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2017's Most and Least Expensive U.S. Airports
Travel can be awfully expensive. Between the plane tickets and taxi fares, even the little things like coffee, sandwiches, or Wi-Fi can start to add up. Airports aren’t exactly helping consumers’ wallets either. Today we live in a time where practically everything incurs a charge: switching seats, an extra bag, or even a bottle of water.
It doesn’t help that most airports are now run like football stadiums: you pay more just for being in the airport. With so many unnecessary high payments and charges, it’s hard to know how to cut costs on a trip without forgoing basic comforts (and sometimes even necessities), without blowing your travel budget before you even arrive at your destination.
That’s why RewardExpert set out to determine the most and least expensive airports in the United States in 2017. We compared 45 of the country’s busiest airports and evaluated them on ten key indicators across four dimensions: 1) Transportation to and from the airport, 2) Plane ticket prices, 3) Amenities, and 4) Food.
Top Ten Least Expensive Airports
1Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, FLL Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale Airport is first on our list, and that’s due to its low prices in average flight prices and amenities. In 2016, the average domestic fare cost passengers $241.80, which was second overall in regard to the cheapest tickets. Furthermore, the free wi-fi is an amazing perk for travelers looking to use their phones at the airport. Lastly, Fort Lauderdale airport is one of the few that stills allows for luggage storage, and pricing starts at $11, which can’t be beat.
2McCarran International Airport, LAS Las Vegas, Nevada
Second on our list is Las Vegas’ McCarran airport, which is extremely helpful for travelers going home after losing some cash at the blackjack tables. Las Vegas ranked first of all the airports we analyzed in regard to average domestic fares, clocking in at average of $227.50. McCarran also scored especially well for transportation to or from the airport. A bus costs $2.00, a taxi runs about $20.00, and parking is only $10.00 for the day, which means there are some wonderful ways to save by flying through Las Vegas Airport.
3Orlando International Airport, MCO Orlando, Florida
Orlando is third on our list due to its low ticket prices and affordably priced amenities. Orlando ranked third overall in regard to average domestic fare prices with a $253.90 average. The Orlando Airport offers free Wi-Fi, which is always a nice perk. For travelers who feel a little grimy after a long flight or need to freshen up for a meeting, showers are available through a few of the airport lounges costing $40, which is less expensive than many of the nation’s airport lounges.
4Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, PHX Phoenix, Arizona
Fourth on our list is Phoenix; primarily due to its low costs in transportation and food. The bus costs $2, daily parking is $7, and a taxi is roughly $20 from the downtown area. Traveling to the airport is inexpensive no matter which way you choose.
5Tampa International Airport, TPA Tampa, Florida
Tampa is fifth on our list due to its ticket prices and affordable transportation. The average price of domestic fares from Tampa costs $312.2, which is 9th overall. Getting downtown from the airport won’t put a dent in your wallet whichever way you decide to get there. The cheapest option is taking the bus; fares are $2, while a taxi costs on average $25, which is far less expensive than some of the other airport routes we analyzed.
6San Jose International Airport, SJC San Jose, California
Sixth on our list is San Jose, primarily due to the fact that getting there won’t break your bank. The average domestic fare from San Jose costs $322.70. In regard to transportation, you can take a bus for $2.00 or a taxi for $15.00 from the downtown area. The daily rate in the economy parking lot is also $15.00, which is pretty wallet-friendly compared to other airports on our list.
7Denver International Airport, DEN Denver, Colorado
Denver is seventh on our list because of low ticket prices and the many low cost, and delicious, food options in the airport. The average fare of domestic flights from the Denver airport in 2016 was $312.00. Furthermore, across an average of all the restaurants in the Denver airport on Yelp, the airport scored with only one dollar sign. We named Denver the best for dining in our 2017 Airport Dining Scorecard. You know what that means: dig in!
8Oakland International Airport, OAK Oakland, California
Eighth on our list is Oakland. Average domestic fares from Oakland cost $303.00, while tickets from the nearby San Francisco airport cost about $100 more. For those in the Bay Area, consider flying from Oakland, as it’s much less expensive than the other airports in the area. Oakland International Airport also has a golf course besides the airport; free club rentals are available, which is another wonderful reason to fly through this airport.
9Portland International Airport, PDX Portland, Oregon
Portland is eight on our list, mainly due to is amenities and food prices. Luggage storage at the airport starts at $7, which is the least expensive of all the airports we analyzed. You could rent luggage trolleys for $4. Of the 24 restaurants within the airport listed on Yelp, half of them had only one dollar sign, which is the most of any airport we analyzed. This is primarily due to Portland’s push for airport restaurants to match prices of restaurants on the street. This “street pricing” model for Airports is revolutionary and Portland leads the pack. The airport also conveniently has free Wi-Fi, which can be a big help if you need to get some work done in-transit.
10Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, MSY New Orleans, Louisiana
Tenth on our list is New Orleans for its low ticket prices and low transportation prices. The average fare of domestic flights leaving New Orleans is $316.70. Bus fare is $2.00, which is less expensive than most cities in the country. Taxis to Bourbon street will cost about $35, which is about what most cities are. However, parking at New Orleans airport is very inexpensive. The daily rate for the economy lot is $11.
