Alaska Airlines is the state's flagship carrier, with year-round service from its Seattle hub to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. The airline and its subsidiary, Horizon Air, offer direct flights from Anchorage to a handful of American cities year-round, including Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Portland. Alaska Airlines flies to many other North American cities via Seattle or Portland. In addition, the airline offers year-round flights between Anchorage and Hawaii.
Other airlines that fly to and from the Lower 48 include American, Delta, JetBlue, and United. Note, however, that few offer nonstop flights and many of those that do offer such flights do so only seasonally (primarily in the summer months).
The average travel time (nonstop flights only) from Seattle to Anchorage is 3½ hours. Many of the low-fare flights out of Anchorage depart around 1 am, so be sure you're at the airport on the correct day when flying just after midnight.
Alaska Airlines. Alaska. 800/252–7522; www.alaskaair.com.
American Airlines. Alaska. 800/433–7300; www.aa.com.
Delta Airlines. 800/221–1212; www.delta.com.
JetBlue. Alaska. 800/538–2583; www.jetblue.com.
US Airways. Alaska. 800/428–4322; www.usairways.com.
Anchorage's Ted Stevens International Airport is Alaska's main hub. There are also major airports ("major" meaning that they serve jets as well as bush planes) in Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan. The Fairbanks airport is the largest of the three; Juneau and Ketchikan have few facilities and gates. Sixteen other airports throughout the state also serve jet planes.
Unless you're flying one of the relatively few nonstop flights from other U.S. cities, chances are you'll spend some time connecting at Seattle's international airport, Seattle-Tacoma (known locally as Sea-Tac). Both Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, are common starting points for Alaskan cruises.
If you have a long layover at Ted Stevens airport, consider taking a taxi into the city—it's only 6 miles from downtown Anchorage.
There are no departure taxes for travel within the United States.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. Alaska. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. Alaska. 866/289–9673; www.tsa.gov.
Fairbanks International Airport. Alaska. 907/474–2500; www.dot.state.ak.us/faiiap.
Juneau International Airport. Alaska. 907/789--7821; www.juneau.org/airport.
Ketchikan Airport. Alaska. 907/225–6800; www.borough.ketchikan.ak.us/130/Airport.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Alaska. 206/787–5388; 800/544–1965; www.portseattle.org/seatac.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Alaska. 907/266–2525; www.dot.alaska.gov/anc.
Vancouver International Airport. Alaska. 604/207–7077; www.yvr.ca.
Air travel within Alaska is quite expensive, particularly to Bush destinations where flying is the only option. A round-trip flight between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor typically costs more than $1,000. Flights from Anchorage to Fairbanks or Juneau are a little more forgiving; at this writing, round-trip flights run about $200 and $340, respectively.
The workhorse planes of the north are the Beavers, most of which were built in the 1950s and are still flying. The cost of an air-taxi flight between towns or backcountry locations depends on distance and the type of plane used, whether the plane is on floats, the number of people in your group, the length of the flight in each direction (including the time the pilot flies back after dropping you off), and the destination. Typical hourly rates are approximately $600–$800 for a Beaver, with room for up to six people and gear; or $400–$600 for a Cessna 185, with room for three people and gear. Expect to pay more the farther you are from Anchorage.
Many scheduled flights to Bush communities are on small planes that seat 6 to 15 passengers. These planes have played a legendary part in the state's history: Bush pilots helped explore Alaska and have been responsible for many dramatic rescue missions. That said, small craft have their inconveniences. They can only transport a limited amount of gear, so plan to leave your large, hard-sided suitcases behind. Small, soft duffels make more sense, and are easier for the pilot to stash in cramped cargo spaces.
Small planes also can't fly in poor weather, which could mean delays counted in days, not hours. And even on good days turbulence might leave you white-knuckled and green in the face. Fortunately, most flights are uneventful, with the scenery below—rather than a rough ride—making them memorable.
Contact Bering Air for flights from Nome or Kotzebue to smaller communities of the Far North; Ravn Alaska for flights from Anchorage to Bethel, Cordova, Fairbanks, Homer, Iliamna, Kenai, Kodiak, Valdez, and many Bush villages.
Try Warbelow's Air Ventures for flights out of Fairbanks to Interior destinations. Peninsula Airways (PenAir), based in Anchorage, covers southwestern Alaska, including Aniak, Dillingham, Dutch Harbor, McGrath, King Salmon, Sand Point, St. George, and St. Paul. Wings of Alaska serves several Southeast Alaska towns, including Gustavus, Haines, Juneau, and Skagway. Grant Aviation flies from Anchorage to Emmonak and Kenai as well as from Bethel to Dillingham and Hooper Bay.
Bering Air. 800/478–5422; 800/478–3943; www.beringair.com.
Grant Aviation. Alaska. 888/359–4726; www.flygrant.com.
PenAir. Alaska. 907/771–2640; 800/448–4226; www.penair.com.
Ravn Alaska. Alaska. 907/266–8394; 800/866–8394; www.flyravn.com.
Warbelow's Air Ventures. Alaska. 907/474–0518; 888/459–6250; www.warbelows.com.
Wings of Alaska. Alaska. 907/789–0790; 800/789–9464; www.wingsofalaska.com.