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Flights to Nationals & Quizbowl Travel Tips Thread

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:07 am
by quizbowllee
I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice on finding affordable airfare for my team to attend NAQT and PACE. We've always had to take a bus to the tournaments in the past, but with the birth of my son occurring any day now, I'm determined to minimize the amount of time I will be away from my family. The bus ride will add a total of about 36 hours per trip (Chicago and Ann Arbor).

But, I'm very inexperienced in finding airline tickets. We need tickets for 14 people. The best rate I can find is around $300/person round trip per trip. There is just no way we can afford this. Is there anyway to find a better deal? I know when I flew to Baltimore for ACF Nationals in 2004, we got round-trip tickets for $89/person.

Thanks for any advice you can give.

--title edited by MLW for scope

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:18 am
by David Riley
Lee--lately American has had good flights ( and usually have a group discount for 10 people or more, you might try them.

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:22 am
by Matt Weiner
I think we're overdue for a general travel tips thread, which both high schoolers and collegians can usually find great value in since travel is such a large part of quizbowl. There are some people in the collegiate community with reputations for knowing a lot more about this, and I hope they chime in.

For your specific case, I have some suggestions:

-With 14 people, you can't do an exact search on most of the price-aggregator sites, but conversely, you can probably negotiate a group rate. It might be wise to consult a travel agent instead of trying to get the tickets directly, or to start calling airlines about block deals.

-Sites such as,, Orbitz, and Travelocity are pretty good, but not all airlines allow their fares to be listed everywhere, so you should always check more than one if you are not getting a good price. Also, a lot of sales or odd deals that depend on leaving on specific dates may not show up outside of the individual airlines' sites. And again, , you can't usually search for 14 tickets at a time on those sites.

-When searching, use the "1 day before or after" and "nearby airports" features to find potential discounts.

-Keep in mind that you need to get your tickets ASAP if you want to get 14 seats on the same plane and you are leaving out of Huntsville, Birmingham, etc. Only really enormous airports will be able to accommodate such a large group with certainty if you wait much longer.

With all that said, often the only thing to do is drive to the nearest really large airport--I've driven to Baltimore in order to catch a cheap Southwest flight to Chicago more times than I remember. In your case, I'm afraid a ride to Atlanta may be in your future. You can get to Detroit on NSC weekend for $230 (that's with taxes and fees already included) from there. Again, that's for a one-person search; it is almost certainly less if you buy all the tickets at once.

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:59 am
by First Chairman
Great topic, Lee!

You can also contact each airline's customer service hotline to see about group discounts for large groups (10+ or 15+); in my limited experience, Southwest and Continental are decent. If public, your school system may also look into looking at a "government" rate. Otherwise, I'd hire a travel agent that you may be forced to use through your school; that way, insurance is also covered to an extent.

But use the online cheaptix sites to bargain down the cost if you use an agent.

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:59 am
by Matthew D
Actually Lee I have been looking it won't make a difference if we fly out of Huntsville or Atlanta price wise and it will be easier for all of us to go out of Huntsville. The cheapest I have found so far is $246

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:07 pm
by pakman044
Lots of good tips thus far in the thread. I myself only have one experience with this, although I had the fun part of making most of the arrangements myself.

When I booked tickets for my team to go the NSC in Cleveland in 2003, as I recall we had ~10 people (maybe 9). I did the standard searching online for airfares, but when I found something I wanted, I then contacted the group travel department at the airline to make the arrangements (in this case, Continental). In fact, as I recall, I don't think I was allowed to make the reservations online due to the size of the group (too many people).

The main advantage of doing it through the airline was that I didn't have to make the reservation guaranteed by a credit card, so once a sufficient number of people had paid up with their airfare, the school could cut a check to the airline (but the reservation could be made decently before the check needed to be sent). The other advantage was that I had a specific contact with problems. When the reservation came back with only some of the group with assigned seats, I had someone to call so I could complain about it (and consequently, made sure everyone had an assigned seat in advance).

You could use an aggregator site, or general individual online ticket booking, but the downside with that is that either one person has to be the person to guarantee with the credit card (and get billed!), or you have individual students making reservations (generally not a good thing, as they might not get around to it, or something else could happen).

One thing to remember when you fly is that all students 18 and over must have proper identification. In general, accompanied minors do not need identification (but check with your airline!).

Patrick King

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:15 pm
by samer
One other suggestion: if you're on reasonably friendly terms with other area teams, you might want to investigate getting a "meeting" code that would let all of you fly--not necessarily on the same flight--and share the discount.

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:23 pm
by jbarnes112358
Any suggestions on hotels in Ann Arbor?

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:47 am
by Byko
jbarnes112358 wrote:Any suggestions on hotels in Ann Arbor?
The last time I checked, there were several hotels in the area that were pretty good and that you could get for under $100/night. Within the next week, I'm going to try to set up a group rate at the Sheraton Four Points (since I have a good relationship with Sheraton) to see what I can do. Failing that, I'll try to at least set some group discount rate at a hotel for teams coming up to NSC. I'll keep everyone posted.

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 3:16 am
by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
All I'm concerned about is if they have a great pool.


Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 8:10 am
by First Chairman

Of course, there can't be worse suggestions than the then-annual cruise ship tour of Houston when you went to :chip: 's competitions in the early history of NAC.