles (only about 25 percent of miles flown, though). On United, with the cheapest of the cheap seats, the airline charges extra to bring aboard a carry-on suitcase. Also, if you want the cheapest fare on United, you can’t use the check-in kiosk. No, United makes travelers stand in line to check in with an agent to make sure you aren’t trying to smuggle a carry-on bag aboard.

If you’re OK without any bags, check out Sun Country Air’s first few flights from Anchorage to Minneapolis. Fly on May 18, 25, 27, 30 or 31 for $117 one-way. Sure, it’s nonstop. But you’ll pay an extra $32 for a carry-on suitcase. It costs extra to get a pre-assigned seat, starting at $11 for a middle seat. Alternatively, the airline will assign a seat at check-in. Return flights from Minneapolis to Anchorage start at $185 one-way.


These days, it’s tough to get to the East Coast for less than $200 one-way. But Raleigh, North Carolina, emerges as the value leader today. Fly on Delta, Alaska, American or United for as little as $193 one-way, between April 8 and May 22. The return flights are priced the same, give or take a dollar or two.

It’s a few extra miles to fly from Anchorage to Florida. Between Anchorage and Fort Myers, the cheapest flights are on United Airlines and American Airlines, at $203 one-way. Fly between April 9 and April 25.

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Check your passport. Make sure it’s valid for at least the next six months.

Some of the best deals to international destinations pop up for just a few days. For example, American Airlines offers a deal between Anchorage and Cancun. But the rate is good just for a couple of departures — and just for a five-or six-day stay. Fly from Anchorage to Cancun via American’s nonstop flight to Dallas on either Saturday or Sunday evening, April 20 or 21. Return on Thursday or Friday, April 25 or 26. The price is just $491 round-trip. The schedule is pretty good, too. There’s just one stop in Dallas in either direction.

Flights from Anchorage to Cabo San Lucas dipped below $500 round-trip this week. Fly American Airlines via Dallas from Anchorage to the airport at San Jose del Cabo for as little as $496 round-trip. Travel between April 10 and May 28. Delta Air and Alaska Airlines also offer flights for a little more. The fare varies from day to day between $496 and $516 round-trip.

The best deal right now between Anchorage and South America is Delta’s flights to Quito, Ecuador. But the lowest fare of $524 round-trip is available just for a couple of days. Fly on April 20 or 21 and stay for eight or nine days. You may have to fiddle around with the dates a bit to get the best rate. And it’s $110 extra to get mileage credit, seat assignments and one bag checked.

There are a few other “deals” to other destinations in the region, but the schedules are brutal. A flight to Cartagena, Colombia, for $462 round-trip on American Airlines sounds nice, traveling between April 21 and 29. But the return trip takes 31 hours and includes three stops: Miami, Austin and Dallas. No thanks.

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Fares between Anchorage and Europe go up and down all the time. Right now there are a few offers for dates in April to just a couple of destinations.

Between Anchorage and London, fares start at $665 round-trip on Delta. Travel March 17-29, March 31-April 9, and April 16-May 3. Again, you may have to play with the dates a little bit to get the best rate. Otherwise, the fare jumps to almost $1,000 round-trip. Depending on the date, you may end up booking this fare at or

Delta also has a good fare during April between Anchorage and Athens, Greece. Rates start at $636 round-trip for travel between April 1 and May 7. United offers a fare of $646 round-trip on a few dates, too. Be careful on the return flight, though. The cheapest rate is a 34-hour ride with a four-hour layover in Atlanta and a nine-hour, 23-minute stop in Seattle. For $25 extra, you can trim 10 hours off the travel time.

Connections, flight times, extra fees and loyalty points. All of these little things matter when you’re looking for a good deal. And the prices change all the time. If you’re adept at whack-a-mole and hide-and-seek, finding a bargain airfare will be no problem.

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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