Have you ever noticed that certain airports are consistently more expensive than others? I certainly have. The good news is that our nearest airport offers generally competitive fares. The bad news is that I grew up near one of the country’s most expensive airports, so many of our family trips involve a choice between a steep airfare and a long, long, long drive.
With that as a backdrop, I thought I’d share this list of the country’s most expensive airports that I ran across in a recent issue of Forbes. Entries on this list are ranked based on the cost per mile travelled.
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (Covington, KY) — $0.48/mile
- Cherry Capital (Traverse City, MI) — $0.41/mile
- Tri-Cities Regional (Johnson City, TN) — $0.39/mile
- Columbia Metropolitan (Columbia, SC) — $0.39
- Duluth Intl. (Duluth, MN) — $0.38/mile
- Greenville-Spartanburg Intl. (Greenville-Spartanburg, SC) — $0.38/mile
- Shreveport Regional (Shreveport, LA) — $0.37/mile
- Yeager Airport (Charleson, WV) — $0.37/mile
- Douglas Intl. (Charlotte, NC) — $0.37/mile
- McGhee Tyson (Knoxville, TN) — $0.37/mile
- La Crosse Municipal (La Crosse, WI) — $0.36/mile
- Springfield-Branson National (Springfield, MO) — $0.36/mile
- Roanoke Regional (Roanoke, VA) — $0.36/mile
- MBS Intl. (Saginaw, MI) — $0.36/mile
- Fort Wayne Intl. (Fort Wayne, IN) — $0.36/mile
- Outagamie County Regional (Appleton, WI) — $0.36/mile
- Kahului Airport (Kahului, HI) — $0.36/mile
- Evansville Regional (Evansville, IN) — $0.35
- Panama City-Bay City Intl. (Panama City, FL) — $0.35
- Kona Intl. (Kona, HI;) — $0.35/mile
- Memphis Intl. (Memphis, TN) — $0.35/mile
- Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (Charlottesville, VA) — $0.35/mile
- Capital City Airport (Lansing, MI) — $0.35/mile
- Ronald Reagan Intl. (Washington, D.C.) — $0.35/mile
- Asheville Regional (Asheville, NC) — $0.34/mile
- Minneapolis-St. Paul Intl. (Minneapolis, MN) — $0.34/mile
- Chattanooga Metropolian (Chattanooga, TN) — $0.34/mile
- Hilo Intl. (Hilo, HI) — $0.34/mile
- O’Hare Intl. (Chicago, IL) — $0.34/mile
- Huntsville Intl. (Huntsville, AL) — $0.34/mile
- Bangor International (Bangor Maine) — $0.34/mile
For reference, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Intl. ($0.16/mile) Long Beach/Daugherty Field ($0.15/mile)m and Ted Stevens Anchorage Intl. ($0.14/mile) are amongst the country’s cheapest airports.
One of the things that you’ll notice is that the list is tilted toward smaller, regional airports — perhaps in part to the fact that these airports tend to specialize in shorter routes — there are a number of larger airports, as well. In most of these cases, you can see the effects of a lack of competition. For example, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, O’Hare International, and Minneapolis-St. Paul International are all major hubs whose gates are disproportionately controlled by a single airline.
So… What’s a savvy traveller to do?
As is the case with just about everything, you’ll get a better deal if you’re willing to shop around. If your nearest airport is a ripoff, perhaps you can drive slightly further to another airport in your area. Of course, that’s not always possible, so you might be stuck paying for the privilege of flying out of an overpriced airport. Beyond changing locations, your best bet is to be flexible with regard to times, dates, and airline of choice.