2024 U.S. Airport Cost Rankings: See How Airfare Compares at the Nation's Busiest Airports

Our rankings show which airports are the best and worst for your bank account.

A plane seen taking off through the window of an airport.
Updated May 23, 2024
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FinanceBuzz looked at average domestic airfares from the 45 busiest airports in the U.S. to learn which airports are best for travelers on a budget, as well as which ones to avoid if you are trying to travel affordably.

Overall, the national average airfare cost decreased by 3.1% from 2022 to 2023 when adjusted for inflation (which translates to a 0.9% increase in non-adjusted dollars). The last time inflation-adjusted airfare costs dropped year-over-year was during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it fell by a remarkable 18% between 2019 and 2020.

In this article

A line chart showing how average airfare costs have changed between the years of 1995 and 2023

The least and most expensive airports to fly from

For this report, we compared domestic airfares from the 45 busiest airports in the U.S. using data published by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Least expensive airports

Rank Airport Average airfare cost
1 Orlando International Airport (MCO) $265.58
2 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) $270.68
3 Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) $272.15
4 Oakland International Airport (OAK) $303.79
5 Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) $308.27

Orlando International Airport (MCO) had the lowest airfare cost in the country at $265.58 on average. That’s good news for all the visitors, as Orlando is one of America’s top tourist destinations. MCO’s ranking here marks only the second time since 2018 that Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas does not have the most affordable average airfare in the country.

Another Florida-based airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), has the second-lowest average airfare cost in the country — tickets here are only about $5 more expensive than Orlando’s.

Just a few dollars behind FLL is the aforementioned Harry Reid International (LAS), where fares cost $272.15 on average. LAS is also the last airport on our list where average airfare costs are less than $300.

Oakland International Airport (OAK) has the fourth-lowest average airfare costs in the country at $303.79. And the fifth-least expensive airport, Chicago Midway International (MDW), comes in at $308.27.

Most expensive airports

Rank Airport Average airfare cost
1 Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) $488.40
2 San Francisco International Airport (SFO) $444.59
3 Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) $438.34
4 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) $436.80
5 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) $427.05

For the third year in a row, Dulles International Airport (IAD) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) have the two highest average fares in the country. Flights from Dulles cost $488.40 on average in 2023, while flights from San Francisco cost $444.59.

Both of the above totals actually represent year-over-year decreases in cost, as flights from IAD and SFO cost $494.78 and $456.86 a year ago.

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has the third-highest average airfare in the country, with an average cost of $438.34.

Last on our top-five list of the most expensive airports are Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). Average airfare from Charlotte cost $436.80 last year, while flights from Detroit had an average price tag of $427.05.

Biggest changes in airport cost

There were no truly major changes in the general cost rankings this year. The most a single airport rose or fell in affordability was eight places. For comparison, 2022 showed much more volatility.

2022’s airport ranking changes (compared to 2021):

  • Two airports rose in the rankings by double digits
  • Two airports jumped up nine places
  • Two airports fell by nine places

Biggest jumps in affordability rankings

Airport

Cost rank increase

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

+8

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)

+7

Portland International Airport (PDX)

+7

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)

+6

San Antonio International Airport (SAT)

+6

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) was the biggest affordability winner over the last year. SEA jumped from 36th most-affordable place last year to 28th place this year — an increase of eight spots.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) and Portland International Airport (PDX) experienced similar jumps, rising by seven spots each. RDU went from 24th place in 2022 to 17th in 2023, while PDX went from 42nd place to 35th.

Biggest drops in affordability rankings

Airport Cost rank decrease
Sacramento International Airport (SMF) -8
St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) -8
John Wayne Airport (SNA) -5
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) -4
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) -4

Two different airports fell by eight spots in our affordability rankings, tied for the biggest drop of the year. The average fare at Sacramento International Airport (SMF) rose by $18.66 year-over-year, which led SMF to go from 18th in last year’s affordability rankings to 26th this year.

Prices rose even more at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), going up by $19.64 on average from one year to the next. Consequently, STL fell from 21st to 29th place in terms of affordability.

