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I took the Alaska Milk Run up the coast of Alaska with Alaska Airlines, and stopped by some of the most remote communities in North America.
The Alaska Milk Run has its roots back as far as the 1930s, when bush pilots hopped through the remote towns of Alaska carrying mail, medicine and fur. Today, the route stil serves as an essential lifeline to remote communities along the Alaskan coast, and is served daily by Alaska airlines with Boeing 737-700s.
My trip will take in the towns of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Juneau wherre I’ll be spending the night. From Juneau I’ll be flying through Yakutat and Cordova, before finishing the route in Anchorage. A direct flight from Seattle to Anchorage takes just 3 and a half hours, but over the course of 2 ddays I’ll be spending 12 hours onboard Alaska’s 737s. I’ll be passing through remote communities, meeting some incredible people and seeing some awe inspiring scenery.
First though, I had a gate change to deal with.
The first leg today was relatively empty, with most passengers opting for a more direct flight into Alaska. I was sitting right down the back of the 737.
Alaska’s 737s are pretty comfy and spacious, even down the back. There’s USB and power, and all in all vastly different to the drafty floatplanes that flew the route in years gone by.
As dawn started to break, we pushed back to get on our way to southeastern alaska.
The first leg today was a bit longer than the rest, so there was time for a tea and coffee service. I also bought a cheese and fruit plate for breakfast which was OK but pricey at around 7 dollars.
After a while we started our descent down into the murky skies of southeast alaska, for the first of today’s incrediblly bumpy and hard landings. The approach was beautiful though, once we were below the clouds.
Most of the passengers got off in Ketchikan, leaving me at the back of an almost empty aircraft. As we waited, the southbound milk run flight pulled up at the side of us.
Soon it was time to push back and get on our way
In this example you’d save 11 quid a night off a hotel in Juneau.
Our aircraft’s about to get deiced ahead of the next flight. Lets see if you can install Pouch before they finish deicing the wing.
Time to get on our way to Wrangell as the weather starts closing in.
This flight was much shorter than the last – with a flight time of just 29 minutes as we cruised up the coast of Alaska at 20,000ft.
We started our descent into the tiny city of Wrangell, with another bumpy approach and heavy landing.
The ground crew came around to check off hte list of passengers for the next leg, as the incoming cargo was offloaded.
Once again we were deiced, and soon got on our way again for the next leg – the 14 minute hop to Petersburg.
We barely got above 6,000ft on this leg and didn’t break out of the cloud, before we started our approach into Petersburg.
The last leg of todays flight was a 26 minute hop, straight up Steven’s passage towards Juneau. Stevens passage turned out to be incredibly bumpy and we didn’t get to see it, before we landed into Juneau.
We had the luxury of an airbridge in Juneau, and I headed through the tiny airport to get a ride to my hotel for the night.
The airport’s about a 20 minute drive to downtown Juneau, and I soon arrived at my hotel.
There’s a certain charm about Juneau on a gloomy day. It reminds me a lot of Scotland, which somehow remains magical even under cloudy skies.
I was sad to be leaving Juneau so soon, it really was a lovely city, but alas I had to get on with taking the rest of the milk run up to Anchorage.
The airport was pretty quiet and I headed inside and upstairs to security.
The departure lounge is pretty basic, and just has a cafe at one end.
Alaska Airlines have these cool book stands giving away free books for kids while they’re traveling, which I thought was pretty neat.
Fairly soon my flight to Anchorage touched down.
The Bob Marley jet was soon ready for boarding, and it was time to get up stand up, stand up for my flight, to Anchorage.
I don’t know about you, but anything that says ‘lift to open’ makes me want to see whats underneath, but alas ther was no way to lift it up.
We soon pushed back, and quick deice later had us on our way for the slightly more direct than planned flight up to Cordova.
This helicopter caught my attention, it looks like like a squashed A109.
As we climbed out for the 1 hour 8 minute ride up to Cordova, we started getting some better views of the ground as we flew along the Alaskan coast.
The flight was fairly empty today, and shortly after takeoff a tea and coffee service took place.
We soon commenced our descent into Cordova, just as the weather started to clear and Alaska came out to play.
Our approach into Cordova had a lot of crab with the crosswindd as we came into land.
Cargo was loaded on and I enjoyed a good chat with the friendly crew before getting on our way up to Anchorage.
The next leg of the flight was perhaps the most scenic of the lot. The 54 minute flight up to Anchorage gave us some beautiful views across the Chugach mountains to the east of Anchorage.
And, as it turned out, Alaska had a lot to offer. The scenery was simply stunning.
Even the flight crew were amazed at the views out of the window, and were glued to the window taking photos.
They said that a clear day like this is almost unheard of in winter in Alaska, where you get such good views of the snowy landscape below.
It certainlly made up for the grim weather the day before on the ride up to Juneau.
All too soon, we got our first view of Anchorage Airport and the city of Anchorage. At over 61 degrees north, it’s the largest city in Alaska, and is as far from New York as it is from Tokyo.
My ride up from Seattle to Anchorage cost me the grand total of £300.95, or $392.70. This is for a flight distance of 1488 miles, giving a cost per mile of £0.20.
I really enjoyed my ride up the coast of alaska. Despite the weather in the first part it was wonderful to see these isolated little towns, and spend a night in Juneau. The cabin crew were incredible, and couldn’t do enough to help. They even took my thumbnail photo. Equally incredible was the scenery – just amazing. I can’t wait to come back in the summer at some point and do this all again.