Alaska Airlines’ flying salmon travels the Inside Passage a final time

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The “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” lands in Wrangell on its ceremonial final flight, April 17, 2023. (Sage Smiley/KSTK)

The world’s largest flying salmon took its final swim upstream Tuesday. KSTK went to greet Alaska Airlines’ Salmon-Thirty-Salmon in Wrangell on its ceremonial last flight.

“Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” – a 91,000-pound plane painted with a 129-foot king salmon design – flew from Seattle through Southeast Alaska. The route, known as the “Milk Run,” stopped in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau and finally to its natal runway in Anchorage, where the design was first unveiled.

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Alaska Airlines employees pose for a photo outside the “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” in Wrangell. (Sage Smiley/KSTK)

Travelers boarding the flight received shirts, hats and other swag including a free airline ticket according to airline spokesperson Tim Thompson, who was on the flight. Thompson said passengers included 30 Alaska Airlines employees who were selected from more than 800 who applied for the opportunity to ride on the ceremonial flight. 

Thompson clarified that the flying salmon may still be in use for another few days, but that this was its ceremonial last flight and it will be repainted soon.

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Ingrid Barrentine, a visual marketing manager for Alaska Airlines, holds up a model of the “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon” in Wrangell’s airport. (Sage Smiley/KSTK)

In a written statement Monday, Alaska Airlines newsroom added it appreciates the love people have shown for the Salmon-Thirty-Salmon throughout the years, and acknowledged the importance of salmon to the people of Alaska and the West Coast. The statement added that the airline said it looks forward to unveiling an “incredible new design soon” that “celebrates the culture and people of Alaska and our connection to the places we fly.”

Photojournalist Brandon Farris with Airways Magazine first announced the retirement of the giant salmon on Twitter in late February, citing an internal company post. Alaska Airlines then confirmed to the Alaska Beacon in late February that the “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” jet would fly its final ceremonial flight before being repainted. The news came as a blow to some aviation enthusiasts, who circulated a petition that garnered more than 2,000 signatures to save the intricately painted livery

Trident Seafoods bid goodbye to the salmon in a Facebook post just as it began its final flight Monday, saying the plane has been a visual commitment to seafood sustainability and responsible fishing practices. 

Alaska Airlines debuted a salmon-painted plane in 2005 with the first rendition of the Salmon-Thirty-Salmon. The name for the design came from an incident in the 1980s when a bald eagle dropped a salmon on an Alaska Airlines flight

The original giant fish design was painted over in 2011, and the airline debuted a new “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” design in 2012. The updated design was produced in partnership with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which promotes Alaska seafood products worldwide. 

Get in touch with KSTK at or (907) 874-2345.

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