Reports

The Best and Worst US Airports for Cheap International Flights in 2021

By
Scott Keyes
|
Founder & Chief Flight Expert
August 10, 2021
|
14 min read

The team of Flight Experts at Scott’s Cheap Flights spends hundreds of hours every week searching for flight deals. In the first six months of 2021, we sent thousands of emails with flight deals from 168 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 international economy 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 flights. 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 239 deals in the first six months of this year—more than one deal per day on average—and others in the top ten received more than 23 deals per month on average. 

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

Deals: 140,SCF average price: $490,SCF lowest price: $133

The fourth-largest busiest in the US by passenger traffic, DFW has nonstop flights to more than 70 international destinations on all continents except Africa and Antarctica. It’s one of only a few airports that service more than 200 direct destinations (in total, including domestic) and all those routes mean travelers typically have a lot of cheap flights available to them. 

DFW is also the largest hub for American Airlines and also is a hub for Spirit Airlines and focus city for Sun Country (though we don’t send SCF members deals on those two airlines). It’s also served by 21 other airlines, many of which try to undercut American’s prices and help keep fares low. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Dallas: 

Deals: 150, SCF average price: $473. SCF lowest price: $133

Philadelphia’s airport is the largest in the state of Pennsylvania but only the 20th-busiest airport in the US. It’s the fifth-largest hub for American Airlines and a focus city for Frontier. It’s served by 25 airlines flying to more than 140 destinations in 38 countries on direct flights—mostly in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. While it doesn’t have the breadth of options DFW has, when other airlines compete against American, it can help drive prices down and keep deals popping up. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Philadelphia: 

Deals: 239, SCF average price: $493, SCF lowest price: $125

The largest airport in New England and the 14th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights, Boston Logan is a Transatlantic hub for Delta and operating base for JetBlue and is served by an additional 40 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Boston: 

Deals: 168, SCF average price: $479, SCF lowest price: $133

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. It’s also served by another 45+ airlines, which helps keep prices down. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from San Francisco: 

Deals: 201, SCF average price: $456, SCF lowest price: $127

Miami is the 15th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights—and the third-busiest by international passenger traffic. It’s served by 46 airlines and is 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 in 60+ countries, 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Miami: 

Deals: 204, SCF average price: $470, SCF lowest price: $157

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 53 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 34 per month, on average. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Dulles: 

Deals: 207, SCF average price: $489, SCF lowest price: $178

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, United, and JetBlue and a focus city for Allegiant, and Southwest.

More than 60 international airlines serve the airport, with direct flights to more than 90 destinations in 46 countries. All those flights mean more chances for deals, so it’s not surprising that, on average, we see 35 international and domestic deals per month out of LAX.  

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Los Angeles: 

Deals: 208, SCF average price: $479, SCF lowest price: $157

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 50 international destinations on more than 45 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Chicago: 

Deals: 208, SCF average price: $460, SCF lowest price: $125

A major hub for United, Newark is the 11th-busiest airport in the US by number of flights and is served by more than 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Newark: 

Deals: 239, SCF average price: $493, SCF lowest price: $125

JFK is a 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 110 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 international flights from JFK than any other airport—about 14% 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from NYC: 

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), Las Vegas (LAS), Minneapolis (MSP), Tampa (TPA), Pittsburgh (PIT), Phoenix (PHX), San Diego (SAN), and Portland (PDX) all receive at least 3-4 deals in an average week. 

Even the 10 airports on our “worst” list still receive about 1-2 deals in the average week. Meaning, there’s a whole lot of airports on the list before the international deals start dwindling. 

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 Aspen, Colorado 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 direct flights typically translates to a lack of competition and 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 at least four international 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. 

