Government data shows smaller airports near big cities tend to have the cheapest tickets

If you’re looking for the cheapest airfares, there aren’t really any hard and fast rules to what you need to do. But, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently released average domestic ticket prices by airport for 2022 and that can provide some guidance on where to look for the best deals.

The general rule of thumb seems to be: smaller airports near larger metropolitan areas are your best bet for good prices while small, isolated airports tend to be more expensive.

However, travel experts tend to say that the best deal on airfare is the one that makes the most sense to you. Although larger airports can be more expensive than some secondary facilities based on the BTS data, there are some benefits that come with the higher prices. More daily departures mean if your flight gets canceled, you may have more flexibility to rebook without derailing your trip too much.

These were the 10 most and least expensive airports in 2022 according to BTS data. Where applicable, average fares for the nearest large airports are included in parentheses.

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10 least expensive airports in 2022

  1. San Bernardino, California (SBD) - $90.03 (LAX - $416.64)

  2. Santa Maria, California (SMX) - $105.67

  3. Ogden, Utah (OGD) - $109.16 (SLC - $420.30)

  4. Provo, Utah (PVU) - $126.81 (SLC - $420.30)

  5. Stockton, California (SCK)- $130.49 (OAK - $288.23)

  6. Concord, North Carolina (USA) - $133.49 (CLT - $444.42)

  7. Fort Collins/Loveland, Colorado (FNL) $136.38 (DEN - $341.22)

  8. Wilmington, Delaware (ILG) - $137.64 (PHL - $396.79)

  9. Trenton, New Jersey (TTN) - $143.60 (EWR- $403.22; PHL - $396.79)

  10. Hagerstown, Maryland (HGR) - $144.12 (BWI - $408.58)

Keep in mind: smaller airports tend to attract low-cost carriers, which have lower fares by nature, but they also typically have more limited destinations and fewer daily flights, which can account for some of the fare differences compared to larger airports.

An Allegiant Air flight takes off from the Provo Airport in Provo, Utah on Aug. 31, 2016. (Scott Sommerdorf/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

10 most expensive airports in 2022

  1. Adak Island, Alaska (ADK) - $856.76

  2. Cold Bay, Alaska (CDB) - $963.29

  3. Lanai, Hawaii (LNY) - $966.43

  4. St. Mary's, Alaska (KSM) - $986.00

  5. St. Paul, Alaska (SNP) - $993.67

  6. Sandpoint, Alaska (SDP) - $1,037.00

  7. Pago Pago (PPG) - $1,139.36

  8. Unalaska, Alaska (DUT) - $1,433.86

  9. Guam (GUM) - $1,589.24

  10. Aniak, Alaska (ANI) - $1,733.00

The airports in this category are primarily small, isolated airports with limited passenger numbers. Their distant locations and low traffic make flights more expensive to operate on a per-passenger basis.

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Zach Wichter is a travel reporter and columnist for USA TODAY based in New York. You can reach him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How can you find the cheapest flights? Look at smaller airports.