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Best Airports to Fly Out Of: Where Airfare Hasn’t Caught Up to Pre-COVID-19 Trends

Best Airports to Fly Out Of: Where Airfare Hasn’t Caught Up to Pre-COVID-19 Trends

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People flying out of Newark Liberty International or Pensacola International Airport see the steepest price cuts.
A family walks through an airport during the pandemic.
A family walks through an airport during the pandemic. Source: Getty Images

The airline industry has been experiencing economic turbulence over the past two years, most notably when the number of people flying plummeted during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint reports, April 13, 2020 was the low point, with less than 90,000 screened travelers. By comparison, on Jan. 2, 2022, the number reached more than 2 million.

The latest ValuePenguin study looks at how airfare prices have fluctuated since before the pandemic. It reveals that airfares plummeted when demand for flying dropped — and they haven’t caught back up at 98 of the nation’s top 100 airports. For instance, the average airfare in the fourth quarter of 2019 — the last full pre-COVID-19 period — was $373.34. By the second quarter of 2021 — the latest available data — the average ticket cost just under $300.

Overall, average airfare costs are down 19.7% from pre-pandemic pricing, with Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Pensacola International Airport in Florida offering the steepest discounts. Find out which airports are offering the best deals, along with tips on how to find and book affordable flights and how to leverage travel credit cards.

Key findings

  • Average airfare costs are down 19.7% from before the coronavirus pandemic. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the average cost of a ticket was $373.34. In the second quarter of 2021 — the latest available data — the average cost was $299.93.
  • People flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Pensacola International Airport in Florida see the steepest price cuts. Flying out of either airport costs 30% less, on average, than it did pre-pandemic.
  • Airfare costs have caught up to pre-pandemic levels at just two of the 100 airports with the most passenger volume. Both airports — Kahului Airport and Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole — are in Hawaii. Here, prices are 4.1% and 2.4%, respectively, above pre-crisis levels.

How average airfare prices have changed amid pandemic

Airline passengers paid almost 20% less for flights in the second quarter of 2021 than they did at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic hit. The least expensive flights were offered in the third quarter of 2020, as airlines tried to lure back travelers who'd been locked down during the early months of the pandemic. Since then, average airfare has slowly been creeping up.

Average airfare costs, by quarter
QuarterAverage airfare costQuarterAverage airfare cost
Q4 2019$373.34Q4 2020$269.76
Q1 2020$350.53Q1 2021$266.40
Q2 2020$271.74Q2 2021$299.93
Q3 2020$253.79

Source: U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, inflation-adjusted; Q2 2021 data is latest available

Average airfare costs are calculated based on the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Passenger Origin and Destination (O&D) Survey, which analyzes a 10% sample of all airline tickets for U.S. carriers. Figures are adjusted for inflation and are based on domestic itinerary fees, including taxes and fees (but not optional baggage fees).

While average airfare costs are down 19.7% from before the pandemic, there was a larger 32% price drop between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020 — the low point for airfares in the period examined.

"During the heart of the pandemic, very few people were getting on a plane to travel," says Sophia Mendel, ValuePenguin credit cards and travel rewards writer. "As such, it's unsurprising that airline flight costs plummeted with the lack of demand."

Besides the fear of travel, challenging restrictions and quarantine protocols deterred people from booking flights. But once vaccinations became widely available by the second quarter of 2021, there was a resurgence of air travel — and an increase in airfares.

"As the pandemic started to calm down and people started to feel comfortable traveling again, airline prices slowly began to rise," Mendel says.

She predicts that when the rest of the 2021 data is released, it'll reveal a continuing trend of rising airline prices, driven by an uptick in holiday travel. And, despite new coronavirus variants, Mendel says travel demand (and prices) will likely keep rising in 2022.

"Fully vaccinated and boosted travelers who take the necessary precautions tend to feel that the risk of contracting COVID-19 while traveling is lower, and are therefore more comfortable flying," she says.

