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The Most Expensive Airports in the U.S.

Bon Voyage


Looking for a cheap vacation? Well, the first step is choosing your airports carefully. You might want to steer clear of these airports, if possible.

The Bureau of Transportation recently compiled sales data for all the airports in the U.S. from the third quarter of 2009 in order to figure out the average cost of flying from each one. (The only ones left out were those in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.) The good news for travelers is that prices decreased significantly in 2009. The average domestic fare was $306, which is 14.4% less than the same time in 2008.  However, some airports actually reported higher fares than the year before. Boo.

The numbers are based on domestic round-trip tickets and include any taxes or fees added to the ticket price “at the time of purchase.” However, this does not include baggage fees or any add-ons to your bill that may come later.

So here they are, the 10 most expensive airports in the U.S. and the five cheapest.

Photo Credit: maxf

10th Most Expensive: Fresno, Calif.


I don’t want to start off this list being negative, but Fresno? Really? The average domestic round-trip flight out of this airport costs $375. Who wants to pay that much to fly to Fresno? A poll of residents in this California town found that most thought their town had a “negative image” and would prefer to change the town’s name and start over again. Perhaps this airport is really just charging a premium to leave?

On the bright side, the Fresno Yosemite International Airport recently announced it would be offering free Wi-Fi.

Average cost of domestic flight: $375.22

Average cost in 2008: $452.06

Year-over-year change: - 17%

Photo Credit: prayitno

9th Most Expensive: Memphis, Tenn.


The average fare for this airport is $375, but at least the planes tend to run on time here. According to US News and World Report, more than 75% of the flights in this airport are punctual, which, though not perfect, is better than the majority of airports in the U.S.

Average cost of domestic flight: $375.57

Average cost from 2008: $434.11

Percent change: -13.5%

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

8th Most Expensive: Des Moines, Iowa


Iowa, you may be one of the three happiest states in the country, but your airfare is pretty miserable.

Average cost of domestic flight: $377.15

Average cost from 2008: $458.72

Percent change: - 17.8%

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

7th Most Expensive: Newark Liberty, N.J.


Not only is Newark Liberty Airport expensive, but it’s unsafe, too. Newark made our list of the world’s most dangerous airports after reports surfaced that all of its tangled, intersecting runways were more likely to cause accidents and close calls between planes. And if that’s not enough to gripe about, nearly half of all the flights into and out of this airport are delayed. Try harder, Newark!

Average cost of domestic flight: $378.60

Average cost from 2008: $445.76

Percent change: - 15.1%

Photo Credit: WikiCommons.org

6th Most Expensive: Houston Bush, Texas


The George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and made great strides to ramp up its reputation as a center for global trade by improving the speed and quality of cargo shipments. But for those Americans just interested in flying domestically, the price tag is still pretty rough.

Average cost of domestic flight: $381.40

Average cost from 2008: $445.14

Percent change: - 14.3%

Photo Credit: hyku

5th Most Expensive: Knoxville, Tenn.


Apparently, Tennessee is just a very expensive place to travel to or from. This is the second airport from that state on our list. However, airfare at this airport dropped by nearly a quarter compared to the previous year, which is a steeper decline than all of the others on this list.

Average cost of domestic flight: $388.45

Average cost from 2008: $500.69

Percent change: - 22.4%

Photo Credit: Brian McConnell

4th Most Expensive: Washington Dulles, Virginia


The average airfare at Dulles is $391 and if that’s not bad enough, Dulles ranks in the bottom half of US News and World Report’s list of America’s most miserable airports. However, there have been some improvements recently, including a new subway that transports people around the airport and to the gates.

Average cost of domestic flight: $391.32

Average cost from 2008: $447.98

Percent change: - 12.6%

Photo Credit: pingnews.com

3rd Most Expensive: Savannah, Ga.


This is the one airport on the list where airfare actually increased from the year before. ABC notes that one reason for the high costs of flying to and from Savannah’s airport is that it’s a relatively small city.

