Seahawks to beat Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX according to flight demand

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016


  • Based on relative demand from their home airports, Seahawks and Patriots fans are the most confident that their team will play in the Super Bowl, in line with oddsmakers

  • Since Seahawks fans (and indeed all NFC fans) are much more confident than Patriots ones (and AFC fans in general), we give them the edge in the big game.

  • Relative demand for airfare to Phoenix correctly predicted the results of all four divisional games.

  • Overall, demand for travel to Phoenix from domestic US origins is up about 31% since the Sunday before the wildcard games, but prices are only up about 4%

  • Green Bay fans would pay the most to visit the Super Bowl, with good deals just over $400 round-trip, whereas Colts fans could make the trip for about $250.  The cheapest flight options under $100 round trip disappeared when the Cowboys and Broncos were eliminated.

Dreaming about scoring a ticket to watch Super Bowl XLIX in person?  We looked at pricing and demand for air travel to Phoenix for the game (Sun Feb 1st).   Overall the weighted average demand from airfare search from all domestic origins is up about 31% compared to the weekends immediately before and after, but prices are only up about 4% (figure 1).

Figure 1: Relative demand and price for travel to Phoenix from US origins on Super Bowl weekend compared to the weekends immediately before and after.  Interest spiked on Monday the 29th December after the regular season finished, and again on Sunday 4th as the wildcard spots were decided.

We looked at how demand varied each week as the playoffs progressed (figure 2).  Seahawks fans have always been most confident that their team will play in the Super Bowl, though dipped somewhat during the Divisional week.  A big spike in interest has occurred since the field has been cut to four.

Figure 2: Relative popularity of travel to Phoenix on Super Bowl weekend from the airports of the contending teams, during the week before and after (partial) the wildcard games.

We compared relative demand and pricing for each of the contenders to see which fans are making plans to travel to the Super Bowl.  By comparing relative demand within each division, we calculated an implied odds of appearing at the Super Bowl, which matches closely with betting odds (Table 1a).  The same data assessed before the Divisional games correctly predicted the winner of all four games (Table 1b).

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Table 1a:  Good round-trip flight prices from each contender’s home airport to Phoenix, showing relative demand for Super Bowl weekend since the end of the regular season.   We compared the relative demand within each division to estimate the odds of each team appearing in the big game.

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Table 1b: Same table calculated on Jan 6th, before the divisional matches.  Fans confidence in airfare search correctly predicted the winner of every divisional matchup.

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