To Columbus Ohio!

The Columbus Blue Jackets are on quite a roll these days! A legendary season for certain. If you’re a big hockey fan and would like to see them play in person you have a few options, even on a small budget.

  1. Use Air Miles for the flight. 2500 Air Miles and $146 cash (taxes) will get you a return flight from Winnipeg (YWG to CMH)
Dates & availability will vary

2. Use Air Miles for your hotel instead.  Or, use your Marriott/SPG points. The Courtyard Marriott is the closest hotel to Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

3. See them on the road. The least expensive Canadian city to see an NHL game is Ottawa. And if you’re a Brandon Wheat King’s fan, you’ll know that Mark Stone plays in Ottawa. So, you can see two former WK captains with one game. (March 4, 2017) Air Miles flights to Ottawa are 2000 points or less. You just pay the taxes, about $130

March 3-5, 2017 from Winnipeg to Ottawa (YWG to YOW)

(You can even go this month for 1600 Air Miles, if you have some time off right away.) Columbus plays in Ottawa on Sunday January 22nd. Their winning streak could still be alive.

January 21-23rd, Winnipeg to Ottawa (YWG to YOW). Availability subject to change without notice

Tickets to the games can be purchased through Ticketmaster or Stubhub.com for as low as $30 each.

If you are a hockey fan and love the big game, you’ll see why this could be an epic road trip.

No Air Miles? No problem at all! Air Canada and Delta both have flights on sale right now, for about $400 (Canadian funds and taxes included.) Hint…. or buy your Spring Break flights now (to most any NHL city) and catch your favourite team just before playoffs.  

If you’re a Winnipeg Jets fan, and believe this is their playoff year, you’ll want to plan ahead for April 6th in Columbus. It could be an intense game in their quest for a playoff spot.  Air Canada, April 4-7th flight is just $400.91 at today’s price.

January 4th screenshot

Or finally, you can bundle the April 4th to 7th, with hotel, through Expedia.ca with the above noted Air Canada flight for $685 with a downtown (near arena) Holiday Inn. Tickets for that Jets’ game are currently $28 & up (US funds on Stubhub.com).

It pays to plan ahead! Especially for your Spring Break hockey trip.

Get the calendar!

Ah, first day of summer and the NHL teams officially release their 2016/17 schedules. Somebody clear my calendar, I’m going to need some time to look at this!

Work’s been a zoo lately and I’m dying to plan a trip. But with nary a prospect of a weekend off before October, I might just have to settle for planning a fall getaway. And, for me, that’s probably going to include an NFL game.

I can’t hide the fact that I love professional sports. And nothing beats great tickets to a big game. October is a fabulous time to take a sports trip. You could, theoretically, see NFL, NHL and MLB in one weekend if things align and you have a winning baseball team.

Last September, I took my youngest to see the Denver Broncos (pre-season game) and also to see the Colorado Rockies. We had two action packed days and nights in Denver. Denver is one of the ideal locations to see two or three sports in one trip as the stadiums/arenas are in close proximity to each other. Pick the right hotel and you can even walk to each quite comfortably, like we did.

Arizona has both NHL hockey and NFL football in the same Glendale entertainment district. That’s a great city to see as well and you’ll love the whole restaurant/movie/shopping plaza that is between the stadium and arena. We visited in December and had perfect weather.

When I get a free hour, and a huge cup of coffee, I intend to cross reference the NHL and NFL season schedules and find a few double-headers of note. Then…. step 2, we’ll find flights!

 

Pittsburgh in the 2016 NHL Playoffs

Mere hours ago the dates and times were announced for the Eastern Finals in the 2016 NHL Playoffs. It will be the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.34.52 PM

Game 1 will be hosted in Pittsburgh on Friday, May 13th. Flights from Winnipeg, with either Delta or United are still sitting under $600 (tax in, return).

There are several hotels near the Consol Energy Centre in Pittsburgh. You can’t get much closer than the Hilton DoubleTree.

I’ve priced out a trip for game 5, on the Canadian long weekend, through Expedia.ca.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.00.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.59.08 PM

Tickets to the Eastern Finals are about $160US each, from Stubhub.com

If you go for game 5, you will be able to go to a Pirates’ baseball game as well. They play just after lunch, and hockey starts at 7pm. If you have time to linger an extra day, and fly home on the 24th, you will then fly with United Airlines for the best bargain price. This “extra” day can raise your total package price per person, as little as $25. This is, indeed, staying at the same hotel. So, for an additional $25 would you stay and see a little more of the city? I think so!

You’ll have to act quickly and decisively when booking, as seats on flights and to the games will be snapped up by eager fans wanting to do the very same trip.

If you have Air Miles, or Aeroplan points, do check for flights on your respective sites. Sometimes you can get a free, last minute flight. This worked for me in last year’s playoffs when the Jets were playing Anaheim.

Planning the epic playoff trip.

The key to planning a playoff trip is to act quickly and decisively. There are three things that have to come together in order for this to happen.

  1. Know the date. Until you know the specific date when the games are being played, you’re in limbo.
  2. Transportation. Is this fly or drive?  And if it’s air fare you need, know that last minute prices can be steep. Are there alternate airports you can look at?
  3. Tickets. Do you have a reliable, trusted source for tickets?

When the Winnipeg Jets made the playoffs in April 2015, I knew I had to go. HAD TO! I bought tickets on-line (Stub Hub) within minutes of the games being confirmed. That was actually the easiest part

The biggest problem became acquiring a reasonably priced flight to Anaheim. Flights to the closest and most convenient airport, SNA, (John Wayne Airport) were already priced beyond my budget. LAX was the next one I considered, however the connections and times were going to fail me. At this point I considered re-selling my tickets. That’s when it occurred to me that I had enough airline points for a free flight to PSP. (Palm Springs) Though I normally wouldn’t have thought of Palm Springs, it was genius. It was a direct flight from YWG (Winnipeg). With no connections, that meant I could fly out the morning of the game.  I cashed in my points for the ticket, and arranged a rental car. Even in traffic, it would take 2 hours or less to drive to the arena.

The last piece of the puzzle was a hotel. Considering the trip was completely focused on the big game, I used Hotwire.com. Any well-rated area hotel would do.

It was mere days later that we were off and racing to Anaheim. The flight was on time and we arrived in plenty of time for the game. With the rental car safely parked at the hotel we grabbed a cab to the rink. We met up with dozens, maybe even a hundred like-minded fans at a nearby pub and then made our way to the game. While our team did not win, it certainly was a victory for the sports fan. What a memorable experience!

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From this event, I offer 2 tips.

  1. Check your loyalty clubs. You might just nab a free last minute flight. Huge savings over steep last minute cash prices.
  2. If you are going with a few people, consider renting a car/driver at the airport, rather than choosing your own rental car and fumbling with GPS and a stressed designated driver. We ran into a group of 8 that had hired a limo to/from Palm Springs. At a cost of about $100 per person, I thought they were genius.

 

When your team hits the playoffs for the first time in 20 years....
When your team hits the playoffs for the first time in 20 years….

 

Game 2 of the series.
Game 2 of the series.