Booking last-minute flights and hotels for Super Bowl LIV in Miami

Jan 21, 2020

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The Super Bowl match-up is set and there will be lots of red descending on South Florida in less than two weeks. With plenty of crimson in both team’s colors, the Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 2 for Super Bowl LIV. At the conclusion of the AFC and NFC Championship games Sunday night, I’m sure thousands of fans headed straight to their computers to research flight and hotel options.

In all likelihood, those without points and miles were dejected to see what flights and hotels really cost for these last-minute reservations. (Not to mention the four-figure pain for game tickets, which surged in value with the demand.) If you hope to attend the big events in Miami the first weekend of February by using points and miles, here are the best remaining options. Note that all results are accurate as of Monday, Jan. 20, at and will fluctuate as the hours and days tick by.

Related: How to use points for Super Bowl tickets

General tips

There are a few things to know when it comes to booking travel around events at the level of the Super Bowl. For hotels, many of the standard policies you are accustomed to won’t be in place:

  • The standard “no blackout dates” policies can be suspended because of what many hotels refer to as “a period of extraordinary demand.” Just because a hotel has a base room available does not mean it will be available for award bookings. The reality is that this is extraordinary demand.
  • There may be an opaque minimum-stay requirement for the weekend in order to get room availability to show. If you search for just Sunday night at a property using points, you’ll have a much lower likelihood of finding an award night. Search instead for a two- or three-night period to get award availability to display.
  • There is no standard cancellation policy for the weekend in Miami. Expect to pay at the time of booking and not be able to cancel.

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When it comes to flights, airline cancellation policies are always fairly strict. Nothing changes on the week of the Big Game, though some extra flight capacity was added to and from Kansas City and San Francisco. Here are some other things to be cognizant of:

  • If you’re going to cut it close and book flights scheduled to land right before key events (or even the game itself), make sure you fork over $19 for Freebird protection and have the ability to get on the next available flight to Miami regardless of what carrier is operating it.
  • Expect to be in oversold situations on flights to and from Miami that weekend — plus the Monday after the game. If you have any added flexibility, the compensation for taking a later flight could be significant.
  • If you’re flying out Monday after the game (like me), you need to get to the airport early. Like really early. Last year Atlanta saw Monday-morning security lines two hours long and many folks missed flights completely. Clear and PreCheck will help, but still allow lots of extra time.

Finally, the game is played in Hard Rock Stadium. This is in Miami Gardens north of the city almost equidistant from Miami International Airport (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). That means you could fly into and stay in either city if you’re just interested in the game. If you’re interested in the South Beach party scene — or the Super Bowl Experience and other official Super Bowl activities in the Miami convention center — you’ll want to be sure you can get to Miami either by rental car, train or other ground transportation.

Related: Points-friendly hotels in Miami

Confidante Miami (Photo courtesy of Booking.com)
Confidante Miami. (Photo courtesy of Booking.com)

Flights

I’ll just start with a blanket statement: If you want convenient, nonstop flights to Miami for Super Bowl weekend, at this point you’ll be paying absurd award or revenue costs. No legacy airline in the U.S. has a standard award chart, so there is no saver space left to South Florida. You may still find some cheaper award flights, but from the searches I ran, they’ll have long layovers on ill-timed flights. If you’re a Chiefs fan, you can fly Kansas City to Miami for 14,500 United miles on Friday, Feb. 3, but you’ll go by way of Newark starting at 5:45 a.m. and have a six-hour layover:

For revenue flights, if you’re a fan heading from either Kansas City or San Francisco for the game, flight prices into Miami on Friday and returning Monday are hovering between $460 and $700 for round-trip economy tickets. That $460 is actually less than I was expecting, but those United itineraries do require a connection.

The cheapest round-trip itineraries to Miami I saw on Super Bowl weekend are from the New York City area. American has nonstop itineraries from JFK for $327 round-trip for basic economy tickets. This is rather surprising because award tickets prices are 44,500 American miles. In this case, you’d want to use cash or fixed-value points.

The real savings come from flying into Fort Lauderdale (FLL) instead of Miami. FLL has a huge footprint for both JetBlue and Spirit with lower prices and stiffer competition. Spirit still has nonstop round-trip itineraries for under $200 flying from Newark (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA) or Chicago (ORD) to FLL. You can buy these for even less if you buy the tickets at an airport counter.

The $310 round-trip options I found from JFK or LGA to FLL on JetBlue would also include free Wi-Fi, live TV and more legroom than Spirit, so that would get my vote. For me here in Atlanta (ATL), JetBlue is $317 round-trip to Fort Lauderdale compared to $431 on Delta or $512 on the cheapest itineraries to Miami for the weekend.

In summary, in order to find the best flight prices, I would research flying into Fort Lauderdale. Remember that Southwest results don’t show up in an online travel agency or Google Flights, so check with Southwest directly. If you have a Companion Pass, that will almost certainly be your best bet for a two-person trip.

Related: Best airline credit cards

Hotels

The following hotels are showing award availability for Friday-Sunday night in South Florida and are within a reasonable commuting distance of Hard Rock Stadium:

Element Miami International Airport — 90,000 Bonvoy points (prices given are for three nights)

The Westin Fort Lauderdale — 120,000 Bonvoy points

Fort Lauderdale Marriott North — 90,000 Bonvy points (28-minute drive from Hard Rock Stadium)

Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami — 60,000 World of Hyatt points

Hyatt Place Miami Airport-East — 24,000 World of Hyatt points

Hyatt Place Miami Airport-West/Doral — 24,000 World of Hyatt points

Hyatt House and Hyatt Place Ft. Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port — 36,000 World of Hyatt points

Hampton Inn & Suites Miami/Brickell-Downtown — 180,000 Hilton Honors points

Embassy Suites by Hilton Miami International Airport — 150,000 Hilton Honors points

Hilton Gard Inn Miami South Beach — 210,000 Hilton Honors points

Hampton Inn Miami Airport East — 180,000 Hilton Honors points

Remember Hilton makes premium rooms available for award bookings but they cost such astronomical amounts of points I can’t recommend booking one, even for the Super Bowl. If needed, remember to click the “accessible room” option for Hilton as these do not show up in standard award search results and may yield additional rooms available on award points.

Moving outside of the big three hotel programs, don’t forget about programs like Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges. Wyndham has multiple La Quinta properties in Miami and Fort Lauderdale with award space for 15,000 Wyndham points per night. The Tryp by Wyndham Miami Bay Harbor resort is available for 30,000 points per night.

Related: Best hotel credit cards

Bottom line

If you can’t find what you need with traditional miles or points, look to using your points at a fixed value. Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards for 1.5 cents each towards flights and hotels,. Those with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can redeem Membership Rewards for 1.56 cents each toward flights. Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards, Merrill+ points, U.S. Bank Flexperks, Citi ThankYou points and others can be redeemed for more than 1 cent each toward flights and or hotels.

Your only firm rule to follow if you’re headed to South Florida for the big game? Book now.

Featured image courtesy of Chris Ochsner/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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