Travel Tuesday: PFD deals and polar bears
As the leaves continue to fall and the nights get colder, many Alaskans are thinking about their next winter vacation. Daybreak’s travel guru Scott McMurren says there’s no greater time to book a trip than now. This Travel Tuesday he shares all the PFD deals and the details on his recent trip to Kaktovik:
As a traveler, sometimes I get up and want to ride off in all directions! First, let’s head north to the Arctic Ocean. Precisely, we went about 625 miles north-northeast of Fairbanks to see the awesome polar bears of Kaktovik. In August and September, the big bears gather on the barrier islands. And if you plan it right, you can see these beasts in their natural environment.
We flew with Northern Alaska Tour Company in a small Navajo Chieftain. After landing, we went for a “comfort stop” at the local hotel and got a safety briefing and a bite to eat. Then, we got on a boat and went out to the barrier islands — just about a mile from shore.
We stayed in the boat, just in case the bears decided they were curious, so we could make a quick getaway. But we spent the better part of three hours watching these big hairy monsters plod along the beach.
And now, it’s time to ride south for airfare 911. PFD fares are here from Alaska Airlines. Let’s go through the good, the bad and the ugly of this year’s sale:
The good: There are some good deals to select destinations on Alaska’s route map. Here are some of my favorites:
- Anchorage-Las Vegas: nonstop, $379 round-trip
- Anchorage-Los Angeles: $373 round-trip
- Anchorage-Seattle: $378 round-trip (down from $495 round-trip earlier this week!)
- Anchorage-Portland: nonstop, $399 round-trip
- Anchorage-Phoenix: nonstop, $379 round-trip
- Anchorage-Chicago: nonstop, $497 round-trip
- Fairbanks-Seattle: $458 round-trip, that qualifies as a “deal” in Fairbanks!
- Fairbanks-Los Angeles: $516 round-trip
- Fairbanks-San Francisco $578 round-trip
- Juneau-Seattle: $378 round-trip
- Juneau-Los Angeles: $378 round-trip
- Juneau-Las Vegas: $442 round-trip
Go to AlaskaAir.com and search for your city.
The bad: The best-priced days for southbound travel from Alaska are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Best-priced days for travel to Alaska from Lower 48 are Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Travel on other days is just a little higher.
PFD tickets must be purchased no later than Oct. 30 for travel through April 20, 2015.
The ugly: No Hawaii or Mexico deals for the PFD sale. Blackout dates include Thanksgiving (Nov. 21-Dec. 2), Christmas (Dec. 17-Jan. 7) and Spring Break (March 4-24).
Those are the rules, but I saw great prices for select dates in November, December and March. You just have to check and see. But I wouldn’t wait too long.
Bottom line: Alaska has dropped the prices in many markets to get their share of the PFD windfall. For many outlying cities like Kodiak, Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow, this is the best sale of the year!