The Anchorage window for nonstop service to Europe has closed for the season.
Condor’s last flight from Frankfurt arrived on September 24. We won’t see another scheduled nonstop flight to Europe until May 18. That’s when Condor resumes its seasonal schedule.
Eurowings is scheduled to return to Anchorage on Monday, June 5.
You’ll save a lot of time doing the nonstops, that’s for sure. But if you want to visit Europe during the fall or winter, prices are 30% to 40% lower, even if you have to fly through the lower 48 to catch a transatlantic hop.
Prices have come down from sky-high summer rates. I expect them to sink further, as there are three airline conglomerates, or “alliances”, vying for your European business: oneworld: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair; SkyTeam: Delta, Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic; and Star Alliance — United, Lufthansa, Air Canada.
Although I want prices to drop even lower, forces like rising fuel costs, labor costs, and general inflationary pressure may disrupt normal off-season pricing.
A quick scan of the top 18 European destinations reveals that most are priced between $700 and $800 round trip for the cheapest seat. The cheapest gateways from Anchorage are Copenhagen, from $630 roundtrip, and Stockholm, from $647 roundtrip. These seats are available from November 8. Here is a list of my favorite destinations, lowest price, airline, and earliest travel date:
Between Anchorage and:
• Lisbon, Portugal, from $753 roundtrip on Alaska Airlines and American. Fly as soon as November 6.
• Madrid, Spain, from $689 round trip on Delta, starting January 10.
• Barcelona, Spain, from $695 roundtrip on United, starting January 16.
• Rome, Italy, from $733 roundtrip on American, starting December 3rd.
• Paris, France, from $788 roundtrip on Delta, starting November 12.
• Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from $774 roundtrip on Delta, starting November 15.
• Athens, Greece, from $764 roundtrip on Alaska Airlines and American, beginning January 19.
It’s important to review fares carefully to understand what you’ll get with your ticket and what will cost you the most money. All prices mentioned above are “basic economy” rates. That means you’ll pay more for a pre-booked seat and a checked bag.
If you’ve ever had a bad seat on a long flight, you can understand the benefit of having a pre-booked seat. Also, I know travelers who have traveled around the world with only a small backpack. But most people need to check a bag.
Consequently, you can add $150 to each of these European fees. That’s the cost of getting you into the “main cabin”, including a pre-reserved seat and a checked bag.
Mind you, you’re not going to get a better seat. Rather, you have the opportunity to choose one in advance. Also, on Delta, you must purchase a main cabin ticket to earn frequent flyer points.
Once you’ve booked in the main cabin, the airline will start offering you seats with more legroom, refundable tickets, meals and other add-ons.
If you want to fly non-stop to Europe next May, you can cut 10 hours each way on Condor or Eurowings. Like last year, Condor prices are cheaper than Eurowings. In mid-May, May 20-27, a regular economy ticket on Condor costs $1,100 roundtrip. To upgrade to the “Premium Economy” section with better seats and more legroom, it’s a $600 round-trip upgrade.
If you’re looking for Lower 48 tickets, wait a bit. That is, unless you’re planning a trip over Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you plan to fly on peak dates, make your plans right away. Prices are high, but they are likely to go higher.
But if you have some flexibility with your dates, keep an eye on the prices. They are sinking a bit. From Anchorage to Seattle, it’s $216 roundtrip on Delta or Alaska. From Anchorage to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines nonstop, the cost is $340 roundtrip.
Last week, I got a little nostalgic and looked back at what prices used to be.
Forty years ago, I wrote my first travel column for the Anchorage Daily News, published on November 14, 1982. The topic was getting plane tickets for an upcoming vacation!
At the time, Alaska Airlines charged $448 roundtrip to suburban Los Angeles airports: Burbank, Ontario, Long Beach and Orange County. Back then, Alaska Airlines did not fly to LAX. Adjusted for inflation, Alaska’s Anchorage-Burbank ticket would cost $1,375 roundtrip.
There were four airlines competing between Anchorage and Seattle: Wien, Western, Northwest, and Alaska.
Just flying from Anchorage to Seattle in 1982 was $389 round trip. Adjusted for inflation, that’s the equivalent of $1,194 in 2022 dollars.
Looking back in time gives travelers perspective that plane tickets are super cheap these days. Even a first-class ticket from Anchorage to Seattle on Delta costs $287 one way, starting Oct. 30.
Of course, there are big differences between an airline flight in 1982 and a flight today. Back then, everyone smoked. But the flight attendants served everyone a meal, usually with more than one choice of main course: chicken or steak? You can check as many bags as you want without paying an additional fee. But in general, air travel was much, much more expensive than it is now.
There are still destinations from Anchorage that were expensive back then and are still expensive today. Flying from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor, for example, costs about $700 each way on Ravn Alaska. Ravn flies the route with a Dash 8-300. It takes about three hours and 20 minutes.
Next month, Aleutian Airways will begin flying a repainted PenAir Saab 2000 on the route. Beginning November 16, Aleutian will offer five nonstop flights per week, Monday through Friday. The Saab flies the route much faster, in two hours and 30 minutes. Aleutian Air is pricing its tickets about the same as Ravn, though there are no additional baggage fees for the first bag up to 50 pounds.
Ravn Alaska is entertaining another new competitor on flights between Anchorage and Kenai and Anchorage-Homer. Kenai Aviation began flying on October 3. Ravn flies seven to eight times a day in a Dash-8 that seats more than 30 passengers. Kenai Aviation flies four flights a day in a nine-passenger, twin-engine “Tecnam Traveler” on the route. A third airline, Grant Aviation, flies more than a dozen flights between Anchorage and Kenai, using single-engine Cessna 208 aircraft. All three airlines charge roughly the same prices between Anchorage and Kenai: $140 each way.
Just like prices, airline fleets and features change all the time. That hasn’t changed in more than 40 years. Another thing that has not changed: the variability of prices. All prices quoted here are subject to change without notice, and change all the time.