Alaska Airlines is the state's flagship carrier, with year-round service from its Seattle hub to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. The airline and its subsidiary, Horizon Air, also fly to many other North American cities from Seattle. In addition, Alaska Airlines offers year-round flights between Anchorage and Hawaii.
Other airlines that fly to and from the Lower 48 include American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, United, and US Airways. Note, however, that few offer nonstop flights and many of those that do offer such flights do so only seasonally (primarily in the summer months).
The average travel time (nonstop flights only) from Seattle to Anchorage is 3½ hours. Travel times from other destinations depend on your connection, because you'll probably need to route through other cities. Many of the low-fare flights out of Anchorage depart around 1 am, so be sure you're at the airport on the correct day when flying just after midnight.
Alaska Airlines (800/252-7522. www.alaskaair.com.)
American Airlines (800/433-7300. www.aa.com.)
Delta Airlines (800/221-1212. www.delta.com.)
Frontier Airlines (800/432-1359. www.frontierairlines.com.)
United Airlines (800/864–8331 for U.S. reservations. www.united.com.)
US Airways (800/428-4322. www.usairways.com.)
Anchorage's Ted Stevens International Airport is Alaska's main hub. There are also major airports ("major" meaning that they serve jets as well as bush planes) in Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan. The Fairbanks airport is the largest of the three; Juneau and Ketchikan have few facilities and gates. Sixteen other airports throughout the state also serve jet planes.
Unless you're flying from the West Coast or manage to get a nonstop flight, chances are you'll spend some time in Seattle's international airport, Seattle-Tacoma (known locally as Sea-Tac), waiting for a connection. And Vancouver, Canada, is often the starting point for Alaskan cruises that make their first stop in Ketchikan, Alaska's southernmost town.
You won't find much in terms of entertainment in Ted Stevens, Sea-Tac, or Vancouver's airport, so if you have really long layovers at any of the three, consider taking a taxi into the city. Ted Stevens is only 6 mi from downtown Anchorage; Seattle's downtown area is 14 mi from the airport, and if you don't get stuck in the city's notorious rush-hour traffic you can get there in 20 minutes. It can take 30 to 45 minutes to get to downtown Vancouver from the airport.
There are no departure taxes for travel within the United States. Vancouver's airport does have a departure tax of C$5 for flights within British Columbia and the Yukon or C$10 to U.S. destinations, payable at automatic ticket machines or staffed booths before you board.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com (www.airlineandairportlinks.com.)
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration (866/289-9673. www.tsa.gov.)
Fairbanks International Airport (907/474-2500. www.dot.state.ak.us/faiiap.)
Juneau International Airport (www.juneau.org/airport.)
Ketchikan Airport (907/225-6800. www.borough.ketchikan.ak.us/airport/airport.htm.)
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (206/787-5388 or 800/544-1965. www.portseattle.org/seatac.)
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (907/266-2525. dot.alaska.gov/anc/.)
Vancouver International Airport (604/207-7077. www.yvr.ca.)
Air travel within Alaska is quite expensive, particularly to Bush destinations where flying is the only option. A round-trip flight between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor typically costs more than $900. Flights from Anchorage to Fairbanks or Juneau are a little more forgiving; at this writing, one-way flights run about $120 and $170, respectively.
The workhorse planes of the north are the Beavers, most of which were built in the 1950s and are still flying. The cost of an air-taxi flight between towns or backcountry locations depends on distance and the type of plane used, whether the plane is on floats, the number of people in your group, the length of the flight in each direction (including the time the pilot flies back after dropping you off), and the destination. Typical hourly rates are approximately $600-$800 for a Beaver, with room for up to six people and gear; or $400-$600 for a Cessna 185, with room for three people and gear. Expect to pay more the farther you are from Anchorage.
Many scheduled flights to Bush communities are on small planes that seat 6 to 15 passengers. These planes have played a legendary part in the state's history: bush pilots helped explore Alaska and have been responsible for many dramatic rescue missions. That said, small craft have their inconveniences. They can only transport a limited amount of gear, so plan to leave your large, hard-sided suitcases behind. Small, soft duffels make more sense, and are easier for the pilot to stash in cramped cargo spaces.
Small planes also can't fly in poor weather, which could mean delays counted in days, not hours. And even on good days turbulence might leave you white-knuckled and green in the face. Fortunately, most flights are uneventful, with the scenery below—rather than a rough ride—making them memorable.
Contact Bering Air for flights from Nome or Kotzebue to smaller communities of the Far North; Era Alaska for flights from Anchorage to Cordova, Homer, Iliamna, Kenai, Kodiak, Valdez, and 17 western Alaska villages; and Frontier Flying Service, Inc. (a part of Era Alaska) for flights from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Bethel, and many Bush villages.
Try Warbelow's Air Ventures and Larry's Flying Service for flights out of Fairbanks to Interior destinations. Peninsula Airways (PenAir), based in Anchorage, covers southwestern Alaska, including Aniak, Dillingham, Dutch Harbor, McGrath, King Salmon, Sand Point, St. George, and St. Paul. Wings of Alaska serves several Southeast Alaska towns, including Gustavus, Haines, Juneau, and Skagway. Grant Aviation flies from Anchorage to Homer and Kenai as well as Bethel, Dillingham, Emmonak, and St. Mary's.
Bering Air (907/443-5464; 800/478-5422 Nome and Unalakleet reservations; 907/442-3943; 800/478-3943 Kotzebue reservations. www.beringair.com.)
Era Alaska (907/266-8394 or 800/866-8394. www.flyera.com.)
Frontier Flying Service (907/450-7200 Fairbanks; 907/266-8934 Anchorage; 800/866-8394 Outside Anchorage only. www.frontierflying.com.)
Grant Aviation (888/359-4726. www.flygrant.com.)
PenAir (907/771-2640 or 800/448-4226. www.penair.com.)
Warbelow's Air Ventures (907/474-0518 or 888/459-6250. www.warbelows.com.)
Wings of Alaska (907/789-0790 or 800/789-9464. www.wingsofalaska.com.)
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