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New government data reveals getting a cheap flight is as easy as picking the right airport

If you only care about a cheap flight, these are the best airports for your budget

A view of a crowded airport with people sitting in the seats.
Rayhan Fahmi/Unsplash

If you close your eyes while waiting for the browser to load the flight costs, we do that, too. Unfortunately, most of us have limited funds, and with the flight being one of the highest expenses when it comes to travel, we have to pick and choose where that plane is taking us. But there’s a little secret to get you to more places you want to go. A bit of fun government data was released on how to find a cheap flight, so everyone can afford to see more destinations. Let’s see what it says.

Find the big cities, but look for the smaller airports

If you have anxiety trying to get through some of the bigger airports in the country, we understand. Having 13 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other to catch your connecting flight is a whole level of a video game no one wants to play. The trick? Skip all that and look for smaller airports near that large one.

The details in the rankings

While the prices are great for the cheap airports, we want to be upfront about the numbers. The cost is for a domestic flight, with no points used, no baggage fees, or anything like that included for the year 2022.

The airports with the best value

If you aren’t concerned about customer service or rankings like that, and strictly want the best airport for your money, look for flights through these spots. 

  • San Bernardino, California (SBD) — $98
  • Santa Maria, California (SMX) — $105
  • Ogden, Utah (OGD) — $109
  • Provo, Utah (PVU) — $127
  • Stockton, California (SCK) —$130

Since these airports are in or by larger cities, things like parking and transportation are already built into the area, so that’s something else you won’t have to worry about. What makes them so attractive (and cheaper) is that low-budget airlines like Spirit tend to go for these smaller airports.

Costs are down across the board, and you still get to your vacation spot. No surprise that California dominates the cheapest list, due to the size of the state.

Someone sitting in an empty airport looking out the window.

Airports that break the bank

The most expensive airports don’t necessarily mean more perks or better flight times. It’s more of a location thing.

The most expensive airports in the US

  • Aniak, Alaska (ANI) — $1,733
  • Unalaska, Alaska (DUT) — $1,433
  • Sandpoint, Alaska (SDP) — $1,037
  • St. Paul, Alaska (SNP) — $993
  • St. Mary’s, Alaska (KSM) — $986

Yikes. Some of those flights are equal to a month’s rent. But you might see a pattern here. Airports in remote areas (like Alaska) will take longer to drive to, won’t have as many flights in and out, and have higher expenses overall to fill those seats, so the prices of the ticket reflect that.

The moral of the story is to look at those larger cities, look at the big airports in them, and then find the next closest airport to that. Sort of like the cheat where you look at the menu at a restaurant, then see if there’s a kid’s option of the same thing to get the lower price. The choice is always up to you, and what matters most when booking your flight is different for everyone. But keep this airport hack in mind if you want a cheap flight.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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