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But once vaccinations became widely available by the second quarter of 2021, there was a resurgence of air travel \u2014 and an increase in airfares.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\"As the pandemic started to calm down and people started to feel comfortable traveling again, airline prices slowly began to rise,\" Mendel says.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBorder--root ShortcodeBorder--with-padding\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EShe predicts that when the rest of the 2021 data is released, it'll reveal a continuing trend of rising airline prices, driven by an uptick in holiday travel. And, despite new coronavirus variants, Mendel says travel demand (and prices) will likely keep rising in 2022.\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\"Fully vaccinated and boosted travelers who take the necessary precautions tend to feel that the risk of contracting COVID-19 while traveling is lower, and are therefore more comfortable flying,\" she says.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Airports with best pandemic airfare deals

The airports with the biggest decreases in average flight costs from pre-COVID-19 times are New Jersey's Newark International and Florida's Pensacola International — both with 30% lower fares. (Note that airport-specific data is based only on departures, not arrivals.)

Interestingly, Newark also took the top spot in another ValuePenguin study, which ranked the most miserable airports — so perhaps the lower fares may lure back travelers who've had poor experiences there in the past.

While these are the only two airports among the 100 largest by 2020 passenger volume where flying out costs 30% less on average, there are 38 others where the cost is 20% to 29% less.

"It adds up that most domestic airports are keeping flight costs low to encourage domestic travel after over two years of airlines struggling to stay afloat," Mendel says.

Here's a look at 10 airports with the largest airfare decreases from late 2019 to mid-2021:

Top 10 airports where airfare hasn't caught up to pre-COVID-19 trends
RankAirportCityStateAverage fare, Q4 2019Average fare, Q2 2021% change
1Newark Liberty InternationalNewarkNJ$431.41$301.78-30.0%
2Pensacola InternationalPensacolaFL$442.93$310.24-30.0%
3John F. Kennedy InternationalNew YorkNY$448.33$320.25-28.6%
4John Wayne Airport, Orange CountySanta AnaCA$420.56$303.56-27.8%
5Miami InternationalMiamiFL$339.71$246.02-27.6%
6Sarasota Bradenton InternationalSarasotaFL$355.33$257.90-27.4%
7Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsCO$407.95$303.63-25.6%
8Ted Stevens Anchorage InternationalAnchorageAK$518.02$385.99-25.5%
9Dallas Fort Worth InternationalDallasTX$420.34$313.26-25.5%
10LaGuardia NewYorkNY$370.96$277.21-25.3%

Florida has three airports in the top 10, while New York has two — plus Newark in nearby New Jersey. In terms of actual dollars, the cheapest flights during both periods came out of Miami International, while Ted Stevens Anchorage International in Alaska had the highest average fare.

In general, most airfares hit their low point in the third quarter of 2020: For example, Newark's average flight then was just $222.86. But in subsequent quarters, prices started climbing again at all but two of the top 100. The biggest percentage jumps since the pandemic lows were:

  • 42.0% at New Mexico's Albuquerque International Sunport
  • 38.2% at Wisconsin's Dane County Regional
  • 38.0% at New York's Greater Rochester International

Where airfare costs have caught up to pre-pandemic levels

Among the top 100 list, only two airports have caught up to pre-pandemic levels: Flights at Kahului and Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole cost more in the second quarter of 2021 than they did before the coronavirus crisis — though some others are pretty close.

Hawaii had notoriously severe pandemic travel restrictions, including mandatory quarantines at the start of the pandemic, Mendel says. But once vaccinations became available, travelers with proof of vaccination became exempt from quarantine, and some inter-island travel restrictions were lifted. As such, the demand for Hawaiian travel and tourism quickly ramped up, along with the price of airfare.

Here are the airports where airfare is on par — or almost on par — with late 2019 levels:

Top 10 airports where airfare has caught up or is catching up to pre-COVID-19 trends
RankAirportCityStateAverage fare, Q4 2019Average fare, Q2 2021% change
1KahuluiKahuluiHI$270.80$281.824.1%
2Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at KeaholeKonaHI$271.00$277.622.4%
3Long BeachLong BeachCA$253.53$252.09-0.6%
4Mineta San Jose InternationalSan JoseCA$318.75$306.54-3.8%
5Buffalo Niagara InternationalBuffaloNY$339.55$315.27-7.2%
6Syracuse Hancock InternationalSyracuseNY$381.67$353.97-7.3%
7St. Pete-Clearwater InternationalSt. PetersburgFL$141.05$130.77-7.3%
8Daniel K. Inouye InternationalHonoluluHI$356.34$329.94-7.4%
9Sacramento InternationalSacramentoCA$353.37$326.75-7.5%
10Greater Rochester InternationalRochesterNY$391.24$358.50-8.4%

New York, Hawaii and California each have three representatives among the bottom 10 — the only outlier is Florida's St. Pete-Clearwater International.

