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Alaska ferry introduced a new pricing system. Here’s how to get the best deal

Alaska ferry system brings passengers to Bellingham

The southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System is in Bellingham, Wash. Alaska ferries allow for walk-on and vehicle passengers.
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The southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System is in Bellingham, Wash. Alaska ferries allow for walk-on and vehicle passengers.

Those thinking about riding the Alaska ferry out of Bellingham will need to employ some of the strategies for booking airplane flights to get the best price.

The Alaska Marine Highway System released its 2019-20 winter schedule on Thursday, Sept. 5. With it they introduced a dynamic pricing program, something typically seen for airline seat bookings. That means as the ferry starts to fill up with reservations, the price will go up. If the ferry is 80% full, the fare for new passenger bookings will be 30% higher while prices for bringing a vehicle or securing a cabin will be 50% higher.

For example, a one-way ticket for a passenger without a vehicle and no cabin currently would pay $342 from Bellingham to Ketchikan later this winter. If someone books the reservation when the ferry is nearly full, that price rises to around $444.

Other fare changes include event pricing (a 10% increase for special events at a specific port) and change fees, which go up as the travel date approaches.

Passengers are encouraged to book early for the best fares, according to the news release.

The changes are being done “In an effort to maximize revenue and create a more self-sustaining system,” according to the news release. The Alaska Marine Highway System’s funding was cut by $43 million in the last legislative budget session. That also led to cuts in service throughout the system.

The ferry system is also recovering from a strike earlier this summer that resulted in refunding passengers $3.3 million.

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