The Best and Worst US Airports for Cheap Domestic Flights

Going
Apr 9, 2021
8 min read
Going
April 9, 2021
8 min read

At Going, we know cheap flights. It’s kind of our thing. Our team spends hundreds of hours every week searching for flight deals departing from nearly 200 US airports.

In mid-2020, we expanded our service to include domestic flights and since then we’ve sent more thousands of domestic deals to our members with prices as low as $29 roundtrip—and no, that’s not on Spirit. We don’t send any deal that doesn’t meet our standards, which means no brutally long layovers or terrible airlines with lots of extra fees. Our members save an average of $200 (and often a lot more) on each domestic trip.

Of course, we can only send our members the deals available, and some airports simply see more frequent flight deals than others. Factors like the amount of airlines serving the airport and the amount of competition on routes from that airport can affect how frequently deals pop up.

To help members find more deals, we ran the numbers to see which airports offer the most frequent deals on domestic economy class flights—and which major airports offer the least. We looked at commercial airports in metro areas with a population of at least 700,000 people, and collected data on how many deals we sent to Going members for cheap domestic flights departing from each airport in the previous 12 months.

Here are the results.

If you’re a Premium member and you live near one of the best airports, you probably receive 2-3 domestic economy class deals from us each week. But, if you live near one of the worst, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck overpaying for domestic flights. Beneath each of the “worst” airports, we give you the lowdown on how you can score more—and better—domestic economy class flight deals without moving to a new city.

The Best US Airports for Cheap Domestic Flights

Premium members who fly from one of our top ten airports receive an average of 2-3 deals from each airport per week.

But even if your home airport isn’t in the top ten, it may still be a sweet spot for deals.

New Orleans (MSY), Phoenix (PHX), Houston (IAH), Philadelphia (PHL), Nashville (BNA), Boston (BOS), Portland (PDX), and Miami (MIA) are just a few of the airports where we reliably find a few domestic economy deals per week. Even airports further down the list like Cleveland (CLE) and Boise (BOI) generally get at least a deal or two per week, on average, while spots like Tulsa (TUL) and Memphis (MEM) see 1-2 domestic economy class deals per month.

10. John F. Kennedy International (JFK)

JFK

JFK is the busiest of the seven airports serving the NYC area and it’s a hub for American and Delta, and the primary operating base for JetBlue. With tons of flights coming in and out each day on dozens of airlines, there's a lot of competition and that helps keep deals frequent.

Sample past deals departing JFK:

  • Houston for $168 roundtrip
  • Chicago for $124 roundtrip
  • Miami for $93 roundtrip

9. Atlanta (ATL)

ATL

This may be news for any Atlanta resident who has lamented how Delta’s monopoly on the airport stifles competition, but ATL actually gets a ton of great domestic deals. ATL was the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic from 1998 to 2019, and the busiest airport in the US. In addition to being a hub for Delta (which pre-Covid, flew more than 1,000 daily flights from the airport) it’s also a focus city for Frontier Airlines and Southwest.

Sample past deals departing ATL:

  • Boston for $164 roundtrip
  • Orlando for $138 roundtrip
  • Nashville for $98 roundtrip

8. Las Vegas (LAS)

las vegas

Las Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport is the busiest US airport that doesn’t operate as a hub for any of the three US legacy carriers (Delta, United, or American). It is a base for Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines, but of those airlines, the only one we send our members deals on is Southwest. Still, the popularity of Vegas as a vacation destination ensures the airport offers enough routes and is served by enough domestic airlines that it remains competitive and deals are frequent.

Sample past deals departing LAS:

  • Phoenix for $90 roundtrip
  • San Francisco for $72 roundtrip
  • Newark for $188 roundtrip

7. Seattle (SEA)

seattle

Seattle is a hub for Delta and Alaska Airlines, and the latter helps keep domestic deals to and from the city a frequent occurrence—particularly to Alaska, Hawaii, and spots around the West and Pacific Northwest. The addition of Paine Field (PAE) helps add additional competition and downward pressure on fares.

Sample past deals departing SEA:

  • Juneau for $159 roundtrip
  • Chicago for $158 roundtrip
  • Denver for $108 roundtrip

6. San Francisco (SFO)

sfo

SFO is the second busiest airport in California after LAX, the seventh-busiest airport in the US, and the fifth-largest hub for United Airlines. The presence of other Bay Area airports, especially Okland which is the hub for Southwest flights, helps keep deals frequent.

