Monday, March 26, 2012

Official Travel Package Disappointing

Almost as soon as we got back to the hotel from the Elite Eight win, we went to the Stanford Road to the Final Four site and clicked on Travel to see what package would offer.

Here's the official offer. Assuming double-occupancy, they offer a four-night hotel stay for $545 a person. In other words, for a couple sharing one room, about $270 per night. The price includes van transport to all events, a program, and a souvenir.

It does not include air transportation or transportation from the airport to the hotel.

There is no official air package. The agency offers to assist you in making your own air reservations.

Considering what a central hub Denver is, there should be a wide selection of flights SFO-DEN and SJC-DEN, and making a booking shouldn't be a problem. (Edit: that appears not to be so; in fact there seem to be rather few nonstops from the Bay Area to Denver.)

What we had expected, however, was that a large travel agency such as Anthony Travel would be able to offer discounted fares, priced below the short-term purchase options.

This appears not to be the case. The Anthony travel special online booking site, linked from the above offer page, first, seems to be overwhelmed even at this late hour. We did get through to it once and its first offer for SJC-DEN was a two-leg flight changing planes in SLC.

For $1375 per person.

If you have any better luck with this system, or any other thoughts, please add a comment to this posting.

We've booked with Southwest out of SFO, but there were not a lot of seats left.

There appears to be a United nonstop on Saturday AM from Oakland.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Final Four package details unsettled

Anthony Travel is listed on Stanford's Road to the final four page as Stanford's travel partner. Clicking the "Travel" link from the above gets to this Anthony Travel page that mentions a few things that the package "may" contain: hotel, air fare, etc.

It would certainly be convenient to have an agency put all this together, more convenient and less stressful than our recent scramble to arrange Norfolk travel on short notice. Possibly cheaper, too.

So I called Anthony travel hoping to get more details and some kind of ballpark estimate on the price. No go. The pleasant and personable rep I spoke to was unable to give me any details. The details of what would be in the package "have not been decided at this time" she said, so even an estimate of the cost wasn't possible.

She was definite that as soon as the details were settled, they would send "an email blast" to everyone who had signed up for email using the button on the page linked above. So you should do that.

If you want to try bugging them about this directly (couldn't hurt), the Stanford package is handled by Anthony's Dallas office with the number 800-736-6377.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where to Stay in Norfolk?

We turn now to the fraught question, what hotel in Norfolk?

Most convenient to the arena appears to be Springhill Suites (by Marriott), which is right next door. It has suites available at $149 and $229.

And that, according to Google maps, is just about that, for hotels within walking distance of the Ted Constant Convocation Center!

There are plenty of other hotels but none closer than a mile, most several miles. Which means getting a rental car right off the plane, something I'd rather avoid if I can for this itinerary: taxi to the hotel, leave the bag if the room isn't ready, walk to the game. Maybe get a rental car for touring about on the off-day.

Tripadvisor and Expedia both turn up lists of hotels, some in Norfolk and some in nearby Portsmouth. It should be possible to get a room near the airport for around $100; less if you can accept a two-star.

Getting to Norfolk?

OK, how do we get to Norfolk VA (airport code ORF) in time for a 1pm game on Saturday?

Well for starters you don't fly Saturday, that's hopeless. We gotta fly Friday night.

On Hipmunk I don't see any nonstops to ORF. You can fly United, changing planes in Newark, or US Airways changing planes in Charlotte.

Hmmmm... anybody see anything better? Post a comment!

Looking at Southwest, they don't have a red-eye, they offer leaving SFO at 1pm. No good.

Lessee .. Norfolk is 90 freeway miles from Richmond...

But: allow 30 minutes to exit the plane, get a rental car, and exit the airport, and 2 hours to drive, a hypothetical Richmond flight has to arrive no later than 9:30 am to make that 1pm tip-off.

And I don't see such a flight except for United SFO->IAD, IAD->RIC at 9:28am.

This is looking more and more like flying Friday daytime instead of a red-eye, darn it.

OK, Travelocity sees US Airways departing SFO at 10:20pm, changing planes in Charlotte, arriving 8:50am at ORF. The classic red-eye. But then I notice the price: $670 per person. Ooogh.

And that's the cheapest. If you'd rather fly a major airline, there's this United itinerary: SFO departure 11:06 Friday, change planes in Washington, DC, arrive Norfolk 9:45am Saturday. The IAD-ORF legs are in a Bombardier Q400, a propjet. $870/person.

Note that the Monday game is at 7pm local time, hence the return flight must be Tuesday.

OK I have booked a pair for the US Airways itinerary, 10:20pm SFO to CLT to ORF arriving 8:49am on Saturday. When I went to select seats, the SFO-CLT flight was just about full.

The stanford page says explicitly there are no travel packages for the first round. They do have an official travel agent for the later rounds, should you need one to get to Fresno... Well, maybe they will have something for Denver.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Where Are We Going and How Will We Get There???

It's Norfolk

update (teletype noises..) Stanford will play in Norfolk, VA on Saturday at 1pm (EST). After wining Saturday/Monday games there, they will move to Fresno for the regional, as expected.

Marian will have the FBC Schedule page updated shortly with info on the venue and the opponents.

Tickets Online Now

Go to Stanford's Road to the Final Four website to order your Stanford tickets now.

Then come back here in a few minutes for airline info!

Everyone's in a dither about where the inscrutable nabobs of the NCAA Selection Committee will place the Cardinal for the 1st & 2nd rounds. Will it be Iowa or Oklahoma or somewhere even farther?

We'll all know sometime after 4pm tomorrow. At which time I'll be jumping on Hipmunk and Kayak to figure out flights from SJC and SFO to Bump City, AR, or wherever it turns out to be.

I could use some help in this, and would appreciate it every contribution. As you figure out anything about the logistics of travel to Bump City, post a comment to this blog entry! You can post as anonymous or you can login in a variety of ways. Just click the comments link at the end of the post and add your notes.

By 9pm I'll put up a summary as a new post, and you can go on commenting on that.

Pro Tip from A. Terrell

Anne Terrell writes that Southwest will allow you to make reservations (by phone only) to two separate cities to be held for 24 hours. She is thinking of getting reservations to K.C. and ChiTown even though "my gut feeling is telling me Norman..."

Update Monday morning

You've probably had the email from Eileen with the link to Road to the Final Four website. It promises to be "your online destination for tickets, fan events, travel information and more..." So, have that page open in your web browser and refresh it around 5pm. Let's see how much info they have.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fan Meetup Friday Afternoon in L.A.

Stanford will have a no-host meetup this Friday afternoon, where we will, we hope, be celebrating a semi-final win in the noon Friday game, and, we hope, getting ready to see the Stanford men play at Staples that evening.

Time is 4pm to "whenever" and the location is Big Wang's sports bar (downtown location), which is close to the Staples Center:

View Larger Map

For a tournament bracket and other info, see our previous post.