PFD travel season means cheap airfares for Alaskans planning a winter getaway

Versie Dortch

In any other year, October is the start of PFD travel season. There’s usually a big blast of deals for travel to destinations near or far.

This year is no different, except Alaska Airlines is calling its sale a 10th anniversary sale for Club 49. That’s Alaska Airlines’ program for Alaska residents to get two free checked bags when traveling to or from Alaska.

Scanning for deals, I immediately drilled down to Belize. Nonstop service to Belize starts next month from Seattle and Los Angeles. Up until now, prices have been more than $700 round trip. For the sale, Alaska Airlines dropped the fare to between $550 and $580 round trip for travel between Dec. 3 and March 5.

Fares from Anchorage to Mexico also came down. Checking on fares from Anchorage to either Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, both Alaska and Delta offer round-trip fares for as little as $442. There’s essentially no advance purchase. You can fly as soon as Oct. 12.

Between Anchorage and Honolulu, there are lots of dates available on Alaska’s nonstops for $179 one-way between Nov. 1 and March 1. Nonstops to Maui and Kona are more expensive. I found a couple of days with $199 one-way tickets, but they are rare.

[Google rolls out a flight search tool that it says can help you fly ‘greener’]

Right now, Alaska Airlines is offering its best fares on nonstop flights from Anchorage. Delta (and sometimes United and American) offer connecting flights that push the fares up just a little higher. Here are some of the lowest fares, all of which are “Saver” fares (on Alaska Airlines) or basic economy on Delta or United:

• Anchorage-Las Vegas costs $130 one-way on Alaska Airlines’ nonstop flights, which start Nov. 20.

• Anchorage-Los Angeles costs $129 one-way on Alaska’s nonstop, starting Nov. 6.

• Anchorage-Portland costs $99 one-way, nonstop with Alaska, starting Oct. 30.

• Anchorage-Phoenix and Anchorage-Chicago both start at $149 one-way on Alaska’s nonstops, starting Oct. 23.

• Both Delta and Alaska offer Anchorage-Seattle nonstops for $89 one-way.

Again, tickets to almost all destinations are cheaper now that the sale has started. Here are some of my favorites:

• Anchorage-San Francisco on either Delta or Alaska for $129 one-way starting Oct. 26.

• Anchorage-Denver on Alaska or Delta for $139 one-way, starting Oct. 30. United flies nonstop year-round and charges an extra $11, or $150 one-way.

There are two destinations in Florida that are really cheap right now:

• Anchorage-Fort Myers, from $101 one-way on Delta. Fly right away (no advance purchase).

• Anchorage-Tampa for $119 one-way on Alaska, Delta or United, starting Nov. 7.

There still are several destinations available from Fairbanks that are cheaper than from Anchorage.

• Fly from Fairbanks to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on either Alaska or Delta for $98 one-way, starting Oct. 29.

• Fly from Fairbanks to Kansas City for $110 one-way on Alaska Airlines, starting Oct. 29.

Even though travelers have to stop in Anchorage, the fare from Fairbanks to Phoenix is cheaper: $135 one-way on Alaska Airlines.

Tickets to either Detroit or Atlanta from Fairbanks are available on either Alaska or Delta, from $158 one-way, starting Nov. 4.

If you’re thinking of flying to Europe, get vaccinated. You have to be fully vaccinated to travel from the U.S. to France, Italy or Spain. And these are three countries that are on sale. Also, whenever you travel outside the U.S., you must get a COVID-19 test before returning.

I expect more deals to Europe will pop up in the coming weeks, but the prices now available are pretty good, since you can book into April and May.

Fly from Anchorage or Fairbanks to Barcelona on United or Delta for $543 round trip. Travel between Oct. 20 and May 10. Tickets to Madrid are almost the same: $552 round trip. Prices are higher around Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break.

From Anchorage or Fairbanks to Milan or Rome, prices start at around $560 round trip on Delta. United offers the fare as well — but just from Anchorage. Fly between Oct. 22 and April 2.

Do you want to enjoy April in Paris? Tickets now are available from either Anchorage to Fairbanks on Delta for about $580 round trip. United only flies from Anchorage during the winter, for about the same price. Travel through May 13.

All these prices are for the cheapest of the cheap seats. Once you get to the airline website to book your ticket, you’ll receive prompts to “upgrade” to the main cabin. On these international itineraries, you’ll find that upgrading to the main cabin costs about as much as checking one bag ($150). Plus, you get one checked bag free. Also, you’ll get to pre-select a seat.

Remember, all tickets prices are subject to change without notice. And they change all the time.

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