Sample past deals departing SFO:

  • Kona for $192 roundtrip
  • Pittsburgh for $186 roundtrip
  • Salt Lake City for $76 roundtrip

5. Denver (DEN)

denver

DEN is the fifth-busiest airport in the US by passenger numbers. It’s a hub for both United Airlines and Frontier Airlines and a base for Southwest Airlines so you can get just about anywhere in the US with one stop or less and the competition between airlines helps keep prices low and deals frequent.

Sample past deals departing DEN:

  • Austin for $90 roundtrip
  • Honolulu for $289 roundtrip
  • Seattle for $128 roundtrip

4. Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

FLL

FLL is one of the three airports serving the greater Miami area and it’s a base for JetBlue, plus Spirit and Allegiant, which we don’t send deals on. The latter two help put downward pressure on fares, as does competition from Miami airport, less than an hour away.

Sample past deals departing FLL:

  • New Haven for $128 roundtrip
  • Boston for $138 roundtrip
  • Washington DC for $138 roundtrip

3.  Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

chicago

As the 6th-busiest airport in the US, a major hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines, and a focus city for Frontier Airlines and Spirit, it’s not surprising that Chicago ranks highly on our list. Plus a little bit of competition from nearby Midway Airport (MDW) doesn’t hurt. While Southwest dominates the game at MDW, it’s also recently launched service out of ORD which should continue to keep a downward pressure on domestic prices and ensure the deals don’t stop anytime soon.

Sample past deals departing ORD:

  • Nashville for $118 roundtrip
  • San Francisco for $178 roundtrip
  • Boston for $114 roundtrip

2. Newark (EWR)

newark

A major hub for United, and one of the three largest NYC area airports. JetBlue, American, Alaska, (plus Spirit, Allegiant, and Sun Country, which we don’t send deals on) are among the domestic airlines serving the airport. All those options for airlines and routes means increased competition and more chances for cheap flights.

Sample past deals departing EWR:

  • Tampa for $131 roundtrip
  • New Orleans for $178 roundtrip
  • Boston for $78 roundtrip

1. Los Angeles (LAX)

LAX

Any Premium member based out of LA won’t be surprised to hear it’s shaping up to be the best spot to score frequent domestic deals. The third-busiest airport in the world and the second-busiest airport in the US, it’s a hub or focus city for more airlines than any other airport in the US. It’s a hub for Alaska, American, Delta, and United and a focus city for JetBlue and Southwest. Plus, with other airports nearby to choose from (ONT, SNA, BUR, and LGB) all that competition helps drive down deal prices and make fare drops more common.

Sample past deals departing LAX:

  • Maui for $206 roundtrip
  • Houston for $146 roundtrip
  • Chicago for $132 roundtrip

The Worst US Airports for Cheap Domestic Flights

Members who fly out of the worst airports on our list might only receive one domestic deal per month—but it’s not all bad news. Most of these airports have alternate airports within about two hours, so you can greatly increase the number of deals you have access to if you’re willing to drive a bit.

10. Birmingham (BHM)

BHM

Alabama’s BHM airport offers flights to just 40 US cities (mostly in the south and east, plus Houston, Dallas, Denver, and Las Vegas on American, Delta, Southwest, and United. Without as much competition, deals aren’t as frequent, averaging 2-3 per month. For more and better deals, it may be worth the two hour drive to Atlanta.

Sample past deals departing BHM:

  • Dayton Beach for $152 roundtrip
  • Dallas for $187 roundtrip
  • Charleston for $173 roundtrip

9. Grand Rapids Airport (GRR)  

GRR

While Grand Rapids does have some direct flights around the US, it’s also located close to two major hubs for international flights: Detroit and Chicago, both of which are 2-3 hours away by car, bus, or train. It takes even less time to fly (about 45 minutes) and routing through one of these cities opens up the possibilities for deals exponentially. Detroit (DTW) sees about four times as many deals as Grand Rapids, and Chicago (ORD) receives more deals by a factor of more than 10.

Sample past deals departing GRR:

  • Nashville for $168 roundtrip
  • Denver for $117 roundtrip
  • San Diego for $196 roundtrip

8. Dayton (DAY)

dayton

Dayton is the third-busiest airport in Ohio (after Cleveland and Columbus) but has flights to just 17 destinations, with the farthest in Texas and Florida. With only Delta, United, American, and Allegiant, there’s just not a lot of competition and that means fewer deals. For more deals, it can be worth the 70-mile drive to Cincinnati.

