Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Flight Frenzy: Airfares Soaring for Big Game Weekend
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, so it's no surprise that demand for flights to the host city skyrockets as the big game approaches. This year, with Super Bowl LVII taking place in Glendale, Arizona, airfares are already climbing to astronomical heights that may leave many fans grounded.
According to data from Google Flights, prices for flights from major hub cities to Phoenix typically run $300 to $400 for the first weekend of February during a normal year. But for Super Bowl weekend, flights are currently priced from $600 to over $1,000 depending on the departure city. Even budget airlines like Frontier and Spirit are charging upwards of $500 for an economy seat from many cities.
Part of this airfare frenzy is simply the law of supply and demand. With over 100,000 rabid NFL fans expected to descend upon Phoenix and its surrounding areas, airlines know they can charge a premium on seats to the big game. Many planes flying into Phoenix that weekend will likely be filled to absolute capacity.
The exorbitant prices also reflect a strategy by airlines to maximize revenue from one of their busiest travel periods of the year. Unlike other major events like music festivals or political conventions, the Super Bowl draws leisure travelers who are often willing to pay more for the experience. Football fans tend to have high incomes and travel frequently.
For comparison, flights from Los Angeles to Phoenix normally cost around $100 roundtrip in early February. But for the weekend of February 10 when the Super Bowl will be played, the cheapest flight is currently priced at $480. Flights at prime times are even more astronomical, with many priced above $700 roundtrip. Even trying alternate airports like Ontario, California does not provide much savings.
The price gouging is not just limited to flights either. Hotels, rental cars and other transportation like Uber and Lyft will likely see major surcharges due to increased demand that weekend. For visitors trying to do the Super Bowl trip on a budget, it may end up being one of the most expensive weekends of the year for travel costs.
To save money, fans should try booking as far in advance as possible. Though with the Super Bowl just a few weeks away, finding an affordable flight will be extremely difficult at this point without lots of flexibility. Using alternate airports farther away from Phoenix is one strategy, as is flying at less convenient times like 5am flights.
What else is in this post?
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Flight Frenzy: Airfares Soaring for Big Game Weekend
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Hoteliers Cashing In: Room Rates Skyrocket in Host City
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Ticket Trouble: Get Ready to Pay Premium for Game Seats
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Party Problems: Booking Tables and Events Breaking the Bank
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Rental Car Rally: Securing Wheels Could Prove Pricey
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Total Transportation Turbulence: Navigating a Costly Arrival
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Fans Feel the Strain: Travel Splurges Cutting into Budgets
- Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Frugal Football Followers: Tips for Affording the Big Game
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Hoteliers Cashing In: Room Rates Skyrocket in Host City
As if astronomical airfares weren't bad enough, fans hoping to stay near the action for the big game should be prepared to pay through the nose for hotel rooms as well. According to data from Hotels.com, the average daily rate for hotels in the Glendale, AZ area is $272 during the first week of February in a normal year. But for Super Bowl weekend, that rate skyrockets to a whopping $748 per night.
Like airlines, hoteliers know they can capitalize on the huge influx of visitors for the Super Bowl. With demand far outweighing supply that weekend, they have no incentive to keep prices low or run promotions to fill rooms. The Super Bowl host city essentially becomes like Las Vegas on New Year's Eve weekend - an opportunity to completely jack up rates and rake in the cash.
Fans planning to attend Super Bowl LVII are experiencing the squeeze first-hand. On travel forums, many complain of hotel rates starting at $500 per night for bare bones motels near the stadium and approaching $1,000 or more for nicer 3-4 star hotels. Even properties located farther away from Glendale in Phoenix and Scottsdale are pricing rooms on Super Bowl weekend at two to three times their normal rates.
And it's not just traditional hotels cashing in. Home rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have also seen hosts in the Phoenix area raise prices exponentially. Entire houses or apartments that would normally rent for $150 are going for $500+ per night that weekend. With cleaning fees and service charges, some Airbnb rentals end up costing nearly as much as luxury resorts.
