Stack Deals to See the Northern Lights in Alaska for Less

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One of my travel wish list items that has yet to be completed is to see the Northern Lights. I’ve been north to Alaska and Norway, but I have not yet seen the Northern Lights. Of course there is no guarantee of seeing the magical aurora borealis even if you plan to be in the optimal spot at the optimal time, but you can certainly increase your odds if you plan your travel strategically.

One spot with relatively good odds of seeing the Northern Lights is in Alaska, especially above the Arctic Circle from fall to early spring. I’ve read that if you spend three nights in Fairbanks during that timeframe that you have an 80% chance of being there during a visible Northern Lights event.


With that in mind, today I saw a winter airfare deal from Houston to Anchorage from about $366 that made me think about one day taking a fun winter trip to Alaska in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. Of course, I also wanted to share a way you could do the same for an even better deal than that…assuming you wanted to bring a friend.

If you took advantage of a similar fare sale on Alaska Airlines to Anchorage or Fairbanks and then also used the Companion Certificate that you get with the Alaska Airlines credit card where a friend can travel with you for just $99 + taxes/fees, then two people could head to Alaska this winter from about $526 total, or $263 each, to have a good shot at seeing one of nature’s finest shows!


Being able to fly about 7,000 total miles from Houston to Alaska and back for just $263 per person is a pretty stellar deal, especially if it gets you to where you want to be when you want to be there. You can even use hotel points to stay in Fairbanks at somewhere like the Holiday Inn Express Fairbanks for just 15,000 points per night. Here is a post on some points-friendly hotel options in Alaska.

I’m not hopping on this idea this year, but I am certainly filing it away from when the girls are a little bit older. If you are considering a trip like this, just be aware that average winter temperatures in Fairbanks can be -20 degrees, and dip even further below that on the coldest days. There is also of course no guarantee you will see the Northern Lights, so be sure to plan some other activities for while you are there such as epic dog sledding or even skiing at the resort with the northern most chair lift in the United States!

Of course today’s airfare deals to Alaska won’t help everyone who wants to see the lights, but I wanted to mention this method of deal stacking to get to Alaska on Alaska Airlines so you can file it away for future use even if it won’t help you out this winter.

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  1. Little trivia: The best locations to observe northern light are under the aurora oval, not inside arctic circle. Fairbanks happens to be under the oval, so ideal for northern light watching. Yellowknife is another popular location. Anchorage is typically south of the oval, so one has to look north to see the light.

  2. We’re zero for four on the northern lights… Alaska (2 weeks, October), Alaska and the Yukon (10 days, September), Iceland (2 weeks, October), and Norway (11 days, October). Great trips and that was the only disappointment.

    Good luck to all… just don’t make the the be all/end all of your trip.

    • My brother and I went on a bucket list trip to see the auroras in Alaska in March, 2012. We went on an aurora tour and went north of the Arctic Circle to the Cold Foot truck stop and then to nearby Wiseman. We flew back to Fairbanks and we went to the Chena Hot Springs. We saw amazing displays of aurora 4 out of 4 nights.

      Most of the time, the auroras were green, slow moving sheets, but during solar midnight (when the sun is directly opposite your position on the earth), they got very active and we saw many colors. This was happening around 2AM.

      We timed our visit to see the Fairbanks World Ice Art Championships in March.

      At night, temperatures were about -20 deg. F. We had heavy duty down insulation, but our feet got cold. I noticed that our guide wore and the Chena Lodge rented out “Mickey Mouse” boots. They look like the shoes Mickey Mouse wears. These are government surplus insulated cold weather boots rated to -20 deg. F. My BassPro extreme cold weather boots got cold after about 20 minutes.

      There is a lot of luck in seeing auroras. My friend went two years ago and saw weak ones 2 out of 4 nights. My ophthalmologist went to Barrow, at the same time as my trip, and it was too cloudy every night, because it was on the ocean.

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