The good, the bad and the ugly of PFD airfare deals

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

This year is no different, other than the PFD checks are distributed a couple of weeks early.

The big bargains are coming from Alaska Airlines. But this year, for the first time, Delta is rolling out discounts from all three of its year-round Alaska gateways: Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Delta offers flights from Juneau only on Saturdays and Sundays through the winter.

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

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

Whether you’re flying on Delta or Alaska, you have to plan at least 21 days in advance. That’s really not an issue, though, since many of the destinations don’t have availability until early December.

Many travelers are ready for airfares to come down from the dizzying summertime prices. Checking on PFD fares from both carriers, there’s some good, some bad and some ugly features.


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

Alaska’s Anchorage-Maui nonstop resumes in mid-December. But the deals roll out as Alaska Air introduces daily service on Jan. 9. The tickets are priced low: $159 each way.

Alaska Air also is flying nonstop every day from Anchorage to Kona between Jan. 9 and Mar. 16. The PFD special is $159 each way.

Delta’s twice-weekly flights between Juneau and Seattle this winter are enough to keep a damper on prices. The airline is charging $79 each way between Juneau and Seattle. But Juneau travelers can fly all the way to New York for $165 each way. Or to Phoenix for $140 each way.

Delta’s single daily flight between Fairbanks and Seattle also keeps prices down all winter in the Golden Heart City. Many fares, such as Fairbanks-Seattle for $99 each way, are the same as Anchorage rates. That’s a win for Fairbanks travelers, who are accustomed to paying much more for air travel. Another “common-rated” destination is San Jose del Cabo at the tip of Baja California. Whether you leave from Anchorage or Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines, the prices start at just $199 each way. The return 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 couple of Holland America cruises (including airfare), as well as two sets of Alaska Air tickets in a PFD Sweepstakes. No purchase is necessary.

Delta resumed its two-bags-free offer for Alaska residents. To qualify, you have to be a SkyMiles member at least 24 hours prior to check-in.

With both Delta and Alaska offering PFD fares, there are good deals to lots of towns that aren’t normally on sale. This includes Alaska’s PFD offers to all its destinations in Alaska (except Prudhoe Bay and seasonal service to Gustavus). For Delta, it includes destinations like Des Moines, Iowa, Fargo, N.D., Memphis, Tennessee, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Charlotte, N.C.


When you’re searching for a good deal, be aware of the connection time. Airlines will display fares that have two stops, or include 8-hour layovers. For example, on Nov. 1, Delta offers a flight from Anchorage to L.A. for $158 one-way. Alaska offers the same fare, but there’s an eight-hour layover in Seattle.

All the prices quoted here are for “Saver” tickets of “Basic Economy” on Delta. That means you cannot change your ticket. Pre-assigned seats are very rare on Alaska Air and specifically not included with Delta. On Delta, you won’t earn SkyMiles credit with Basic flights. The upcharge to “Main Cabin” is between $30 and $60 each way.

Delta is not offering a PFD special to three of its most-popular hubs: Atlanta, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. But Alaska is offering promo fares to those cities. Delta is offering a nice fare of $198 one-way between Anchorage and Detroit.


Blackouts. You cannot find a PFD fare at Thanksgiving, Christmas or Spring Break. Those flights typically are full of schoolkids, their parents and their teachers.

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

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

There are other important facts about the PFD sale. All tickets must be purchased by Sept. 29. All travel must be completed by May 17, 2023 for Alaska Air destinations. Some Delta destinations end earlier than that, though. 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 destinations in the Lower 48, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Prices and restrictions change without notice. They’ve already changed since they were introduced earlier this week. They are likely to change again before the sale ends on Sept. 29.

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I Lost My Cell Phone Before An International Trip: The Good The Bad And The Ugly


As a married couple sharing our love of culinary tourism through our Food Travelist website, our weekly #FoodTravelChat on Twitter, and amazing publications like TravelAwaits, we are seasoned international travelers. With a sense of adventure we recently relocated to Portugal. We typically travel together and manage the details of travel with ease. But when my (Diana) father was about to reach his 90th birthday, I went back to the United States to celebrate while Sue stayed in Portugal to finish up some relocation tasks and look after our cats.

After I visited with my dad for about a week, he drove me to the airport, we said our “I love yous,” and hugged goodbye. I got my boarding passes, checked my bags, and then went to text him one last time before I went through security.

Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris

But when I reached for my cell phone in the side pocket of my purse where it usually rests, it wasn’t there. Or anywhere else in my purse. Or any clothing pocket. Or my backpack. I lost my cell phone! Just as I was starting a three-flight international journey back home to Portugal my technology nightmare began. And here’s how it went from there.

