The NFL regular season kicked off this past weekend for most teams. For diehard fans, the question is: Are you brave enough to buy a flight to New Orleans now?
Some fans just don't want to be left on the sidelines as their team marches toward the Lombardi Trophy.
We used Fly.com to find cheap flights to New Orleans, the host of the 2013 Super Bowl, from the 32 cities that are home to NFL teams.
A few ground rules before we start:
1. New Orleans is not one of the country's larger airports, so there are fewer nonstop options. Many of the flights we found with the cheapest pricing are one-stop flights.
2. Even five months ahead of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2013, fares generally aren't very low. Most domestic airfare sales are still focusing on fall travel, so we wouldn't expect fares to drop for February travel until later in the year. That said, when January and February flights do start to go on sale, we'd expect that most flights into New Orleans around the Super Bowl (or Mardi Gras the following weekend) will be blacked out on the most attractive dates.3. In order to find the best deal, try these tips:
- Try to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. We focused our searches on departing Saturday, Feb. 2, and returning Tuesday, Feb. 5. The results below are the fares we found on those dates.
- Look at other airports nearby. If you're a Redskins fan and are convinced that rookie Robert Griffin III can lead Washington to the Super Bowl, then consider flying out of Baltimore, Reagan National or Dulles. Likewise, if flights into New Orleans get too pricey, check for flights to Houston (roughly a six-hour drive), Memphis (six-hour drive), Gulfport, Miss., (90 minutes) or Pensacola, Fla., (three hours).
- If these fares don't put the cheese on your nachos, you can always grab a Las Vegas hotel deal instead and watch the big game in Sin City.
Based on early returns, we'll set the over/under for a good flight deal at $350 roundtrip. (Please note: We're travel deal experts, not football experts. These aren't football picks, and we can't promise any deals on New Orleans hotels or game tickets.)
Here's the fans that may have some money left over for a hurricane or two at Pat O'Brien's after booking a flight.
$0: Saints -- It pays to be the hometown team, even if they started with a first-week loss to the 49ers.
$220 nonstop from Atlanta: Falcons -- A playoff team last year, Falcons fans may find the lowest fares to the Big Easy of anyone, although not necessarily the easiest road.
$325 nonstop from Denver: Broncos -- Nonstop flights from Frontier make it relatively cheap for Broncos fans to visit the boyhood home of new QB Peyton Manning.
$332 one-stop from New York: Giants & Jets -- If Giants QB (and Peyton brother) Eli Manning can lead the defending champion back to the Super Bowl, it will also be a homecoming. Jets fans can also line up a pretty good fare now and plan to Tebow their way through the French Quarter.
$336 one-stop from Phoenix: Cardinals - Arizona was a surprise Super Bowl team a few years ago, and is off to a 1-0 start.
$340 nonstop from Houston: Texans - A rising team that made its first playoff appearance last year, Texans fans also have one of the shorter (and cheaper) flights.
$343 one-stop from Nashville: Titans - Oddsmakers don't give Tennessee much of a chance, but this fare is worth a look.
For the rest of the league's fans, we found a $150-$200 premium over the lowest current fares.
$358 one-stop from Indianapolis: Colts
$391 one-stop from Dallas: Cowboys - The team is off to a good start at 1-0, but fares aren't. It's worth watching fares at this American and Southwest Airlines hub to see if they go down. Dallas generally has some of the less expensive fares into New Orleans. Nonstops start at $482 currently.
$370 one-stop from Kansas City: Chiefs
$370 one-stop from Jacksonville; Jaguars
$385 one-stop from St. Louis: Rams
$388 one-stop from Cincinnati: Bengals
$405 one-stop from Chicago: Bears -- A major airline hub for United, American and Southwest, fares may go down once sales come into the market. It remains to be seen if the Bears will go down to the Big Easy.
$406 one-stop from Detroit: Lions
$409 one-stop from Cleveland: Browns
$415 one-stop from San Diego: Chargers -- LAX or Orange County could be alternative options for Bolts fans who think lightning will strike in New Orleans.
$415 one-stop from Charlotte: Panthers
$424 one-stop from Minneapolis: Vikings - Diehard Purple People Eater fans would probably pick the nonstop for $61 more.
$425 one-stop from Washington, D.C.: Redskins
$430 one-stop from Pittsburgh: Steelers
$446 one-stop from Philadelphia: Eagles
$459 one-stop from Baltimore: Ravens
$463 one-stop from Tampa: Buccaneers
$466 one-stop from Seattle: Seahawks
$475 one-stop from Boston: Patriots -- A perennial contender, Tom Brady fans may already be buying tickets and packing their carry-on bags regardless of the cost. Manchester or Providence are alternative airport options for fans to search.
$497 one-stop from San Francisco: 49ers and (Oakland) Raiders -- It's worth it for Raiders fans to cross the Bay to book this flight - the best option from Oakland is $676.
$503 one-stop from Buffalo: Bills
$592 two-stop from Green Bay: Packers -- Considered a Super Bowl favorite by many prognosticators, hard-core Pack fans may want to look at flights out of Minneapolis ($424), Appleton ($437), Milwaukee ($448) or Madison ($517) to save some green.
Enjoy the season and don't forget to check our Today's Best Fares section to see if prices to the Big Easy offer up big savings.
-- Andrew Young is Travelzoo's U.S. Web Editor and is based in New York. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.