Finally recovering from a holiday spent in lovely Prairie du Chien, WI 53821. I’m recovering from basking in the the glow of winning the most epic Monopoly game ever, recovering from having the typical turkey on the grill, and recovering from getting flooded by dog breath kisses when I got home. Not to mention that I had to recover from the flight itself – which is fairly epic every time regardless of why you do it. Since I am fresh off another round-trip to the Lower 48 and am not sure when the next one will come it seemed like a good time to blog about what it takes to get up here.
In short … its a long way.
Flying to Anchorage from the Lower 48 (that’s any state other than Alaska and Hawaii for those of you wondering .. yes I mean you, Dad) can be broken down into two categories: Alaska Airlines, and Any other way to get here.
As the name suggests, Alaska Airlines is the major airline in and out of Anchorage. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not surprising … its mostly based along the west coast. Based out of Seattle, they tend to run the routes as far south as Los Angeles and all throughout the small cities big enough for a prop plane and snacks – but only rarely do they move beyond the first set of mountains inland. They are the main carrier throughout Alaska as well, going to anyplace that can’t be reached by car (which is practically everywhere). They also run some great fares to Hawaii, including their best flights and fairs (and the most odd of travel destination couples) running from Honolulu to Anchorage and back.
If you are coming to Anchorage using Alaskan Airlines, you are most likely going to be flying through Seatac, the airport short for Seattle-Tacoma. There seems to be loads of flights between Seatac and Anchorage; and its a three (3) hour flight … yeah … three hours from the nearest major airport!!! While the number and times vary depending on the time of year, there is typically 4 or 5 flights in the evenings or mornings, almost running as clockwork as a bus line. Alaskan is pretty comfortable and mostly run 737s (while this trip included a modified 737 that was half cargo … we entered into the back of the plane and there was a huge wall ahead of Row 15). Alaska has code shares with a number of other airlines (with no rhyme or reason to it … Delta, United, American, etc etc), but many consider the Alaskan frequent flyer program amongst the best. Included in that is the Alaskan credit card which gives everyone an annual $99 companion fare (so you fly anywhere Alaskan goes and a buddy flies there too for $99 .. which is a big deal for reasons coming up).
While you can ride on other airlines to Alaskan, nearly every major airline flies to Anchorage from most of the major hubs directly. Of course, the flights will be much longer — DFW is a 7 hour flight, Chicago is 6 hours, Houston tips it near 9.
For the most part, flights heading to Anchorage get here late in the day — like 9, 10, 11 PM late. In part, its because it takes a long time to get here, but it makes up for itself on the way back. Most flights out leave shortly after the plane gets to Anchorage. So you end up getting an overnight flight heading down to the Lower 48. For instance, last week my flight to Chicago left here at 11pm, and arrived 7am into Chicago – meaning you get used to sleeping on planes. That makes the Anchorage airport quite the busy place at 10pm.
For the record, ticket prices are quite high. The low end is about $600, but during busy seasons (like Thanksgiving) it can push over $1000. But of course, BP has taken that into consideration, and they drop us in Alaska a little bit extra every year to allow for the high cost of getting out of town.
So, that’s the rundown of flying here in and out. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will have my guest room set up if y’all want to come visit. The days are getting stupid short now, so sleeping should be easy.