Airfare to Cities on the Eclipse Path Is Insane, but There Are Still Some Deals

In case you've been hiding out in an internet-less hole for the last few months and hadn't heard, there's a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event taking place on Monday August 21. The historic total solar eclipse will be visible from practically all corners of the contiguous United States, though it'll be most striking along what's called the "path of totality," a band of territory stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. Areas within the path will be treated to minutes of stunning darkness when the moon completely blocks out the sun.

Unsurprisingly, hordes of people are making plans to flock to cities within the path of totality for the next-level view, and it's caused flights to nearby airports to skyrocket, in some cases to quadruple what they'd be normally. To find out just how much pricier it is to get there, we asked the data science team from the super-useful airfare search engine Hopper to dig up some stats, and also help locate any "deals" to be had for last-minute eclipse-chasers.

According to Hopper, flights to destinations along the path of totality have been, on average, around 80% more expensive this year than they were for the same weekend last year, based on purchases made within a 21-day window before the trip. Specifically, flights to Portland, Oregon, are up 111% (rising from $161.18 to $339.90), flights to Charleston, South Carolina, rose roughly 80% (up to $458.09 from $254.70), and flights to Nashville, Tennessee, are up by 77% (from $248.20 to $439.61). Based on some of our own searches, many last-minute flights to prime locations from New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere are eye-poppingly high. As of Tuesday afternoon, the cheapest roundtrip airfare from New York to Nashville (August 18 - August 22) was nearly $1,300, while the cheapest flights for the same dates from Los Angeles to Portland were almost $800. 

That's not to say there aren't ways around spending a fortune to get to a prime viewing area. Hopper's team points out that if you're down to drive for a couple hours, opting for a slightly more distant hub city destination can get you a good deal. For instance, flights from New York to Atlanta (August 19 - August 23) are currently going for a reasonable $370 on Delta, and tickets from New York to Charlotte (August 19 - August 23) are just $330 on American Airlines at the moment. They also recommend extending the trip if you can (e.g., departing this Thursday, August 17, and returning the Wednesday or Thursday after the eclipse), as that will drop the trip price considerably.

Of course, if you don't feel like shelling out to schlep to one of these primo spots, you'll still be able to catch the eclipse in some capacity from just about everywhere in the lower 48. In fact, there's a handy site will give you a preview of just what to expect to see in the sky from wherever you'll be during the big event on August 21. 

Wanna see the solar eclipse for yourself? Check out Thrillist's state-by-state watch guides to the best viewing spots in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, OregonSouth Carolina and Wyoming.

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.