Alaska Airlines Harnesses Northern Lights Forecast Data for Bucket List Trip

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Making New Year’s travel resolutions more affordable through the power of science

Chasing the Northern Lights is now within reach. Starting Jan. 13, flyers will have the opportunity to escape to the winter wonderland of Alaska for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and, yes, a chance to see the Northern Lights. Using the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute’s aurora forecast, Alaska Airlines is offering up to 35% off airfare for travel between the Lower 48 and Fairbanks and Anchorage through Feb. 12. The more intense the Northern Lights forecast, the more flyers will save on flights.

The deal taps into a growing trend among U.S. travelers seeking more spontaneous, experience-based trips while also incorporating science into the adventure. It also comes at a popular time for travel planning – with people making their travel plans for the new year, January is one of the airline’s top months for bookings.

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“Everyone loves a lighter fare,” said Natalie Bowman, Alaska Airlines’ managing director, marketing and advertising. “As the airline that helps savvy adventurers explore from Alaska to Latin America, we’re excited to harness the brainpower of aurora researchers to fulfill guests’ wanderlust goals. This is just the start of how we’ll use dynamic data in the future to appeal to our flyers’ passions.”

Fares will be discounted daily up to 35% depending on the Kp-index forecast during the travel time period. Scientists use the Kp-index to help predict how visible the Northern Lights might be. Alaska will discount fares based on aurora intensity:

  • 0 to 3 Kp = 15% off
  • 4 to 5 Kp = 20% off
  • 6 to 7 Kp = 25% off
  • 8 to 9 Kp = 35% off

“We’ve been helping people chase the Northern Lights for more than 25 years by tracking and posting aurora forecasts online,” said Mark Conde, professor of physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “The Geophysical Institute team is thrilled to see our data come to life through aurora seekers.”

Its northern latitude makes Fairbanks the perfect location for greater night sky visibility – far away from bustling cities and their light pollution. Travelers who keep an eye on the aurora and weather forecast and spend a few long winter nights aurora hunting have a good chance of experiencing the dazzling display.

According to Explore Fairbanks, January and February are ideal times for winter lovers to visit Alaska. When not watching the skies, visitors can explore a snow-capped winter wonderland on snowshoes, skis or snowmobiles. After a day of activity, relax in the renowned Chena Hot Springs, one of the best vantage points for viewing the Northern Lights.

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“While many think of visiting Alaska in the summer months, winter offers travelers a prime chance to experience nature’s beautiful light display with fewer crowds and lower prices,” said Deb Hickok, Explore Fairbanks president and CEO. “Alaska Airlines is opening the doors for guests to explore the wonders of winter and all that Fairbanks has to offer.”

Alaska offers the most flights of any airline to the state of Alaska, with 68 daily flights to 19 destinations including Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. Travelers can fly nonstop from Seattle to Fairbanks on four daily flights and connect easily from 25 West Coast cities.

Traveling with skis? Alaska waives the oversize and overweight fees for sports equipment – meaning guests can fly with a set of skis for just $30 (the price of a regular checked bag). For MVP Gold 75K, MVP Gold, MVP, First Class and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card holders, this equipment counts towards their free checked baggage allowance.

Onboard, guests can enjoy a three-class cabin, assigned seating, seatback power, comfortable seats, and food and drinks crafted with a range of refreshing, bright flavors inspired by West Coast ingredients. With Alaska’s inflight entertainment, flyers can watch more than 500 movies and TV shows – all for free on their own devices.

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners fly 46 million guests a year to more than 115 destinations with an average of 1,300 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, guests can earn and redeem miles on flights to more than 800 destinations worldwide. Alaska Airlines ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in North America” in the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study for 12 consecutive years from 2008 to 2019.

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