By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman
The Baltimore Sun
4:16 PM EST, January 21, 2013
When it comes to the Super Bowl, Ravens fans are ready to go. Literally.
In less than 24 hours since winning the AFC Championship, fans have booked just about every flight out of town to New Orleans.
“[Demand] is overwhelming…” said Buzz Levin, owner of The Travel Committee, a group and corporate travel agency based in Owings Mills.
Levin said his company doesn’t normally work with the general public, but being based locally and seeing the enthusiasm of the Ravens nation has caused him to make this Super Bowl an exception.
“We’re located in Baltimore…not Minnesota,” he said by way of explanation. “So this is different.”
So in addition to his usual corporate bookings, Levin is offering one- and four-day travel packages to New Orleans for Baltimore fans.
“We have a large variety of things to offer for the Super Bowl,” said Levin. “We have tickets for VIP-only pre-game parties. And we have tickets to things like Maxim, Playboy and Taste of NFL parties.”
He’s rolling those options into packages that include a charter flight, ground transportation, lodging, game tickets and souvenirs. Prices for double occupancy start at about $6,900 per person at go2bowl.com.
Ticket upgrades are also available. “We even have suites available,” Levin said.
For those with less time, Levin’s firm is also offering a one-day Super Bowl experience that departs and returns to Baltimore on game day. The package starts at about $5,000 per person, including taxes and gratuities.
“Right now, air is a problem,” Levin said. “At the moment people are finding it difficult to find cost-effective flights.”
The need for more flights has not escaped the attention of the airlines.
Early Monday, JetBlue added two nonstop flights between Baltimore and New Orleans, one departing in the morning on Feb. 1 and one returning the day after the Super Bowl.
As of Monday afternoon, seats were available on the flights, according to Allison Steinberg, a JetBlue spokesperson.
“We do have seats available and will continue to evaluate the demand for additional flights as we move forward,” Steinberg said. Airfare for the flights started at $810 each way at jetblue.com.
As of Monday morning, all Southwest Airlines flights leaving Baltimore on Friday, Feb. 1,or Saturday, Feb. 2, were sold out. And all return flights from New Orleans on Monday, Feb. 4, were also sold out. Flights for Tuesday, Feb. 5, were also nearly sold out.
A Southwest spokesperson said the airline was evaluating demand and would be adding more flights between Baltimore and New Orleans as early as Monday afternoon. The airline plans included additional service for Jan. 31 and on Feb. 4.
With flights from BWI-Marshall Airport to New Orleans in such high demand, getting to the Super Bowl might require a side trip to Philadelphia or Washington.
Neighboring airports appear to have more availability for flights to New Orleans.
Departing Philadelphia on Feb. 1, fans can choose from several Southwest flights, starting at about $500 each way. Departing on Sunday, Feb. 3, will yield even more options, with web-only fares as low at $118.
Kayak, an online travel search site, was showing flights from Philadelphia to New York on Delta, starting at $1,136 round-trip, departing on Friday, Feb. 1 and returning Monday, Feb. 4.
If you leave on Saturday, Feb. 2, and return Monday, Feb.4, American Airlines showed available connecting flights from Philadelphia to New Orleans starting at $849 round-trip.
Getting to New Orleans from Reagan National in Washington or Dulles in Virginia, available flights are starting at around $1,000 round-trip for departures Feb. 1 or Feb. 2.
But some flights showed as few as three seats remaining as on Monday afternoon.
AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Ragina Averella said Super Bowl travel is expected to be in high demand. With few flights and even fewer hotels available, she said travelers should consider booking through a reputable travel agency.
“We do recognize the cost is going to be higher,” said Averella. “But it gives [travelers] someone to serve as an intermediary and to make their trip easier.”
Averella said AAA-Mid-Atlantic is also offering its own Super Bowl packages, starting at abut $4,200 per person.
In addition to using a travel agent, she also recommends paying with a credit card. “That gives you options if something falls through with your travel plans,” she said.
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