Flight availability is changing, in part due to soaring jet fuel prices. Here’s how to navigate the changes as you make plans for the summer.
How many Alaskans have international travel on their list for this summer?
Many travelers have postponed their trips abroad due to the pandemic. But now they’re ready to fly, despite mask mandates and vaccination restrictions.
A popular travel option, Icelandair’s twice-weekly non-stop flight to Reykjavik, has just been cancelled. But not because of COVID.
The message came in an email on Wednesday, confirmed the next day by the airport company that handles ground operations for seasonal carriers.
The folks at Icelandair were eagerly awaiting the May 16 launch after a two-year absence.
“A few variables were involved in the decision, but fuel is the main factor right now,” wrote Michael Raucheisen, Icelandair’s communications manager for North America.
Over the past month, the average price of domestic jet fuel – Lower 48 – has risen more than 50% from $2.68 per gallon to $4.12 per gallon, according to the US Argus. Jet Fuel Index.
In addition to suspending non-stop Anchorage-Reykjavik flights, Icelandair will institute a fuel surcharge from April 1.
Travelers who purchased tickets on Icelandair should contact the airline immediately to book flights, likely through Seattle.
This summer, Icelandair will offer two daily flights between Seattle and Reykjavik, with connections to other European destinations. Icelandair has several other gateways in addition to Seattle from the Lower 48, including Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, and Boston. Call Icelandair’s reservations line: 800-223-5500.
Icelandair is a mile and code share partner with Alaska Airlines. If you go to the Icelandair website, you can still book flights from Anchorage to Iceland. But there are no more stopovers available – all flights go through Seattle.
If you booked your trip on Icelandair with Alaska Airlines using cash or miles, you will need to contact Alaska Airlines to rebook your trip: 800-252-7522. If you booked through a travel agency, including online travel agencies such as Expedia or Priceline, you will need to contact that agency or company.
Iceland is a great adventure destination – much more than just a connecting airport. If you’re going beyond Iceland on your trip to Europe, be sure to plan a stopover. Discover the giant waterfalls, the incredible landscapes and its friendly inhabitants. Even if you’re only here for a long layover, you can get a taste of the country nearby blue lagoon appeal. It is located between Keflavik Airport and downtown Reykjavik. Many people plan a stopover there before their flight. It’s super relaxing.
Two other airlines, Condor and Eurowings-Discover, plan to operate nonstop service between Anchorage and Europe via Frankfurt, Germany. Condor has been traveling the road for over 20 years. Condor’s first flight of the season – after a two-year absence – is May 21. Prices for a one-week trip to Frankfurt on the first flight start at $880 round-trip. The airline will offer three flights a week, one of which will stop in Fairbanks en route.
Eurowings-Discover is a subsidiary of Lufthansa. The airline is planning three nonstop flights a week – Monday, Thursday and Saturday. But the prices for Frankfurt are more than double those of Condor. Flights begin June 13 and the cost of the first flight is $1,734 round trip.
Icelandair is not the only airline to cancel flights this summer.
Frontier Airlines, with a hub in Denver, had planned to return this summer with two weekly flights during the summer. But the availability suddenly disappeared and Anchorage could no longer be found on the road map.
Fuel prices are likely a contributing factor to Frontier’s decision. But a more important consideration as Alaska Airlines and United will offer nonstop Anchorage-Denver service. United liaises year-round. Alaska resumes nonstop flights on May 19.
Airlines place a lot of importance on launching new services, but often fail to mention when they are pulling out of a market.
Last summer, Delta rolled out a collection of wonderful nonstop flights for weekend trips: Anchorage-New York/Kennedy, Anchorage-Detroit, and Anchorage-Los Angeles. But these flights are not on the program this summer. Neither was Delta’s Fairbanks-Salt Lake from last summer.
However, Delta’s long-haul nonstop service from Anchorage to Atlanta kicks off May 1. Other nonstop routes remain on the schedule from Anchorage to Minneapolis, Seattle and Salt Lake City, as well as Fairbanks-Minneapolis.
United are dropping one of their flights this summer, but that’s weird. Last summer I flew from Anchorage to Fairbanks on United. A first class ticket cost me $60. It was a wonderful option, but it’s not available this summer.
United’s first seasonal flight to Chicago from Anchorage departs Sunday evening, March 27. In addition to Chicago and Denver, United will offer nonstop summer service from Anchorage to Newark, Houston and San Francisco, as well as Fairbanks-Chicago.
American Airlines is dropping Fairbanks service altogether, according to Fairbanks Airport Manager Angie Spear. Last summer, I flew from Fairbanks to Chicago with American on a new Airbus A321. Last year they also flew to Dallas. This summer, American will fly nonstop from Anchorage to Dallas and Chicago starting May 5.
Alaska Airlines has no plans to cancel or reduce its summer schedule, which features a bumper crop of new nonstop flights from Anchorage, including service to Salt Lake, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco and Minneapolis.