If anyone is planning to fly to Alaska this summer, the time to make reservations …..was probably before now. I made reservations several weeks ago, for trips in April and in June.  Unfortunately, I did not have enough frequent flier miles on Alaska Airlines for both trips. That was my own doing because I refuse to fly the red-eye back, which is the least expensive. If you have not flown to Alaska in the summer, you might not know that Frontier flies up —for the summer months only— and all their return flights are red-eyes, as are United’s and Delta’s. I fly AK Airlines because they have daytime flights back, I can use my miles, and I just really like AK Airlines — and the AK Airlines people seem to like working for AK Airlines, too, which shows in their attitudes at all stages of the trip. But, a few words for any Cheechakos flying up.

If you do make your reservations early, and particularly for flights June – August, do not be surprised if you get alerts that your flights have been changed — 2-3 times–before your departure date – no matter which airlines you fly on. It is wise to have a grip on this before you leave for the airport, and in case you have connecting flights..

If you fly through Seattle, AK Airlines may book you for a 45-50 minute lay-over between flights – or, the really good deals may book you for 6-8 hour lay-overs. The short lay-overs are fine when your next plane departs from a gate in the same terminal; but, for your insider information, AK Airlines flies in and out of the main terminal and the satellite terminal. If your flights are in different terminals, you will run around wildly, find the escalator down, catch the train, de-train, leap onto the escalator up, and locate the gate on that other side.  This will give you an adrenalin rush, but really, there is no need to worry if  a)your plane does not arrive late, b) there are other AK flights departing for Anchorage, following the one you were booked on  —-that have seats available – and Anchorage is your destination and you don’t have to catch another flight — although ERA, out of Anchorage,  handles these situations matter-of-factly and you will get on the next available flight —- which, due to heavy tourist volume in the summer —  may be at 4:25 am the next morning.

AK Airlines knows that ANC is not everyone’s destination and that the last Frontier encompasses around 570,373.6 square miles. They recognize that some travelers plan to go to FBK, ENA, KOT, GAL, BE or elsewhere.  Other airlines can be baffled that there is life outside Anchorage. Where and how would a person fly anywhere else when you can see polar bear roaming the streets of Anchorage, catch salmon outside the Anchorage Hilton, and see Russia from the first story of their B&B?

Another problem with the delusion that Anchorage is the final destination is with baggage. A decade ago, 50% of the time, I discover that my bags had only been booked to Anchorage — where I’d have to find them and drag them to ERA, for my next leg – to Kenai. This process is complicated because unlike the olden days when ERA flew until 1 am, there are now no ERA flights to Kenai after 10:30 pm.

Again, there is no need to work up a sweat like a husky at the end of the Iditarod.  First, if you are there in the summer, the sun will be up much of the time and it won’t seem like you’re spending the night in the airport; second,  the Chili’s in the main terminal serves breakfast 24-hours a day; and third, you can be first in line for any 4:25 am flights.

Just making reservations is an adventure in itself, not to mention security requirements and lines, the anticipation of unknown flight connections, and the disequilibrium of time-change coupled with arriving in the Land of the Midnight Sun. And that’s just for starters! But, isn’t that why you want to go to Alaska in the first place? For an adventure? Absolutely!


My Gaede family flying to Alaska in the late '50s.

My Gaede family flying to Alaska in the late ’50s

Connecting airlines to Alaska - late '50s

Connecting airlines to Alaska – late ’50s