The Best and Worst Airports for Finding Cheap Flights
When it comes to traveling to Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and Australia, where can Americans find the cheapest flights?
Scott's Cheap Flights, a company that reviews airfare for thousands of flights, decided to analyze airports in the United States in cities with more than 1 million people to find which of those offered the most affordable fare to international cities. After crunching the numbers, clear winners (and losers) were evident.
Consider yourself lucky if you live near one of the best airports for deals. If not, review your options to find better airports to help minimize costs.
10. Worst: Columbus (CMH)
Many of the worst airlines for cheap flights don't offer many direct flights, resulting in a lack of competition and fewer deals.
At the end of the list of worst airports is one named for a man renowned for flying: John Glenn. The Columbus International Airport, which bears the astronaut's name, only offers flights to 36 destinations, including a paltry two international cities: Toronto and Cancun. Because of this, it only offered 45 deals in the last year.
Example Deal: $349 to Turks and Caicos
Alternative: Cincinnati /Northern Kentucky International (CVG) and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), both a couple hours away from Columbus, get twice as many deals. Hop in the car and head to those airports instead.
10. Best: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL)
The best airports on the list offer the same number of deals monthly as those at the bottom of the list offer yearly. Ouch!
With its close proximity to the Caribbean and Latin and South America, South Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport just makes the 10-best list, providing 219 deals last year — that's about 18 deals per month.
Example Deal: $221 to Grand Cayman
Alternative: Miami International Airport (MIA) is less than an hour away (when traffic is light) and features even more bargains.
9. Worst: Milwaukee (MKE)
Another Midwest destination low on deals — 44 in the last year — is General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can hop a flight to a bigger domestic hub in hopes of landing a better international deal once you're there.
Example Deal: $303 to Mexico City
Alternative: O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, 90 minutes away, has six times the deals.
9. Best: Orlando (MCO)
The home of Walt Disney World, one of the most popular attractions in the world, means international flights into Orlando International Airport are common. And so are the deals: 226 last year to 59 international destinations.
Example Deal: $185 to Panama
Alternative: Centrally located in Florida, you'll have to drive a couple of hours to hit another nearby airport, none of which offer the deals Orlando does.
8. Worst: Oklahoma City (OKC)
You'll find 30 domestic destinations you can fly to from Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, where you may be able to connect to an international flight at cheaper rates. And this is a good idea, considering OKC offered a scant 43 deals last year.
Example Deal: $305 to Mexico City
Alternative: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) may be a 3-hour drive away, but considering it has three times the deals, it could be worth the journey.
8. Best: Washington Dulles (IAD)
Servicing our nation's capital means plenty of international flights — to 57 destinations on five continents — and nearly 20 deals a month to bring flight prices down. United Airlines calls Washington Dulles International Airport a hub, but passengers will also find 30 airlines from around the world, helping to keep costs in check.
Example Deal: $227 to Quito, Ecuador
Alternative: Nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is 90 minutes away and features more international flight options and deals.
7. Worst: Louisville (SDF)
Kentucky's Louisville International Airport operates just two dozen domestic flights and — eek! — an average of three international flights. This means higher rates and far fewer deals — 39 last year. This is another destination that requires a flight to a bigger hub first to score savings later.
Example Deal: $310 to Montreal
Alternative: Just over the border, about an hour and a half away, Cincinnati (CVG) serves up more deals than Kentucky.
7. Best: Miami (MIA)
Like Fort Lauderdale, Miami is so close to the Caribbean and areas of Latin America that it can take less time to access those destinations than it does to reach New York City. The 15th busiest airport in the country is also the third-busiest for international flights, according to Scott's, which is why nearly 300 deals were offered last year.
Example Deal: $194 to Puerto Rico
Alternative: If you can't find a price you like for the 100 international destinations through Miami, try Fort Lauderdale (FLL).
6. Worst: Long Beach (LGB)
The hub for discount airline JetBlue doesn't offer any international departures: You simply must fly to another airport in order to go abroad when leaving from Long Beach Airport in California. As a result, Scott's found just 34 deals last year.
Example Deal: $380 to Shanghai
Alternative: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is less than 30 miles from Long Beach and offers nearly 10 times the number of deals.
6. Best: Chicago (ORD)
The nation's busiest airport is also centrally located, making it a winner for deals — 298 last year alone. There are more than 62 international destinations served, and the city is a hub for American and United Airlines. Bottom line: Passengers will find great prices from this Midwestern hub.
