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A fare skirmish is leading to decreased Alaska flight prices this spring

Airfares are dropping for travel in April.

I wouldn’t call this a full-on fare war. Perhaps a robust skirmish. Whatever we want to call it, April is shaping up to be a more affordable time to fly from Alaska to key destinations in the Lower 48. That’s true whether you’re starting in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau or Ketchikan.

My favorite deal from Anchorage is Alaska’s nonstop flight to Paine Field in Everett, 30 miles north of Sea-Tac. First, there’s no middle seats on the aircraft, an Embraer E175. The flight is operated by Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Air. The travel time is about the same as it is from Anchorage to Sea-Tac. Right now, the “Saver” price is $87 one-way. Seats at this price are available starting on April 6. Compare that with $125-$128 one-way to Sea-Tac.

Seats on the southbound flight are available through May 23, but the northbound seats are available for $89 only through April 27 from Paine Field to Anchorage. So the window between April 6 and April 27 is when you can find the most cheap seats. Upgrade to “main” for an extra $30 each way.

If you’re headed south to Portland, fares have dropped to $147-$158 one-way on Alaska or Delta. Travel between April 11 and April 26. But there’s a catch: the cheapest seats are only available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On other days, the fare goes up to $179 one-way. Alaska flies the route nonstop from Anchorage. With Delta, you change planes in Seattle.

Further down the coast, Alaska and Horizon have a fare from Anchorage to San Francisco for $159 one-way. Travelers actually change planes at Paine Field instead of Sea-Tac. The best dates are between April 11-26, only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

[Flight attendants want to ban lap-babies on planes]

Alaska Airlines flies nonstop between Anchorage and Phoenix, but United and Delta also are offering bargain seats in April. Fly between April 6 and April 28 for $147-$157 each way. Delta flies via Seattle, while United flies via Denver. All of these fares are “Saver” or “Basic Economy.” On Delta, that means you do not accrue SkyMiles points. On United, you have to pay extra to take a regular-sized rolling suitcase in the cabin with you.

Between Anchorage and Chicago, both United and Alaska Air offer the bargain rate of $147-$157 one-way. Fly between April 6 and April 30 for the best prices. Spend $30 more each way to upgrade to “main” on Alaska Air.

Fares between Anchorage and Las Vegas have been cheap all winter. Also, there’s little to no advance purchase necessary. Right now, both Delta and United offer flights from $154 one-way. When I checked earlier this week, there was just a three-day advance required to get the cheap rates. The rates are available through Sept. 7.

Two international flights start in May. Condor’s nonstop flights to Frankfurt start on May 18, but they’re not cheap: from $1,020 roundtrip. Air Canada’s nonstops from Anchorage to Vancouver, B.C., start on May 6. Prices run $206-$226 one-way, all summer long through Sept. 7. With Condor, you can earn Alaska Airlines miles, while Air Canada partners with United and the MileagePlus loyalty plan.

From Fairbanks, Delta Air Lines is offering $100 one-way tickets to Sea-Tac, nonstop. The best rates are available between April 7 and April 30. Delta flies an Airbus A220 on the route, which features 2×3 seating in coach. That means there are fewer middle seats!

Between Fairbanks and Chicago, both Alaska and Delta have dropped their rates to $175-$176 one-way. Travel between April 6 and April 29. Alaska’s flights include a quick hop to Anchorage, then a nonstop to Chicago. That’s a little quicker than Delta’s routing through Sea-Tac.

Delta is offering the cheapest flights from Fairbanks to Los Angeles: $183 one-way. Fly between April 11 and May 2. But the cheap seats are only available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Delta also is offering the least-expensive fare from Fairbanks to Denver: from $193 one-way. Fly between April 11 and May 3.

In Southeast Alaska, Delta usually starts up seasonal service in late May or early June between Seattle and Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau. But this year, Delta has operated flights on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the winter. That’s kept the fares down all winter.

Right now, the lowest fare between Juneau and Seattle is on Alaska Airlines: $84 one-way. Travel between May 25 and June 5.

For a little more money ($95-$99 each way), there are lots of seats available between April 8 and May 28. Fly either Delta or Alaska Air.

From Ketchikan, Alaska Air is offering flights to Seattle for as little as $94 one-way. Tavel between April 11 and May 24, but only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Between Seattle and Sitka, Delta’s seasonal flights start on June 5, priced at $115 one-way. On June 15, the prices drop a bit further, to $104 one-way on either Delta or Alaska Air. The lower fares are available through Sept. 4.

The fare rules for many of these flights say tickets must be purchased by March 27. But don’t wait until the last minute, because the rules change all the time. If you see a flight you like, buy it. You have 24 hours to change your mind without penalty.

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