You have accomplished your goals and are living your wildest dreams as a talented and internationally revered pop artist, filling stadiums with fans on your latest globe-trotting world tour. Even better, you have fallen in love with a star athlete whose team is about to play for the league championship in Las Vegas, Nevada. The only problem is you are in Tokyo, Japan, playing a series of sold-out concerts, the last of which wraps up just short of midnight the evening before the big game.
You want to be there because you love the player, and he loves the game. However, traveling to Las Vegas can be a challenge due to the long distance and short timeframe. There are multiple ways to complete this difficult task.
That is the challenge on everyone's mind this week as the latest super-power couple of Taylor Swift and professional football player Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs hope to come together for Super Bowl LVIII, the NFL championship contest to be played this Feb. 11. Swift is currently playing four dates at the Tokyo Dome, which began on Feb. 7 and conclude on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Few of us can imagine ourselves in the position of performing for 50,000 screaming, adoring fans on the concert stage. Nor can we picture ourselves as a star tight end in the NFL. But almost all of us have had the experience of trying to make tight travel arrangements. Let us consider the options available if we were in Kelce and Swift's position.
The Time and Distance Problem
The first thing to consider is time. Tokyo Narita International Airport (RJAA/NRT) and Harry Reid International Airport (KLAS/LAS) in Las Vegas are 4,790 nautical miles apart, according to the flight planning feature of SkyVector.com. That's a long way, and it will restrict the options available to us because relatively few aircraft can make that journey without time-consuming fuel stops, most likely in Honolulu, Hawaii, or Anchorage, AK. Fortunately, the seemingly magical science of time zones has a say in solving this problem.
As we all know, the Earth is divided into 24 one-hour time zones, and Tokyo is 17 hours ahead of Las Vegas. If the concert in Japan were to end at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, that would only be 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning in the Pacific Standard Time Zone. Since Super Bowl LVIII does not begin until 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, that gives us a somewhat generous 33-1/2 hours in which to make the journey (if that specific amount of time rings a bell with aviation enthusiasts, it should: it's the length of time it took Charles Lindbergh to fly the Spirit of St. Louis from New York to Paris in 1927).
Let's turn to our friends at travelocity.com for help with the regular commercial flights between Tokyo and Las Vegas. Your first problem is schedule. The latest evening departure to leave Narita International Airport on Saturday night is Hawaiian Airlines Flight 5393, a Boeing 767-300 that departs for Honolulu at 9:30 p.m. After a six-hour layover at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the journey continues to Las Vegas on an Airbus 330-200, landing at 11:10 p.m., a mere hour and a half after our departure.
But since it is doubtful the 50,000 screaming fans in the Tokyo Dome would approve of cutting the concert short, that leaves no other option but to wait until Sunday morning to travel.
You might be tempted to opt for the earliest flights out in the morning, and there are several 9:00 a.m. options, again according to travelocity.com. But beware: most of them combine multiple carriers and involve stops in Seoul and Los Angeles. The total trip times range from 25 to 29 hours, and you arrive right around the time the game ends.
Fortunately, Travelocity's "Sort By" feature allows us to filter flights by departure and arrival times and price and by shortest duration. Using that option, we find a flight on United that doesn't leave until 4:55 in the afternoon yet still arrives in Las Vegas at 12:45 p.m., more than two hours before game time. Even with a 1 hour 45 minute stop in San Francisco, the total travel time is under 13 hours (Taylor's favorite number, so we're told).
For the economically-minded, this one-way coach fare will cost around $1,864, assuming you had the two weeks between the last playoff game and the Super Bowl to make an advance purchase. If you opt for Premium Economy, that will set you back $3,444. A Business Class seat goes for $5,534. Not a bad way to travel, as this Boeing 777 most likely features United's Polaris Business Class cabin, with lie-flat seats and Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, a chef-designed menu, and complimentary alcoholic beverages.
Flying Private Charter
There are a few travel problems that the application of unlimited financial resources cannot solve. Since we assume you have pop star status, we can also assume you have pop star funds. So, to take the hassle out of having to comply with someone else's schedule, going through customs en masse, and the attention you'd receive from the general travelling public, let's look into a charter flight.
According to their website, Mercury Jets is a "white glove private charter provider" The website allows the user to search their offerings and receive an instant quote. Putting in the information for a one-way flight from Tokyo-Narita to Las Vegas produced three options each in their "Ultra Long Range" and "Heavy Jet" categories.
In the Ultra Long Range category, our three choices are:
- The GULFSTREAM G-550. Estimated flight time: 8 hours, 16 passengers. $155,710
- The GLOBAL 6000. Estimated flight time: 10 hours and 40 minutes, 14 passengers.. $163,720
- The GULFSTREAM G-650. Estimated flight time: 9 hours and 30 minutes, 12 passengers. $166,090
In the Heavy Jet category, we can choose between:
- The GULFSTREAM G-IVSP. Estimated flight time: 10 hours, 12 passengers. $145,450
- The CHALLENGER 604. Estimated flight time: 10 hours and 50 minutes, 10 passengers. $146,250
- The CHALLENGER 605. Estimated flight time: 10 hours and 50 minutes, 12 passengers. $152,600
Since speed is of the essence, you might be tempted to choose the G-550. With a range of 6,750 nautical miles, no fuel stop is required. Its promised eight-hour flight time means you'll move along at a swift cruise speed of 580 knots. The G-550 also provides the most seats in both categories. If you fill all 16 seats with your entourage (security, publicist, agent, social media guru), that brings the per-person cost down to $9,732, practically in the same realm as the $5,500 United Polaris seat.
If saving ten grand is important, choose the Gulfstream G-IVSP. You'll have four fewer seats, but the flight time of ten hours is only bested by the G-550 and the G-650. If jet lag is hard for you, you'll still get to Las Vegas in plenty of time to shake it off before the game. Notably, the other two planes in this category, the Challenger 604 and 605, will require a fuel stop.
Whether you fly commercial or splurge on the charter jet, you should make it to the big game in plenty of time. There is no excuse to leave a blank space in the stands. Once you get in the limo and arrive at Narita, you can go ahead and live your wildest dreams.
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