Airlines serving Northwest Arkansas National Airport have added nonstop junkets to their schedules to serve football-crazy fans.
The number of passengers going from XNA to Birmingham or Baton Rouge isn’t big enough to justify nonstop service on a regular basis. However, the possibility of packed planes for road games against Alabama and Louisiana State are worth making nonstops available on a temporary basis.
United Airlines is responsible for both offerings, and Delta Air Lines has a one-time, nonstop bringing an Arkansas opponent’s fans to XNA.
To Baton Rouge for LSU
LSU welcomes in the Razorbacks on Sept. 23, and United flies nonstop from XNA to Baton Rouge on Sept. 22. It returns nonstop to Northwest Arkansas on Sept. 24. The trip was selling for $358 roundtrip on the United website.
To Birmingham for Alabama
United’s other junket takes fans from XNA to Birmingham on Oct. 13 for the Hogs game against Alabama on the following day The nonstop flight back to Arkansas is Oct. 15. The roundtrip is selling for $358.
Inbound for Arkansas vs. BYU
Delta actually gets into the Arkansas football frenzy first this season, bringing Brigham Young fans on a Sept. 15 flight from Salt Lake City to XNA. After the game is played the next day, those BYU fans can head home nonstop on Sept. 17. The roundtrip price had been expensive ($988 roundtrip), but it rose even higher this week.
Airlines haven’t set up temporary, nonstop flights for all the games involving the Hogs, and many road games are best reached by driving, not flying. Those drive-worthy matchups are with Texas A&M in Arlington, Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi State in Starkville, and Missouri in Columbia.
The airlines could have tested the success of nonstop flights to airports that are are generally considered too far to drive such as Gainesville, Fla. (for the Florida game on Nov. 4); and either Montgomery, Ala., or Columbus, Ga. (Auburn game on Nov. 11).
Airlines have worked the Arkansas football schedule to their advantage in the past. For instance, Breeze Airways sold just about every seat when it added flights to Tampa at the end of the 2021 season to shuttle fans to the Outback Bowl.