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Alaska Airlines starts flying to the Bahamas from Seattle and Los Angeles


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Alaska Airlines has been in the news lately for the carrier’s proposed merger with Hawaiian Airlines, a move that Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci said will “expand options for West Coast and Hawai’i travelers.”

But no one wanted to talk about that Friday morning, when Alaska Airlines celebrated inaugural flights to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, from both Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

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Instead, the songs, speeches and snacks all invoked the “It’s better in the Bahamas” vibe.

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“We were looking for somewhere new to fly that would attract people in the wintertime, and the Caribbean seemed liked a good choice,” Kirsten Amrine, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of revenue management and network planning, said during a gate-side interview in Seattle. “With our success with Belize and Costa Rica flights and now moving a little further east, it just fits really well into our portfolio,” she added.

Related: Hawaii vs. the Caribbean: Which islands should you visit?

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The two new seasonal flights to the Bahamas are Alaska’s first flights to the Caribbean. They will operate four times a week from LAX and three times a week from SEA on Boeing 737-9 aircraft through April 9, 2024.

Flights leave LA and Seattle in the morning and arrive at Nassau’s Lyden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in the late afternoon. Nassau’s airport is a U.S. Preclearance facility, so Seattle- and LA-bound passengers clear customs and immigration before boarding and bypass customs on arrival in the U.S.

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The flight from Seattle to Nassau is also notable because it’s Alaska’s 101st nonstop destination from its hometown airport and the first service from SEA to the Caribbean.

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“The plan is to offer the flights between Thanksgiving and spring break for now, and we’ll see what happens from there,” Amrine said.

The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands, 16 of which are marketed to tourists. Arriving passengers on Alaska Airlines flights to Nassau can connect to other islands via Bahamasair, one of Alaska’s global partner airlines, for experiences that might include swimming with pigs or diving on the Andros Barrier Reef.

Points of View: Which credit card should you use for Alaska Airlines flights?

From the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii has been the longtime go-to destination for sun and snorkeling. During the winter, Alaska Airlines has been able to support up to 33 flights per day from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California.

Fourteen of those flights are from Seattle — 13 from SEA and one from Seattle Paine Field International Airport (PAE) in Everett. While it at first seems counterintuitive to fly east for beach weather, “a flight to Nassau from Seattle takes just about the same time as a flight to Hawaii,” Joy Jibrilu, CEO of Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, said. “So, Seattle travelers are closer than ever to experiencing the wonders of Nassau and Paradise Island, with pristine, white sandy beaches, rich Bahamian culture, delightful cuisines and world-class casinos,” she said.

HARRIET BASKAS/FOR THE POINTS GUY

In fact, it turns out that it may be faster to fly east to Nassau from Seattle and LA than it is to fly to Honolulu or Maui from both cities.

Alaska Airlines flights from Seattle to Maui and from Seattle to Honolulu clock in at about six hours and 30 minutes. According to the scheduled times listed on Alaska Airlines’ website, the new flight from Seattle to Nassau will take six hours and 15 minutes, although the inaugural flight made the trip in five hours and 30 minutes. The scheduled flight time from LA to Nassau is even shorter: just five hours and 15 minutes.

This holiday season, Alaska Airlines is introducing several other new nonstop routes.

On Thursday, the carrier began year-round, daily service between LA and Guatemala City. The same day, the carrier celebrated new seasonal service between Las Vegas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; a day later, it kicked off seasonal service between Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.



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