Deals: 64, SCF average price: $483, SCF lowest price: $224

It’s not surprising that Albany receives fewer than 10 international 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Albany:

Deals: 64, SCF average price: $529, SCF lowest price: $295

Piedmont Triad International Airport serves central North Carolina, including Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem, and offers nonstop flights to 13 airports in the US: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Charlotte (CLT), Detroit (DTW), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Miami (MIA), New York (LGA), Orlando (SFB and MCO), Philadelphia (PHL), St. Pete-Clearwater (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 that 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. First, GSO was actually our very worst airport when we did these rankings in 2019, so deals have increased in the last two years. Second, 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. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Greensboro:

Deals: 63, SCF average price: $502, SCF lowest price: $260

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 10 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 more than double the amount of deals, or a short flight to hubs like Atlanta (ATL) or Chicago (ORD).

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Oklahoma City:

Deals: 61, SCF average price: $521, SCF lowest price: $259

Omaha’s Eppley Airfield may be the largest airport in Nebraska, but it has no direct international flights and only seven airlines. Cheap international flights aren’t as prevalent as in bigger cities, but we do find some (about 10 per month, on average) and the good news is that travelers departing from Omaha can get just about anywhere in one or two hops. Nonstop flights to Chicago or Dallas, two spots on our best list, take less than two hours and often cost less than $200. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Omaha:

Deals: 58, SCF average price: $529, SCF lowest price: $288

Memphis is the busiest cargo airport in the US, but that doesn’t translate to passenger numbers or deals. The only direct international flight is to Cancun and it’s only served by eight airlines. Still, we find 9-10 deals per month, to destinations around the world, usually with one stop. If you can’t find a great deal, another option is to drive to Nashville which gets about 40% more deals, or hop a short direct flight to Chicago, Dallas, Miami, or DC, and connect from there. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Memphis:

Deals: 58, SCF average price: $455, SCF lowest price: $236

Providence’s small PVD airport only serves one international destination (Toronto) and a handful of domestic ones, mostly in the Midwest and on the East Coast. But, Boston Logan and Hartford’s Bradley airport are both about 90 minutes away, and Boston sees about three times the number of deals. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Providence:

Deals: 57, SCF average price: $529, SCF lowest price: $276

Sacramento is the capital of California, and while it’s considered the gateway to central Northern California, that doesn’t translate into a lot of flight options. Its only direct international flights go to Canada (Vancouver) and Mexico, though it offers direct service to 37 domestic destinations on more than a dozen airlines. 

The good news: It’s less than two hours by car to Oakland or San Francisco, which get a lot more deals, or you can hop a quick connection to a larger hub like LA, Denver, Dallas, or Vegas. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Omaha:

Deals: 55, SCF average price: $486, SCF lowest price: $232

CVG only offers direct international flights to Mexico. For anywhere else outside the US, you’ll have a connection. Until 2015, Delta operated over 75% of flights at CVG. While more low-cost carriers have moved in since, and American has plans to open more routes later this year, the lack of routes, airlines, and competition means deals aren’t as frequent here as other, bigger hubs.

Indianapolis and Dayton (both under two hours away) offer additional chances to score a great deal, or you can look at flying to another major Midwest city like Chicago or Detroit, where international deals are a lot more frequent.  

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Omaha:

Deals: 45, SCF average price: $547, SCF lowest price: $293

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 12 US destinations: Austin, Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, so any international flight will have at least one connection. On average, it sees about seven 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.

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Panama City:

Deals: 24, SCF average price: $523, SCF lowest price: $359

Flights from Long Beach Airport fly to 15+ destinations in the US, but it’s only served by four airlines 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—nearly ten times the number LGB receives; in fact LAX is number four on our list of best airports for international flight deals. 

Actual deals we've flagged for Scott's Cheap Flights members from Long Beach:

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). 

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 168 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 deals were deemed to be the worst airports for cheap international flights. 

Join Scott's Cheap Flights and save an average of $550 on international economy flights.

Last Updated 
August 10, 2021
The Best and Worst US Airports for Cheap International Flights in 2021
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert

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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