Getting the most out of your award ticket

When you think of escaping the winter cold, Alaska isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind. But sometimes you just get lucky!

Alaska’s always a place I’ve wanted to visit, maybe half from watching Wild, and half from Ice Road Truckers. With family and work in the states, it’s not often we’ve got enough ‘free time’ to go explore, so this January was an exception. We booked 2 days before leaving and with fares of ~$600 it seemed a sensible time to burn some AAdvantage miles.

At the saver level, a one way anywhere in the lower 48 + Alaska is 12,500 miles. With taxes the whole journey was 50k miles + $50.

Round trip awardOne surprise worth noting was on our outbound journey, we arrived in Seattle to a 2 1/2 hour layover. Noticing that the next SEA-ANC flight with AS left in just 30 minutes, and given that we had no checked baggage with us, we thought we’d ask to move onto the earlier flight. Sure enough, it wasn’t a problem and in 2 minutes we had the new boarding passes.

Boarding early for Anchorage:

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On the tarmac in Anchorage:IMG-20150109-00477

The strange thing was when I checked my AAdvantage account a couple of days later, it seemed that the system (presumably due to us moving across to a different flight) forgot we were on an award ticket and went ahead and gave us full EQMs and EQPs for the segment:

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We stayed at the Extended Stay America on 8th St in Anchorage the first night. 3rd time’s a charm with the rooms (dirty toilet and then a very smoky non smoking room ruled the first 2 out). Second night we travelled to Chena Hot Springs where they were running a half price deal over winter. It’s truly worth a visit!

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Third night was the Hampton Suites in Fairbanks – decent hotel and fair price. The staff were fantastic.

Final night was the Sheraton in downtown Anchorage. Rooms were around $110 vs $240 at the Hilton on a weeknight.

Thoughts on Landing

Alaska is about the most beautiful place I have visited. Do not rule it out in the winter – it was swaying right around freezing for the 4 days we were there and clear enough skies during the day to get unbelievable views over the plains and mountains. As far as maximising an award redemption, it’s a great destination to keep in mind. Especially if you happen to be coming from Miami!

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