Recently, I flew to Fairbanks, Alaska, round-trip from Kansas City, Missouri. My trip was booked last minute using frequent flyer miles on Alaska Airlines.
From Kansas City, I had only one connection in Seattle to reach Fairbanks, Alaska. My return trip was a little more complicated.
My return from Fairbanks began on Alaska Airlines flight #62, which departs at 6 am. Originally I was scheduled to fly flight #62 from Fairbanks to Juneau, Alaska, with a stop in Anchorage. From Juneau, I had a four-hour layover, to then connect to a flight from Juneau to Seattle.
When I arrived in Juneau, I realized that the airport was a tiny place to spend a 4-hour layover. During a quick catch-up call with my Alaska-born husband, he said,”Why don’t you ask if you can change to stay on flight #62 to Seattle? It gets in earlier, so you’ll have more time to connect to your Kansas City flight.”
I checked with the gate agent. There was space available, so she agreed to change my ticket. I headed back onto Alaska flight #62 for a departure to Seattle, with stops in Sitka and Ketchikan.
Flight 62 is what is known as a “milk run,” or a scheduled flight with many stops.
Due to the lack of roads, many towns in Alaska are reliant on air service.
Flight 62 is one of the daily Alaska Airlines flights that hop between towns in Southeast Alaska, delivering passengers and important supplies, including milk. The flight leaves Fairbanks at 6 am each morning, with scheduled stops in Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan before a scheduled arrival in Seattle at 4:04 pm.
While I’ve traveled in Alaska many times, I’d never been to Sitka. It was snowing heavily as flight 62 landed on the single paved runway at Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT).
Alaska Airlines asks passengers who are not departing in Sitka to stay on the aircraft, to allow for a quicker turn and departure to Ketchikan.
The Sitka airport is on a causeway that juts off Japonski Island. The overhead picture (from the FAA) shows the airport on a sunnier day.
The next stop for Alaska flight 62 was at the Ketchikan International Airport (KTN.)
The airport is located on Gravina Island, just west of Ketchikan on the other side of the Tongass Narrows.
Since there is no road access between Ketchikan and the airport on Gravina Island, tassengers must take a seven-minute ferry ride across the water to get to the town from the airport, and vice-versa. The ferry departs Gravina Island (where the airport is located) every 30 minutes for Revillagigedo Island (where the city of Ketchikan is located.) In 2005, a proposed bridge to link the city of Ketchikan and its airport became the object of national attention that labeled the project the “bridge to nowhere“. The bridge plan was scrapped in 2007.
From Ketchikan, Alaska Airlines flight 62 departs to Seattle, Washington. The scheduled flight time is 1 hour and 46 minutes. Once in Seattle, I was glad to stretch my legs and walk around a bit. My connecting flight to Kansas City, Missouri was delayed slightly, putting me into MCI (Kansas City International Airport) around 12 midnight. Even considering the 3-hour time change, I had flown for 15 hours. By comparison, scheduled flight time from Chicago to Hong Kong is only 50 minutes longer.
It was a fitting finale to my trip to Fairbanks, which was to attend the memorial service for my friend and former boss, Michael Noel Wien who passed away unexpectedly. Mike was a proud Alaskan, a world traveler, and the grandson of Noel Wien who pioneered Alaska’s first commercial flight service when he began flying mail routes between Fairbanks and isolated communities in 1923.
Flight 62 is just one of six Milk Run flights on Alaska Airlines.
- Flight 61: Seattle (7:50 a.m.)-Juneau-Yakutat-Cordova-Anchorage (1:54 p.m.)
- Flight 66: Anchorage (3:35 p.m.)-Cordova-Yakutat-Juneau-Seattle (11:10 p.m.)
- Flight 64: Anchorage (11:40 a.m.)-Juneau-Petersburg-Wrangell-Ketchikan-Seattle (8:35 p.m.)
- Flight 65: Seattle (7:55 a.m.)-Ketchikan-Wrangell-Petersburg-Juneau-Anchorage (3:08 p.m.)
- Flight 62: Fairbanks (6 a.m.)-Anchorage-Juneau-Sitka-Ketchikan-Seattle (4:04 p.m.)
- Flight 67: Seattle (3 p.m.)-Ketchikan-Sitka-Juneau-Anchorage (9:22 p.m.)
Note that all even-numbered flights are southbound flights, while all odd-numbered flights are northbound flights.
Learn more about Alaska Airlines Milk Run flights in this article on the airline’s blog “The Milk Run is a hop, skip and a jump along Southeast Alaska’s coast.”
After my “milk run” flight in Alaska, I read about a similar frequent-stop flight on United Airlines between Honolulu and Guam. Described as United’s Island Hopper, United flight 154 takes 15 hours as it makes five stops, flying the route HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM, or Honolulu-Marshall Islands-Kwajalein Atoll-Pohnpei Island-Micronesia-Guam. Michael Spelfogel wrote this review of the Island Hopper flight experience.
Have you made a ‘Milk Run’ run flight? Please share.
Check out some of our other posts on Alaska:
- A Winter Walk in Fairbanks, Alaska
- Packing for a Winter Trip To Fairbanks, Alaska
- 24 Fun Facts About Fairbanks, Alaska
- 20 Fun Facts About Juneau, Alaska
- 17 Fun Facts About Kodiak, Alaska
- 12 Fun Facts About Dutch Harbor, Alaska
- Visiting Alaska? 22 Fun Facts You Might Want to Know
- 21 Fun Facts About Ketchikan, Alaska
- 28 Fun Facts About Anchorage, Alaska