Tailgate near the tarmac: LSU fans head to Austin on special flight

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BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC Local 33) (FOX 44) — It’s a marquee match-up and United Airlines is taking note as two top 10 teams square off this weekend in Austin.

LSU (#6) and UT-Austin (#9) play one another at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. If LSU can pull out a win, it will mark the first time in history that the Tigers beat an AP Top-10-ranked non-conference opponent on the road.

Tiger fans are taking note of the intense match-up and backing their team by heading to the game in style. Today, those wearing purple and gold were greeted by a special direct flight on United Airlines, complete with a mini tailgate on the concourse.

LSU fan Bobby Roth said he bought his plane ticket the moment he heard there would be a direct flight for the game. “It’s definitely one of the best moves (United) has made because I’m sure there’s not going to be a seat in the house,” said Roth.

LSU sophomore Justin Karam said he was not surprised that Baton Rouge was chosen to receive one of the pilot flights. “We don’t play games here in Baton Rouge, it’s going to be a packed flight,” Karam told NBC Local 33’s Kelly Anne Beile.

Personnel provided everything from cornhole to cupcakes along with beer sales straight from an ice cold cooler, to prepare fans for the game.

LSU fan Taras Hughes told NBC 33 that he had no idea there would be a mini tailgate when he arrived to the gate. “I was shocked when I walked in and saw it,” said Hughes.

The senior regional manager for United Airlines Chris Earley, said the direct flights are specific to college rivalry towns. “We are doing it in ten other markets throughout the U.S.,” said Earley, “throwing these mini tailgating parties – really giving fans the chance to go from point to point.”

The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport was selected as one of nine other college towns for a test run by United Airlines. Other SEC teams included in the promotion are Alabama, Auburn University, University of Georgia and University of South Carolina.

LSU fan Paul Catalanatto said he was booked on a flight with a layover in Houston, but arrived to the airport early to be placed on stand-by for the direct flight to Austin. “I didn’t know we were going to be on the non-stop, but we (now know) we have some friends going so we’re talking about where we’re going tonight,” said Catalanatto.

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