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Everything You Need to Know About Finding Cheap Flights to the United States of America

Scott Keyes
By 
Scott Keyes
Co-Founder & CEO
11 min read
Last updated 
September 20, 2019

More than 75 million international visitors head to the United States each year, flying through one of its many major airports. The US is a one-stop shop when it comes to planning a vacation—you can take nearly any kind of trip you want, whether you’re looking for skiing or beaches, museums or theme parks, wide open plains or dramatic mountains. Plus, it’s home to some of the most famous cities in the world, including New York and Los Angeles. 

To help you plan your trip to America, we’ve put together this guide covering which airlines to fly, which airports to fly into, and when you should visit to stick to your budget.

How much does it cost to fly to America?

Of course, the price varies widely depending on where in the US you’re going and where you’re coming from, including which region, country, and the particular airport. Seasonality also has an effect (flights in summer and over the holidays are the most expensive, for example). Still, we can offer a few general price ranges by departure region. 

  • The average cost of a flight to the US from Europe ranges from €400 to €800. A good deal on a flight to the US from Europe is €200 to €500.
  • The average cost of a flight to the US from Africa or the Middle East ranges from $700 to $1400. A good deal on a flight to the US from Africa or the Middle East is $350 to $900.
  • The cost of flights from Asia to the US ranges greatly depending on where in Asia. The average cost of a flight to the US from East Asia ranges from $600 to $1100. A good deal on a flight to the US from East Asia is $300 to $700. The average cost of a flight to the US from Southeast Asia ranges from $800 to $1200. A good deal on a flight to the US from Southeast Asia is $400 to $700. And, the average cost of a flight to the US from South Asia ranges from $900 to $1600, while a good deal on a flight to the US from South Asia is $600 to $800.
  • The average cost of a flight to the US from Mexico or Central America ranges from $300 to $600. A good deal on a flight to the US from Mexico or Central or South America $100 to $300
  • The average cost of a flight to the US from South America ranges from $400 to $1,100. A good deal on a flight to the US from Mexico or Central or South America $300 to $600. 
  • The average cost of a flight to the US from Australia or New Zealand ranges from $1400 to $1800. A good deal on a flight to the US from Australia or New Zealand is $700 to $1100.
  • The average cost of a flight to the US from the Caribbean ranges from $300 to $600. A good deal on a flight to the US from the Caribbean is $100 to $300.

Here are some deals we've sent members for flights to the US: 

When is the cheapest month to fly to America?

In general, the cheapest months to fly to the US are January and February, which are part of the winter low season for the majority of the US. 

You can find great deals just about any time of year. Summer (June-August) and the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays tend to be the most expensive times to fly.

Where should I go in America?

NYC skyline.
New York City is a popular destination

The US is a massive country with vastly different destinations within its borders.

Its major cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC are always a draw for their cultural offerings and vibrant dining and drinking scenes. You’ll also find great international connections in these destinations.

If you’re interested in visiting major theme parks, you’ll want to head to Orlando, Florida, home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld; or to southern California, which has Disneyland, Universal Studios, LEGOLAND, Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld, and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

For beach lovers, there is a wide range of options: head to the West Coast for surfing, Florida for powdery white sand, the East Coast for historic boardwalks; and the Gulf Coast for a laid-back vacation.

Folks looking to ski or hike the mountains, can visit the Rockies in the Western US for the most impressive landscapes, or upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine for the East Coast peaks. You could also visit Hawaii for volcanoes and Alaska for glaciers.

Across the entirety of the US, you’ll find plenty of wildlife and nature. The Northeast is filled with forests and small mountains; the Southwest has dramatic rocky landscapes and deserts; the Pacific Northwest is dotted with volcanoes and temperate rainforests; and the South has bayous, beaches, and the Everglades. Look into visiting different National Parks for the best taste of landscapes in the US.

The US might not be a very old country, but there’s plenty of history to be found. For US history, visit Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. For history that predates the founding of the country, try cities like San Antonio or New Orleans.

Airports in the United States of America

What’s the cheapest city to fly into the US?

There’s no single cheapest city to fly into the US (though major hubs like LAX, SFO, EWR, JFK, and MIA are typically among the best options). It can greatly depend on where you’re coming from, if that airport has direct flights, and if there’s a lot of competition for that specific route. 

