This has been a busy year, leaving me with little time to do mileage runs, a problem particularly if we want to return to Bali next year.

I was looking through the mileage run section on FlyerTalk and saw several great deals to Anchorage, Alaska from Los Angeles and New York. I wondered if I could get one from Austin. I visited the ITA Matrix site and saw that I could fly from Austin to Anchorage and back in August over a weekend for  just $351. That’s an outstanding price! So, I immediately went to AA.com to make my reservation. And that is where the problem occurred.

I expected a $351 fare, but AA.com said the best fare was $476

I expected a $351 fare, but AA.com said the best fare was $476

That was not what I expected to see. How could there be a $125 difference between ITA Matrix and AA.com. they are usually in total agreement. I went back and looked at the itinerary that ITA had put together — I couldn’t even recreate it on AA.com. What to do?

I decided to visit Kayak.com and found many itineraries for the weekend I wanted, priced at $356, five dollars more than ITA but still more than $100 less than AA.com.

Some of the schedules were easier than others. The shortest in duration had me leaving Austin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, arriving in Anchorage shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, then flying back to Austin at 2 a.m., arriving at AUS at 6 p.m. Sunday. I gave that some thought and decided I did not want to fly all the way to Alaska and not even be able to leave the airport. So, I selected a much longer trip, with extended layovers, but the chance to leave the airport and go into Anchorage for several hours.

We (my good friend is joining me on the trip, his first mileage run!) will leave Austin at 6:35 a.m. on Saturday, arriving DFW at 7:35. Then we have the first problem of the trip, a very long layover — we won’t depart DFW until 12:20, a 4 hour 45 minute layover. Thankfully, things improve after that! We’ll arrive Seattle at 2:20, then take leave for Anchorage at 3:55 on Alaska Airlines, arriving ANC at 6:35 p.m.

We’ll have plenty of time to go downtown, see some sights, and hopefully get some good food; I’m looking forward to some good salmon!

We’ll leave ANC a 2 a.m. Sunday arriving SEA 6:15 a.m. At 7:30 we’ll be on our way to DFW, arriving at 1:15 Sunday afternoon. And then another long layover, we won’t leave for AUS until 5:20 p.m., getting in at 6:15.

I’ll earn 7,216 EQMs and 14,432 RDMs. With a price of $356, that puts my cost per mile at 2.46 cents, one of the best deals I’ve gotten in quite a while.

By going through Kayak.com, I was able to get my ticket for $356.

By going through Kayak.com, I was able to get my ticket for $356.

Kayak had a link to visit AA.com to purchase the ticket and sure enough I got that itinerary at that price. That raised the question of why did Kayak let me buy a ticket from AA for $356, but the best AA could give me was $476?

I wrote to AA and asked why there was such a great discrepancy. They replied that the website will not build an itinerary that features layovers of more than four hours, and I have two of those. They said I could have gotten that deal if I had requested a multi-city itinerary: AUS-DFW-SEA-ANC-SEA-DFW-AUS, but that was the only way.

I did some research on FlyerTalk.com and found that a layover of more than four hours is considered to be a stop, rather than a layover, which makes a difference to the airline, although not much to me. Too much legalese for me.

We’re going to try to improve the schedule. We plan to see if we can go standby and get an earlier DFW-SEA flight. If we can do that. we’ll see if Alaska Airlines will let us do that same for the ANC flight, we’d arrive ANC almost two hours earlier. If we get the first change but not the second, it will at least break-up the long layover.

On the way home, there are several DFW-AUS flights that leave before our scheduled flight — we’ll try to go standby on one of those and get home earlier.

It will be a long weekend, but we’re looking forward to it!