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Airfares stay low out of Alaska even as summer tourism season winds down

Scott McMurren

It's a real-live round-up as we review the bargain air fares this week.

First, there's a crop of Alaska Airlines Club 49 fares that must be purchased no later than Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. These popular fares are only eligible for Alaskans who sign up for Club 49; Alaska travelers also get two free checked bags when traveling to or from Alaska just for being part of the club.

  • Anchorage-Juneau for $193 roundtrip. Travel between Aug. 28 and Sept. 25, 2012. Purchase by Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012.
  • Anchorage-Kodiak for $184 roundtrip. Travel between Aug. 28 and Sept. 25, 2012. Purchase by Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012.
  • Anchorage-Las Vegas for $457 roundtrip. Travel during October 2012. Purchase by Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012.
  • Discounted rates also are available to Las Vegas from Fairbanks ($558 roundtrip), Kodiak ($555 roundtrip) and Ketchikan ($451 roundtrip). 

Alaska Airlines also is offering a great fare on nonstop flights between Anchorage and Honolulu. Fly through Dec. 10, 2012 for $419 roundtrip. From Fairbanks, the fare is $479 roundtrip. Discounted rates also are available from Bethel, Juneau, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome and Sitka. Purchase no later than Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.

We've reviewed the great fares from Anchorage to Southern California all summer, as low as $309 roundtrip through Labor Day. But USAirways is offering rates as low as $383 roundtrip in October. These low fares aren't available every day, but I found seats from Anchorage to Long Beach (via Phoenix) on Oct. 14, returning on Oct. 26, 2012. 

Another low-fare market all summer has been the Anchorage-Denver route. Although Alaska Airlines and Frontier halt their seasonal nonstops in September, United Airlines will fly nonstop all winter long. But it's USAirways that has the best price: $477 roundtrip in October. 

Want to fly to Phoenix this autumn? USAirways flies nonstop from Anchorage. But to get the best price on that flight, purchase it through United Airlines, which is booking seats on the USAir flight through a code-share agreement for $455 roundtrip.

That's a great deal -- and about $100 less than USAir is charging. Strange but true.

Find late-breaking airfare deals at Alaska Travel Gram's Twitter feed, #AirFare911

International flights

Prices are dropping next month on Condor's nonstop flights from Alaska to Germany. Fly to Frankfurt on Sept. 4, 2012, returning on Sept. 11, 2012 for $816 roundtrip. Or, depart Sept. 29 and return to Alaska Oct. 6, 2012 -- Condor's last flight to Alaska of the season -- for $792 roundtrip.

Prefer warmer weather? Delta Airlines has a great deal on travel from Anchorage to San Juan, Puerto Rico: purchase a coach seat for just $567 roundtrip. But for real value, enjoy the 4,900 mile flight in first class for just $854 roundtrip. Plenty of dates are available in September and October.

Expect more great deals as summer to see some more great deals as summer travel winds down, but it's hard to predict when and where the discounts will appear.

"When is the best time to buy tickets?" readers ask. Unfortunately, there isn't any "best" answer.

See a good fare? Grab it. Sign up for alerts for specific city-to-city travel at Fare Compare. Other sites, such as Expedia and Travelocity, also offer fare-tracking options.

Online resources:

Alaska Airlines Club 49: www.alaskaair.com/club49
USAir: www.usairways.com
United: www.united.com
Condor: www.condor.com
Fare Compare: www.farecompare.com

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. And follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/alaskatravelgrm for breaking updates.