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SmartAsset: Biggest Airport Price Increases, Ranked - 2022 Edition

Rising costs of jet fuel, delays, cancellations and inflation have created headaches for travelers this year. And, as a result, consumers are seeing much higher airfare prices across the country. With holiday travel around the corner, SmartAsset investigated the places where airfare has increased the most and least.

Specifically, we analyzed airfare price increases nationally and across the 100 busiest airports (based on the total number of domestic passengers in 2021). For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.

This analysis is an update to a previous version of this study, which revealed the airports with the largest price increases between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022. Check out the previous version here.

Key Findings

  • Average airfare prices skyrocketed, increasing nearly 21% over the second quarter of 2022. Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows that from the first to second quarter of 2022, the average cost of a domestic flight in the U.S. increased by nearly 21% from $328 to $397.
  • Passengers can expect to pay more than $500 on average at three airports. Dane County Regional (MSN) – which serves Madison, Wisconsin – has the highest average fare of $526. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) follow closely behind with average airfares of $526 and $503, respectively.
  • Western airports are seeing large increases in airfare. Six of the 10 airports with the largest price increases are in the West, including two in Washington, two in California, one in Idaho and one in Arizona. Of those, Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) ranks worst, with an average airfare of $474 in the second quarter of 2022 (42% and $140 higher than it was a year previously).

Airfare Prices in 2022 Continue to Skyrocket

Some cities have seen even larger recent increases than the nearly 21% national increase. Specifically, four airports had an increase of over 30% – three in California and one Arizona airport. Out of the 100 busiest airports in the U.S., just one experienced a decrease in airfare – Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

With the addition of Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to the airports with an increase of over 30%, five airports have had an increase of roughly $100 or more between average airfare in the first and second quarters of 2022.

The table below shows the airports with the biggest airfare changes between the first and second quarters of 2022, ranked according to both the percentage change and dollar change.

Where Airfare Has Increased the Most

To determine the airports with the largest increases in airfare, we compared the 100 busiest airports across three metrics: average airfare in the second quarter of 2022 (one-way and round-trip, domestic flights), as well as the one-year percentage change and dollar change in average airfare.

1. Pensacola International Airport (PNS) - Pensacola, FL

In the second quarter of 2022, the average fare at Pensacola International Airport (PNS) falls was $462. This is more than 51% higher than a year previously, or a dollar value higher of $157.

2. Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) - Fresno, CA

The Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) has experienced an increase of roughly $140 in its average airfare since the second quarter of 2021, bringing the average fare to $474 (the seventh-highest overall). As a percentage, this is an increase of about 42%.

3. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) - Seattle, WA

The average airfare for flights out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is $437, 23rd-highest in this study. This figure is about 49.18% and $144 higher than it was in the second quarter of 2021, representing both the second-worst percentage and dollar changes in average airfare.

4. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) - Bozeman, MT (Tie)

Passengers departing through Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) can expect to pay $134 more than they did last year on average. In the second quarter of 2022, the average fare reached $442 - the 19th-highest average in our study.

4. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) - Los Angeles, CA (Tie)

Of the 12 California airports included in this study, the largest - Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) - ranks worst for recent airfare increases. The average airfare is $448 (15th-highest) and LAX airport has the sixth-highest one-year percentage change in average fares (42.22%) and the seventh-highest dollar change ($133).

6. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) - Birmingham, AL

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) is one of three airports included in this study where the average airfare exceeds $500. Specifically, that figure for 2022 is $503 and is 37.52% higher than it was in 2021. In gross numbers, the average airfare increased by $137 (fourth-highest dollar change).

7. Spokane International Airport (GEG) - Spokane, WA

Spokane International Airport (GEG) has the 21st-highest average fare of $438 in the months leading up to summer. Compared to 2021, the average fare has increased by roughly $129 and it is one of 13 airports that have had an increase in price that exceeds 40% in the same one-year period.

8. Tucson International Airport (TUS) - Tucson, AZ

Tucson International Airport (TUS) has the eighth-highest average fare ($470) when compared with the other 99 airports considered. Over a one-year period, passengers departing from TUS have paid roughly $128 more on average (11th-highest dollar change), which equates to a 37.60% change (18th-highest).

9. Boise Airport (BOI) - Boise, ID

Boise Airport (BOI) has the fourth-highest percentage increase in airfare over a one-year period (43.29%) and the 12th-highest dollar change over the same time period ($128).

10. Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport (DTW) - Detroit, MI

With a dollar change of $126, Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport (DTW) has the 14th-highest dollar increase over the one-year period between 2021 and 2022, bringing the average airfare to $430. This increase equates to a nearly 42% change. For the second quarter of 2022, the average airfare is the 27th-highest of 100 airports in this study.

National Trends in Flight Prices

Nationally, the average airfare in the second quarter of 2022 was $397. Prior to this, the national average has not exceeded $390 since 2014.

It is important to note that the majority of the fare cost averages since the second quarter of 2020 have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, when airfare fell to $260.

“I’m not surprised that flight prices are higher now than they were pre-pandemic, given all the things our industry has been through in the past few year[s],” says Roger Broussard, a professional pilot and CEO and Founder of Pilot School Hero. “The pandemic itself really hit our industry badly, with employees leaving the industry never to return, which has exacerbated staff shortages. There’s also, if you can believe it, a shortage of planes across some airlines… That’s without even talking about oil prices and inflation!”

Looking forward to the holidays, airfare prices are unlikely to drop.

“We’d normally expect prices to drop off a little over the winter months," says Broussard, "But this year the power looks to be in the hands of the airlines, with demand looking set to stay high and limited spaces to go around meaning prices will stay high.”

Data and Methodology

To find the airports with the largest price increases, SmartAsset looked at the 100 busiest airports across the U.S. based on the total number of domestic passengers in 2021.

We compared those airports across three metrics:

  • Average airfare cost. This is for Q2 2022 and includes one-way and round-trip, domestic flights.
  • One-year percentage change in airfare cost. This is from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022.
  • One-year dollar change in airfare cost. This is from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022.

Data for all three metrics comes from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. We ranked each airport in every metric, giving a half-weight to average fare and a full weight to the remaining two metrics.

Financial Tips for Holiday Travelers

  • Let travel planning websites do the hard work for you. According to Andrew Rosen, Certified Financial Planner for Diversified LLC, “There are still deals to be had, particularly if you can be flexible in your travel. Set up alerts for your flights and keep an eye on your routes to see when you can find the best airfare, and then book it when it hits a rate that you're comfortable with.”
  • Do the math to save more. Luckily, many U.S. cities offer access to more than one airport and give passengers the option to shop around for more affordable rates. “If you're lucky enough to live near more than one airport, price out driving to another airport nearby, as adding in a bit of a drive may still be cheaper than flying out of the closest airport to you,” says Andrew Rosen, Certified Financial Planner for Diversified LLC.
  • Work hard (today), so you can play hard (in retirement). Work with a financial advisor to put together or manage your current financial plan so you can travel more in your retirement. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock/spooh

Anja Solum Anja Solum is a data journalist at SmartAsset covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and debt management. Before joining SmartAsset, she worked on both agency and in-house content marketing teams where she developed her love for data analysis and visualization. In her free time, she nurtures a passion for gaming, a recent addiction to anime & KDramas, and a mischievous labrador retriever. A bit of a nomad, she’s lived in Norway, Jamaica, and Denmark in addition to the U.S. but now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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