Complete list of airport cost rankings

Cost rank Airport State Passenger volume rank Avg airfare $ change vs. previous year Cost rank change
1 Orlando International Airport (MCO) FL 9 $265.58 -$7.77 2
2 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) FL 18 $270.68 -$1.10 0
3 Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) NV 14 $272.15 $7.91 -2
4 Oakland International Airport (OAK) CA 42 $303.79 $15.56 0
5 Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) IL 33 $308.27 $5.22 0
6 Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) LA 44 $327.70 $7.45 1
7 LaGuardia Airport (LGA) NY 12 $328.16 $9.67 -1
8 Tampa International Airport (TPA) FL 22 $328.19 -$0.65 2
9 San José Mineta International Airport (SJC) CA 35 $332.42 $6.48 0
10 Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) TX 38 $344.22 $14.75 1
11 Miami International Airport (MIA) FL 25 $344.69 $21.80 -3
12 Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) OH 40 $346.26 $3.17 1
13 Denver International Airport (DEN) CO 3 $347.65 $6.43 -1
14 Nashville International Airport (BNA) TN 27 $348.82 $2.35 0
15 Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) HI 32 $354.10 $5.77 0
16 Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) MD 23 $358.36 $7.10 0
17 Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) NC 30 $366.55 -$15.08 7
18 Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) TX 24 $370.30 $7.38 -1
19 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) AZ 11 $373.61 $0.99 0
20 Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) PA 45 $377.18 -$5.48 6
21 San Diego International Airport (SAN) CA 19 $377.25 -$0.91 1
22 San Antonio International Airport (SAT) TX 43 $382.68 -$7.71 6
23 Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) IL 2 $384.19 $11.18 -3
24 Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) MA 6 $384.63 -$1.44 3
25 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) DC 21 $384.92 $5.91 -2
26 Sacramento International Airport (SMF) CA 31 $386.30 $18.66 -8
27 Indianapolis International Airport (IND) IN 39 $388.15 -$3.79 2
28 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) WA 7 $391.46 -$18.38 8
29 St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) MO 34 $393.40 $19.64 -8
30 John Wayne Airport (SNA) CA 41 $395.18 $12.81 -5
31 Kansas City International Airport (MCI) MO 37 $395.41 $0.53 0
32 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) GA 4 $396.22 $2.42 -2
33 Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) PA 17 $400.83 $4.04 -1
34 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) CA 1 $405.27 -$11.37 4
35 Portland International Airport (PDX) OR 26 $405.35 -$20.00 7
36 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) NJ 5 $406.29 $3.07 -2
37 George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) TX 16 $409.34 $8.61 -4
38 Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) MN 15 $418.72 $10.21 -3
39 John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) NY 13 $420.56 $4.39 -2
40 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) TX 8 $421.22 $0.86 0
41 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) MI 20 $427.05 $1.70 0
42 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) NC 28 $436.80 -$7.62 1
43 Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) UT 29 $438.34 $18.04 -4
44 San Francisco International Airport (SFO) CA 10 $444.59 -$12.27 0
45 Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) DC 36 $488.40 -$6.38 0

Expert insights

Considering how much our cost rankings have changed from 2023, we asked a few experts their opinions on how inflation has and will continue to influence airline travel.


How to save when you fly

As you plan your travel, you'll find costs can vary widely at a single airport. With a little research and smart planning, you can find a deal at any airport.

Here are a few tips to save on airfare:

  • One way to save on airfare is to use airline credit card points, or travel cards, to book your travel. The welcome bonus alone on some of the best travel credit cards could be enough to earn you a free flight (or two).
  • Timing isn't everything, but it's still important. Airfares fluctuate week to week — and even day to day. By monitoring airfares for your upcoming trip, you can buy when prices drop. You can track prices using an app such as Hopper or set up a price alert on Google Flights.
  • If your travel plans are flexible, sign up for cheap flight alerts from a site like Going. You'll get emails whenever the website finds a cheap fare, and if the deal looks enticing, you can book the bargain flight using instructions in the email.

Methodology

We looked at 2023 airfare data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in May 2024 to compare domestic airfares by origin city. This report calculated average fares based on domestic itinerary fares.

"Itinerary fares" consist of round-trip fares unless a return trip was not purchased, in which case the one-way fare was used. Fares are based on total ticket value, including the price charged by the airline plus any additional taxes and fees levied at the time of purchase. Fares include only the price paid at booking and do not include fees for optional services like baggage fees. Averages also do not include frequent-flyer or “zero fares” or a few abnormally high reported fares.

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Josh Koebert

Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.