Stories from Alaska

An insider's journey through Alaska's best kept secrets

Flying to Alaska: How to Get the Best Deal on Airfares

With more commercial airlines adding service to Alaska and more frequent flights to Alaska, America’s “Last Frontier” is more accessible than ever. Although this year has been much quieter, in 2019 a record-setting 5.7 million travelers passed through Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport, Alaska’s busiest air transportation hub. Alaska Airlines, United, American, JetBlue, Delta all service Alaska via Anchorage as well as a host of International carriers and some local/regional ones.

Since Alaska remains a faraway destination for most travelers, unfortunately, many flight itineraries necessarily include one or multiple stops and layovers, in addition to hours spent in the air. And airfares reflect Alaska’s “surge” demand as a recreation destination during summer, with airfare prices spiking for itineraries beginning in May and dipping in the fall.

But there are some ways for savvy travelers to score great deals and avoid elevated airfares. Here are some tips to maximize your cost savings and comfort when booking airfare to Alaska.

Tip#1: Do Your Fare Research 

If you’re a smart phone owner, download travel apps and set up notifications and/or visit flight-price tracking travel sites and set airfare alerts for different flight routes and dates to Alaska. We recommend you do this research at least 3-6 months in advance of your trip. You’ll quickly get a sense of the peaks and valleys of pricing and timing, and you’ll know a great deal when you see it. Oh, when you do see it, jump on it, because it doesn’t last long.

Tip#2: Investigate One Way Fares

While searching for fares, don’t feel locked into round-trip ticket purchases with one airline or to and from one Alaska destination. Sometimes buying two one-way tickets from different airlines can provide cost savings and offer the in-state travel flexibility of arriving and departing from different Alaska airports. 

Tip #3: Fly Mid-Week or Take a Red Eye 

If you’ve spent a while researching airfares to Alaska, you’ll probably notice trends of the lowest fares are most often available during mid-week and on late-night flights. You’ll also find that a great number of flights to/from Alaska are red-eyes, so there are opportunities to save if you’re willing to sacrifice some sleeping comfort.

Tip #4: Plan a Layover Night

Let’s face it. For most folks, red-eye flights can be exhausting. For those who wish to avoid overnight flights, or for others who have long journeys to Alaska with numerous stops along the way, you might consider an overnight layover in a connecting city.

Seattle is a funnel for frequent flights to Alaska and there are many affordable lodging options near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Portland Oregon also has many direct flights to Alaska. In fact, Chicago, Honolulu, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Phoenix all have non-stop service year-round to Anchorage. So if you’re willing to surrender a bit of your on-the-ground Alaska time and some added airfare, you can exchange a late night (or two) spent in an airplane seat for a comfortable bed, a shower and readily available dining options from a hotel. You’ll arrive in Alaska feeling fresh and ready to explore instead of ready for a nap.

Tip #5: Use Your Loyalty Points and Take Advantage of Special Airfare Offers 

Airline frequent flyer and loyalty programs are great ways to fly on the cheap, if not practically for free. And with more airlines flying to Alaska, and many partnerships between airlines when it comes to reward programs, it’s worth investigating if you have the miles and connections to cash in on your points for a flight to Alaska. Some frequent flyer programs as well as airline partnerships with credit card companies allow you to bump up bonus miles by joining, and some offer specials on companion fares, which are basically buy-one, get-one free ticket transactions. So make sure to enroll in numerous airline frequent flyer loyalty programs, sign up for airline e-newsletters with promotional offers, and follow them on your preferred social media platforms. Diligent deal seekers are likely to score fantastic fares.

So launch your Alaska airfare search and see you soon!