This post gives you a glimpse in the lifestyle at the Last Frontier where air travel is a normal. Thus, Alaskans know the flight schedules. Read what happens when such normal collides with another normal.
- Buying a flight ticket the Alaska way
- The travel agent became curious
- Why there is so much air traffic in Alaska
- What I didn’t tell her
- Look of the day with a travel friendly dress
Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.
Buying a flight ticket the Alaska way
Once, I had to order a round ticket to fly out to attend a work meeting in the Lower 48s. I was asked to book my ticket asap even though the trip was not any time soon. Thus, being a good citizen, I obeyed to help save money. Sure, I was also exited because the trip would mean an opportunity to go shopping for some pairs of new shoes in the evening. There are no shoe stores to get fancy heels up here in Fairbanks.
When I came into my office, I called the number on the East Coast first thing in the morning. The time difference between Alaska time and East Coast time is 4 hours. Thus, when I got the notification on the day before, the East Coast was already putting the dishes from dinner into the dishwasher.
A woman with a young voice answered the phone. After the usual “How are you doing” exchange where actually nobody is interested really wanting to know it, she asked friendly “what can I do for you?” I explained her that I was given her number to order a ticket for the said meeting. She then asked me for my name. As usual, I had to spell my name. I always have to spell my name M O E L D E R S. I heard her typing. She checked that my name was on her list of people for whom she was supposed to book flights and issue tickets. She then asked from where I would fly. “Fairbanks, Alaska” I replied.
We were supposed to be at the meeting place for a reception and dinner on Sunday at 6:30 pm. “At what time do you want to fly?” she asked me in a professional way while I heard her typing again. “At 6:20 am on Sunday” I replied. “Have you already picked out your flights?” she asked me in a friendly voice. “Nope, but there is no other flight to get out of here to have a chance to catch a flight in SEA TAC to get anywhere down South” I replied. Seattle-Tacoma is Alaska’s door to the world.
I continued “The only alternative is the red eye at 1:40 am.” Again she typed. After a long pause she said “Yes, you are right. And you wouldn’t get an earlier connection in Seattle with the red eye flight.” I heard her typing again. “Yes” I replied. “But you won’t arrive before 6 pm. Do you want to fly a day earlier?” “No, it’s just a 15 minutes ride. When Alaska Airlines is on time, and they usually are, I will be at the meeting on time.” “Ok, then we are stuck on this one” she replied. “Will you check baggage?” “No, it’s a short business trip.” She started typing again.
“When do you want to fly back?” “Whatever flight gets me into Sea Tac on Thursday to catch at least the 11:40 pm to Fairbanks. But I would prefer catching the 7:35 pm one or the one via Anchorage that gets me into Fairbanks at 11:56 pm.” “11:56 pm is quite late. And the 11:40 pm won’t get you into Fairbanks before even 2:22 am the next day.” she said. “Yes, trust me, you won’t get me into Fairbanks any time earlier than 10:15 pm or so, i.e. the 7:35 pm from Seattle, when I have to stay until 5 pm.” “10:18 pm” she said and sounded frustrated. I heard her typing. It sounded like she was in disbelieve frantically trying to find another flight. She is the travel agent, the expert. After a while, she gave up and said “Yes, I guess that’s right.”
The travel agent became curious
“Do you have a flight schedule in front of you?” she now asked. “Nope, Ma’m. I live in Fairbanks. Fairbanks is a destination, you don’t come thru anymore by accident like it was in the times of the Iron Curtain. Back then, Fairbanks was a stop for fueling for travels from Europe to Asia. That’s why President Reagan and the Pope met in Fairbanks. Thus, when there are only a few flights to get in and out one better knows them.” I replied. “I never thought of that. But now I understand.”
She asked for my DOB and finished the ticket.
Why Alaskans fly so much
Alaskans have a strong relationship with flying. Due to the un(der)-developed road network, many destinations in Alaska can only be reached by aircraft or boat. Thus, traveling by air just to go shopping is a second nature to Alaskans, like using public transportation to go shopping is for someone living in a large East or West Coast metropolitan area or a middle size town in Europe.
What I didn’t tell her
I live just a mile (1.6 km) away from the airport. When I see a plane flying over the Chena River seemingly just over the roof of our neighbor’s house across the street, I can jump into our car and be at the baggage claim just when the first passengers come down the escalator. From my office, I can see the planes starting and landing.
I can tell you the time by the air traffic at night. I know the departure and arrivals of planes in Fairbanks by heart like I did know the bus schedule when I lived in that … village when I was a kid and teenager. I can tell you by the starts and landings when air traffic is deviated from Anchorage to Fairbanks.
I didn’t tell her the above because I feared she would hang up and feel like I were kidding her. Of course, I was not and I didn’t even think anything about knowing my flight schedules.
When you live in a place that is a destination, not a come-thru, you better know when to get there and when to get out of there.
Do you know the flight departures and arrivals of your closest airport? Is your closest airport a destination or a come-thru like Seattle? Do you have to fly a lot? What do you wear on a plane? Let me know, I am curious.
Look of the day with a travel friendly dress
I am wearing an retro inspired dress made in New York State. Did you know that I was a visiting graduate student at SUNY Albany? I love this blue fit-and-flare dress with abstract floral print. It’s the perfect travel dress. It doesn’t wrinkle and dries fast. The classic cut makes it to go from a work meeting to browsing the local malls in summer. I paired it with crocodile imprint open-toe pumps and accessorized with a belt for the office. What do you wear at work or for work travel in summer? Btw, you can see the dress worn with bow belt at the link.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
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