U.S. Airports with the Most Expensive Beer Prices [Study]

FinanceBuzz collected beer prices from each of the 50 most popular airports in the U.S. Here’s how much you can expect to pay while you wait for your next flight.
Last updated Oct. 24, 2022 | By Josh Koebert | Edited By Mindy Woodall
A man sits in a chair at the airport holding a beer and touching the brim of his hat.

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Anyone who’s visited an airport bar knows that drinks at the airport are expensive. But despite the cost, a pre-flight drink might be worth it if you’re nervous or bored waiting for your flight.

Knowing that many passengers enjoy an adult beverage before they fly, our team at FinanceBuzz collected price data for regular-sized “domestic macrobrew” (e.g., Budweiser, Coors, or Miller) beers at the 50 busiest U.S. airports to discover which airports serve up beer at the most inflated prices.

In this article

Key findings

  • LaGuardia (New York City) has the most expensive average beer prices of any U.S. airport, with a regular domestic beer costing $12.33.
  • PDX (Portland, OR) has the least expensive average beer price of any major U.S. airport ($4.33).
  • The three airports servicing New York City (LGA, JFK, EWR) are among the five most expensive airports for beer.
  • The average price for a beer across America’s 50 busiest airports is $7.42.

Airports where beer is the most expensive

The average cost for a beer across America’s 50 busiest airports is $7.42. But travelers should plan to shell out at least $8.30 if they want a brew at any of the 10 most expensive airports in the country. In fact, eight of the 10 on this list sell beer at a price that is a full dollar more than the national average.

A bar graph showing the cost of a beer at various airports. LGA is the most expensive.


10 U.S. Airports Where Beer is the Most Expensive
Beer Cost Rank Airport Location Average Beer Cost
50 LaGuardia Airport (LGA) New York, New York $12.33
49 Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) Detroit, Michigan $9.36
48 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) Newark, New Jersey $9.31
47 Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) Las Vegas, Nevada $8.86
46 John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) New York, New York $8.80
45 Honolulu International Airport (HNL) Honolulu, Hawaii $8.69
44 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) Seattle, Washington $8.63
43 San Francisco International Airport (SFO) San Francisco, California $8.49
42 Dallas Love Field (DAL) Dallas, Texas $8.32
41 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas $8.30

At the top of the list is New York’s LaGuardia Airport, where the average cost for a beer is a whopping $12.33, which is 66% higher than the national average.

LaGuardia is also one of three different airports servicing the New York City area that are in the top five most expensive airports for beer. Newark Liberty International Airport has the third-highest average beer costs in the country ($9.31), while John F. Kennedy International Airport has the fifth-highest prices ($8.80).

New York is not the only city where two area airports make the most expensive list, however. Both airports servicing Dallas, Texas, also land in the top 10. Dallas Love Field has the ninth most-expensive airport beers with an average cost of $8.32, while Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is 10th on the list with an average cost of $8.30.

Airports where beer is the least expensive

At each of the 10 airports where beer is the least expensive, passengers can expect to pay $6.33 or less for a cold one — more than a full dollar less than the national average of $7.42.

A bar graph showing the price of a beer at various airports. PDX is the least expensive.


10 U.S. Airports Where Beer is the Least Expensive
Beer Cost Rank Airport Location Average Beer Cost
1 Portland International Airport (PDX) Portland, Oregon $4.33
2 Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) Salt Lake City, Utah $5.00
3 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) Cincinnati, Ohio $5.32
4 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) Charlotte, North Carolina $5.50
5 San Antonio International Airport (SAT) San Antonio, Texas $5.83
6 Nashville International Airport (BNA) Nashville, Tennessee $5.83
7 Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) New Orleans, Louisiana $6.08
8 Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) Cleveland, Ohio $6.17
9 Tampa International Airport (TPA) Tampa, Florida $6.33
10 Bradley International Airport (BDL) Hartford, Connecticut $6.33

The airport where beer is the least expensive is Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon. PDX Passengers can get a beer for just $4.33 on average, which is 42% less expensive than the national average. It also makes Portland International the only airport where a beer costs less than $5.

Also notable on this list are two cities with reputations as party destinations. New Orleans, Louisiana, aka the Big Easy, comes in with the seventh most-affordable airport beer price ($6.08), while the bachelorette party mecca, Nashville, Tennessee, is sixth ($5.83).

This is great news for partiers looking for a little hair of the dog before heading home.

Does passenger volume affect beer cost?

Beer does tend to be more expensive at the busiest airports in the country. Six of the 10 airports where beer is most expensive also rank in the top 15 in terms of passenger volume.