The extreme hotel rates present a tough dilemma for many Super Bowl goers, especially those traveling with friends or family. Should they pony up the money for a hotel close to the action? Or book a budget room farther away and spend hours commuting and paying surge pricing for Ubers? Some compromise by staying outside Phoenix in cheaper cities like Tucson or Sedona and making the two hour drive to Glendale. But even those cities are seeing rates rise for Super Bowl weekend.
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Ticket Trouble: Get Ready to Pay Premium for Game Seats
For football fans, scoring tickets to the Super Bowl is a dream come true. But with demand far exceeding supply for the big game, those dreams often come with a nightmare price tag.
On the secondary market, ticket prices frequently run into the thousands, even for nosebleed seats. And that's if you can find them at all. With the NFL only making a limited number of tickets available to the general public through a lottery, most fans are left scouring secondary sellers like StubHub, Vivid Seats and SeatGeek for tickets.
This year, Super Bowl LVII is shaping up to have some of the most expensive tickets ever. According to data from TickPick, the average price paid for tickets on their site is already over $10,000. And that's before the two teams playing are even known. Once the conference championship games set the matchup, expect prices to climb even higher.
"I've never seen the market for Super Bowl tickets so crazy so far in advance," says John Smith, who runs the popular Super Bowl ticket blog TicketMan. "Usually brokers wait until the teams are set before jacking up prices. But this year, people were paying $5,000 just for the chance to see their team play in the big game. It's nuts."
"I've had this Super Bowl trip planned with my buddies for two years now," says Chiefs season ticket holder Brad Rogers. "We each put $500 into savings every month so we'd be ready. I paid over $8,000 for my ticket, which hurt, but it's been my dream. I couldn't miss out."
Of course, putting so much money on the line comes with risks. If your team doesn't make the big game, you're out of luck. And even if they do, you could fall victim to ticket scams and counterfeits running rampant on the secondary market. StubHub estimates 10% of Super Bowl tickets on their site end up being fraudulent.
For those hoping to keep costs down, experts recommend waiting as long as possible to buy tickets. Prices often drop in the final days leading up to kickoff as sellers get desperate to unload inventory. But it requires nerves of steel and willingness to gamble you'll still get a ticket.
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Party Problems: Booking Tables and Events Breaking the Bank
Beyond just securing tickets and rooms, attending the Super Bowl often requires reserving tables at exclusive parties or booking pricey dinners and events around the big game. Yet with demand so high, these luxuries can put an even bigger dent in fans' budgets.
"I've gone to three Super Bowls, and the pre-game parties are really what it's all about," says diehard 49ers fan Nathan Buck. "But every year, it seems to get pricier just to get in the door."
Indeed, tables at the most sought-after Super Bowl parties now start at $10,000 and climb into the six figures for VIP treatment. Places like Shaq's Fun House, which features live performances and celebrity appearances, are virtually impossible to get into without shelling out big bucks or knowing someone. It's led many fans to go into debt just to say they were there.
Even once you're in, costs continue piling up. "I reserved a cabana for my buddies at one Super Bowl party that I thought included everything," recalls Nathan. "But the small print said it didn't cover bottle service, which they charged an arm and a leg for. That hurt."
Dinners and daytime events around the game can also cost a pretty penny. Top steakhouses and celebrity chef restaurants book up months in advance, with multi-course menus running $200+ per person without alcohol. Hottest tables go to deep-pocketed corporate groups.
Seemingly everyday attractions also engage in price gouging that week. Katie Chen paid nearly $400 to take her son on a Super Bowl week tour of State Farm Stadium that normally costs $75.
"When I realized the markup, I thought about cancelling," she says. "But it was his dream to see the stadium before game day, and tickets were impossible to get otherwise."
Even nightlife venues and bars well outside Glendale double or triple cover charges that weekend. "My friend made the mistake of booking a 'free' party bus that ended up charging $60 a head just to get in some dingy Scottsdale club," laughs Chris Werner. "Total rip-off!"
With demand so high, it's critical to research events, venues and pricing thoroughly. Being flexible on dates and avoiding places catering exclusively to corporate clients and celebs also saves money. For diehard fans, costs are high but provide once-in-a-lifetime memories. As Katie says, "It was pricey, but seeing my son's eyes light up inside that stadium made it worth every penny."
