While the holidays are still far away, the time to book holiday travel is now. As you price flights for your upcoming vacations, you'll discover prices that fluctuate as you change the travel date, the departure time, the connection duration, and your departure airport. It's common knowledge that you can save money by traveling on non-peak days, but it's also often possible to save money by driving a bit further to a different airport.
MOST EXPENSIVE AIRPORTS
FinanceBuzz analyzed 2022 airfare data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation “to compare domestic airfares by origin city." Their analysis resulted in a list of the ten most expensive airports for departures in the U.S. If your hometown airport is outside the top ten, check out the complete list of 45 airports to see where yours falls.
Listed in descending order from most expensive:
- Dulles, Washington, D.C. (IAD)
- San Francisco, CA (SFO)
- Charlotte, NC (CLT)
- Portland, OR (PDX)
- Detroit, MI (DTW)
- Dallas, TX (DFW)
- Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
- Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
- Kennedy, New York City, NY (JFK)
- Seattle, WA (SEA)
COSTS VARY GREATLY
Average airfares at IAD were $494.78, an $86 increase from the prior year. Fares at IAD were also considerably higher than at SFO, the number two airport on the list. SFO typically saw airfares of $456.86.
For comparison, Harry Reid (LAS) in Las Vegas, had average prices of $264.24. The national average fare was $378 in 2022.
WHY COSTS ARE HIGH
The reasons why airfare is so high at IAD vary among experts, but some opinions include "its extensive international links and proximity to the U.S. capital city." IAD has been at the top of the list for a while now. When asked about their 2019 ranking, FinanceBuzz VP of Content Tracy Odell said that while IAD had higher-priced flights, "travelers will also get a bit more for their money, things like free carry-ons and seat selection."
HOW TO FIND A DEAL
If one of the top-ten, most-expensive airports is your home airport, try pricing flights from a different nearby airport the next time you need to travel. For example, if you live in Washington, D.C., remember you can reach two other airports relatively easily: Regan (DCA), also in Washington, D.C., and Thurgood Marshall (BWI) in Baltimore. Compared to the average of $494 at IAD, averages at DCA and BWI were $379 and $351, respectively.
Trains connect all these airports to the D.C. area. If that's not the case where you live, factor in driving and parking costs to ensure you're saving money on the flight.
If there is no suitable secondary airport in your market, use Google Flight or another airfare price tracker to ensure you get the best price. After booking your flight, set an alert for that route. You'll get an email if the price drops, and then you can rebook your ticket to take advantage of the savings. Since the legacy carriers waived change fees, you may be eligible to receive a travel voucher for use on a future trip for the difference in fare. This article was written by Benjamin Szweda.