The Good, Bad and Ugly of PFD Airline Ticket Deals

Alaskans have grown on the Permanent Fund dividend — and with the travel deals that come with the annual payout.

This year is no different, except that the VFI checks are distributed a few weeks earlier.

Good deals come from Alaska Airlines. But this year, for the first time, Delta is rolling out discounts at its three year-round hotspots in Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Delta offers flights from Juneau only on Saturdays and Sundays during the winter.

Alaska Air, for its part, offers sale prices from all of its jet ports except Prudhoe Bay. In addition to offering great deals on flights to the Lower 48, Alaska offers discounted fares for travel within the state. Kotzebue to Anchorage is $126 one way. Fairbanks to Bethel is $164 one way.

Delta offers discount fares to most, but not all, of its destinations in the Lower 48. From Rochester, New York, to Birmingham, Alabama, to Duluth, Minnesota, Delta offers a PFD fare.

Whether you’re flying Delta or Alaska, you need to plan at least 21 days in advance. This really isn’t a problem, as many destinations aren’t available until early December.

Many travelers are ready for airfares to come down from sky-high summer prices. Checking the PFD fares of both carriers, there are good, bad, and ugly features.

Good

Alaska Airlines is resuming nonstop flights to Hawaii from Anchorage. The nonstop route to Honolulu begins Nov. 18, but prices are high until Jan. 9, 2023, when tickets are available for as low as $177 one-way.

Nonstop Anchorage-Maui Alaska service resumes in mid-December. But the deals are rolling out as Alaska Air introduces daily service on Jan. 9. Tickets are cheap: $159 each way.

Alaska Air also flies nonstop daily from Anchorage to Kona between January 9 and March 16. The PFD special is $159 each way.

Delta’s twice-weekly flights between Juneau and Seattle this winter are enough to keep prices down. The airline charges $79 each way between Juneau and Seattle. But travelers from Juneau can fly to New York for $165 each way. Or to Phoenix for $140 each way.

Delta’s once-daily flight between Fairbanks and Seattle also keeps prices low all winter in the Golden Heart City. Many fares, such as Fairbanks-Seattle for $99 each way, are the same as Anchorage fares. It’s a win for Fairbanks travelers, who are used to paying a lot more for air travel. Another “common” destination is San Jose del Cabo, at the tip of Baja California. Whether you’re departing from Anchorage or Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines, prices start at just $199 each way. Round-trip flights cost more: from $249 one-way.

Alaska Airlines is bringing extra firepower to its PFD sale this year. The airline is giving away a few Holland America cruises (including airfare), as well as two sets of Alaska Air tickets through a PFD contest. No purchase is necessary.

Delta has resumed its two-bag free offer for Alaska residents. To be eligible, you must be a SkyMiles member at least 24 hours prior to check-in.

With Delta and Alaska offering PFD fares, there are great deals for many cities that aren’t normally on sale. This includes PFD offerings from Alaska to all of its destinations in Alaska (except Prudhoe Bay and seasonal service to Gustavus). For Delta, this includes destinations like Des Moines, Iowa, Fargo, ND, Memphis, Tennessee, Fayetteville, Arkansas and Charlotte, NC

Wrong

When looking for a good deal, be aware of the connection time. Airlines will display fares with two stopovers or with 8-hour stopovers. For example, on November 1, Delta is offering a flight from Anchorage to LA for $158 one way. Alaska offers the same fare, but there is an eight-hour layover in Seattle.

All prices listed here are for Basic Economy “Saver” tickets on Delta. This means that you cannot modify your ticket. Pre-assigned seats are very rare on Alaska Air and are specifically not included with Delta. On Delta, you will not earn SkyMiles credit on Basic flights. The supplement for “Main Cabin” is between $30 and $60 per trip.

Delta does not offer special PFDs at three of its most popular hubs: Atlanta, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. But Alaska offers promotional fares to these cities. Delta offers a good $198 one-way fare between Anchorage and Detroit.

Ugly

Blackouts. You can’t find a PFD fare at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Spring Break. These flights are usually filled with school children, their parents and their teachers.

Alaska Air blackout dates are complete: Nov. 17-28 (Thanksgiving), Dec. 15-Jan. 8, 2023 (Christmas), and Mar. 10-21, 2023 (Spring Break).

Delta’s list of blackout dates is more complicated: November 18-29, December 16-18, December 20-24, and December 26-Jan. 3, 2023. February 16-17, 20. March 3-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27 and 30-April 3. April 6-10, 13-16, 21-23.

There are other important facts about the sale of PFDs. All tickets must be purchased by September 29. All travel must be completed by May 17, 2023 for Alaska Air destinations. Some Delta destinations end earlier than that, however. For example, travel on Delta to Memphis is available for $198 one way and travel must be completed by March 8, 2023.

Between Alaska and most Lower 48 destinations, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Prices and restrictions change without notice. They have already changed since their introduction earlier this week. They are subject to change again before the sale ends on September 29.

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