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The Best and Worst US Airports for Cheap International Flights in 2019

Scott Keyes
By 
Scott Keyes
Co-Founder & CEO
14 min read
Last updated 
June 26, 2019
title card: The Best and Worst US Airports for Cheap International Flights in 2019.

The team of Flight Experts at Scott’s Cheap Flights spends hundreds of hours every week searching for flight deals. In 2018, we sent more than 7,000 emails with flight deals from more than 150 US airports.

We have high standards for our deals, too. We don’t send deals on certain budget airlines (like Spirit, Frontier, or Allegiant), we don’t send super-last-minute flights or flights with terrible routing. In short, we only send truly great deals to our members—with a savings of $550 per ticket, on average—and we know that when it comes to scoring cheap international flights, geography counts.

Some airports simply see more frequent flight deals than others, thanks to a number of factors including the amount of airlines serving the airport and the amount of competition on various routes from that airport.

To determine which airports offer the most frequent deals on international flights—and which major airports offer the least—we looked at commercial international airports in metro areas with a population of at least one million people, and collected data on how many deals we sent to Scott’s Cheap Flights members for cheap flights departing from each airport in the past year.

Here are the results.

If you live near one of the best airports, you’re in luck; your airport often has great deals on international flights. But, if you live near one of the worst, it doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams of affordable international travel. Beneath each of the “worst” airports, we list examples of the types of deals you’ll see from your airport—and give you tips on how you can score even more cheap international flights without moving to a new city.

The Best US Airports for Cheap International Flights

The best airports for cheap international flights are airports you might expect; they’re among the busiest airports in big cities located on both coasts and in the Midwest. While that’s great news if you live in one of the areas, it also means that no matter where you are in the US, you’re likely only a short flight away from one of these airports where deals are the most frequent.

How frequent? Our top airport received more than 400 deals in the last year—more than one deal per day on average—and others in the top ten received more than 25 deals per month on average.

Here are the top ten airports in the US for scoring cheap international flights.

10. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

stats about FLL airport

Number of deals in the last year: 219

South Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport clocks in at #10 on our list of best airports for deals—it sees about 18 per month—thanks to a plethora of airlines flying direct to more than 50 destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Canada, and Mexico.

FLL is well covered for flights to both international and domestic destinations, including frequent connections to other major hubs for destinations in Africa, Oceania, and Asia. Additionally, while American Airlines has a monopoly on Miami International Airport, FLL is close enough to serve as competition, so other airlines offer cheap flights out of FLL to compete for flyers in the area—which can help keep costs low at both airports.

FLL is a hub for Spirit Airlines and a focus city for JetBlue, Norwegian, Allegiant, and Southwest; however, note that Scott’s Cheap Flights doesn’t send deals on Spirit Airlines or Allegiant.

Examples of great deals from Fort Lauderdale:

9. Orlando International Airport (MCO) in Orlando, Florida

stats about MCO airport

Number of deals in the last year: 226

Orlando is a hub airport for Silver Airways and a focus city for Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit (though again, Scott’s Cheap Flights doesn’t send deals on Spirit or Frontier), and it offers nonstop flights to 59 international destinations in Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Thank that famous mouse for the airport’s robust service; all those flights means a lot of potential for deals, and Orlando sees 18-19 per month, on average.

Examples of great deals from Orlando:

8. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, Virginia

stats about  IAD airport

Number of deals in the last year: 246

Dulles serves the greater Baltimore and Washington, DC area and has the most international passenger traffic of any airport in the Mid-Atlantic region outside of New York. It offers direct flights to 57 international destinations on five continents, serving Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

It’s a hub for United Airlines, but it’s also served by more than 30 international airlines, and that competition helps ensure frequent deals—about 20 per month, on average.

Examples of great deals from Dulles:

7. Miami International Airport (MIA) in Miami, Florida

stats about MIA airport

Number of deals in the last year: 295

Miami is the 15th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights—and the third-busiest by international passenger traffic. It’s a hub for American Airlines and a focus city for Avianca, Frontier and LATAM, which makes it a great city for scoring deals to the Caribbean and Latin America.

The airport offers direct flights to more than 100 international destinations, including cities in Europe and the Middle East; connections to other major hubs make it easy to travel to destinations in Asia, Africa, and Oceania.

Examples of great deals from Miami:

6. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois

stats about ORD airport

Number of deals in the last year: 298

Chicago’s O’Hare airport is the busiest airport in the US by number of flights, and one of the busiest airports in the world. It’s a hub for both United and American and a focus city for Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines (the latter two airlines help increase competition, but Scott’s Cheap Flights doesn’t send deals found on those budget airlines, for a number of reasons).