Average cost of domestic flight: $395.89

Average cost from 2008: $386.16

Percent change: + 2.5%

Photo Credit: Kossy@FINEDAYS

2nd Most Expensive: Grand Rapids, Mich.


The officials who run the Grand Rapids Airport are perhaps even more frustrated by the high prices than the customers who have to pay them. A spokesman for the airport said in one interview that they’d like to shave prices, but it’s the airlines’ decision, not theirs. Flights to and from this airport are less frequent and cost more because, like with Savannah, it’s a more out-of-the-way destination. USA Today reports that some small business owners have actually complained directly to Delta about the ridiculous cost of flights.

Airfare at Grand Rapids costs more than $400, but that’s still much less than the most expensive airport on the list.

Average cost of domestic flight: $405.70

Average cost from 2008: $507.50

Percent change: - 20.1%

Photo Credit: dsearls

The Most Expensive Airport: Huntsville, Ala.


The average cost of flying in and out of Huntsville International Airport is close to $500, easily beating out the rest as the most expensive airport in the country. Like several other airports mentioned on this list, Huntsville is a regional location, rather than a big city, which pushes the price up. The airport had a tough time attracting customers most of last year, but early signs show that traffic is picking up in 2010, despite the high ticket price.

Average cost of domestic flight: $491.62

Average cost from 2008: $554.75

Percent change: - 11.4%

Photo Credit: House of Sims

5th Cheapest Airport: Long Beach, Calif.


Leading off the list of the cheapest is Long Beach airport in California, where average airfare is just $228, essentially half of what it costs to fly from Huntsville, Ala.  Not only are the flights cheap, but Long Beach was one of the first airports to add free Wi-Fi in its terminals. It was also recently announced that two new airlines would start flying in and out of this airport, turning it into more of a hub.

Average cost of domestic flight: $228.92

Average cost from 2008: $270.36

Percent change: -15.3%

Photo Credit: fredcamino

4th Cheapest Airport: Dallas Love, Texas


Houston’s airport may be pretty pricey, so if you’re really hankering for a trip to Texas, we suggest landing in Dallas instead. The average airfare at the Dallas Love Field Airport is $228. Best of all, Dallas Love topped the list for airports with the best customer service in 2008. Talk about getting your money’s worth.

Average cost of domestic flight: $228.70

Average cost from 2008: $238.02

Percent change: -3.9%

Photo Credit: contraption

3rd Cheapest Airport: Fort Lauderdale, Florida


The Fort Lauderdale International Airport is one of the three cheapest in the country, which is lucky since one of MainStreet’s editors just flew there for the long weekend. It also ranked near the top of US News and World Report’s list for least miserable airports (yes, we have to measure airports by how little misery they bring, since none of them really deliver that much joy.) Nearly three-quarters of the flights arrive on time at this airport.

Average cost of domestic flight: $227.89

Average cost from 2008: $263.31

Percent change: -13.5%

Photo Credit: MattHurst

2nd Cheapest Airport: Orlando, Florida


Good job Florida, you snagged two of the top three spots. According to ABC, because Orlando is such a big tourist destination, average airfare is much less. So you can use the money you saved to buy up all the merchandise at Disney World. Still, even this airport is pricey compared to the cheapest airport on the list.

Average cost of domestic flight: $224.83

Average cost from 2008: $262.48

Percent change: -14.3%

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

The Cheapest Airport: Atlantic City, N.J.


Congratulations New Jersey, you win this one. According to the Bureau of Transportation, average airfare for this airport is just $165. However, there may be a catch to this low, low price. ABC reports that the majority of flights going into and out of Atlantic City are from Spirit, a bargain airline. So that brings down the average cost. However, if you are looking to fly here from elsewhere in the country, the bill might be a bit higher.

Average cost of domestic flight: $165.04

Average cost from 2008: $165.77

Percent change: -0.4%

Photo Credit: autiscy

Tell Us Your Stories


What’s the most expensive plane ticket you ever bought, either domestically or for flights abroad? And do you have a story about crazy airport fees that were added on at the last minute? Let us know in the comments section below.

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