Additionally, none of the 20 busiest airports have an average beer cost among the 10 least expensive, meaning the lowest average beer costs were all found in airports that see fewer passengers.

Full airport beer cost and passenger volume rankings

Beer Cost Ranking Airport Location Average Beer Cost Passenger Volume Rank
1 Portland International Airport (PDX) Portland, Oregon $4.33 26
2 Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) Salt Lake City, Utah $5.00 25
3 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) Cincinnati, Ohio $5.32 43
4 Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT) Charlotte, North Carolina $5.50 28
5 San Antonio International Airport (SAT) San Antonio, Texas $5.83 46
6 Nashville International Airport (BNA) Nashville, Tennessee $5.83 29
7 New Orleans International Airport (MSY) New Orleans, Louisiana $6.08 41
8 Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) Cleveland, Ohio $6.17 38
9 Tampa International Airport (TPA) Tampa, Florida $6.33 21
10 Bradley International Airport (BDL) Hartford, Connecticut $6.33 50
11 Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) Houston, Texas $6.52 18
12 Atlanta International Airport (ATL) Atlanta, Georgia $6.57 2
13 John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) Columbus, Ohio $6.59 48
14 Baltimore / Washington International Airport (BWI) Baltimore, Maryland $6.66 23
15 Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) Chicago, Illinois $6.75 3
16 Miami International Airport (MIA) Miami, Florida $6.82 22
17 Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) Fort Myers, Florida $6.99 49
18 Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) Minneapolis, Minnesota $7.10 14
19 Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania $7.11 45
20 Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina $7.13 32
21 Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Boston, Massachusetts $7.18 10
22 Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) Austin, Texas $7.25 24
23 Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) St. Louis, Missouri $7.25 33
24 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) Phoenix, Arizona $7.33 8
25 Denver International Airport (DEN) Denver, Colorado $7.33 4
26 Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) Fort Lauderdale, Florida $7.37 17
27 San Diego International Airport (SAN) San Diego, California $7.38 20
28 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Los Angeles, California $7.45 1
29 Kansas City International Airport (MCI) Kansas City, Missouri $7.46 35
30 Sacramento International Airport (SMF) Sacramento, California $7.52 30
31 Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $7.67 15
32 San Jose International Airport (SJC) San Jose, California $7.69 39
33 Orlando International Airport (MCO) Orlando, Florida $7.73 9
34 Oakland International Airport (OAK) Oakland, California $7.83 40
35 William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) Houston, Texas $7.86 47
36 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) Washington, DC $7.96 27
37 Indianapolis International Airport (IND) Indianapolis, Indiana $7.99 36
38 John Wayne Airport (SNA) Santa Ana, California $7.99 44
39 Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) Chicago, Illinois $8.00 31
40 Dulles International Airport (IAD) Washington, DC $8.09 42
41 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas $8.30 7
42 Dallas Love Field (DAL) Dallas, Texas $8.32 34
43 San Francisco International Airport (SFO) San Francisco, California $8.49 12
44 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) Seattle, Washington $8.63 6
45 Honolulu International Airport (HNL) Honolulu, Hawaii $8.69 37
46 John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) New York, New York $8.80 11
47 Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) Las Vegas, Nevada $8.86 13
48 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) Newark, New Jersey $9.31 5
49 Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) Detroit, Michigan $9.36 16
50 LaGuardia Airport (LGA) New York, New York $12.33 19

Tips for saving next time you fly

While travel and drinks are expensive, no one wants to feel like they have to scrimp on enjoyable experiences. There are still ways to enjoy eating and drinking during your trip without breaking the bank.

  • Budget before takeoff. Budgeting is an important step when planning travel to reduce the amount of unexpected expenses and chances of overspending.
  • Keep a credit card with travel rewards in your wallet. Have one of the best travel credit cards handy to rack up points and rewards from all your purchases.
  • Apply for your preferred airline’s credit card. If you find yourself flying the same airline often, look into some of the best airline credit cards to see the rewards your preferred airline is offering.
  • Use points to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Popular credit card companies, such as American Express and Chase, offer rewards points which can be redeemed when purchasing flights. Researching what Amex points vs. Chase points can get you may reduce the need to use cash or savings.

Methodology

Prices from drink menus from the 50 busiest airports in the United States were manually collected and averaged together. Prices shown are for "macrobrews," which FinanceBuzz defaulted to Budweiser and Bud Light. In some instances, the prices for Coors or Miller were used where Budweiser products were not offered. Prices reflect the cost for a regular-sized draft, with bottle or can costs used when drafts were not available. Prices were collected from a minimum of three restaurants or bars per airport. Passenger volume rankings come from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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Author Details

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.