O’Hare offers nonstop service to more than 62 international destinations on more than 40 airlines. The abundance of international airlines and routes means pretty healthy competition, and the frequency of flights to the rest of the US means that if you can’t fly direct to a major destination from Chicago, chances are you can get there with one connection—and both of those things mean lots of deals for travelers.

Examples of great deals from Chicago:

5. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey

stats about EWR airport

Number of deals in the last year: 330

A major hub for United, Newark is the 11th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights and is served by 30 airlines with direct flights to more than 70 international destinations in Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. All those options for airlines and routes means increased competition and more chances for cheap flights.

Examples of great deals from Newark:

4. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California

stats about SFO airport

Number of deals in the last year: 336

We see an average of 28 deals per month from SFO, thanks to a plethora of routes and airlines serving more than 50 destinations in Canada, Mexico, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania.

SFO is the second busiest airport in California, the eighth-busiest airport in the US, and the fifth-largest hub for United Airlines. I’s also served by another 45+ airlines, which helps keep prices down.

Examples of great deals from San Francisco:

3. General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, Massachusetts

stats about BOS airport

Number of deals sent in the last year: 342

The largest airport in New England and the 14th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights, Boston Logan is a focus city for Delta and JetBlue and is served by an additional 30 airlines.

There are direct routes to more than 50 international destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Mexico, Canada, and Central and South America, and more options translates to more deals.

Examples of great deals from Boston:

2. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California

stats about LAX airport

Number of deals sent in the last year: 353

LAX holds a lot of superlative titles. It’s the largest and busiest airport on the West Coast, the third-busiest airport in the US, and one of the busiest airports in the world. It’s also a hub or focus city for more airlines than any other airport in the US; it’s a hub for Alaska, American, Delta, and United, and a focus city for Air New Zealand, Allegiant, Norwegian, Qantas, Southwest, and Volaris.

More than 60 international airlines serve the airport, with direct flights to more than 90 destinations on every inhabited continent. All those flights mean more chances for deals, so it’s not surprising that we see a deal from LAX 29-30 times per month, on average.  

Examples of great deals from Los Angeles:

1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, New York

stats about JFK airport

Number of deals in the last year: 436

JFK is hub for both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines and the home base for JetBlue, but it also serves a whole lot of other international airlines—more than 70, in fact. Those airlines collectively serve more than 120 international destinations on six continents, making JFK the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America. It’s also the 10th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights. In short, there are a ton of planes traveling between JFK and the rest of the world every day, and all those routes and airlines mean—yep, you guessed it—a whole lot more deals.

We send more deals for flights from JFK than any other airport—about 20% more than we send to the number two airport on this list. That means if you live near JFK, or get there by plane, train, bus, or car relatively cheaply, you can take advantage of some amazing flight deals.

Examples of great deals from New York:

It’s important to note, though, that airports outside the top ten still receive many, many deals.

LaGuardia (LGA), Seattle (SEA), Denver (DEN), Baltimore (BWI), San Jose (SJC), Houston (IAH), Reagan National (DCA), Atlanta (ATL), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Philadelphia (PHL), Las Vegas (LAS), Minneapolis (MSP), Tampa (TPA), Pittsburgh (PIT), Phoenix (PHX), San Diego (SAN), and Portland (PDX) all receive 10-20 deals in an average month.

Even smaller airports like Nashville (BNA), Charleston (CHS), St. Louis (STL), and Buffalo (BUF) receive an average of 1-2 deals per week. Meaning, there’s a whole lot of airports on the list before we get down to the “worst” airports for international deals.

list of best airports.

The Worst US Airports for Cheap International Flights

Of course, the smaller the metro area and airport, and the fewer flights and airlines operating from that airport, the fewer chances for deals. Airports like Corpus Christi, Texas, and Bellingham, Washington, only see about one deal per month, but they also represent very small metro areas so they aren’t on this list.

For this list, we only looked at airports in metro areas with a population of more than 1 million people. Less populated states in the west, south, and Midwest dominate the list. While passengers can travel internationally from each of these airports with a connection (and many of these airports are labeled as “international airports”) not all of them actually offer direct international flights. The lack of a direct flights typically translates to a lack of competition, and thus a lack of deals.

Live near one of the “worst” airports? Don’t despair. Even though these airports see far fewer deals than the top 10 on this list, they still receive an average of two deals per month.