We can make some generalizations, though. From Asia and Oceania, you’ll typically find better deals to the West Coast of the US (LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland), while the best deals from Latin America tend to be to major hubs in the south and on the East Coast (DC, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New York). 

You can typically find great deals on flights from Europe to major cities throughout the country (LA, San Francisco, NYC, Boston, DC, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago). From Africa, the cheapest US cities to fly to tend to be New York, Boston, and DC. And from Canada, you’ll save by flying to a city on the same coast. 

>> Read about the best and worst airports for cheap flights in the US

When should I go to the US?

When is the best time to go to the United States?

The best time to visit the US depends on what you’re planning to do once you’re there. If you’re seeking out snow, you’ll want to visit the northern states between November and March. These are also good months to visit the south if you’re looking for milder temperatures. The Pacific Northwest and West Coast often have cooler weather, but are quite temperate year-round. 

If you’re looking for fun in the sun, the North American summer—June through August—is the prime time to visit. Temperatures in the South, Midwest, and Northeast, however, can be extremely hot. Each region varies seasonally, so be sure to research the weather in your specific destination before you book your trip.

When is high season and low season?

High season in the US is typically the summer (June through August) as well as during the holidays in December. Winter is typically low season especially the months of January and February, but you’ll still find many travelers visiting ski destinations and the Florida beaches.

What are the major holidays and festivals in the US?

When booking your travel to the US, keep in mind major holidays and festivals, including Easter, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. 

There’s also Spring Break for schools and universities, which typically takes place in March or April (every school district picks a different week). There are also regional festivities to consider, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, music festivals like Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and major sporting events like the New York City marathon, the Super Bowl, and the World Series.

When is the cheapest month to buy a flight to the US?

While the cheapest months to fly to the US are January and February, there’s no best time to purchase flights; you can find deals all year round.

How should I get to the United States of America?

Airlines that fly to the US

Numerous airlines fly to the US. The country’s major carriers are American, Delta, and United, though some of its smaller carriers and budget airlines fly internationally, too, including Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and Sun Country. Most major international carriers fly into the US.

Among the airlines that fly from Africa and the Middle East to the US are: Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Egyptair, El Al Israel, Emirates, Ethiopian, Etihad, Kenya Airways, KLM,  Kuwait Airways, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, South African Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic. 

Some of the airlines that fly from Asia to the US include Air China, Air India, Air Seychelles, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Asiana, AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta Air Lines, EVA Air, Hainan, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Singapore, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Uzbekistan Airways, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen. 

Airlines flying from Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania to the US include Air Tahiti Nui, Air New Zealand, Air Canada, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Fiji Airways, Qantas, United Airlines, and Virgin Australia.  

The airlines that fly from Canada to the US include Air Canada, Porter, and WestJet. 

From Europe to the US, some of the airlines offering flights include Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Air Belgium, Air Europa, Air France, Air Italy, Air Serbia, Alitalia, Austrian, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines, Eurowings, Finnair, French Bee, Iberia, Icelandair, KLM, La Compagnie, LEVEL, LOT, Lufthansa, Montenegro Airlines, Norwegian Air,  Royal Air Maroc, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), SWISS, TAP Air Portugal, Thomas Cook, TUI, Turkish, Ukraine International Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and XL Airways.

The airlines that fly from Latin America and the Caribbean to the US include Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Avianca, Azul, Bahamasair, Caribbean Airlines, Cayman Airways, Copa, Interjet, Gol, LATAM, and Volaris.

>> Read about the best budget airlines to fly to or from the US

How to get to the USA as cheaply as possible

The best way to get to the United States cheaply is to be flexible with your travel plans; choosing different dates will often yield cheaper options. 

Another tip is to split your route into two different segments in what we call “the Greek Islands trick.” Book one roundtrip flight to a major hub in the US—something like JFK, LAX, or ATL—then a separate roundtrip flight to your final destination within the US. This can be cheaper than booking one airline all the way through to your final destination. Or, book a flight from your airport to a major hub in your region, and then another flight from that hub to the US. 

That said, there are some pitfalls to this method, namely that if your incoming flight is delayed and you miss your second flight, the airline for your second flight is not required to rebook you (whereas if you book on one airline straight through and a delay makes you miss the second flight, the airline will secure new flights to get you to your final destination). 

