Thursday, July 17, 2008

First look at the Duke-USC-Tennessee trip

(Updated with game times 9/3/08; check the FBC Travel page for activities.) The longest trip of the season for fans (and possibly the hardest for the team) is the pre-Christmas excursion:
  • Tuesday 12/16, 7:30pm at Duke
  • Friday 12/19 at University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, SC
  • Sunday 12/21, 7pm at Tennessee in Knoxville
None of the game times have been set as of this date, so it would not be safe to book air travel as yet. But we've started looking at the logistics. The times of the Duke and Tennessee games are known and we can start booking. The first question—and it has no easy answer—is whether to fly between the three cities or drive. Here's a Google map of the route. It's a total of 500 miles, mostly freeway. There is plenty of time (2 days to get from Durham to Columbia, 1 full day for Columbia to Knoxville), and what else are you gonna do with it? On the other hand, it's winter and might be snowing. Next question: how to get to Duke in time for the game. Presumably a Tuesday game will be at 7pm or later; but The game is at 7:30 but there are no, zero, nonstop flights from SFO/SJC/OAK to RDU. If you take the earliest flight on 12/16 you will get into RDU between 4 and 6pm local time, and that assumes your connection in DEN, DFW, or JFK went smoothly. To be sure of being in time for the game without losing a workday you need to fly a red-eye. Employing the very useful flight search engine we find you can fly JetBlue from SJC (9pm) to RDU (11am) for $275, or OAK (9pm) to RDU (10am) for $195. Those are the only 1-stops; there is a plethora of 2-stop flights (yuckkk) from all three local airports. Question number 3: how do you get out of Knoxville on a Sunday afternoon? At this point we suppose the game will be at 1pm, but that is not settled. If it were to be on national TV (and since it is a rematch of last year's national finalists, it might well be) the time could be 10, 12, 3, or anything else, all depending on what hole ESPN needs to fill in its east-coast sunday schedule. But for now, assume 1pm. Game over 3-ish. Suppose you had gotten rid of the rental car earlier in the day and cabbed (or walked) to Thompson-Boling arena. Allow 120 minutes to get from the door of the arena to TYS and onto a plane. Bad news: that ain't gonna happen! The game is at 7pm (surely for television) and the last flights out of TYS to anywhere leave at 4:50pm. Continental to SFO via Cleveland departs at 4:50; United to SFO via ORD and DEN pushes back at 4:30. What-ho; another hotel night in Knoxville... Do you suppose we could get seats on the team charter??? Please feel free to append comments to this post! How do you feel about driving that route in winter? Do you have any good ideas on getting out of Knoxville on a Sunday? Click the comment button and speak up.


  1. Native Tennessean7/18/2008 10:03 AM

    You could try driving to Nashville (about 3 hrs from Knoxvegas) or Chattanooga (about 2 hrs away) after the game to get better options for flights.

    Also, it usually doesn't snow that early in the winter in the Southeast, but you never really know.

  2. OK, out the door of Thompson-Boling at 3pm; google maps agree it's about 3 hours to Nashville Intl. (BNA) for a Frontier flight to Denver that leaves at 7:04. Might be doable, weather permitting.

    As you say, Chattanooga is 2 hours away and flights are also available; however these (a) use smaller planes like turboprops, (b) have 2 or more stops, and (c) cost 2x as much and up.