Even better news: most of them are located within an hour or two of a bigger airport that receives a lot more deals. When you sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, we’ll tell you if you can expect a high volume of deals for your airport or not, and which nearby airports we recommend you follow for more frequent deals.

10. John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio

stats about CMH airport

Number of deals in the last year: 45

John Glenn Columbus International Airport is served by less than a dozen airlines offering flights to three dozen destinations. It’s the largest passenger airport in central Ohio and the state’s second-busiest, yet it only sees about 3-4 deals per month, on average. And, though it’s an international airport, the only international destinations it serves directly are Cancún and Toronto.

To score better deals from central Ohio, we recommend looking at flights from Cincinnati, which gets slightly more deals; Cleveland, which sees more than double the amount of deals; or driving to Pittsburgh, which gets three times the amount of deals as CMH.

Alternatively, you could snag a great deal on a cheap international flight from a large nearby hub, like Detroit (DTW), Chicago (ORD), or Atlanta (ATL) and book a separate flight to reach that departure city.

Examples of great deals from Columbus:

9. General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

stats about MKE airport

Number of deals in the last year: 44

General Mitchell International Airport is another international airport with limited international reach; it offers direct flights to Canada (Toronto), Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and several cities in Mexico. It’s a focus city for Southwest Airlines, which serves 21 domestic destinations, including several where you may be more likely to score a deal, such as New York (LGA), Chicago (ORD), Detroit (DTW), Atlanta (ATL), and Minneapolis (MSP).  

To find more deals, it’s definitely worth looking at the above, particularly Chicago O’Hare, which is accessible via a 90-minute drive, bus or train ride, or very short flight, and sees more than six times the number of deals Milwaukee receives.

Examples of great deals from Milwaukee:

8. Will Rogers World Airport (OKC) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

stats about OKC airport

Number of deals in the last year: 43

OKC serves 30 domestic destinations in all corners of the country on airlines including Southwest, Alaska, Frontier, Allegiant, American, Delta, and United.

While the bad news is that the airport only sees about 3-4 deals per month, from OKC you can connect to larger hubs where deals are more frequent. It’s a three hour drive to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), which gets three times the amount of deals, or a short flight to hubs like Atlanta (ATL) or Chicago (ORD).

Examples of great deals from Oklahoma City:

7.  Louisville International Airport (SDF) in Louisville, Kentucky

stats about SDF airport

Number of deals in the last year: 39

Louisville International Airport offers nonstop flights to two dozen destinations around the US and is served by American, United, Delta, and the low-cost carriers Southwest, Allegiant, and Frontier. International deals are on the rare side—we send three per month, on average—due to the lack of lack of competition and direct routes.

However, it’s a short drive to Cincinnati (CVG) which sees slightly more deals, and just three hours by car to Nashville, which gets more than double the deals.

Additionally, there are direct flights from SDF to larger hubs where deals are more likely. Look for deals from an airport like Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), or Miami (MIA) and find a reasonably cheap positioning flight to that hub.  

Examples of great deals from Louisville:

6. Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, California

stats about LGB airport

Number of deals in the last year: 34

Flights from Long Beach Airport fly to 15+ destinations in the US, but it’s only served by five airlines (it’s a hub for JetBlue) and there are no international departures, so the lack of competition and direct routes makes deals rare.

But Long Beach passengers looking for international deals have an easy solution; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is less than 23 miles away and sees far more deals—about ten times the number LGB receives; in fact LAX is number two on our list of best airports for international flight deals.

Examples of great deals from Long Beach:

5. Albany International Airport (ALB) in Albany, New York

stats about ALB airport

Number of deals in the last year: 31

It’s not surprising that Albany receives fewer than three deals per month on average. The small airport only serves only a handful of US cities in the east, south, and Midwest (its farthest nonstop destination is Denver)

Low competition for international fares—plus a lack of direct flights—keeps prices relatively high. However, what Albany does have going for it are cheap fares to major eastern and Midwest hubs like Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), Detroit (DTW), Philadelphia (PHL), Atlanta (ATL), and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Alternatively, it’s roughly a three-hour drive to Montreal (YUL) or Newark (EWR), which could be worth the time for the right deal.

Examples of great deals from Albany:

4. Norfolk International Airport (ORF) in Norfolk, Virginia

stats about ORF airport

Number of deals in the last year: 30

Another “international airport” only in name, Norfolk connects travelers to nearly 30 destinations throughout the US on airlines like American, Delta, United, Frontier, Southwest, and Allegiant. The good news: many of those destinations are major hubs where deals are more frequent, so you can hop a cheap flight to one of those hubs—such as Chicago (ORD), NYC (JFK, EWR, or LGA), or Boston (BOS)—and connect to a cheap international flight from there.

