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It’s officially March and that only means one thing: It’s college basketball season! For fans who want a courtside view as their teams march through the tournament this month, we gathered CheapTickets booking data on when and where to score the best deals. The top money-saving tip? If you want to watch your team win the whole thing, book… right now.

If you’re wondering how we came up with this list, we started by comparing CheapTickets flight and hotel booking data for host cities throughout the tournament to determine the cheapest time to book travel. Fans heading to Minneapolis, host of the final rounds this year including the championship game, will want to buy as early as March 7-16. Overall, our data for tourney travel shows the cheapest booking window is 21-30 days out.

Rooms are already starting to fill up, too. CheapTickets data shows  that searches for hotels in the Twin Cities during the final rounds, April 6-8, are up 118%. Fans are also looking for lodging during game time in Des Moines (up 45%), Kansas City (up 35%), Louisville (up 125%) and Columbus (up 27%).

RELATED: The best neighborhoods to explore in the Twin Cities

Best time to buy March tournament tickets

Last-minute deals

According to the data, fans holding out for a last-minute deal, especially in the later rounds, should look at Anaheim, California or Kansas City, Missouri for the biggest savings. Anyone rooting for a wild card team can rest easy and book hotels just one week out for deals during those third and fourth rounds towards the end of March.

CheapTickets reports that the cheapest place to watch any of the rounds is a city that’s not hosting this year but is the most popular place during tournament time: Las Vegas, Nevada. Average roundtrip ticket prices in March are around $330 or less and room nights average $125 and under. Hotel searches during tournament time are also up 132 percent compared with the same period last year.

Fans can also score big with savings to early round destinations that double as spring break spots. San Jose, California and Jacksonville, Florida are showing some of the most affordable fares for the first rounds, averaging around $400 or less. Columbia, South Carolina has some of the cheapest average room nights of any place during the tournament at just $113.

“Jacksonville is one of the cheapest overall tournament destinations for both flights and hotels this year. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a great spring break spot where travelers can catch some sun and fun outside the arena,” said McDonald.

March basketball tournament tickets

Tickets to the Tournament

College basketball fans can save on travel and tickets to the NCAA tournament at CheapTickets.com. Ticket prices for the first two rounds on the site are averaging $134, that’s down 45% compared with last year. Tickets to the third round—when the field is narrowed down to just sixteen teams—are also 21% cheaper than last year’s prices at an average of $266 per ticket.

Fans can expect to pay the most for seats to the semifinals in Minneapolis on April 6. Tickets are averaging $383 on the site, up 17% from last year’s tournament, and tickets to the championship game also climbed 45% at an average of $365 per seat.

For a limited time, CheapTickets offers several ways for fans to save on travel throughout the tournament, including promo codes for 10% off tickets, $75 to $150 off flight and hotel packages, and 16% off hotels. Visit the CheapTickets Tourney page for full details.

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Tagged: California, Destinations, Events, Florida, Las Vegas, Sports

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With so many factors constantly threatening to throw off your itinerary when you travel, the last thing you need is an added uncertainty surrounding your arrival to the airport. These airports and transit systems make it easy for the traveler needing to get from the airport to the city center cheap and fast.

 

Courtesy of Rhys A.

Courtesy of Rhys A.

O’Hare International Airport — Chicago, Illinois

Although O’Hare is known for its delays and overcrowded terminals, getting there is one thing you won’t have to worry about. The Blue Line on the Chicago Transit Authority’s El train goes from O’Hare and stops all along the way, eventually ending up right downtown. The train runs every couple of minutes and it only costs $2.50 for a ride. Midway, Chicago’s other airport, is also connected to downtown by the Orange Line, and just as easily accessible.

Courtesy of SimonRahn.

Courtesy of SimonRahn.

El Prat Airport — Barcelona, Spain

The RENFE train runs from the airport to downtown about every 30 minutes. It’s a nearly 25-minute ride through the Catalan countryside. Get off at Sants Estacio, Passeig de Gracia or the Clot stop, and then you can take the city Metro to wherever you specifically want to go. If you are heading to the airport, you’ll want to catch the train at any of those stations and get off at the Aeropuerto stop. Pretty simple. Tickets for individual journeys cost just over 2.

Courtesy of Ron Reiring.

Courtesy of Ron Reiring.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — Minneapolis, Minnesota

You can take your pick how you get to this airport: bus, train or bike. In such a physically fit city, authorities felt it necessary to connect Terminal 2 to a bike path that leads to downtown Minneapolis. (There’s also a 1.4-mile walking path inside Terminal 1). Light rail trains run every 10 minutes during peak hours, when fares are $2.25, and 15 minutes during off hours, when fares are $1.75. The trains connect to 17 locations, including downtown Minneapolis, downtown St. Paul and the nearby Mall of America.

Courtesy of Thomas Depenbusch.

Courtesy of Thomas Depenbusch.

Cologne Bonn Airport — Cologne, Germany

The train from Cologne’s city center to the airport drops passengers off right in the middle of the airport at the Intercity-Express (ICE) station. When heading downtown, take the S-train right to the city center. The ride will take about 20 to 30 minutes and stop four orfive times before arriving right downtown. The cost is about €2.60.

Courtesy of Josh Hallett.

Courtesy of Josh Hallett.

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport — Atlanta, Georgia

In an airport that is so big it has it’s own zip code, getting to and from it without hassle is key. Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (also known affectionately as MARTA) runs trains between the airport and other stops throughout Atlanta frequently, starting at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. on weekends until 1 a.m. every night. If you’re heading to the airport, it’ll drop you right inside the domestic terminal. Rides are $2.50.

Tagged: City, Flights, International, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

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cheap flights
CheapTickets and Northwest Airlines are offering cheap flights for the holidays. So if you want to go home for Thanksgiving or plan a Christmas getaway, check out sale airfares like these:

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul to Boston: $287
  • Detroit to Baltimore: $183
  • Indianapolis to New York: $177
  • Milwaukee to Austin, TX: $251
  • Memphis to Orlando: $205

These cheap flights don’t include taxes and are good for travel November 20 – January 5, 2009.

So whether you want to visit cousins in Kalamazoo or ring in the New Year in New York, CheapTickets and Northwest have cheap flights to help you celebrate the holidays. But hurry, sale ends November 26.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, Limited-time Offers