When you fly to Alaska, you will probably land in Anchorage. The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is the state’s main travel gateway.
This airy, modern facility with a large Alaska Airlines presence is served by many large carriers with flight connections throughout the United States and the world. It sees five million passengers a year—and was ranked fifth in the world for on-time performance in 2017. (It’s also the sixth busiest cargo airport in the world.)
Most travelers to Alaska choose to fly into Anchorage. As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage acts as the travel hub for the whole state, with air connections to every other large town and many of the state’s 240 small rural airports. From Anchorage—the state’s logistic nexus—you can catch a train, rent a car or motorhome, board a bus or tour, and shop for supplies. It’s easy to launch a trip to almost any place in the Last Frontier from Anchorage. And the city also serves as a destination all its own, with plenty of recreation and lodging options.
In particular, the city works best as the regional center for travel throughout the southern half of the state, especially for communities and outposts in western Alaska, the Aleutian Chain and the Gulf of Alaska. Many smaller airlines and air services operate from the world’s busiest seaplane base at Lake Hood and the city-managed Merrill Field.
But keep in mind that Alaska has two other major gateway airports: Fairbanks and Juneau. Each function as a more direct travel hub inside their respective regions, often with better connections and more destinations within those areas. Fairbanks provides flights to communities in Interior and northern Alaska, and the Yukon River Valley. Juneau offers flights and seaplane connections to towns and outposts scattered throughout the archipelago of Southeast Alaska. Like Anchorage, both Fairbanks and Juneau have nonstop flights to Seattle. Both communities offer full services and transportation to launch trips.
Year-Round Non-Stop flights to Alaska
|Chicago, IL||Anchorage, AK||2847||6 hr 15 min||Alaska Airlines. United American|
|Honolulu, HI||Anchorage, AK||2783||6 hr 5 min||Alaska Airlines|
|Denver, CO||Anchorage, AK||2399||5 hr 22 min||United|
|Los Angeles, CA||Anchorage, AK||2343||5 hr 14 min||Alaska Airlines|
|Las Vegas, NV||Anchorage, AK||2293||5 hr 20 min||Alaska Airlines, Delta, American, United|
|Minneapolis, MN||Anchorage, AK||2512||5 hr 45 min||Delta, Sun Country|
|Phoenix, AZ||Anchorage, AK||2549||5 hr 51 min||Alaska Airlines, United, American|
|Portland, OR||Anchorage, AK||1539||3 hr 49 min||Alaska Airlines, Jet Blue|
|Seattle, WA||Anchorage, AK||1445||3 hr 34 min||Delta, Alaska Airlines, Jet Blue, Sun Country, United|
|Seattle, WA||Fairbanks, AK||1522||3 hr 30 min||Alaska Airlines, Delta|
|Seattle, WA||Juneau, AK||898||2 hr 30 min||Alaska Airlines|
Summer Only Non-Stop Flights to Alaska
|Chicago, IL||Anchorage, AK||2847||6 hr 53 min||United, Alaska Airlines|
|Dallas, TX||Anchorage, AK||3042||6 hr 45 min||American Airline|
|Frankfurt, Germany||Anchorage, AK||4665||9 hr 40 min||Condor|
|Reykjavik, Iceland||Anchorage, AK||3383||7 hr 20 min||Icelandair|
|San Francisco, CA||Anchorage, AK||2015||4 hr 55 min||United|
|Salt Lake City, UT||Anchorage, AK||2121||4 hr 50 min||Delta, Alaska Airlines, American|
|Vancouver, Canada||Anchorage, AK||1328||3 hr 18 min||Air Canada|
It’s Easy to Build Your Itinerary
Most domestic carriers offer daily connections to Alaska year-round, as well as summer non-stops from their major hub cities around the U.S. Seasonal schedules are released around the beginning of April; they usually begin in early June and end in late August.
Non-stops flights are popular, so it may be harder to get cheaper fares or redeem frequent-flier miles for them, but certain markets—like Denver, Chicago, and San Francisco—are competitive right now, offering more choices and better fares. Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas also regularly feature good fares and connections.
Most Alaskans check Alaska Airlines first because it offers the greatest number flights throughout the entire year. It also partners with smaller carriers to help make connections between Anchorage and smaller communities.
For the larger carriers (mostly American, United and US Air), some of the flights are operated as “codeshare,” so although you booked a seat through one of these airlines, you’ll often be traveling on an Alaska Airlines plane.
More Insider Tips:
- Start checking for airline tickets a season or two in advance. You can usually find round trip tickets in the $400 to $600 range from the Midwest and East, and in the $350 to $500 range from the West and West coast. Best prices are often found traveling from cities serviced by Alaska Airlines. Competition generates bargains!
- Check the Permanent Fund Dividend airfare sale in September. Every October, Alaska residents receive a dividend from the state’s oil-revenue-driven savings account. As a result, Alaska Airlines and other carriers typically hold a fare sale beginning in late September—sometimes offering extraordinary discounts on travel in-and-out of the state. Many Alaskans buy all of their airline tickets for the year during this sale. While the bargain fares are oriented toward round trips that originate in Alaska, deals can found for tickets from outside the state.
- Consider that PFD sale for in-state travel too. Air travel inside Alaska can be as expensive (and time consuming) as getting to the state in the first place. The fall PFD sale often includes great bargains for flights between Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau to-and-from outlying communities.
- Bring snacks and/or travel pillows. The five-to-six hour duration of a typical nonstop flight to Alaska is moderately long. Think through what lightweight extras might make you more comfortable or enable you to snooze.
- Pacific Northwest connection. A large percentage of one-stop and two-stop flights make a stopover in Seattle or Portland, the two closest U.S. cities. Flights originating there are often much less expensive than flights from almost anywhere else. There are multiple flights each day, too.
- Remember the time change. Alaska is four hours ahead of the Eastern Time, and an hour ahead of Pacific Time.