We’re big proponents of travel hacks -- tips and tricks that make traveling cheaper and easier. But the best hack of ’em all isn’t even a hack; it's just knowing a little geography. And which cities have secondary airports or are close to another town you can fly into. It might mean a longer drive -- or a short train/bus ride -- when you arrive, but the savings are often well worth it.
And so that you have a better idea next time you select "Include nearby airports" in your online flight search, here's a list of top alternate airports in the US based on both distance and average airfares.
Instead try: Dallas Love Field Airport, TX Distance: 6mi (compared to 19mi from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) Instead of flying into Dallas' Fort Worth, check out Dallas Love Field; it's only six miles from the city's central business district, is easily accessible by public transportation, and is serviced by Southwest Airlines, and Delta.
You're going to: San Francisco, CA
Instead try: Oakland International Airport, CA Distance: 20mi (compared to 12mi from San Francisco International Airport) Although it's increasingly becoming as congested as the SFO, Metropolitan Oakland International is still the 12th cheapest airport in the country. Plus, you can take the BART train to its AirBART shuttle for only $4 one way. Or just take the BART to one of these bars.
You're going to: Los Angeles, CA
Instead try: Long Beach Airport, CA Distance: 23mi (compared to 18mi from LAX) There’re no shortage of alternate airports around LA, but Long Beach is your move. While it doesn't service a huge number of destinations, its arrival/departure stats (86%) are solid and it offers easy access to public transportation -- you can take Amtrak, Metrolink, or hop on the Metro Blue Line to the Long Beach Transit Bus. Secondary, secondary airport: Burbank Bob Hope Airport (16 miles from downtown LA). Twenty-nine direct destinations and, if you rent from AVIS, one of those insanely awesome rental car setups where you walk out of the terminal and are pretty much IN your car.
You're going to: Miami, FL
Instead try: Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, FL, or Palm Beach International Airport, FL Distance: 28mi and 69 miles respectively (compared to 7mi from Miami International Airport) Palm Beach International Airport is the 23rd cheapest airport in the country, while Ft. Lauderdale ranks 37th. And you can take the Tri-Rail to Miami for $5.50 from either airport.
Instead try: Baltimore Washington International Airport, MD Distance: 35mi (compared to 28mi from Washington Dulles) Smaller than Washington's secondary airport, Dulles, BWI's one of Southwest's focus cities/hubs and an easy Amtrak or bus ride down to DC. It also offers easy access to an Orioles game, which you should absolutely do, 'cause Camden Yards is awesome.
You're going to: New York, NY
Instead try: Long Island MacArthur Airport, NY Distance: 52mi (compared to 13mi from JFK) New York’s airports are infamous for being the demon monsters you have to slay before enjoying your vacation, so any alternative is a good one. MacArthur Airport in Long Island is small, but serviced by both Southwest and U.S. Airways, and easily accessible by Long Island Rail Road for about $13.
You're going to: Boston, MA
Instead try: T. F. Green International Airport in Providence, RI Distance: 59mi (compared to 4mi from Logan) The airport in Providence may offer fewer destinations than Boston’s Logan Airport, but it's cheaper, serviced by big guns like US Airways, United, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest, and has an 83% on-time departure rate. Secondary, secondary airport: Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH. It's only 52 miles from Boston and also services the big carriers.
You're going to: Denver, CO
Instead try: Colorado Springs Airport, CO Distance: 80mi (compared to 35mi from Denver International Airport) With only 9,100 flights per year (compared to Denver’s 224,200) and a 79% on-time departure rate, Colorado Springs is a consistently popular alternative. They're also a bunch of different bus and shuttle options to help get you to Coors Field, or at least into Denver proper.
Instead try: Milwaukee County’s General Mitchell International Airport, WI Distance: 85mi (compared to 17mi from O'Hare) You might think it’s weird to fly into a major city that's not your destination, but let's be honest, Chicago’s airports ARE THE WORST. Milwaukee's airfares are consistently lower, plus, you can take Amtrak from the airport to Chicago Union Station for only $24.
You're going to: Atlanta, GA
Instead try: Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport, Alabama Distance to downtown: 144mi (compared to 9mi from Hartsfield–Jackson) Trade one of the world’s busiest airports for one of America’s cheapest. Airfares into Birmingham are known to be lower than the national average and will often beat fares into Atlanta, even when you add in the cost of a rental car. You can also take the Megabus to downtown Atlanta for around $21, or, if you time your trip right, catch the once-a-day Amtrak.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Midwest Airlines still flies out of Milwaukee. It does not, because it merged with Frontier Airlines.