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Alaska Anniversary Trip with Cruise

Alaska Anniversary Trip with Cruise

Old Aug 29, 16, 12:42 pm
  #1  
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Alaska Anniversary Trip with Cruise

Want to send my parents to Alaska for their anniversary. Looking for some help getting them there in a great First Class product. I have plenty of Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Any suggestions on a great product for a great point value? They would be flying next summer from Florida to Alaska.
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Old Aug 29, 16, 1:34 pm
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How nice of you. Since no airline has a "great" FC domestic product (IMHO) I would ck. the flts available to you, using airlines that accept MR and UA transfers, from FL>AK and see which has the most convenient schedule. Maybe start with kayak.com or orbitz.com to get a feel for flts w/ the least travel time, shortest layovers, etc. What city in FL would they fly out of?
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Old Aug 29, 16, 2:47 pm
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Where in Florida will play a role...
A lot of airlines *sometimes* fly internationally-configured planes from Florida to the West Coast, but the only ones that will guarantee you better than standard domestic First Class are Virgin America, which flies from FLL and MCO, and Jetblue's Mint product, which will be coming to Fort Lauderdale to LAX and SFO. Unfortunately, neither connect up to Alaska and Im unaware of any program that would allow you to combine a flight on Virgin America with one on another airline. (Once Virgin America and Alaska fully merge, this would be a great award.)

No airline flies a great product up to Alaska. I'd recommend just finding any combination that can get you to Alaska in 1 stop.
Once you tell us what city in FL is at issue, we can provide more specific routing suggestions.
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Old Aug 29, 16, 3:06 pm
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They will be flying out of Fort Myers (RSW)
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Old Aug 29, 16, 3:53 pm
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Four things.

First, you'll be limited to airlines that either accept direct transfers of Amex or Chase points, or who have partners that fly to Alaska. Between those two credit card programs, you have United, BA, Delta, Singapore, Korean, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and several other airlines that either fly directly to Alaska from the lower 48 (United, Delta) or whose miles/points can be redeemed on partner flights, e.g. BA for American and Alaska, etc. You'll need to research each of the potential transfer partners to see what they require as redemption rates. Some are bad deals, e.g. it takes three times as many BA Avios to fly in first class on Alaska Airlines as it does to fly in coach.

Second, none of the domestic airlines offer an international-type business or first class product to Alaska. No beds, just recliners, and not all have in-seat IFE.

Third, "Alaska" is a big place. Where do you plan to send them and what do you want them to see and do? They can fly into Anchorage and rent a car (or join a tour) to places like Denali Park or the Kenai Fjords, or you can fly them to Vancouver or Seattle for a cruise through the Inside Passage... but it's such a big place that the choice of activities and regions can make a big difference in your choice of airlines. Only Alaska and Delta serve smaller cities besides Anchorage (and Alaska serves many more) so planning the itinerary should - IMO - take precedence over picking an airline.

Fourth, first class award space to Alaska in the summer can be VERY hard to obtain. There are too many people willing to pay cash for the pointy end for the airlines to make much award or upgrade inventory available. Not to say it's impossible, but you may have to look at red-eyes, long layovers, indirect routes, etc.

So you've got a great idea for a present, but it's one that's going to take quite a lot of homework and legwork on your part to pull off.
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Old Aug 29, 16, 5:55 pm
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Flying on United using Aeroplan or United miles would likely yield the most options.
From RSW, one-stop options on United include:
RSW-ORD-ANC
RSW-ORD-FAI
RSW-EWR-ANC
RSW-IAH-ANC
RSW-DEN-ANC

