Best & Worst U.S. Airports for Cheap Deals on International Flights Best & Worst U.S. Airports for Cheap Deals on International Flights

Best & Worst U.S. Airports for Cheap Deals on International Flights

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Scott’s Cheap Flights recently released its updated rankings of the best and worst U.S. airports for cheap international travel. The rankings are based on the number of excellent deals at the airport in the last 12 months. Here are the best and worst airports for cheap international deals — and how you can use this information to plan your travels and set up your points and miles strategy.

Airport Departure Lounge

Calculation Methodology Used

Understanding the methodology used to calculate the results is vital to giving them context. First, to ensure that the airports selected were relevant, only commercial airports in metro areas with a minimum population of 700,000 were considered.

Specific deals were excluded to enhance the credibility of the rankings. Discounted routes with unusual routing and budget carriers deals are not included in the calculation.

Once the airport list was narrowed down, the number of deals from each airport over the last year was tabulated. The airport with the most deals (New York JFK) is the winner of the best airport. In contrast, the airport with the least deals (Panama City ECP) ended up as the worst airport.

The study authors also included the average round trip price of a fare from the airport in the last year. However, this data had no bearing on the ranking of the individual airports.

The Best Ranked Airports

AirportAverage R/T PriceNumber Of Deals
New York (JFK)$413475
Washington Dulles (IAD)$449433
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)$429423
Newark (EWR)$422415
Los Angeles (LAX)$413409
Boston (BOS)$435389
San Francisco (SFO)$441380
Miami (MIA)$394375
Atlanta (ATL)$426299
Philadelphia (PHL)$405289

The Worst Ranked Airports

AirportAverage R/T PriceNumber Of Deals
Panama City (ECP)$50362
Honolulu (HNL)$50465
Oakland (OAK)$51479
Sacramento (SMF)$44985
Oklahoma City (OKC)$46688
Long Beach (LGB)$49288
Columbia (CAE)$53890
Fresno (FAT)$46894
Salt Lake City (SLC)$46398
Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)$480100

How You Can Use the Rankings

The rankings are handy in many different ways. First, they give you an idea of whether to jump on a deal or not. For instance, if you want to fly out of Panama City (ECP) or Honolulu (HNL) and see a deal, you may want to take it since they are few and far between! On the other hand, deals from New York (JFK) are plentiful. So, you can afford to be a bit more picky and wait for the next deal to pop up.

And regardless of where you want to originate, consider setting up a flight price tracker to keep an eye on paid fares. Doing so can be useful both before and after you book, especially if you book an award flight with free changes.

Adjusting Your Points & Miles Strategy

Knowing whether or not your airport is prone to getting good deals helps you develop a points and miles plan. If you live near an airport with lots of deals, you might be best served by booking cheap paid travel. All four major credit card points currencies let you use points/miles to book travel at the following rates:

  • Capital One miles can be redeemed at 1 cent per point for all travel.
  • American Express Membership Rewards points are worth 1 cent per point when booking qualifying travel through the Amex Travel Portal.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal — depending on whether you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, respectively.
  • Citi ThankYou Points can be redeemed at 1 cent per point for a statement credit. That means you can effectively offset any purchase at this rate, including travel.

The pay-with-points option is often best when cash prices are low. However, you are often better served using miles to book award travel when prices are high. Fortunately, all four major bank points currencies have a generous list of transfer partners.

You can often get a redemption value greater than 2 cents per point by opting to transfer your points to an airline program and redeeming them for an award when the cash price is high. Knowing which airports are the best and worst for deals makes it easier to judge when to use each option.

Final Thoughts

Information is power, as the saying goes. And that is especially true when it comes to using points and miles. Publishing rankings like these may not give you an immediate deal. However, it provides information that lets you make better judgments going forward. Knowing which deals to jump and which to pass up is key to getting the most out of your points, miles, and travel goals.

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