As odd as it sounds the flights to any place ski related on the east coast almost always cost an arm and a leg. Luckily Southwest just dropped their prices to the cheapest I have ever seen them into Portland, Maine during peak ski season this winter.
Free Ski Bags (saving $140/person) and great early season availability at Sunday River? Sign me up.
Atlanta to Portland, ME is almost always $325 PLUS bag fees — these cheap ski trips save 45% and get you there with One-Stop on Southwest.
Basically every airline in the industry (other than Southwest) increased their bag fees since this time last year making this an even better deal — it was already great as it saves another 10% on the previous cheapest ever w/bags which was $192 last year.
If you include the $140 saved on bag fees this one is more like 65% off your all in total.
You and a friend can fly for less than you would normally pay to go by yourself.
Maine = Cheap Ski Accommodations
While Maine is not Colorado, it is substantially CHEAPER to get there — not to mention generally substantially cheaper on the lodging / lift tickets etc during peak season. I also happen to personally love it. For example:
Getting a ski-in-ski-out place is easily 50% less than anywhere near Breck / A-basin which is going to hit you for $300-$400/nt. There are well rated ski-in-ski-out options near Sunday River on Trivago for $175ish with off mountain Bed and Breakfasts in town (5 minute drive) in the $100-$125 range.
Rental Car + Drive Time
Like most ski destinations there is a little bit of a drive — though shorter than something like Denver to Breck — which in this case is around an hour and 45 minutes.
Alternately you could set a course for Attitash, Loon or one of the other fantastic mountains in New Hampshire (all right around 2 hours drive).
That is made drastically easier during the winter by the current HotWire sale that provides killer prices on AWD SUV rentals — right about where a two wheel drive rental should normally be:
Make sure to match up your rental car dates to which ever flight you choose to book.
Cheap Flight Availability
Most of the cheapest options happen in either November (not including Thanksgiving) or January. Either is generally going to be fine as the Sunday River crew is insane with their snow making early on — and stays on it when necessary throughout the year.
By January things look a little like this:
The year I made it to USASA nationals it was held in Sunday River, their grooming / park conditioning is awesome but my favorite part was messing around the glades.
Occasionally Sunday River looks more like this in January...
How to Book Southwest
Since southwest doesn't allow direct links to specific dates, the best way to go about this is to hit the Southwest Low Fare Calendar. From there enter the airport you want to fly from (ATL to PWM) and then select December (alternately November or January):
That should land you on the right calendar. You are looking for the flights that are $91 on the way out there, and $87 on the way back. Generally the sale covers November through February.
Once you select a date you want to hit continue at which point you are looking for the Non-Stop 'Wanna Get Away' flights.
That should land you with a total of $177 that ideally looks like this: