As part of my 2013 travel objectives, I’m looking to fly 8-10,000 revenue miles each month to reduce the stress involved with renewing elite status this year. Last year, I had procrastinated until the 3rd and 4th quarter and had to hustle to get the miles together. As part of this “master plan” I’ve also committed to introduce new destinations in addition to my normal runs. Don’t get me wrong, there will be several runs to Germany and Slovakia for obvious reasons but along the way I’ll be expanding my horizons….literally.

So the obvious choice for January is of course……… Anchorage, Alaska (ANC).

Most people that I’ve shared this with reply with a blank stare that says nothing less than “you are a master idiot”. Sure, maybe if I lived in the southern part of the USA, I would agree….it would be a fairly dumb move. But for someone who lives in Michigan and is regularly subjected to sub-zero wind chills and feet upon feet of lake effect snow, a trip to Anchorage actually provides a respite from Michigan winters. Anchorage is fortunate to be at the receiving end of a Pacific Ocean current that brings relatively decent winter conditions to Anchorage, no different than most northern US states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, etc.

At the core of my decision to go to Anchorage later this month was for the plane spotting opportunities. Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International hosts a proverbial WHO’s-WHO of cargo aviation. Everything from classic DC-6′s and Curtis Wright C-46′s to the mammoth Antonov AN-225 can be observed at fairly close range. ANC is actually very “plane spotter friendly” with several vantage points that provide a variety of dramatic photos opportunities. All I need is a little cooperation from the sun for the 5-6 hours of daylight ANC receives a day this time of year along with battery powered long-johns and I should come back with fantastic images.

I was able to build a routing that will yield 9000 elite qualifying miles for the cost of a 6000 mile fare. At the end of the day, I’ll wind up spending 4.3 cents per mile (including elite bonuses) which is not exactly a bad ratio considering where the marketplace is as far as fares are concerned. Not to mention I get to come home and stick a magnet on Anchorage on my World Travel Map that hangs in my office and call it horizon expanded.

The routing:

At this point, I have a fairly blank canvas as far as what else I’ll do in Anchorage. I do know that the Alaska Air Museum is a must see destination, but outside of that I’m out of ideas. If anyone has experienced Anchorage (especially in the winter) and can offer advice on things to see or do, please let me know!