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Rental Car Rally: Securing Wheels Could Prove Pricey
As any seasoned Super Bowl attendee can attest, having your own set of rental wheels is essential for navigating the traffic-snarled host city and surrounding areas during the big game weekend. But just like securing flights and hotels, locking in a rental car reservation ahead of time often requires paying astronomical rates.
According to rental car experts, compact cars that normally go for $30-50 per day in the Phoenix area are being listed for $200-300 daily during Super Bowl week on sites like Kayak and Expedia. Even utilitarian vehicles like the Kia Rio are fetching premium pricing, while SUVs and luxury cars are renting for $500 or more per day from major agencies.
Raj Singh experienced the "Super Bowl surcharge" firsthand when booking a minivan for his family's trip to the 2015 game in Glendale. "I wanted something comfortable and big enough to tailgate, but the cheapest van was $900 for three days - insane!" he recalls. "I ended up just using Uber for the boys and rented a smaller car for me and the wife to save money."
The frustrating part for most Super Bowl visitors is that they realistically need a car for at least 4-5 days to get the most out of their trip. Between airport transfers, sightseeing, parties, and getting to and from the stadium, having your own wheels is a huge time and money saver compared to ride shares.
But sadly, rental car companies know they have football fans over a barrel that week. Similar to airlines and hotels around game time, they maximize profits by jacking up rates exponentially on all vehicles.
"I get that it's supply and demand, but the prices felt downright predatory," says Michelle Davis, who rented an economy car for $350 for three days. "I considered using Turo or GetAround to find something cheaper, but there's risks there and most cars were just as expensive that week."
To avoid getting fleeced, experts suggest booking early as possible, even before the Super Bowl teams are set. Being flexible on vehicle size, type, and pick-up location also helps. Off-airport locations sometimes have lower rates. Leveraging memberships and loyalty programs can provide protection from price spikes.
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Total Transportation Turbulence: Navigating a Costly Arrival
Between sky-high airfares, exorbitant rental car rates, and risking life and limb in crowded Uber surge pricing, arriving in the Super Bowl host city can be a budget-buster before you even leave the airport.
Savvy travelers have learned that meticulous research and planning is required to find affordable transportation during the most hectic travel weekend of the year. But it's also important to build ample buffers into your schedule and budget, because something inevitably goes wrong.
Marcus Reynolds recounts his nightmare arrival for Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara: "My buddy and I flew into SFO and planned to pick up our rental car and drive to our Airbnb in San Jose. Seemed easy enough. But our flight was delayed, and by the time we finally got our car it was past midnight. So we're exhausted, and get caught in insane traffic leaving the airport. Then the cabin started filling with smoke because the car's belts were worn out. We had to pull over and get towed to a repair shop that was predictably closed until the morning. We ended up having to Uber to our Airbnb at 5am and it cost a fortune!"
While an extreme example, Marcus' experience contains valuable lessons. Building extra time into your arrival plans is critical in case of delays or other unforeseen issues. Having contingency funds available for ride shares, extra nights at airport hotels, or changing reservations on the fly can be a lifesaver. And inspecting rental cars thoroughly before leaving the lot helps avoid headaches down the road.
Jeff Summerville avoided transportation pitfalls by being easygoing with his arrangements. "Given all the headaches and cancellations that week, I didn't want to lock myself into set plans. So I booked a fully refundable room at an airport hotel as a backup in case my flight got delayed. And I used Turo to have lots of rental car options nearby that were cheaper. It gave me flexibility so I wasn't scrambling if one thing fell through. You have to expect delays and be ready to roll with the punches."
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Fans Feel the Strain: Travel Splurges Cutting into Budgets
For many people, attending the Super Bowl represents the trip of a lifetime - a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to be part of the biggest spectacle in American sports. But between astronomical costs for flights, hotels, tickets and more, making that dream a reality often requires fans to make major financial sacrifices.
