By Dimitra Lavrakas
Senior Voice Travel Correspondent 

COVID restrictions lift and travelers are raring to go


April 1, 2022 | View PDF

Dimitra Lavrakas photo

The famous Alaska Airlines salmon plane before takeoff.

The planes and ships want you back - desperately. But only you can decide if you feel safe enough to go.

I ping-ponged back and forth from Alaska to the east coast three times between late summer and winter last year. I wore my mask, disinfected my hands with a spray I carried, wash my hands, and tried not to touch things like doorknobs and railings. I am still alive.

Airlines and cruise ships are flinging discounts about madly and maybe if you feel you can go out safely, it might be time to catch a bargain.

For Alaskans only

Only Alaskans, and that includes snowbirds, can sign up for a free Alaska Airlines Club 49 mileage plan program. The company says it's their way to show "gratitude to the state that gave us our name and the people who've kept us flying for more than 80 years."

You can realize significant discounts and perks with this program.

Members enjoy exclusive benefits when traveling to, from, or within the state of Alaska on Alaska Airlines. You just have to be an Alaska state resident and Mileage Plan member.

Note that children under age 13 cannot be enrolled online. Call 1-800-654-5669 (TTY: dial 711 for relay services) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, or between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Time, Saturday.

Club 49 members and all passengers on the same reservation can check two bags for free when traveling to or from Alaska.

You will receive two Travel Now discounts per year, good for 30 percent off one-way travel in a refundable Y-Class fare to, from or within Alaska on Alaska, but it must be booked within four days of departure.

Alaskans haul a lot of stuff around. With Freight for Less, Club 49 members can ship up to 100 pounds in up to two 35-gallon totes or sturdy shipping containers that do not exceed 20"x30"x15" at each for $49 (plus tax). Shipping is only for within the state of Alaska. Oversized, unpackaged or hazardous materials may not be shipped. For cargo shipping details including allowable contents, go to

Freight for less shipments can be made Monday through Saturday during cargo operation hours. Freight offices across Alaska have limited hours on Sundays and accept only Priority and Gold Streak shipments.

While we all look wistfully back to the time when Alaska Air offered three tickets for our PFDs, in mid-March they offered one-way prices for as low as $89: Anchorage to Fairbanks for $88; Anchorage to Seattle for $99; Fairbanks to Seattle for $149; Anchorage to Las Vegas for $162; or Juneau to Seattle for $149. Prices change by date so make sure you check out the schedule for the cheapest time to travel.

Sail in the lap of luxury

Cruise lines took a big economic hit over the last three years. They're practically giving away seats now.

For Skagway, beginning April 26, there will be one to four ships in the harbor every day until October 19 and the fall storms that swoop in and curtail the season. Even Disney ships are coming back.

And Juneau will see as many as six ships at a time. However, Juneauites reportedly are beginning to tire of the cruise ship economy that lightens their property taxes, and want to see less ships.

For Alaskans this may be the time to gather up the family and grab some discounts out of Seattle and see the Alaska you've never had the chance to explore. Cruising is one way to sample locations and you can come back independently for a deeper look.

Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a discounted $249 per person fare (35 percent off) that includes a free open bar, free specialty dining, free excursions, free WiFi, with stops in Victoria and Ketchikan. Or $399 per person from Seward to Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and finally, Vancouver. Take the Alaska Railroad to Seward and fly back from Vancouver.

If you combine this trip with Alaska Airlines one-way fares, you win big.

Alaskans would greatly enjoy Icy Strait Point, Alaska's only privately owned cruise ship destination. Thirty-five miles west of Juneau in Hoonah, its cruise line visitors come off Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas.

Dimitra Lavrakas photo

Three ships berthed in Skagway sparkle in the evening.

In 1912, the Hoonah Packing Company built the first cannery and it changed hands several times before the Icy Strait Salmon Company purchased it in 1932. After a fire destroyed the town on June 14, 1944, many residents made the cannery their home while the city was rebuilt.

In 1996, the Huna Totem Corporation bought the cannery and created a destination that offers insight into Tlingit culture and traditions as well as cannery history.

Royal Caribbean offers 30 percent off deals on its Alaska cruises and you can also get $50 off your cruise if you sign up for email alerts. That makes the seven-day cruise from Seward a mere $318 to cruise to Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, through the Inside Passage, to Vancouver.

If you're a mileage plan and Club 49 member you can purchase a flight out of Seattle to Anchorage for $131 to $164 in May.

Free food, free drinks, free scenery - you can't go wrong.


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