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You Won’t Believe This Sale on Flights to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

By Sarah Buder

Jan 13, 2020

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Fairbanks, Alaska, is a popular hub for northern lights tourism thanks to its prime position under the “aurora oval” where aurora activity is concentrated.

Photo by Beth Ruggiero-York/Shutterstock

Fairbanks, Alaska, is a popular hub for northern lights tourism thanks to its prime position under the “aurora oval” where aurora activity is concentrated.

Through January 17, Alaska Airlines is using aurora visibility forecasts to dictate flight deals to northern lights destinations in Alaska—the more intense the prediction, the more you’ll save on airfare.

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Just in time for northern lights spotting season, Alaska Airlines is having a sale on flights that might help travelers’ chances of witnessing the spectacular phenomenon with their own eyes. Through Friday, January 17, the airline is offering discounts of up to 35 percent on flights to Anchorage and Fairbanks in Alaska, which due to its high-latitude location is considered one of the world’s best places to see the northern lights. What’s more: The decreased flight prices to each destination will be based entirely on when the lights are expected to be most apparent in the area.

Here’s how it works: Alaska Airlines is tapping an aurora visibility forecast from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute to dictate flight discounts from anywhere in the “Lower 48” to the two Alaskan locations. Both the city of Anchorage, which sits on the southern Cook Inlet, and Fairbanks, located approximately 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, serve as gateways to many of the state’s top wilderness areas, including the remote Denali National Park (which is prime for northern lights viewing).

How to Plan Your First Trip to Alaska

Through January 17, the airline will determine daily flight discounts using the institute’s Kp-index forecast, which helps scientists predict northern lights visibility. The flight deals will be valid for travel through February 12, 2020, and will depend entirely on aurora intensity predictions during your specific travel dates during that time.

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Here’s how Alaska Airlines will measure its discounted fares according to the Kp-index, which predicts aurora visibility on a scale from zero to nine (with zero being very weak visibility and nine being very strong):

  • 0 to 3 Kp = 15 percent flight discount
  • 4 to 5 Kp = 20 percent flight discount
  • 6 to 7 Kp = 25 percent flight discount
  • 8 to 9 Kp = 35 percent flight discount

All in all, the “brighter” the aurora is expected to be during your trip, the “lighter” the cost of your plane ticket—which is great news for travelers because January and February are among the best times for northern lights viewing in high-polar regions, specifically in Alaska.

Alaska Airlines’ Northern Lights sale runs through Friday, January 17, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (PST). You can monitor flight deals and purchase tickets for travel through February 12, 2020, at alaskaair.com/northernlights. The offer is valid for tickets for up to six travelers on the same reservation. 

>>Next: The World’s Best Places to See the Northern Lights

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