Sample past deals departing DAY:

  • Memphis for $192 roundtrip
  • Charleston for $151 roundtrip
  • Los Angeles for $196 roundtrip

7. Panama City (ECP)

ECP

Panama City offers direct flights to destinations in the Mid-Atlantic, South, and Midwest. If you want to go any farthest west than Denver, you’ll have at least one connection. To score more deals, consider flying out of Tallahassee (TLH) or Pensacola (PNS), which are each about two hours away. Alternatively, if you’re looking to travel across the country, it may be worth it to book a small hop to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Atlanta, and then book your cross-country flight from there.

Sample past deals departing ECP:

  • Atlanta for $117 roundtrip
  • Colorado Springs for $181 roundtrip
  • St. Louis for $115 roundtrip

6. Albany (ALB)

Albany

Albany only serves only a handful of US cities in the east, south, and Midwest (its farthest nonstop destination is Denver) However, what Albany does have going for it are cheap fares to major eastern and Midwest hubs like Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), Detroit (DTW), Philadelphia (PHL), Atlanta (ATL), and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Alternatively, it’s roughly a three-hour drive to Montreal (YUL) or Newark (EWR), which could be worth the time for the right deal.

Sample past deals departing ALB:

  • Orlando for $104 roundtrip
  • Chicago for $147 roundtrip
  • Washington DC for $57 roundtrip

5. Rochester (ROC)

ROC

Upstate New York’s domestic-only Rochester airport is served by 6 airlines offering direct flights to 19 destinations, mostly in the east and south of the US (the farthest nonstop destination is Minneapolis). You can increase your chances of snagging a great domestic deal by checking out flights from Syracuse and Buffalo which are both under 90 minutes away from Rochester.

Sample past deals departing ROC:

  • Los Angeles for $195 roundtrip
  • Virginia Beach for $171 roundtrip
  • Fairbanks for $295 roundtrip

4. Knoxville (TYS)

TYS

Knoxville is a focus city for Allegiant Air and is also served by United, Frontier, and Delta. It offers direct flights to just 16 US destinations, with the farthest being Phoenix and Las Vegas. As a result, we find only 1-2 deals per month for folks in Knoxville, so following Nashville and Chattanooga can help increase your options, particularly for longer haul domestic flights.

Sample past deals departing TYS:

  • Panama City for $176 roundtrip
  • Chicago for $97 roundtrip
  • Houston for $186 roundtrip

3. Worcester (ORH)

ORH

Tiny Worcester airport only serves two cities: NYC and Fort Lauderdale, so if you’re headed anywhere else in the US, you’ll have at least one connection. It’s no surprise then that we only see about one deal per month departing from ORH. Luckily, Boson is just about an hour from the city, and sees a ton more deals.  

Sample past deals departing ORH:

  • New York for $93 roundtrip
  • Fort Lauderdale for $163 roundtrip
  • Savannah for $166 roundtrip

2. Columbia (CAE)

CAE is only served by American, Delta, and United, with direct flights to Atlanta, DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas. That lack of competition among routes and airlines means deals just don’t pop up very often. We find about one domestic deal per month for members. Charlotte and Charleston, each about two hours away, both see a lot more deals in comparison, which can make the drive worth it, especially for a long haul flight.

Sample past deals departing CAE:

  • Chicago for $117 roundtrip
  • Washington DC for $97 roundtrip
  • New York for $198 roundtrip

1. Honolulu (HNL)

HNL

Honolulu airport is Hawaii’s biggest and a hub for Hawaiian Airlines. For domestic flights to the mainland, it’s served by Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaii, Southwest, and United, and while the entrance of Southwest to the market has put a lot of downward pressure on flights to and from the West Coast, deals to the rest of the mainland from Hawaii are a bit more scarce. If you’re trying to get from Hawaii to the East Coast, for example, you may be best off hopping a cheap flight to California and then connecting from there.

Sample past deals departing HNL:

  • Maui for $57 roundtrip
  • Los Angeles for $173 roundtrip
  • Baltimore for $313 roundtrip

Join Going and get incredible deals delivered right to your inbox. Members save an average of $200 per domestic flight, and $550 on international trips.

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Last Updated 
April 9, 2021
Going
Going Team

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