Even if you're a wiz at finding cheap flight deals, just going to the airport itself can tack on a lot of extra expenses: The taxi there isn't cheap, and then there are the overpriced airport restaurants. And let's not even get into those mini-spas. Flying is stressful (and plane food isn't all that affordable, or all that great), so many of us stock up — on snacks, drinks, reading material, and occasionally massages — before we take off.
But it adds up, and RewardExpert decided to examine just how much. This morning, the reward-program online service released a report of 2017's most and least expensive airports in the United States. The company looked at 45 of the country's busiest airports, studying four factors: transportation to and from the airport, plane-ticket prices, amenities, and food.
"Airports are run like football stadiums; you pay more just by virtue of being there," RewardExpert CEO and cofounder Roman Shteyn said in a statement. "Some airports take advantage of a captive audience to jack up expenses for items like food, parking, Wi-Fi, and other amenities. On top of that, some airports simply have higher costs for airfare, when compared to the national average. This ranking factors in all costs a traveler may incur at an airport to determine which are the most and least wallet-friendly."
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the five most expensive domestic airports are also in pricey metro areas. From the top, they are: Newark Liberty International Airport (New York City), John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York City), Washington Dulles International Airport (Washington, D.C.), Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport. LaGuardia Airport, also in NYC, joins the list at #10.
Newark topped the list thanks to its high ticket prices and expensive food, according to the report. The average domestic fare from the airport was $429.80 in 2016, and Wi-Fi is not free. "Despite Newark's effort to improve its food offerings, the airport struggles with providing affordable dining," says RewardExpert.
On the other hand, the top five least expensive domestic airports are: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas), Orlando International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and Tampa International Airport.
Three of the cheapest airports are in Florida. From Fort Lauderdale Airport, the average domestic fare in 2016 was $241.80. Plus, Fort Lauderdale is one of the only airports that still allow luggage storage, and it only costs $11. And, the all-time favorite perk: free Wi-Fi.
To compile the study, RewardExpert collected and analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Yelp, local public transportation and airport websites, SleepinginAirports.net, and iFly.com. To see the detailed report, check out the RewardExpert website.