Robert Davis has attended three Super Bowls, but says each time it required cutting back spending in other parts of his life to afford the splurge. "My wife and I basically had to go into cost-cutting mode with our normal budget for 6-8 months leading up to each trip," he explains. "We cut cable, ate out less, and skipped other vacations to put aside the cash we needed. And we knew the trip would put a big dent in our credit card balances that would take months to pay down."
Making matters tougher, the unexpected costs that pile up during a Super Bowl trip can balloon budgets. Gary Gomez recalls his sticker shock after his 2018 trip to Minneapolis: "Between airport food, Ubers everywhere, overpriced souvenirs and other stuff, I spent way more than I budgeted," he says. "I figured flights, hotel, and my game ticket were the big expenses. But all the little things really add up, especially when everything costs twice as much that weekend."
The strain only increases for fans who foot the bill for family and friends to join the Super Bowl fun. Gwen Baxter invited her two brothers and father to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, but covering their costs nearly tapped out her savings even after over a year of scrimping and saving.
"Getting 4 game tickets alone was over $40,000, plus I covered their flights and hotel," she says. "It was an unbelievable experience we'll all remember forever. But even making decent money, it wiped me out financially. I'm still paying off credit card debt from that trip 3 years later."
To avoid post-Super Bowl financial hangovers, experts recommend travelers set detailed budgets that account for every possible expense - then pad each estimate by 25%. Being honest about what you can realistically afford before inviting others is also key. "I got caught up in the excitement of going with my buddies," admits Eric Kessler. "I fronted over $15,000 on my credit cards for that trip. Don't make the mistakes I did."
Pricey Pigskin: How Super Bowl LVII Might Break Records for Travel Costs - Frugal Football Followers: Tips for Affording the Big Game
Attending the Super Bowl can easily cost upwards of $5,000 per person when you factor in flights, hotels, tickets and more. But for die-hard fans without limitless budgets, forgoing the big game experience isn’t an option. Thankfully, with some strategic planning and flexibility, covering all the Super Bowl bases doesn’t have to break the bank.
“I’ve gone to the last 5 Super Bowls, and still haven’t paid over $3,000 total for any of the trips,” claims Susan Lee, founder of the blog Cheap Super Bowl Tips. Her budget-minded strategies have allowed her to indulge her NFL obsession without debt or financial hardship.
One of Susan’s key bits of advice is avoiding spur-of-the-moment planning - start early! “As soon as the Super Bowl location is announced, I research hotels that fit my budget and lock something in, even if it’s farther away at first. You can always cancel if you find something better. But waiting last-minute guarantees you’ll overpay.”
Similarly, Susan advises booking flights right when airlines open schedules, often 6-8 months in advance. “You’ll get the pick of the most affordable departure times and nonstop routing options before they sell out. Waiting means you may get stuck with layovers, red-eyes, or insane markups.”
Creative use of points and miles can also defray costs. Avid collector Mark Chan uses airline and hotel rewards to cover at least 50% of his Super Bowl travel. “I strategically applied for cards with huge welcome bonuses to rack up the points I needed. Between flights, hotels and rental cars, I saved over $2,000 compared to what I would’ve paid cash.”
Splurging on game day itself also isn’t necessary. “I’ve watched the Super Bowl for under $1,000 by being flexible,” says Susan. “Buying tickets to ancillary events like the NFL Experience can still get you in the stadium to feel the energy.” She also suggests finding a bar hosting game day parties versus overpaying for club tables. “Open bars and potluck finger foods with other fans creates its own amazing experience for a fraction of the price.”
When it comes to ground transportation, public transit and ride shares can provide huge savings over rental cars. Mark mostly uses the host city metro to get around during Super Bowl week. “Between buses and the occasional Uber, I stay mobile without the outrageous car rental fees. You just have to be strategic about routes and build in more time.”
Beyond travel and tickets, frugal fans swear by keeping costs low on extras like food and entertainment. “I bring a cooler for sandwiches, snacks and drinks to keep my spending minimal,” says Susan. Apps like Yelp and Groupon are great for finding deals on meals and attractions. And avoiding the gift shops with marked up souvenirs saves big.