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 increased by 14.1% from 2021 to 2022 when adjusted for inflation (23.2% in non-adjusted dollars). That’s a remarkable increase for a single year.
This is the second time since 2014 that the inflation-adjusted average airfare cost has increased year over year. The first time was in 2021, when inflation-adjusted airfare prices rose by 0.3%.
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||Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)||$264.24|
|2||Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)||$271.78|
|3||Orlando International Airport (MCO)||$273.35|
|4||Oakland International Airport (OAK)||$288.23|
|5||Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)||$303.05|
The Las Vegas-based Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) had the lowest airfare cost in the country at $264.24 on average. This is not surprising — LAS has had the nation’s most affordable airfare every single year but one since 2018.
In 2021, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) Airport beat out LAS for most affordable airfare. While Las Vegas reclaimed its affordability crown in 2022, FLL still offers the second-most affordable airfare in the country at $271.78 on average.
Average airfare from Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the third-lowest in the country at $273.35. That’s less than two dollars more than the average airfare from FLL.
Oakland International Airport (OAK) has the fourth-lowest average airfare costs in the country at $288.23. OAK is also the last airport where average airfare costs are less than $300. The fifth least expensive airport, Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), comes close, as well, at $303.05.
Most expensive airports
|Rank||Airport||Average airfare cost|
|1||Dulles International Airport (IAD)||$494.78|
|2||San Francisco International Airport (SFO)||$456.86|
|3||Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)||$444.42|
|4 (tie)||Portland International Airport (PDX)||$425.35|
|4 (tie)||Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)||$425.35|
Last year, the only two airports where airfare costs exceeded $400 on average were Dulles International Airport (IAD) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). While 11 more airports crossed the $400 mark this year, IAD and SFO are still the two most expensive airports in the country.
Flights from Dulles cost $494.78 on average in 2022, while flights from San Francisco cost $456.86.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) has the third-highest average airfare in the country, with an average cost of $444.42.
Last on our top-five list of the most expensive airports are Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) and Portland International Airport (PDX). Average airfare from both cost the same amount last year: $425.35.
Biggest changes in airport cost
Two airports rose more than 10 spots in the rankings compared to other major airports from our study last year.
San Diego International Airport (SAN) went from 38th last year to 22nd this year — a 16-spot change. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) improved by 11 spots in the rankings, going from 26th to 15th.
Biggest jump in affordability rankings
|Airport||Cost rank increase|
|San Diego International Airport (SAN)||+16
|Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)||+11
|Sacramento International Airport (SMF)||+9|
|Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)||+9|
|San José Mineta International Airport (SJC)||+6
Across the country, fares at the 45 busiest airports in the country rose by $50.67 on average from 2021 to 2022. A number of airports experienced cost increases that were significantly higher than that amount, however.
Costs at Charlotte Douglas International Airport rose more than any other airport, increasing by $87.82 year over year. That’s slightly higher than the $86.70 increase at Dulles International Airport (which had the second-biggest increase in the country).
Airfare rose by more than $80 at one more airport: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), where costs rose by $82.12.
Biggest drop in affordability rankings
|Airport||Cost rank decrease|
|Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)||-9|
|Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)||-9|
|Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)||-7|
|Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)||-6|
|Tampa International Airport (TPA)||-5|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)||-5|
Dallas Fort Worth International is also one of two airports that experienced a big negative change in their rankings relative to peer airports. DFW fell from 31st last year to 40th this year — a nine-spot drop.
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) also dropped by nine spots compared to last year, going from 25th in 2021 to 34th in 2022.
Complete list of airport cost rankings
|Cost rank||Airport||State||Passenger volume rank||Average airfare||$ change vs. previous year||Cost rank change|
|1||Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)||NV||13||$264.24||$16.71||2|
|2||Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)||FL||20||$271.78||$38.42||-1|
|3||Orlando International Airport (MCO)||FL||8||$273.35||$32.34||-1|
|4||Oakland International Airport (OAK)||CA||37||$288.23||$9.08||4|
|5||Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)||IL||32||$303.05||$31.21||1|
|6||LaGuardia Airport (LGA)||NY||14||$318.49||$28.84||4|
|7||Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)||LA||41||$320.25||$39.21||2|
|8||Miami International Airport (MIA)||FL||23||$322.89||$59.13||-4|
|9||San José Mineta International Airport (SJC)||CA||36||$325.94||$15.20||6|
|10||Tampa International Airport (TPA)||FL||22||$328.84||$57.96||-5|
|11||Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)||TX||38||$329.47||$51.16||-4|
|12||Denver International Airport (DEN)||CO||3||$341.22||$45.42||1|
|13||Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)||OH||42||$343.09||$47.87||-1|
|14||Nashville International Airport (BNA)||TN||28||$346.47||$53.77||-3|
|15||Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)||HI||33||$348.33||$15.56||11|
|16||Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)||MD||25||$351.26||$37.76||2|
|17||Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)||TX||24||$362.92||$51.93||-1|
|18||Sacramento International Airport (SMF)||CA||30||$367.64||$34.48||9|
|19||Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)||AZ||10||$372.62||$60.25||-2|
|20||Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)||IL||2||$373.01||$63.31||-6|
|21||St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)||MO||35||$373.76||$57.60||-1|
|22||San Diego International Airport (SAN)||CA||18||$378.16||$25.58||16|
|23||Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)||DC||21||$379.01||$49.84||1|
|24||Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)||NC||31||$381.63||$63.74||-3|
|25||John Wayne Airport (SNA)||CA||39||$382.37||$47.94||3|
|26||Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)||PA||46||$382.66||$56.94||-4|
|27||Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)||MA||6||$386.07||$38.64||9|
|28||San Antonio International Airport (SAT)||TX||45||$390.39||$34.16||N/A|
|29||Indianapolis International Airport (IND)||IN||44||$391.94||$51.65||4|
|30||Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)||GA||4||$393.80||$65.81||-7|
|31||Kansas City International Airport (MCI)||MO||40||$394.88||$52.25||3|
|32||Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)||PA||16||$396.79||$56.72||0|
|33||Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)||TX||17||$400.73||$65.75||-4|
|34||Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)||NJ||5||$403.22||$71.53||-9|
|35||Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)||MN||15||$408.51||$70.40||-5|
|36||Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)||WA||7||$409.84||$63.37||-1|
|37||John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)||NY||12||$416.17||$55.23||4|
|38||Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)||CA||1||$416.64||$66.39||-1|
|39||Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)||UT||27||$420.30||$64.00||0|
|40||Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)||TX||9||$420.36||$82.12||-9|
|t-41||Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)||MI||19||$425.35||$59.02||2|
|t-41||Portland International Airport (PDX)||OR||26||$425.35||$60.95||0|
|43||Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)||NC||29||$444.42||$87.82||-3|
|44||San Francisco International Airport (SFO)||CA||11||$456.86||$56.20||0|
|45||Dulles International Airport (IAD)||DC||43||$494.78||$86.70||0|
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 is 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 (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). 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.
We looked at 2022 airfare data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in April 2023 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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