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Super Bowl XLVII is right around the corner! February 3rd, 2013 is going to be a very busy day in New Orleans. Chartering a jet to the Super Bowl can be an amazingly fun experience, but be sure to do it right.

Each year, the Super Bowl is easily the single largest “one event” demand generator in the country for private jet charter. Last year, Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, IN set the record for the mort private jet flights at one Super Bowl. Roughly 1,100 private jets flew into Indianapolis last year. To cope with the demand, the FAA brought in mobile control towers, and FBOs setup tents with make-shift seating, big-screen TVs, and arcade-game systems to comfort thousands of waiting flight crews and passengers. Planes were parked along the perimeters of runways, and roadways were gridlocked for miles with cars going to/from the airport. The FBOs at Indianapolis international booked up days before the flight, leaving last-minute Super Bowl visitors to have to fly into airports over 100 miles away. To make matters worse, hotels in and around Indianapolis were completely sold out.

Here we go again! Super Bowl flight bookings generally don’t pick up for us until we know who will playing in the big game. My advice for anyone who is considering flying to the Super Bowl is as follows:

  • Book your trip as early as possible! Planes “will” sell out for the big game. Last year, we had to reposition planes into New York from “hours” away to pick up passengers and bring them to Indianapolis. Those who waited easily paid four times as much as the same trip would normally cost. This is not a time to wait and try to get a good deal. It is more expensive to fly to a Super Bowl than it would normally be to fly to the same city.
  • Spend the night if you can! The airports in a Super Bowl host city are completely chaotic right before and right after the game. YOU WILL BE DELAYED if you’re flying out just before the game, or flying out right after the game. I only wish I had a screenshot from last year showing an ATC flow map of planes traveling between New York and Indianapolis (I found a shot from Miami in 2007, see below). If you’re able to spend the night (and were lucky enough to get a hotel room), it can make your trip much more convenient.

  • Be aware of “crew duty days.” When flying on a charter plane, the crew has a 14-hour maximum duty day per FAA regulations. Only about 12.5 hours of that are usable for flight time; meaning your plane MUST land at its end-point no more than 12.5 hours after its original scheduled departure time. There will be charter companies out there who will advocate your booking of a trip within a duty day for the Super Bowl. Remember the delays I spoke about that are associated with the Super Bowl… you can risk being stranded in New Orleans with your crew and plane if you try this! Make sure not to cut it close. There are tricks around this, including using two crews, but they will raise your bill.
  • Make sure you book your trip with someone who has sent planes to the Super Bowl before! There are so many tricks to flying private to the Super Bowl, and you want to book with someone who knows them.