Example Deal: $290 to Barcelona
Alternative: It's unlikely you'll score better prices at smaller airports near Chicago than you will at O'Hare.
5. Worst: Albany (ALB)
New York's capital city airport doesn't fly very far in the United States, let alone offer international departures, so it's little wonder it's among the five worst airports for cheap international flights. There were just 31 deals last year, and all flights required a connection.
Example Deal: $406 to Quito, Ecuador
Alternative: It's 3 hours to Newark's airport (EWR), which offers deals galore.
5. Best: Newark (EWR)
Just outside of New York City (and sometimes easier to get to than JFK airport), Newark Liberty International Airport provided 330 discounts to its 70 international destinations last year — all direct flights. NYC is such an international hub, competition for passengers is fierce, requiring price drops to lure them in.
Example Deal: $265 to Madrid
Alternative: Cross the Hudson and the East Rivers (not as quick as it sounds) to fly out of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for even — if you can believe it — more deals.
4. Worst: Norfolk (ORF)
Scott's points out that Norfolk International Airport in Virginia doesn't offer any international departures, requiring passengers to connect in one of 30 domestic destinations if they want to go abroad — which isn't very "international" for a supposedly international airport.
Last year, it offered about 30 deals. Ho-hum.
Example Deal: $338 to Puerto Rico
Alternative: Virginia's Richmond International Airport (RIC) featured double the deals last year and is just a short drive away (about an hour and a half).
4. Best: San Francisco (SFO)
Northern California's San Francisco International Airport is the eighth busiest airport in the country, and offers a great starting point for flights to Asia, Oceania and South America from the West Coast. That's why there are 50 international destinations from SFO with nearly the same number of carriers. Passengers can find an average of 28 deals per month here.
Example Deal: $284 to Barcelona
Alternative: You could hop a quick flight to Los Angeles (LAX) to score deals that might not be available through San Francisco.
3. Worst: Grand Rapids (GRR)
Just six airlines fly through Grand Rapids, Michigan's Gerald R. Ford International, and all of them provide only domestic flights. Even worse? There were just 26 international flight deals through connecting cities last year.
Example Deal: $457 to Amsterdam
Alternative: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and Chicago's O'Hare (ORD) feature four and 10 times more deals, respectively, and are an easy drive from Grand Rapids.
3. Best: Boston (BOS)
New England's biggest airport, General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport in Boston is serviced by 32 airlines with 50 direct routes to international destinations. This means more cheap flights for passengers, who could have scored one of 342 deals last year alone.
Example Deal: $269 to Costa Rica
Alternative: Nearby airports in neighboring states like Connecticut and Rhode Island don't have the same deals; in this case, it's best to avoid the alternatives.
2. Worst: Panama City (ECP)
One of Florida's newest airports, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport connects passengers to the Panhandle as an international airport, yet doesn't offer any direct international flights. Served by four airlines, it averages just two deals per month.
Example Deal: $302 to the Bahamas
Alternative: It will take between 5 to 6 hours by car to get to airports with better deals, such as Orlando (MCO) or Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). It's your call if that's worth it.
2. Best: Los Angeles (LAX)
Scott's highlights LAX's many claims to fame: It's the West Coast's busiest airport, America's third busiest and one of the world's busiest. It's also a hub for four different airlines (Alaska, America, Delta and United), is home to 60 international airlines that drop in, and provides direct flights to 90 destinations abroad.
All this adds up to big savings: The airport practically offers a deal a day.
Example Deal: $172 to Vancouver
Alternative: Head up to San Francisco (SFO), the fourth cheapest airport for international flights, when you can't find what you are looking for at LAX.
1. Worst: Greensboro (GSO)
We feel badly for those in North Carolina's Piedmont Triad International Airport area, as Scott's gave this airport the distinction of being the worst airport for finding cheap flights to international destinations. There were less than two deals per month offered on 300 takeoffs and landings per day.
But you're not totally stuck: The airport offers nonstops to 16 domestic cities, including (read on) the No. 1 airport for cheap international airfare.
Example Deal: $279 to Vancouver
Alternative: It's just a 90-minute drive to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), which may have better prices.
1. Best: New York City (JFK)
More than 120 international destinations on every continent but Antartica can be reached via New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The nation's 10th busiest airport welcomes 70 international airlines, and serves as a hub for three domestic companies (American, Delta and JetBlue).
Last year, JFK offered 20 percent more deals than LAX — 436 — making it far and away the cheapest airport for international flights.
Example Deal: $211 to Oaxaca
Alternative: There is no better alternative to JFK!