The price of jet fuel has increased by roughly 110% between the first quarters of 2021 and 2022 and as passengers return to the skies, some of those costs are passed on to consumers. In fact, airline fares spiked by 26% over the same time period, bringing the national average flight cost to $328 for Q1 2022. With the average American taking nearly four air trips per year (3.6, to be exact), that works out to roughly $1,200 spent on air travel annually.
Some airports are seeing larger price upticks than others, however, causing more strain on airline travelers’ pocketbooks. In this study, SmartAsset identified and ranked the airports with the largest price increases. Specifically, we looked at the 100 busiest airports in the country and compared them across three metrics: average airfare for Q1 2022, as well as the one-year percentage change and the dollar change in average airfare. We also discuss national historical trends in flights prices and ask experts about their expectations for flying costs in the future. For more details on our data sources and how we ranked airports, read the Data and Methodology section below.
- In 23 airports, average flight tickets are up over 30% when compared to the first quarter of 2021. Nationally, airfare has increased by 26.24% from Q1 2021 through Q1 2022, but that figure is much higher for some airports. In fact, two airports have experienced an increase in the average flight price of over 40%: Westchester County Airport (HPN) – which is north of New York City – and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).
- Average airfare is less than $200 in just two airports. Average flight prices leaving from Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) are $132 and $130, respectively.
- Expect higher fares in Anchorage, Madison and D.C. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) has the highest average airfare of $456. The Dane County Regional-Truax Field Airport (MSN) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) follow behind with average flight prices of $436 and $418, respectively.
1. Westchester County Airport (HPN) - White Plains, NY
In the first quarter of 2022, Westchester County Airport (which is north of New York City) had the 10th-highest average fare ($380) across all 100 airports in our study. When comparing this to a previous year, travelers are paying roughly 46% more (the highest increase in the study). In gross numbers, HPN also has the highest dollar increase in average flight price over the same one-year period ($119).
2. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) - Charlotte, NC
The average flight leaving from Charlotte Douglas International Airport costs $382. CLT ranks as the eighth-highest for this metric along with its one-year percentage change in flight prices (36.46%). When looking at raw numbers, CLT ranks as the third-worst for its one-year dollar change in average flight cost ($102).
3. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) - Minneapolis, MN
Travelers departing from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) can expect to pay an average of $376 on their one-way or round-trip, domestic flight. Compared with one year prior, the average has increased by just under $102 - fourth-worst in our study.
4. McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) - Knoxville, TN
McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) has the second-worst dollar increase in average airfare over the one-year period between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022 (exceeding $102). And as a result of that increase, the average price for flights leaving from TYS is fifth-highest in our study, at about $403.
5. Logan International Airport (BOS) - Boston, MA (Tie)
The average price of an airline ticket out of Logan International Airport (BOS) ranks in the middle of the 100 airports we considered, at $340. However, BOS has the third-highest percentage increase in average flight price over a one-year period (39.62%) and the sixth-highest dollar change over the same period ($96).
5. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) - Philadelphia, PA (Tie)
In Q1 2022, the average airline ticket for flights departing from the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) was $334, or about $96 more than the average price in Q1 2021. Over the same one-year period, the average fare for this airport has increased by nearly 41% (second-highest).
7. Spokane International Airport (GEG) - Spokane, WA
Spokane International Airport (GEG) has the 15th-highest average airfare in our study of $373. Compared to 2021, this figure is about 32% higher, representing the 17th-highest one-year percentage change in airfare cost across the 100 airports in our study.
8. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) - Washington, D.C.
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is one of six airports included in this study where the average airfare exceeds $400. Specifically, the figure stood at $418 for Q1 2022, or about 28% higher than it was in Q1 2021. In gross numbers, the average airfare increased by $92, the ninth-highest dollar change overall.
9. Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) - Palm Springs, CA
Of the 12 California airports included in this study, Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) ranks worst for airfare increases. The average airline ticket is $360 (23rd-worst) and this airport has the 14th-highest percentage change in average prices between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022 (32.95%).
10. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) - Newark, NJ (Tie)
Passengers departing through the largest airport in New Jersey can expect to pay an average of $93 more than they did last year. From Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, the average fare rose from $238 to $331.
10. Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) - Madison, WI (Tie)
Tying as the 10th-worst airport in terms of rising costs is Dane County Regional Airport (MSN). As of Q1 2022, MSN has the second-highest average flight cost of $436. Compared to the average in Q1 2021, that is a $94 increase (seventh-highest).
National Trends in Flight Prices
While the 26% national increase in average flight costs between the Q1 2021 and Q1 2022 looks steep, rising flight costs are in part a result of depressed prices during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, national average airfare dropped from $336 to $260 - a decrease close to 23%.
In other words, despite steep recent increases, prices today are on par with pre-pandemic prices (Q1 2020: $336 vs. Q1 2022: $328).
The chart below shows national average airfares over the past several years. And you can see that flight prices are less elevated than one might believe. In fact, average airfare today is lower than it was in the seven years leading up to 2020.
This is not to say, however, that flight prices won't rise more as the busiest air travel months of 2022 are still to come. We had an expert to weigh in on how airfare costs may change over the next six months:
"Traveler demand is contributing to the higher prices we're seeing right now, but fuel prices and staffing shortages are still the real culprits,” says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com.
“Fuel costs are up to 30% of operational costs for the airlines, so until those prices start to level out, airfare will remain on the higher end. However, we reported recently that larger markets are seeing smaller spikes in domestic airfare prices. So, if you live in one of those larger cities - you might see less of a sticker shock than someone from a smaller city."
As consumers - especially individuals living in smaller cities - look towards buying flights around the holidays, they may need to keep an eye on prices and how costs fit into their budget.
Data and Methodology
To find the airports with the largest price increases, SmartAsset analyzed the 100 busiest airports across the U.S. based on the total number of domestic passengers in 2021. Specifically, we compared airports across the following three metrics:
- Average airfare cost. This is for Q1 2022 and includes one-way and round-trip, domestic flights.
- One-year percentage change in airfare cost. This is from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022.
- One-year dollar change in airfare cost. This is from Q1 2021 to Q1 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 Savvy Travelers
- Set a budget so you can squeeze a little bit more out for trips. Sticking to a budget throughout the year can help you afford higher airfares. Use our budget calculator to get a clear picture of your current spending and see where cutting back on excess expenses can maximize your savings.
- Be open to alternative flight dates and times to save money. According to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, “Flying mid-week on a Tuesday or Wednesday are the days that will almost always offer better value on airfare. You are also more likely to save money on the first or last flights of the day. Because these flight times are not popular with travelers, they are often priced lower. There is also the added bonus of the first flights of the day usually being the ones that leave on time.”
- Want to travel in retirement? Create a financial plan that fits your lifestyle. While retirees may have the free time to travel, not all of them have the savings to support it. If you want to have the financial freedom to travel in retirement, it may be worthwhile to speak with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help assess your current savings strategy and build a plan for the future. SmartAsset’s free tool makes it easy to get connected with one. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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