Chase the Northern Lights this winter with the help of Alaska Airlines and some innovative thinkers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. Few natural sights on earth are more riveting. But the elusive Aurora Borealis is that much closer with the help of some algorithms that can forecast the chance of seeing the specter in action.
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.
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
Its northern latitude makes Fairbanks a great location for 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 the 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.
“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 offers 68 daily flights to 19 destinations in Alaska, 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.
For those who have skiing in mind, Alaska is waiving 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.
The Northern Lights offer is valid for tickets purchased through Jan.17 for travel through Feb.12.