Alaska is the largest state in the U.S., and airplanes are often the most efficient way to travel between communities. Service is available on larger air carriers between many cities in Alaska, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Glacier Bay/Gustavus, Yakutat, Cordova, Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, Adak, King Salmon, Dillingham, Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Utqiaġvik (Barrow), and Prudhoe Bay.
Smaller regional carriers serve hundreds of other areas. For many remote towns, planes aren’t just the preferred way to travel, but the only way! Air is the best mode of transportation for reaching many Alaska Native villages, especially in the Arctic and Southwest regions and in some coastal communities. These regional carriers operate different types of planes depending on the terrain of their final destination: float planes/seaplanes for water, ski planes for snow, and wheeled planes for land.
“Bush planes” are small airplanes serving hundreds of remote communities. These flights offer a truly authentic wilderness experience and give visitors a glimpse into life in rural Alaska. While multi-day visits are feasible in some locations, many remote communities don’t have hotels or other tourism infrastructure and are best visited on a day trip. Several tour operations offer flightseeing and charter trips with short stops in Alaska Native villages. Other tours include the chance to ride along on a “mail run,” a flight that delivers mail and packages to remote locations by seasoned Bush pilots.
Some small regional carriers offer regularly-scheduled service to remote communities and locations, while others are accessible by booking a charter flight or air taxi specifically for your trip. If you’re interested in heading out to a remote community or accessing the backcountry, it’s best to contact the air carrier first to check on schedules, availability, and location logistics to find the option that’s right for you. Just like a regular taxi, the cost for air charters/air taxis are often calculated by the hour rather than by the destination.
Flightseeing is one of the most popular day trips in Alaska and can be done by small plane or helicopter statewide. Flightseeing trips often feature landings on mountaintops or glaciers, and many incorporate hiking, dog mushing, and more.