By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, The Baltimore Sun
9:37 AM EST, February 1, 2013
If you gotta go, you gotta go. To Super Bowl XLVII, that is.
And Ravens fans have got to go to New Orleans, getting there any which way they can.
Direct flights from Baltimore to the Big Easy have long since sold out, leaving fans to come up with creative travel plans.
Some are going for fly-and-drive combinations, like flying into Panama City Beach, Fla., — and making the roughly four-hour drive to New Orleans. Others are taking flights to Jackson, Miss., a relatively short drive of less than three hours.
"This a nice added bump from a typical January or February," said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for BWI-Marshall International Airport.
The Baltimore airport was expecting to see increased traffic over the weekend, including some charter flights.
"We are aware of several added flights and charter flights operated by commercial airlines," said Dean. He said the flights numbered almost 20 in total, with departures Thursday, Friday and even Sunday morning.
"Most are to New Orleans," he said, but added that there was at least one departure for Gulfport/Biloxi.
Several business jet providers were also looking to transport Ravens fans to the Super Bowl. Magellan Jets offers a charter flight from Baltimore to Lakefront Airport in New Orleans, about 7 miles from the Superdome, starting at $28,450 for 6 to 8 passengers.
Skylimo Air Charter, based in Florida, still had seats available on private flights for $2,850 per person for a group of three couples.
But many more fans are taking to the road, driving about 1,200 miles south to watch their team play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Elliott Cook, 27, has rented a 30-foot RV to make the trip with about a half-dozen friends.
The group left Baltimore Thursday evening, expecting to drive about 19 hours, not including stops like the one in Columbia, S.C., to pick up another friend.
Cook, who grew up in Bel Air and lives in Canton, came up with idea of getting an RV after the Ravens beat the Broncos in Denver. If they won against the Patriots, he and his friends agreed an RV would be the perfect way to get to the Super Bowl.
"With 5 minutes left in the fourth [against New England], we booked it," Cook said.
To ensure he didn't arrive with a large vehicle and no place to park it, he searched on the web and found ParkWhiz, a company that specializes in reserving parking spots at stadiums and other sports venues.
Cook was able to secure a tailgating spot just three blocks from the Superdome. But it wasn't cheap.
"I have high hopes based on the fact that we paid $1,200 for this spot," he said, adding that the group was treating the trip like a mini-vacation and that most of them had never been to New Orleans.
With hotels mostly sold out in downtown New Orleans, a thousand-dollar parking spot for basically a hotel on wheels may actually be a bargain.
But what about gas?
"We're figuring it's gonna cost about $800 in gas," said Cook, a financial comptroller who has done the math. "It came out to $375 per person for five nights with gas included."
Some of the group have tickets to the game. The others have reserved a table at the popular Walk-On's sports bar.
But they won't wait until Sunday to start celebrating the Ravens – and that means a little redecorating of the RV.
"We have [Ravens] flags. We have 'Pittsburgh Sucks' toilet paper. We have Ravens beer pong balls. We have cases of Mardi Gras beads, purple and gold. We have a ton of Ravens stuff."
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