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I have recently written about my family’s fantastic summer 2014 trip to Alaska, and part of that series was a post about why a trip to Alaska should not be put off until “one day” – it needs to be taken now. This is both because Alaska was just that awesome for those who love enjoying natural outdoor adventure and beauty, but also because of the reality that you will be able to take advantage of more that Alaska has to offer if you do it while you are still active and mobile. Knowing that my own parents and aunt are planning a trip “one day” Alaska, I strongly encouraged them to bump this trip up a bit higher on their infamous “bucket list”, and thankfully they did.
They are now planning to go to Alaska in summer 2015, so as I am helping them look for award availability during peak season. I thought I would share a few tips based on our searching in case anyone else out there is working on a similar trip. Note that most of this info is based on searching out of Texas, but a fair portion of the patterns noticed would apply to starting out of other locations as well.
I recommend reading this post on the best airline award options to get to Alaska. Most of my searching started off by following the recommendations of that post.
- United availability into Anchorage on saver awards is very poor in early summer 2015. There seems to be somewhat better availability out of other cities such as San Francisco as opposed to Houston.
- Keep in mind that since Alaska is now its (more expensive) “own zone” on United, free one-ways can work with Alaska redemptions. Instead you could build in a “free” stopover and take advantage of better availability out of cities like San Francisco to combine two vacations into one. Air Canada also has some availability out of cities such as Vancouver, so don’t forget that Star Alliance partner. You will likely need to build the trip segment by segment with much the way you have to build some international trips.
- Remember booking Star Alliance award flights via another partner such as Singapore Airlines will save you over using United as it is still just 25,000 miles round trip to Alaska via Singapore’s award chart instead of 35,000 via United.
- An easier option is to use American Airlines AAdvantage miles as they are able to match together availability on American, Alaska, and US Airways for 12,500 miles each direction. You can even do this online without having to call into a service center. The itineraries aren’t all ideal routings, but they can often get you there on miles when others can’t during peak season You could also simply change the routing later on without a fee if something better opens up as long as you don’t change origin/destination or the date within 21 days of departure. Remember you also get 10% of your redeemed miles back via some AA card which brings the total price down to 22,500 miles round trip.
- Alaska Airlines miles are also a decent option, though availability on their own operated flights isn’t currently amazing out of many cities for early summer 2015.
- The 20,000 mile round trip award on Alaska Airlines via Korean Air (transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards) isn’t working out the way I had hoped due to availability limitations on Alaska operated flights. Since I am likely having to piece together Alaska and American flights to make it work, booking via Korean is currently out as that needs to be on all Alaska operated flights.
- Frontier is currently only accepting bookings through March 1, 2015, so they are not currently an option for next summer.
The good news is there are options to get to Alaska on miles in early summer 2015. The bad news is that it takes a fair amount of creativity unless you get really lucky with availability on your dates/cities. I think we are close to having something that works on miles, and for that I am very grateful since the selling price of tickets is currently around $900+.
If you are planning a similar Alaska summer 2015 trip, I’d love to know how it is going!