If you prefer to drive, look for flights from nearby Richmond (RIC), which gets double the amount deals; drive a bit farther to Raleigh (RDU), which gets gets triple the amount of deals; or head to DC’s Dulles, which makes the list of top ten best airports for deals and can be reached in about three hours by car.

Examples of great deals from Norfolk:

3. Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids, Michigan

stats about GRR airport

Number of deals in the last year: 26

Gerald R. Ford airport is served by six airlines offering nonstop service to 29 destinations; unfortunately, all of them are in the US. There’s a concentration of destinations in Florida and on the East Coast, with a few cities served in the Midwest and western states. Luckily, Grand Rapids is located close to two major hubs for international flights: Detroit and Chicago, both of which are 2-3 hours away by car, bus, or train.

It takes even less time to fly (about 45 minutes) and routing through one of these cities opens up the possibilities for deals exponentially. Detroit (DTW) sees about four times as many deals as Grand Rapids, and Chicago (ORD) receives more deals by a factor of more than 10.

Examples of great deals from Grand Rapids:

2. Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) in Panama City, Florida

stats about ECP airport

Number of deals in the last year: 26

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is one of the country’s newest commercial airports (it opened in 2010) though it isn’t very “international” at all. The airport is served by only four airlines—American, Southwest, Delta, and United—and offers direct flights to only eight US destinations: Austin, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, and St. Louis, so any international flight will have at least one connection. On average, it sees about two deals per month.

To find more cheap flights, look at deals from one of the cities connected to Panama City by a short flight, or consider a road trip. Orlando (MCO) and Tampa (TPA) are 5-6 hours away by car, and both airports get fantastic deals.

Examples of great deals from Panama City:

1.  Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) in Greensboro, North Carolina

stats about GSO airport

Number of deals in the last year: 22

Piedmont Triad International Airport serves central North Carolina, including Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem, and offers nonstop flights to 16 airports in the US: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Charlotte (CLT), Detroit (DTW), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Miami (MIA), New York (LGA), Newark (EWR), Orlando (SFB and MCO), Philadelphia (PHL), Tampa (TPA and PIE), and Washington, DC (IAD and DCA).

Those flights collectively amount to 280 takeoffs and landings per day, which sounds like a lot until you consider than Atlanta (ATL), one of the busiest airports in the country, sees around 2,700 arrivals and departures each day.

A lack of options translates to a lack of deals, with GSO seeing around two deals per month, on average. It’s not all doom and gloom though. The destinations served by nonstop flights from GSO are great hubs for catching sweet international deals; fly to one of those or look for deals out of Charlotte (CLT), a 90-minute drive from Greensboro.

Examples of great deals from Greensboro:

list of worst airports.

Methodology

Using a combination of technology and human-powered flight searching, the Flight Experts at Scott’s Cheap Flights look at thousands of possible airfare deals every week. Not all deals meet our standards (for example, flights on certain airlines like Spirit or Frontier, flights with inconvenient layovers, or flights with illogical routing). Still, we send more than 7,000 deals out to US-based members every year.

You’ll note that this figure of 7,000 deals per year breaks down to an average of 583 deals per month, yet the number of total deals in this list tallies far more than that. That’s because many deals are valid for multiple airports, so when we send a deal we’ll note the price for each of the airports where the deal is valid. For example, a recent deal for nonstop flights to London in the $300s/$400s was valid from nearly a dozen departure destinations across the US, so a flight like this would be included in the tally for multiple airports.

To reach our conclusions on the best and worst airports, we first determined our list of airports. We only looked at (1) commercial airports, (2) airports that serve metro areas of more than 1 million people, and (3) the 150 US airports we serve at Scott’s Cheap Flights. Note that some of these airports, while often named as international airports, don’t actually offer direct international flights; however, it’s still possible to travel internationally from these airports via a connection within the US.

Once we had our list of airports, we tallied up the total number of deal emails we sent to members departing from those airports in the past year. The airports that received the highest number of deals per year were deemed to be the best airports for cheap international flights. And the airports that received the lowest number of deal were deemed to be the worst airports for cheap international flights.

Last Updated 
June 26, 2019
The Best and Worst US Airports for Cheap International Flights in 2019
Scott Keyes
Co-Founder & CEO

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.

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