Top Ten Most Expensive Airports
1Newark Liberty International Airport, EWR Newark, New Jersey
First on our list is Newark Airport, due to its high ticket prices and expensive food. The average domestic fare from Newark is $429.80. Furthermore, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport. Despite Newark’s effort to improve its food offerings, the airport struggles with providing affordable dining since Newark has the most expensive food prices of any airport we analyzed. On Yelp, there are no restaurants at Newark with a single dollar sign, and most have two or even three.
2John F. Kennedy International Airport, JFK Queens, New York
JFK is second on our list because of its high prices for plane tickets and a lack of low-cost food options The average domestic fare from JFK is $396.10. Furthermore, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport. JFK is one of the few airports we looked at that forces you to pay an additional fee if traveling by public transit. The AirTrain, while convenient, costs $5 to ride, which puts the total bill at $7.5 for public transportation costs, which is about $5 to $6 more than most airports. Parking in the economy lot has a daily rate of $18, which is near the top of how much airports charge for economy lot parking.
3Washington Dulles International Airport, IAD Dulles, Virginia
Third on our list is Washington, D.C. Dulles Airport, due to expensive plane tickets and expensive transportation costs. The average domestic fare from Dulles is $443.40, which makes it the most expensive in the country. To get to downtown D.C., travelers can take public transit for $5 or a taxi for almost $70. Compared to other cities around the country, this is quite expensive.
4Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport,MSP Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis/Saint Paul Airport is fourth on our list, due to high plane tickets and expensive food costs. The average domestic fare from Minneapolis is $386.40. According to Yelp pricing data, there are barely any places to eat ranked with a single dollar sign; most eateries are ranked with two or more. Additionally, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport, which can mean a lot to travelers in this day and age.
5Los Angeles International Airport, LAX Los Angeles, California
Fifth on our list is Los Angeles Airport, due to expensive amenities and transportation costs. The average domestic fare from Los Angeles is $355.90. Furthermore, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport, but costs $9.95, which is more than any other airport. A luggage trolley would cost you $5 and luggage storage starts at $17, which is on the pricier end of the spectrum.
6Charlotte Douglas International Airport, CLT Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is sixth on our list, due to high food costs and expensive plane tickets. The average domestic fare from Charlotte is $415.90. According to our findings, restaurants and food establishments in the Charlotte airport have very high prices on Yelp. There is free unlimited Wifi, which helps, but luggage trolley’s cost $4. However, the combination of high ticket prices and high food prices is what puts Charlotte sixth on our list of the country’s most expensive airports.
7St. Louis Lambert International Airport, STL Saint Louis, Missouri
Seventh on our list is Saint Louis Airport because of high amenities costs and a relatively high price for plane tickets. The average domestic fare from St. Louis is $362.70. Furthermore, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport; it actually costs $7.95 for unlimited use. After analyzing airports across the country, we realized 70% of the country’s biggest airports offer free and unlimited Wi-Fi. For those that don’t, it may be time to get with the program and offer it for free. Lastly, the airport charges $5 for luggage trolleys, which is more expensive than any other airport.
8George Bush Intercontinental Airport, IAH Houston, Texas
Houston is eighth on our list due to high transportation costs and very high plane tickets. The average domestic fare from Houston is $431.40. While the bus will only cost you $1.60, a taxi will cost over $50. George Bush Intercontinental’s domestic fares are the second highest in the country, which is primarily why it’s 8th on our list. Bush airport does offer showers, but if you feel like you need or want one, you have to pay $50 to get into one of the lounges.
9Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, AUS Austin, Texas
Ninth on our list is Austin's airport, as it’s expensive in regard to ticket prices and amenities. The average domestic fare from Austin is $372.50. Furthermore, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport, but costs $7.95. The airport doesn’t offer baggage storage, but trolley’s cost $4, which seems a lot when many other airports offer them complimentary.
10LaGuardia Airport, LGA Queens, New York
LaGuardia is tenth on our list, due to transportation costs, plane tickets, and food prices. The average domestic fare from LGA is $329.20. Furthermore, unlimited Wi-Fi is not free at the airport, but costs about $5. La Guardia is also a very expensive in regard to restaurants and food. According to our results, there are no restaurants in the airport ranked with a single dollar sign on Yelp. Try to avoid parking at the airport for more than a few hours. The daily rate is a whopping $59, which much higher than any other airport we analyzed.
|#||City & State||Score||Airport Code||Getting to/from Airport||Ticket Prices||Amenities||Food|
|1||Fort Lauderdale, FL||
|2||Las Vegas, NV||
|6||San Jose, CA||
|10||New Orleans, LA||
|11||Dallas-Love Field, TX||
|17||Washington-Regan National, DC||
|18||San Diego, CA||
|19||Salt Lake City, UT||
|24||Santa Ana, CA||
|29||Kansas City, MO||
|34||San Francisco, CA||
|36||New York-La Guardia, NY||
|39||St. Louis, MO||
|41||Los Angeles, CA||
|44||New York-JFK, NY||
To help travelers discover which U.S. airports are most expensive in 2017, RewardExpert analysts compared the 45 busiest airports across four key dimensions: 1) Transportation to/from airport, 2) Plane Ticket Prices, 3) Amenities, and 4) Food & Drink.
We first identified 10 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was given a value between 0 and 100, wherein 100 represents the most favorable conditions for travel and 0 the least.
Finally, we calculated the overall score for each city using the weighted average across all metrics and ranked the cities accordingly.
Sources: Department of Transportation, Yelp, Local Public Transportation Websites, Local Airports Websites, Sleepinginairports.net, ifly.com