In actual dollars, St. Pete-Clearwater International had the lowest average fares in both periods among this group, while Greater Rochester International had the highest average fares.

Although it might appear from the chart that prices remained level, note that these airports (like the others) experienced a steep drop in airfare from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020, ranging from 17.6% to 33.6% — they just recovered faster.

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pre-COVID-19 trends\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/thead\u003E\u003Ctbody class=\"StyledBody-sc-14y8oc0 dcdMVT\"\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ERank\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAirport\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ECity\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EState\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAverage fare, Q4 2019\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EAverage fare, Q2 2021\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E% change\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E1\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EKahului\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EKahului\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EHI\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$270.80\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$281.82\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E4.1%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E2\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EEllison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EKona\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EHI\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$271.00\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$277.62\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E2.4%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E3\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ELong Beach\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ELong Beach\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ECA\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$253.53\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$252.09\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-0.6%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E4\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EMineta San Jose International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESan Jose\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ECA\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$318.75\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$306.54\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-3.8%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E5\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EBuffalo Niagara International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EBuffalo\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ENY\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$339.55\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$315.27\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-7.2%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E6\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESyracuse Hancock International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESyracuse\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ENY\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$381.67\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$353.97\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-7.3%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E7\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESt. Pete-Clearwater International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESt. Petersburg\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EFL\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$141.05\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$130.77\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-7.3%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E8\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EDaniel K. Inouye International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EHonolulu\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EHI\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$356.34\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$329.94\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-7.4%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E9\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESacramento International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ESacramento\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ECA\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$353.37\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$326.75\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-7.5%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003E10\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"20%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003EGreater Rochester International\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ERochester\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"10%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bEfFUh\"\u003ENY\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$391.24\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E$358.50\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"15%\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee bGuMza\"\u003E-8.4%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/tbody\u003E\u003C\/table\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Cscript type=\"application\/json\" class=\"js-react-component\" data-component-name=\"SortableTable\"\u003E{\"alignsHorizontal\":[\"left\",\"left\",\"left\",\"left\",\"right\",\"right\",\"right\"],\"alignsVertical\":[\"top\",\"top\",\"top\",\"top\",\"top\",\"top\",\"top\"],\"columnWidths\":[\"10%\",\"20%\",\"15%\",\"10%\",\"15%\",\"15%\",\"15%\"],\"data\":[[\"Top 10 airports where airfare has caught up or is catching up to pre-COVID-19 trends\",\"<<<\",\"<<<\",\"<<<\",\"<<<\",\"<<<\",\"<<<\"],[\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003ERank\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\",\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003EAirport\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\",\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003ECity\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\",\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003EState\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\",\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003EAverage fare, Q4 2019\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\",\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003EAverage fare, Q2 2021\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\",\"\\u003Cstrong\\u003E% change\\u003C\\\/strong\\u003E\"],[\"1\",\"Kahului\",\"Kahului\",\"HI\",\"$270.80\",\"$281.82\",\"4.1%\"],[\"2\",\"Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole\",\"Kona\",\"HI\",\"$271.00\",\"$277.62\",\"2.4%\"],[\"3\",\"Long Beach\",\"Long Beach\",\"CA\",\"$253.53\",\"$252.09\",\"-0.6%\"],[\"4\",\"Mineta San Jose International\",\"San Jose\",\"CA\",\"$318.75\",\"$306.54\",\"-3.8%\"],[\"5\",\"Buffalo Niagara International\",\"Buffalo\",\"NY\",\"$339.55\",\"$315.27\",\"-7.2%\"],[\"6\",\"Syracuse Hancock International\",\"Syracuse\",\"NY\",\"$381.67\",\"$353.97\",\"-7.3%\"],[\"7\",\"St. Pete-Clearwater International\",\"St. Petersburg\",\"FL\",\"$141.05\",\"$130.77\",\"-7.3%\"],[\"8\",\"Daniel K. Inouye International\",\"Honolulu\",\"HI\",\"$356.34\",\"$329.94\",\"-7.4%\"],[\"9\",\"Sacramento International\",\"Sacramento\",\"CA\",\"$353.37\",\"$326.75\",\"-7.5%\"],[\"10\",\"Greater Rochester International\",\"Rochester\",\"NY\",\"$391.24\",\"$358.50\",\"-8.4%\"]],\"footnote\":\"\",\"hideHeaderRow\":false,\"hasMarginBottom\":true,\"isExpandable\":false,\"isSortable\":false,\"maxWidth\":\"1215\",\"minWidth\":\"100%\",\"showSearch\":false,\"sortColumnIndex\":0,\"sortDirection\":\"asc\"}\u003C\/script\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ENew York, Hawaii and California each have three representatives among the bottom 10 \u2014 the only outlier is Florida's St. Pete-Clearwater International.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn actual dollars, St. Pete-Clearwater International had the lowest average fares in both periods among this group, while Greater Rochester International had the highest average fares.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EAlthough it might appear from the chart that prices remained level, note that these airports (like the others) experienced a steep drop in airfare from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020, ranging from 17.6% to 33.6% \u2014 they just recovered faster.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Full rankings

