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New nonstop flights from Anchorage could help Alaskans beat wintertime blues

Scott McMurren
Alaska Airlines has served both Anchorage-Las Vegas and Anchorage-Phoenix with nonstops before, but only with red-eye flights. The new flights will operate three days a week. Anchorage-Phoenix will run on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; Anchorage-Las Vegas on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Courtesy Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Alaska Airlines is continuing its expansion of new, nonstop routes from Anchorage with wintertime flights to two sunshine destinations: Las Vegas and Phoenix. The new flights, which don't start until mid-December, also will operate during daylight hours. So that means no red-eye departures or late-night returns.

Alaska Airlines has served both Anchorage-Las Vegas and Anchorage-Phoenix with nonstops before, but only with red-eye flights. The new flights will operate three days a week. Anchorage-Phoenix will run on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; Anchorage-Las Vegas on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

To kick off the service, Alaska is offering discounted air fares for travel in January and February of 2014. The Anchorage-Las Vegas flight, which starts on Dec. 19, 2013, is on sale for as little as $179 each way (for travel between Jan. 8 and Mar. 3, 2014). The Anchorage-Phoenix flights, which start Dec. 18, 2013, are available for as little as $189 each way (for travel between Jan. 8 and March 3, 2014). These sale fares will be offered starting Wednesday and must be purchased no later than June 13, 2013. 

Below are the departure and arrival times for each flight.

Start date    City pair                   Departs      Arrives     Frequency

Dec. 18              Anchorage-Phoenix       9:10 a.m.     4:35 p.m.    Mon, Wed, Sat
Dec. 18              Phoenix-Anchorage       5:35 p.m.     9:30 p.m.    Mon, Wed, Sat
Dec. 19              Anchorage-Las Vegas    10:05 a.m.   4:10 p.m.    Thu, Fri, Sun
Dec. 19              Las Vegas-Anchorage    5:10 p.m.     9:45 p.m.    Thu, Fri, Sun

Times based on local time zones.

In other news, between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska Airlines plans to replace its Boeing 737s with smaller prop planes operated by Horizon Air. The Bombardier Q400 aircraft seat 76 passengers in a 2x2 configuration (no middle seats).  Starting Mar. 3, 2014, Alaska will operate eight flights each day with the Q400s, plus one 737-combi aircraft. That's an increase from seven to nine daily flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks. 

Era Alaska also flies between Anchorage and Fairbanks with pressurized, twin-prop aircraft: the 37-passenger Dash-8 (an older, smaller version of the Q400) and 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900s. Era Alaska offers four flights each day.

While the additional flights will allow for more mid-day flights between the two cities, there are some other changes, too. The prop planes are boarded from the outside instead of through the indoor jetways. Also, the Q400s (and the 737-combi) are all-coach. Alaska Airlines still will offer 737 service north to Barrow and Prudhoe Bay and southbound with its nonstops to Seattle (year-round) and Portland (summer-only). 

Alaska also will utilize the Q400s to replace one of two daily 737 flights between Anchorage and Kodiak between March 3 and April 30, 2014. 

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based travel marketing consultant who has lived in Alaska for three decades, spending much of that time traveling the far-flung corners of the state. Visit his website at www.alaskatravelgram.com or follow him on Twitter for breaking travel news.