Make sure you allot plenty of time to get through customs and immigration, retrieve a checked bag and recheck if needed, and go back through security—and pad extra time for unexpected delays. 

The best American cities for layovers

Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco is a great city for a layover

Even if the US isn’t your final destination, you might have to take a layover in one of its airports if you’re flying between:

  • Latin America and Asia (common layover spots are LAX and SFO)
  • Latin America and Oceania (common layover spots are also LAX, SFO, DFW, and IAH)
  • Canada and Latin America (DFW, IAH, LAX, MIA, FLL, JFK, LGA, and others)
  • Canada and the Caribbean (MIA, FLL)
  • and occasionally between Canada and Oceania or Asia (LAX, SFO).

If your final destination is in the US, but isn’t a major city, you’ll likely have to take a layover as well. Some popular second-tier cities in the US that might require a layover include Las Vegas, New Orleans, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Austin. You might also need to take a layover if you’re flying to the East Coast from Asia, even if you’re flying into a hub like JFK, as there aren’t many nonstop routes. 

The good news: if you have a layover of six or more hours (depending on the airport) you could squeeze in some sightseeing in a new city. Here are some of the best cities for long layovers. 

New York, New York

The greater NYC area’s three airports are among some of the busiest in the country and are major gateways for international flights, so layovers there are pretty common. It is relatively easy, albeit time-consuming, to get to the city from the airports via public transportation, but once you’re there, it’s very easy to take in a couple of sights—such as the Empire State Building and Grand Central or Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art—in a few hours.

Denver, Colorado

From Denver airport, a convenient train takes you to downtown Denver’s Union Station in just 37 minutes. You’ll find plenty of entertainment nearby, including the 16th Street pedestrian mall and plenty of pubs where you can grab a pint of Colorado’s famous craft beer.

Chicago, Illinois

It takes about 40 minutes to ride the train from O’Hare airport to Chicago’s Loop, where you can catch such famous sights as the Bean, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Willis Tower all within easy walking distance (and fuel up on some famous deep dish pizza). 

Boston, Massachusetts

BOS airport is extremely close to downtown Boston, and there’s even a free shuttle bus (the Silver Line). If you’re visiting outside of rush hour, a cab ride will only take 10 to 15 minutes. In a few hours, you can check out historical sites like the Paul Revere House, Faneuil Hall, and the Freedom Trail, which are all clustered downtown. 

Washington, DC

Most international travelers on a layover will be flying into IAD, which is not very close to Washington DC and not accessible via easy public transport, which means you’ll need a longer layover to really see much of DC. However, if you have a shorter layover, you check out the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which is less than 10 minutes by cab from the airport. 

Miami, Florida

With a layover of a few hours, you could pop out of the airport for a quick visit to Little Havana to sample Cuban cuisine and pick up a few cigars. With a longer layover, head to the artsy Wynwood Walls to see murals or trek a little farther and hit the famous white sand of Miami Beach. 

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu is a nice halfway point between Australia (and New Zealand) and the US, and some routes include long layovers there. The airport sits between Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor, so you have plenty of options for activities with a few hours. 

San Francisco, California 

Downtown San Francisco is just a 30-minute train from SFO, so if you’ve got more than 6-8 hours, you can easily head downtown and check out the view of the Bay and have a meal at the Ferry Building, a market filled with shops and restaurants. With more time, take a ride on one of the city’s famous cable cars, or watch the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Los Angeles, California

LA is a sprawling city, so unless you have a full day, don’t try to pack in too much on your layover. Stick close to LAX and head to oceanside neighborhoods like Venice Beach or Santa Monica, both of which make for some prime people watching on the beach. If you do have more time, check out attractions like Griffith Park or the Walk of Fame, which are about an hour’s drive from the airport. 

Houston, Texas

It’s about 20 miles from George Bush International Airport to downtown Houston where you can check out sights like the Houston Zoo or Museum of Fine Arts. On a shorter layover, stick closer to the airport;  the Mercer Botanic Gardens make for a relaxing break to stretch your legs.

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Last Updated 
September 5, 2019
Everything You Need to Know About Finding Cheap Flights to the United States of America
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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