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Memo to travelers everywhere: There’s more than one way to score wallet-friendly airfare.
In addition to flying during off seasons and even flying during less than ideal hours of the day (think: first thing in the morning or very late at night) you can also try changing up the airport you arrive or depart from.
According to a study from FinanceBuzz, which reviewed the average domestic airfares from 45 of the busiest airports in the U.S., there’s definitely a price difference from one airport to the next.
Most notably, the study reveals that the least expensive airport in the country as of 2022 was Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, where the average airfare was $264. The fact that LAS topped the list of most affordable airports is hardly surprising. The airport has held that slot every year except one since 2018.
Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. (photo via yoko_ken_chan/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
The other airports around the country leading the pack when it came to being budget-friendly in 2022 included:
So, what are the airports to avoid if you’re trying to cut costs? You’re in luck because the FinanceBuzz study also ranks the costliest airports in the country.
The single most expensive airport in the United States as of the end of 2022 was Virginia's Dulles International Airport (IAD), where travelers pay an average of $494 per ticket.
Following not far behind, earning the ignominious distinction of being second-most expensive, is San Francisco International Airport (SFO) where the average ticket sets travelers back about $456. Rounding out the top three priciest airports in the country is Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) where travelers pay an average $444 for airfare. Portland International Airport (PDX) and Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) tied for fourth place with an average ticket price of $425.
Last year, the only two airports where airfare costs exceeded $400 on average were IAD and SFO. While 11 more airports crossed the $400 mark this year, IAD and SFO are still the two most expensive airports in the country, said the report.
Planes landing and taking off at San Diego International Airport. (photo via sartriano/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
The FinanceBuzz study also provides insights into the airports that have experienced the biggest year-to-year fluctuation in ticket price.
Most notably, two airports rose more than 10 slots on the budget-friendly barometer compared to other major airports studied last year.
San Diego International Airport (SAN) went from 38th most affordable last year to 22nd most affordable this year—a whopping 16-spot improvement. Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) meanwhile, improved by 11 spots in the rankings, rising from 26th to 15th.
The five airports that experienced the biggest cost rank increase were:
Across the country, fares at the 45 busiest airports in the country rose by $50.67 on average from 2021 to 2022. Additionally, several airports experienced cost increases that were significantly higher than that amount.
Costs at CLT increased more than any other airport, spiking by $87.82 year over year. That’s slightly higher than the $86.70 increase at IAD (which had the second-biggest increase in the country).
Airfare increased by more than $80 at one more airport: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), where costs ticked up by $82.12.
A separate study released in May by CheapAir.com identified cities (rather than airports specifically) that have experienced the biggest hike in airfare prices. That list was topped by Flint, Michigan, which experienced a 35 percent increase in airfares between between 2022 and 2023. That study suggested that smaller American cities have been the most impacted by the inflation of flight costs.
Looking for an affordable last-minute flight? Read TravelPulse's coverage of how to score a deal.
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Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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