What’s up with airfares this year?
Well, pretty much everything, according to some analysts. The cost of jet fuel and pent-up travel demand are two significant factors adding upward pressure on fares.
“Demand and rising jet fuel prices are driving up domestic air fares,” said Haley Berg, an economist at Hopper, a travel website.
The average fare in the United States rose 5.2% last month, according to Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a fare watch website.
But just like the policy, all airfares are local. Sure, most fares have gone up, but for Alaskan travelers, they’re still well below peak season fares.
For example, traveling to Europe this spring is always a good deal. To get the best available fares, you’ll need to travel between late April and mid-to-late May.
Earlier this year there were great fares to Europe between $400 and $500 return. But you were supposed to travel at the end of April.
This new round of discounts is available for travel until May 29. Here are some of my favorites:
Fly from Anchorage to Rome on United for $682 round-trip. Travel until May 25. The price increases for trips during the summer, between $1,000 and $1,300 round trip. These are “basic economy” fares, so you will need to pay extra for checked bags and pre-assigned seats.
From Anchorage to Madrid, fly on Delta for $674 round-trip. Travel until May 27. To fly during the summer, the cost is higher: $1,000 to $1,200 round trip.
Similar spring deals are available for other popular destinations like London, Paris and Athens.
[Travel chaos from pilot shortage just part of Alaska Airlines’ headaches]
If you want to fly to Africa, check out the fare from Anchorage to Nairobi, at $844 round-trip on Delta, plus partners KLM and AirFrance. Travel between April 17 and May 15, before fares start to increase. But prices go down between September and December. These months are much better if you hope to see wildlife. Of course, the critters are there all year round, but it rains a lot less in the fall.
Our prices are going up. But fierce competition between airlines keeps these fares in check.
For example, fares between Anchorage and Seattle are on the rise. But just a little. Right now, you can fly between Anchorage and Seattle for $200 round-trip from April 28 through May 29. Summer fares range from $264 to $550 round-trip on Delta and Alaska Airlines.
Tickets to Portland from Anchorage on Alaska Airlines nonstop flights are available from $200 round-trip between April 29 and May 13. Summer fares are more dramatic: from $300 to $817 round trip. But these rates are subject to change – and they change all the time.
It’s easy to get lucky and find a great fare to Las Vegas, especially on Alaska Airlines nonstop flights: from $278 round-trip for travel through May 28. There is no advance purchase: you can fly from Monday, April 11. between $300 and $408 round trip.
Whether you’re flying to San Francisco or Los Angeles, there are cheap fares this spring. From Anchorage to LA, the Alaska Airlines nonstop flight costs $159 one way — $320 to $330 round trip — between April 29 and May 24. For San Francisco, Delta and Alaska offer tickets for less than $340 round trip. Fly between April 29 and May 24. Summer fares from Anchorage to San Francisco range from $447 to $551 round trip.
Alaska Airlines flies nonstop from Anchorage to Honolulu daily throughout the summer. Spring fares from April 26 to May 25 range from $376 to $576 round trip. Summer fares range from $447 to $577 round trip. For flights to Kona, Maui and Kauai, you must fly through the West Coast or change planes in Honolulu. Nonstop services to Kona and Maui will return in the fall.
You can still get a cheap ticket to Florida or New York, but they’re only available for a few days. And return tickets are much more expensive. For example, travel select days May 9-17 from Anchorage to New York’s LaGuardia Airport on United for $111 one way. Fly from Anchorage to Tampa May 8 or 14 for $129 one-way on Delta.
From Fairbanks, it’s still cheap to fly nonstop to Seattle: $200 round-trip to Alaska or the Delta, between April 28 and May 12. Summer fares range from $280 to $360 round trip.
If you’re flying from Juneau, Sitka or Ketchikan to Seattle, fares will drop from $300 to $330 round-trip to $200 round-trip on June 7. That’s when Delta will resume nonstop seasonal service.
Due to the unbundling of elements of an airline ticket, there are more ways to spend money and increase the cost of your ticket.
For example, would you like to take advantage of Flair Airlines’ $66 one-way ticket from Anchorage to Vancouver, BC this summer? Chances are you’ll buy one of the airline’s “packages” that include one piece of carry-on and maybe one piece of checked baggage. If you want pre-assigned seats, you will pay extra for it.
Most of the fares shown above are “basic Economy” or “Saver” fares. If you are flying to Europe from Anchorage, it will cost around $150 round trip to get pre-assigned seats and checked baggage.
One more price that goes down: Alaska Airlines is reducing the price of its Gogo in-flight Internet. The new price is $8 per flight, and many Alaskan jets have the new satellite internet service, which offers faster speeds.
So while kerosene and increased demand push prices up, fierce competition keeps prices in check.