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Airlines offer Alaskans cheap flights to US airports off beaten path

Scott McMurren
Loren Holmes photo

It's fascinating to see air fares go up and down. It's really fascinating to see them go down to somewhere you actually want to fly.

This summer, Alaskans have seen some all-time lows to destinations like Long Beach and Los Angeles. Lately, we've seen some "mileage run" opportunities to far-flung cities like San Juan, Puerto Rico ($568 roundtrip in coach, or $854 roundtrip in first class on Delta Airlines). 

We always keep a keen eye on Alaska Airlines weekly "Club 49" specials. This week, the Alaska travel deal is between Anchorage and San Diego during October: $497 roundtrip. You must purchase this by Thursday evening, Aug. 2, 2012. San Diego deals also are available from Juneau ($496 roundtrip) and from Fairbanks ($558 roundtrip). 

Some of the better deals for fall travel are in smaller towns scattered across the Lower 48. Let's review:

"T" for Texas. There are not any good deals for travel between Anchorage and either Dallas or Houston. That can change quickly, but right now the least-expensive tickets are between $615 and $700 roundtrip. But American Airlines is offering some great deals to small towns around the state, including:

1. Tyler, Tex. for $501 roundtirp

2. College Station, Tex. for $509 roundtrip

3. Corpus Christi, Tex. for $509 roundtrip

4. Brownsville, Tex. for $509 roundtrip

5. McAllen, Tex. for $509 roundtrip

United Airlines offers a couple of deals in the area, including Anchorage-Harlingen, Tex., for $515 roundtrip and Anchorage-Lake Charles, La., -- almost Texas -- for $511 roundtrip.

Almost Heaven: West Virginia. Don't ask me why United Airlines is putting these small towns in and around West Virginia on sale from Anchorage. But they are:

1. Parkersburg, WV $511 roundtrip

2. Clarksburg, WV $509 roundtrip

3. Morgantown, WV $509 roundtrip

4. Staunton, Va., $517 roundtirp

5. Johnstown, Penn., $517 roundtrip

6. Altoona, Penn., $517 roundtrip

Just for comparison, the cheapest rate between Anchorage and Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., is $681 roundtrip. A cheap ticket to nearby Pittsburgh? Forget it: $677 roundtrip. And always-pricey Cincinnati comes in at $740 roundtrip (gasp).

Missouri, the "Show Me" state, gets some good rates. Alaska Airlines is offering a great rate of $457 roundtrip between Anchorage and St. Louis starting in late September. Alaska Airlines also is offering the same $457 roundtrip rate between Anchorage and Kansas City, Mo.

In the neighborhood, United is offering a good deal to Paducah, Ky. Why ask why? $509 roundtrip from Anchorage. Springfield, Ill.? American will fly you from Anchorage for $513 roundtrip. 

Headed for Colorado? Denver isn't as cheap this fall as it was earlier this summer. No, the best deals in Colorado from Anchorage are:

1. Durango $513 roundtrip on United

2. Montrose $513 roundtrip on United

Staying in Alaska? Don't miss out on a couple of in-state deals from our friends at PenAir:

1. Anchorage-Aniak on Thursdays and Saturdays: $248 roundtrip.

2. Anchorage-Unalakleet on Thursdays and Saturdays: $248 roundtrip.

And don't forget the great deals later this month between Anchorage and the Los Angeles area: There aren't that many seats left, but I found seats for travel between Aug. 22 and 29, 2012: $313 roundtrip on Alaska Airlines. Or, between Anchorage and Orange County (SNA): Aug. 23-29, 2012 for $309 roundtrip. Finally, fly between Anchorage and Long Beach on jetBlue, Aug. 22-Sep. 3, 2012 for $307 roundtrip. Awesome! 

Online Resources:

PenAir: www.penair.com
Alaska Airlines: www.alaskaair.com
American Airlines: www.aa.com
United Airlines: www.united.com
Delta Air Lines: www.delta.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.