City Desk

Half-Baked Alaska: Post Paid for Alaska Love Trip

This weekend's Washington Post Magazine story about two single Post reporters looking for love in Alaska's women-starved wastes has come in for some knocks here and elsewhere, but the news may be worse for the Post's budget. According to Post Magazine editor Lynn Medford, the paper paid the travel expenses for the nearly 5,000 mile trip.

How much did the Post spend? According to City Desk's very rough estimate, quite a bit. Using Expedia and information in the story, we calculated just the costs of reporters Tara Bahrampour and Annie Gowen's flights on their four-day trip. 

Here's what makes it up:

Flight for Two from D.C. to Anchorage

In the piece, the reporters write that they came up with and took the trip in less than a month. According to Expedia, a round-trip flight for two from D.C. to Anchorage, booked 30 days before it departs, costs $1,825.

Flight for Two from Anchorage to Homer

After their plans to head to Kodiak Island are put off by fog, the pair heads to Homer instead. A round-trip flight for two costs $960.

Flight for One from Homer to Kodiak Island

Don't plan on a cheap trip to Kodiak Island unless you've got a newspaper's travel budget backing you up. After the two split up and Gowen heads back to Anchorage, Bahrampour flies to the island. A round-trip flight for one from Homer to Kodiak costs $778.

That puts the cost of the flights alone at $3,563, give or take a flight variations. Gowen and Bahrampour shouldn't have to pay for their own gallivanting around, but you have to wonder whether this was the best use of the the Post's travel budget.

Was it worth it? The story has over 300 comments, and the slideshow of their suitors is pretty good. Bahrampour was reminded that there's a place "where people feel okay taking chances."

"The response has been wonderful," Medford writes in an email. "Everyone enjoyed the spirit and the laughs."

Photo by Shutterstock

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  • Ward One Resident

    Your financial analysis might be a bit off because it's clear they did this in the spring (based on guesstimates early/mid-March) which I would think would make all the flights cheaper because it's not exactly high tourist season. Still an expensive trip, but your 30-day test should probably have an asterisk next to it.

  • Will Sommer

    Good point. Like I said, it's a very rough estimate, since we couldn't figure out the prices of spring tickets (it doesn't say in the piece, but judging from the pictures it doesn't seem to be the dead of winter) without booking 9 months in advance.

  • Dumb

    Was this all some ironic literary device wherein you comment on a lame story with one even more lame? If so, congrats, a grand success!

  • “Bring that ball, Meat!”

    What a sorry excuse of "journalism". Another reason why the Post magazine section will never be as good as the NY Times magazine. They actually hire real writers there.