Change from Q4 2019 to Q2 2021
RankAirportCityStateAverage fare, Q4 2019Average fare, Q2 2021% change
1Newark Liberty InternationalNewarkNJ$431.41$301.78-30.0%
2Pensacola InternationalPensacolaFL$442.93$310.24-30.0%
3John F. Kennedy InternationalNew YorkNY$448.33$320.25-28.6%
4John Wayne Airport, Orange CountySanta AnaCA$420.56$303.56-27.8%
5Miami InternationalMiamiFL$339.71$246.02-27.6%
6Sarasota Bradenton InternationalSarasotaFL$355.33$257.90-27.4%
7Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsCO$407.95$303.63-25.6%
8Ted Stevens Anchorage InternationalAnchorageAK$518.02$385.99-25.5%
9Dallas Fort Worth InternationalDallasTX$420.34$313.26-25.5%
10LaGuardiaNew YorkNY$370.96$277.21-25.3%
11Minneapolis-St. Paul InternationalMinneapolisMN$380.05$285.58-24.9%
Show All Rows

How to find — and pay for — cheap flights

As travel continues to ramp up — not to mention higher fuel prices and flight cancellations due to staff shortages — cheap flights may be harder to come by.

With the right strategies, however, you can still find great deals while maximizing programs that help you pay less out of pocket. Here are a few tactics to try:

  • Watch the fine print. "I would recommend always making sure your travel plans are flexible and refundable while we navigate ever-changing pandemic restrictions," Mendel says. You don't want to be stuck losing money on a flight if you have to delay your trip to quarantine, for example.
  • Track flight prices to score a deal. Because prices can change daily, or even hourly, tools like Google Flights, Expedia and Scott's Cheap Flights can help you research airfare, Mendel says. "Each of these tools offer a 'set price alerts' feature, which will notify you when prices change and can offer insight on the best time to book," she adds.
  • Leverage travel reward credit cards. Mendel encourages travelers to take advantage of travel and airline credit cards to book flights. Not only do these cards often come with travel perks like trip insurance, priority boarding, lounge access or free checked bags, but you can also earn miles to offset the cost of future trips.
  • Cash in. If you've accumulated miles on an airline credit card or from past flights as an airline loyalty member, apply them to your next flight — you could end up flying for free.

Methodology

ValuePenguin researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to show how airfares costs have changed amid the pandemic. Airports were ranked by the percentage change in average fares between the fourth quarter of 2019 — the last full quarter before the pandemic — and the second quarter of 2021 — the latest available data. Analysts also looked at the data for the quarters within this period.

Note that all average fares are inflation-adjusted. National figures averages use data from the BTS’ Origin and Destination (O&D) survey. All airport-specific data is based on the origin.

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