Flight to New Orleans the hot ticket in Hawaii

HONOLULU - The most coveted ticket in the islands is the one that gets you to New Orleans at the end of the year.

The next hottest ticket is the one that gets you into the Louisiana Superdome on New Year's Day to see the 10th-ranked Hawaii Warriors take on No. 4 Georgia for a David-and-Goliath bowl game that is getting nearly as much attention as the championship faceoff a week later.

Hawaii fans, with the only unbeaten college football team in the nation, think they ought to be playing for the championship.

They're scrapping New Year's Eve plans to troop en masse to make their case at the Sugar Bowl. Ironically, Hawaii is still probably more closely identified with sugar than football, even though most of the sugar cane fields are gone.

Now, the Warriors have a chance to be known for both.

A Travelocity.com search shows every flight from New Orleans connecting back to Hawaii sold out on Jan. 2, and other flights to and from are filling up fast.

More than 5,000 Sugar Bowl tickets sold shortly after Hawaii's allotment of 17,500 tickets went on the market. But some ticket holders, after paying $150 and more a seat, were having a hard time lining up airline tickets, hotels and rental cars.

Many fans, some ready to spend $2,000 and more for the experience, were looking at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

'This will be my first time going to a big bowl game like this,' said Danielle McCarry, a university senior, after paying $290 for two Sugar Bowl tickets. A typical airline ticket was going for more than $1,000, and hotel rooms were upward of $200 a night.

Panda Travel said it had sold out of five-night Sugar Bowl packages that cost between $2,399 and $2,799 each. The agency was trying to arrange for charter flights to carry more of its customers.

'There's a huge demand, and our goal is to take as many UH fans as possible,' said Kehan Amorin of Panda.

Actual Sugar Bowl tickets won't be showing up in Hawaii until Dec. 17. Meanwhile, buyers are getting vouchers.

The University of Georgia reported its ticket allotment of 17,500 already had sold out, and 5,000 more tickets also were sold.

The Superdome holds more than 65,000.

SideBar: Georgia vs. Hawaii

What: 2008 Sugar Bowl

When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m.

Where: New Orleans

TV: Fox