Surprising Things about Super Bowl Airfare

If you want to fly to the Super Bowl, keep reading – but keep reading even if you’ll be home on the couch like me, because what you’ll learn can help you save money on flights year-round.

See the Super Bowl Travel Guide

Six Surprising Super Bowl Airfare Facts

Let me know if I’ve missed any.

1. Some Super Bowls are Cheaper than Others

Let’s go back to the 2008 game between the Giants and Patriots to prove that pricing can be all about the airports. In other words, destinations do make a difference.

  • Super Bowl 2008 – Phoenix: Airfare prices were running as high as $2,000 round-trip by game day
  • Super Bowl 2014 – New York metro area: Airfare prices in this final week before the game are as low as about $800 round-trip from Seattle and about $400 round-trip from Denver (as of Jan. 27)

The difference? Competitive airports with lots of airlines is key. Sure, Phoenix’s Sky Harbor is a sizeable airport but the next closest airport with lots of competing carriers is Las Vegas, 290 miles away. This year’s Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., is served the LaGuardia, JFK, Newark plus Islip and Trenton Mercer. All these options help keep airfare relatively low.

2. The Airlines have a Dirty Little Secret

Airlines know when you want to fly, how you like to travel, the time of day you prefer to fly (information gleaned from bookings) and this information tells airlines what you’re willing to pay and they use this information against you. For example, the airlines know most people want to make a big weekend of the Super Bowl and price fares accordingly (see number 3 for more).

3. When You Fly Matters

This is true for most vacation flights, but never more true than for Super Bowl travel. The airlines know most fans want Friday departures and Monday returns so those are the flights that are usually most expensive. However, if you can fly Saturday and Tuesday, in some cases you’ll save 40 percent or more.

4. Super Bowl Flights can be Tiring – But Worth It

No one wants to take a long flight but if you don’t mind a connection or two instead of the convenience of a non-stop, you will save money – up to 60 percent in some cases. This is true on flights throughout the year.

5. Alternative Destinations can be Cheaper – Or Not

This is interesting: Las Vegas has always been a rallying point for fans would can’t get to the big game and fares to Sin City are running about $300 cheaper for travelers from Seattle. However, Vegas is actually close to the same price for Denver fans flying to New York (and in some cases, the Vegas flights are actually more expensive).

6. Europe can be Cheaper than a Super Bowl Flight

Don’t believe it? Our Deals Blog includes a sale on Ireland for under $580 round-trip; compare that to Seattle’s Super Bowl fare of $800, and, like they say, you do the math.

More from Rick Seaney:

Super Bowl Fable: $2,000 Tickets vs. $600 Ticket

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Published: January 27, 2014