Delta Air Lines is bringing back year-round service to Juneau, and its competition with Alaska Airlines is driving airfares down.
Delta hasn’t made an official announcement, but confirmed in an email to KTOO. There’s one Delta flight scheduled every day between Juneau and Seattle beginning June 6, and continuing past its typical summer season.
Alaska travel expert Scott McMurren shared the discovery with KTOO on Thursday. He runs the newsletter Alaska Travelgram.
“I track these fares to see how low they go, like, $200 round trip,” McMurren said. “And I was looking in October and November and the Delta flights were still in there! I’m thinking, ‘Well, usually, they’d make a big play of this.'”
In recent years, Delta’s seasonal service with a Boeing 737 has ended in September. Delta’s booking site shows flights will continue after Labor Day with a somewhat smaller, lower capacity Airbus plane.
“The fare to Seattle will stay low,” McMurren said. “And what it also means is travelers who want to fly internationally – to Paris, to Amsterdam, if we ever get to go back to Asia – then they’ll have, you know, one carrier to provide that service. It really opens up the world, particularly for off-season travel, for those folks in Juneau.”
Alaska Airlines had a unique advantage in Juneau for many years. It uses a technology it developed in the 1990s that lets its planes navigate Juneau’s tricky approach and land in weather conditions that other airlines couldn’t. However, the Federal Aviation Administration says Delta is also authorized to use a version of the technology in Juneau with Boeing 737s. Juneau Airport Manager Patty Wahto says that’s been the case since at least 2017.
Delta’s seasonal service through SkyWest Airlines to Ketchikan and Sitka will also resume on June 6 and end on Labor Day.
“I spend a lot of time checking fares,” McMurren said. “And what’s really been interesting, fares have been going up, up, up, up, all over the country; three sets of fares are going down. And that was Juneau-Seattle, Ketchikan-Seattle, and Sitka-Seattle, all starting on June 6 when Delta brings in their seasonal service.”
Delta’s service to Juneau has been on and off over the decades. In 1992, it scaled back to seasonal service. In 1996, it stopped flying to Juneau entirely. It resumed seasonal service in 2014 and tried year-round service in 2015, then went back to seasonal service in the fall of 2016.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that Alaska Airlines had a “unique” technology advantage for navigating in and out of Juneau. It’s been updated to reflect that Delta uses a version of the same technology.