Alaska, There and Back Again

I touched briefly on my trip to Alaska here, covering an overview before I head into the full details of my travels around the state. Before I get into some of the travel specifics, I thought I’d cover a bit on the logistics and costs of getting to and from Alaska itself.

As I’ve mentioned before, many months ago I grabbed the Frontier Airlines Mastercard, which offered 40,000 miles as a signup bonus. While those 40,000 miles could be used to fly to a number of locations, Frontier is unique in that they count Alaska as part of the general U.S. when it comes to miles.

Screen-shot-2014-01-15-at-1.47.28-PMWhile most airlines will quote you one mile redemption for flights within the lower 48 and another to Alaska or Hawaii, Frontier comes in at around the same. Their miles requirement is also less than others, meaning I count pickup a one way ticket from New York to Alaska for just 10,000 miles. Make it a roundtrip, and bring a guest, and I knew that since I wanted to head to Alaska, this Frontier card was the way to do it.

So while planning a trip to Alaska, which would normally cost $500/$600 or even more per ticket, I knew that for my brother and I, I’d be able to redeem my Frontier miles and save a huge amount on the airfare. I ended up saving more than $1,000 in total!

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Cash price to buy via Delta

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Cash price to buy via Frontier

 

 

 

 

 

 

We departed from New York LaGuardia airport and would arrive and then leave from Anchorage. Along the way our stop-over each leg was through Denver, Colorado. Frontier’s main hub is in Denver and a good portion of their flights stop there.

I’ve been one to place a lot of stock in airport lounges or clubs, mostly for the increased cost. But let me tell you, you do see the value in stopping in when you’ve got a layover. Instead of struggling to find a comfortable chair, scrounging for a wall outlet to charge your phone, and struggling to find wi-fi that doesn’t cost $5 for 30 minutes, the dedicated airport lounges are quite nice.

Denver is home to one of American Airline’s “Admiral’s Clubs” which offer a nice, (and very quiet) break from the rest of the airport. While you’d normally need to either be flying on a first/business class flight, or pay for a membership, I have free access for the year, due to one of the credit cards I picked up his previous summer.

Along with a $450 fee and a The Citibank Executive World Elite, came with 100,000 American Airline miles, (offer not currently available), free Admiral’s Club access for a year, along with some additional perks. $450 is a lot, just to have a credit card, however during the promotion there was a $200 “statement credit” after your first purchase. So this became 100,000 miles and free club access for the year, for $250. Even if you don’t value lounge access at all, you’re in essence buying 100,000 miles for a quarter of a cent, an amazing deal by itself.

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Having about a two hour layover both on our trip out and our trip back a week later, meant that it was worth taking the time to walk up to the Admiral’s Club, located around Gate A40 in the Denver Airport. The Citi Executive allows you to bring guests traveling with you, so my brother and I both stopped in. The lounge was nice, with comfortable chairs, some free snacks like cheese, vegetables, or cookies, as well as tea and coffee. They also had one free beer on tap and one type of wine. Wireless internet was complimentary, computers, newspapers and televisions were available, and the room was nicely climate controlled and obviously much quieter than the general terminal.

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While the Citi Executive would probably be on the lower end of cards I’d currently recommend due to the fact it’s 100,000 bonus is no longer being offered, it was tremendously nice to have a chance to relax between very long flights across multiple time zones.

And while I knew Alaska would be more costly than most locations, I was glad to pick up pretty much free airline tickets for it simply by planning ahead and focusing on a program (Frontier), that maximized my miles.

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