Everyone Has A Cell Phone But Me

Imagine being in an airport and discovering your cell phone is missing. Is your heart pounding? Mine sure was. After no luck at the lost and found, I thought my cell must have slipped out during goodbye hugs or driving to the airport. At this airport, the payphones were gone. No loss really because the important phone numbers were in my cell phone, not my head. I asked a guard to borrow his cell to call Sue, the one person’s number that I had memorized. No answer. I left her a message to call my father about the phone. When I looked around I realized that everyone in the airport had a cell phone — everyone except me.

O'Hare Airport Interior.
Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris

Not Much I Can Do

Before an international journey, I really rely on my cell phone. My phone had the digital results of my COVID-19 test and a copy of my vaccination card. Fortunately, some paranoia caused me to keep printed copies of both with my passport. If not, my trip home would have ended there.

My fitness watch is tied into a cell phone app so I would not be able to synchronize it for each new time zone on my journey. I could not receive text messages with flight updates, gate changes, delays, or anything else from the airline. Because my flights to get to my dad’s birthday were plagued with changes and delays, not knowing what was happening made me nervous. I sat near a departure board and checked flight status at every stop.

Aha! My Laptop

I also realized that I couldn’t call anyone else to tell them what was going on. That is until I remembered I had my laptop in my backpack. Fortunately, most airports now have a free Internet connection. Hooray! Email is not instant like messaging or a call, and most people tend not to check it as often. But it is a way to communicate. I sent emails to Sue and my father hoping that at some point someone would read them.

I also remembered that my cell had a function called Find My iPhone, which I could use to see if I had really lost my phone or it was safe somewhere in my father’s car. I found the online version and entered my phone number. Success! The pinging phone was at my dad’s address. There was a ray of hope that I and my cell would someday reunite.

Seaside cityscape of Cascais city in summer day. Cascais municipality, Portugal.
Evannovostro /

Finding My Phone Is Not Getting My Phone

My flights were largely uneventful and I made it safely back home to Portugal. I used email to keep Sue apprised of my progress along the way, though much less frequently than when I would if texting. By the time I got home, my dad had been in touch with Sue. I called him using Sue’s phone and told him that my cell was in his car somewhere. He checked but did not find it. Fortunately, my nephew was visiting and quite familiar with the sounds Find My iPhone makes. He took charge and a ping or two later, he found my cell under a seat.

Though Portugal stole our hearts, one of its less wonderful features is customs for items from the United States. Most people said that if my phone made it back to me at all, it would likely get stuck in customs and cost an excessive amount to get. They suggested that maybe a friend could bring it to me when they came for a visit.

Help Is On The Way

None of my friends or family had immediate plans to visit, but I belong to online groups where expats and locals help one another, develop friendships, and provide support. I posted a note to one such Facebook group about my situation and asked for suggestions on how to get my cell back. Several wonderful people offered to bring my phone with them on a return trip to Portugal. I was shocked at how many people offered assistance. I selected Kamruddin Shams, an experienced entrepreneur who travels frequently between Lisbon and the United States. He was returning to Portugal in about a month.

Phone Sweet Phone

My dad sent my cell phone to Kamruddin at his United States address. He received it, packed it with his belongings, and carried it with him back to Portugal. Sue and I met him in Lisbon and bought him lunch at the Time Out Market as a token. The three of us found out that we had much in common, and while the phone was the reason we got together, we will certainly see one another as friends again in the future.

Diana and Kamruddin at Time Out Market Lisboa.
Sue Reddel & Diana Laskaris

The Kindness Of Strangers

Even though it is easy to be cynical about how selfish people can be, it was a humbling lesson in gratitude to realize that so many people were willing to go out of their way to help me get my phone back safely. If you ever find yourself in need of support, consider those you may know through social media groups and other common interests. There are gems just waiting to provide help and support. Do your homework of course, and don’t just trust absolutely anyone. But don’t be surprised if you find a whole online community helping you find a solution to a difficult challenge.

Life Lessons To Share

As much as I (and many of us) rely on technology, especially our almighty cell phones, this experience taught me that some low-tech backup is a good idea. When traveling, keep paper copies of important documents. Memorize or write important phone numbers on paper to take with you. Bring a regular watch that is not tied into your cell through an app as well as your sport or smartwatch. If you have a computer or laptop, add an app that allows you to read your text messages or get your calls on it if one is available from your provider.

I also learned the hard way how important it is to double and triple-check that you have your phone and all other gadgets and items whenever leaving a car, train, plane, restaurant seat, or anywhere.

The most important lesson I learned is not to be afraid to ask for help with a frustrating or confusing travel situation. I had a challenging month without my cell phone, but thanks to a generous online community, my willingness to call for help, and a wonderful person who answered the call, I got my phone back and made great new friends in the process.

Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris, writers of Food Travelist, are frequent contributors to TravelAwaits. Check out their contributions here:

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