Delta is the second most likely, with routings through MSP and ATL.
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Old Aug 29, 16, 7:09 pm
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Check the schedules closely too. Some flights to/from Alaska are red-eyes, and red-eyes are not that comfortable for many people on domestic planes (even if first class, since the domestic planes' first class seats are not really designed for sleeping). So if you want them to be comfortable, make sure you research which connections on which airlines are doable on daytime flights (and make sure there's award availability on those flights, not just on some randomly-timed flights).
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Old Aug 29, 16, 7:37 pm
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Fly them to SEATTLE.
Buy them passage on a cruise to Anchorage.
Fly them home via ORD.
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Old Aug 29, 16, 8:51 pm
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Originally Posted by sonofzeus View Post
Fly them to SEATTLE.
Buy them passage on a cruise to Anchorage.
Fly them home via ORD.
There are no cruises from Seattle to Anchorage; all the one-way cruises have to depart from Vancouver due to US maritime law.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 5:17 am
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
There are no cruises from Seattle to Anchorage; all the one-way cruises have to depart from Vancouver due to US maritime law.
My bad...

Fly them to Vancouver.
Book passage to Anchorage.
Fly home via ORD.
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Old Aug 30, 16, 12:02 pm
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Originally Posted by sonofzeus View Post
My bad...

Fly them to Vancouver.
Book passage to Anchorage.
Fly home via ORD.
If the OP doesn't have experience with cruises, that's not enough information to avoid a dangerous problem. And there's another thing that's incorrect about the cruise destination (explained below).

It should be:

  • Fly them to Vancouver to arrive at least a day before the cruise leaves.
  • Book them a hotel in Vancouver that can be cancelled without loss of too much money if their flight is late (it's to allow for that that you're arriving a day early!)
  • Book them passage to Seward (usually cruises don't go to Anchorage proper, the water's too shallow there for big cruise ships, they have to go to a commercial port far from the city which most don't want to do)
  • Book them a connection (Alaska train is nice) from Seward to Anchorage (but maybe allow time in Seward for a local day cruise on Major Marine Tours). Provide plenty of time for this land connection too (see below).
  • Fly home from Anchorage.

As you see, it's much more complex than you proposed. There are no plane flights from Seward, and no cruises to Anchorage, and it's at least a 2-hour drive (but on a two-lane road which can close for hours at a time in case there's fire right next it, like when I visited last month). And if you don't buy the plane ticket to Vancouver from the cruise company, you're not "protected" in case you miss the cruise because of a plane delay.

I was once on a plane DFW-LAX. One engine failed, and the plane diverted to Lubbock, where at the time AA didn't have facilities for full-size planes. It took an hour or two to get the passengers and then luggage off of the disabled plane, and it took over 7 hours before the replacement plane arrived and we able to continue. In my case, I was just flying home nonstop, so no big concern as to exact timing. A bunch of people in the waiting area had been flying to meet a cruise, tho, and of course a bunch of them didn't follow the above rule and now with this delay of "only" 7 hours were going to miss the cruise. Those who had booked the flight through Disney (the cruise operator in this case) were on the phone getting rerouted to join the cruise in progress (Disney would fly them to a new location). But those who had booked the flight separately had no clue what to do (and I bet many of this simply missed the cruise), because all they could do was complain that neither the air carrier nor the cruise line would do anything for them (without paying lots of extra money). In the event of delay like this, the plane carrier only has the responsibility to get you to where the ticket says you were going, so if all it said was LAX, that's as far their responsibility goes.

Oh, and of course, they need up-to-date passports to connect air-to-cruise in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Since the OP was asking only about flying to Alaska (which is in the USA), we don't know if they have current passports.

Last edited by sdsearch; Aug 30, 16 at 5:36 pm
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Old Aug 30, 16, 2:42 pm
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While not as common as a destination, ANC does see cruise ships each year.
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Old Aug 31, 16, 1:28 am
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As this topic is evolving more about Alaska, we'll move this to the Alaska Destination forum for more visibility.

~beckoa, co-moderator Information Desk
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Old May 7, 17, 5:40 pm
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Originally Posted by beckoa View Post
As this topic is evolving more about Alaska, we'll move this to the Alaska Destination forum for more visibility.

~beckoa, co-moderator Information Desk
Where the topic promptly died.

OP, how are your plans going, and is there anything we can assist with?
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