Travel perks for Alaskans – and seniors
Native corporations, cruise lines and state ferry bargains bring Alaska to you on the cheap this season.
First off, get a Puffin Pass through Cook Inlet Region, Inc.'s travel subsidiary CIRI Alaska Tourism by applying for it online at http://www.ciritourism.com/puffin-pass.
I know, many of you may not have access to a computer, and although they used to mail a Puffin Pass card out, it's paperless now, with newsletters sent to your email.
The good thing about the pass is you can use it for visitors and family members, too.
Puffin Pass members can expect offers that span all of CIRI Alaska Tourism's lodges and tours - Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Seward Windsong Lodge and Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, in addition to Kenai Fjords Tours.
CIRI offers a 50-50 discount on it lodges and tours; take 50 percent off a second night's stay at Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge or 50 percent off the National Park Tour with dinner on Fox Island.
And Puffin Pass members can expect offers from other partner vendors throughout the year, providing special savings such as special booking codes for tickets to opening night events in Anchorage.
Look for specials on gray whale viewing trips out into Resurrection Bay that include a free onboard meal and a free ticket to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. If you vacationed in Mexico this year on the Baja Peninsula you probably saw those whales - welcome them as they return home.
There are also discounted Seward or Talkeetna overnight or one-day rail packages with the pass.
Join the Club (49)
Sign up for Alaska Airlines' special program for Alaskans - Club 49, which you can join at http://www.alaskaair.com/content/deals/club49.aspx. All you have to do is be an Alaska resident and an Alaska Airlines mileage plan member and you get:
• two free checked bags when traveling to and from Alaska;
• a Travel Now discount that gives you two annual one-way certificates for 30 percent off refundable coach fares when flying to, from or within Alaska;
• weekly fare sales alerts by email, like late March's one-way fares between Anchorage and Fairbanks for $89; Juneau and Seattle for $132; and Juneau to Anchorage for $149.
And Alaska seniors can expect to see discounts on a wide range of tourist activities and travel, some before you hit the age of 55.
From May through September, get a 10 percent discount to Glacier Bay Lodge in Gustavus, the gateway to spectacular Glacier Bay National Park. Ask for the special that includes bed and breakfast and a boat tour of the bay for two. Call 888-229-8687 or go to http://www.visitglacierbay.com.
To get to Gustavus, which has a population that hovers around 450, take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry on a $27 senior ticket for a four and a half hour ride or fly one-way for $110, or double that price for a $220 round-trip with Alaska Seaplanes. Book it at http://www.flyalaskaseaplanes.com or call 907-789-3331.
Spring to Denali
Experience the Alaska wilderness this spring in Denali at McKinley Chalet Resort and take advantage of rates from $99.95 on certain dates in May. Located just minutes from the entrance to Denali National Park, May is the best time to see all kinds of animals wake from their slumber and lumber through the park. Reserve your room at http://www.westmarkhotels.com/destinations/denali-hotel.
But the best thing about traveling the state during the summer season is meeting visitors who are so awed by Alaska that it makes you proud and renews your love for this place.