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Revealing the Most and Least Affordable Airports in North America 

You've got two types of people in this world. Your last-minute sprinters and your pre-flight relaxers. Whether you're dashing to catch the 'final call' or opting for a stress-free, pre-flight beer, one thing is for sure – airports are damn expensive.

As airline ticket prices soar by 25%—the largest increase since 1989— and summer is on the horizon, flyers are eager to save. We’ve identified the North American airports that hit customers’ wallets the hardest by collecting price data for hotel stays, parking, and a pint of beer. 

Key findings:

  • San Diego International (SAN) is the most expensive, averaging at a total spend of $574 (for 1 night hotel stay, 1 night parking, and 1 pint of beer) 
  • San Jose International (SJC) is the least expensive airport to visit, averaging at $105
  • Cancún International (CUN) is the priciest for a beer, at $14.92 ($6.90 more than the average)
  • Portland International (PDX) is the cheapest for a pint of beer, at $4.41
  • Nashville International (BNA) charges the most for 1 night parking at $40, whilst William P. Hobby (HOU) charges the least ($12)

Breaking Bank: Revealing the Top 10 Priciest Airports: 

With 2.2 billion North American passengers gearing up to take flight in 2024, we wanted to uncover which airports will put a dent in your vacation piggy bank. 

Leading the pack as North America’s priciest airport is San Diego International. Clocking in at an average total cost of $574.46 for the 3 factors considered. Looking to bunk nearby? Be ready to splurge, with an average hotel rate of $529 per night, a crazy $265 more than the average. Parking? Well, it’ll set you back $38, landing SAN in the top three for pricey parking spots. But fear not, beer lovers - your pre-flight beverage won’t break the bank here, coming in at a modest $7.46.

Next is Denver International Airport, where the average total for hotel, parking, and beer comes in at $514.74. They claim the second spot for the priciest airport hotels, ringing in at a hefty $477.33 per night. Need a parking spot? That’ll be $30 for the night. The good news? If you're fancying a frosty beverage before takeoff, you’ll be paying lower than the average, at $7.41 per beer.

Rounding off the top 3 priciest airports is Nashville International Airport. Compared to its pricey peers, you’ll save a couple of bucks on a beer here, averaging $5.91. If you’re hoping to skip the Uber queues, parking at BNA takes the gold as the most expensive among the bunch, clocking in at $40 per night. Need a place to crash before your flight? Prepare to dish out $403 for a nearby hotel. The total spend at BNA? $449.24 — and that's if you limit yourself to just one drink. 

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Wallet-Friendly Airports of North America: 

Claiming the crown as the cheapest airport, is San Jose International Airport. Its standout feature? Hotel prices at just $79, an impressive $152 less than the average. Thirsty travelers will be pleased, with beers priced at $7.75, while parking spots go for $18. That brings the grand total to $105.08 which is a wallet-friendly $159.17 below the average across all airports.

Taking the silver medal, we have William P. Hobby airport in Houston, Texas. This gem boasts the lowest parking fee at just $12. You’ll be paying a modest $7.95 per beer, and if you’re planning to catch some pre-flight Zs, a hotel will set you back $116.67, giving a total reasonable spend of $136.62.

Guadalajara International Airport in Mexico offers a sweet deal at $137.92 per visit, giving it the bronze title. Expect to pay around $111.33 per night at the closest hotel— $120.38 less than the norm and an eye-watering $417.67 less than San Diego International. Prepare to brace yourself, as beer here average $11.30, ranking it as the third most expensive for a brew.

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The Most and Least Expensive Airports for a Beer: 

After battling through the queues and chaos of check-in, there’s nothing better than a cold, refreshing pre-flight beverage. The average cost of a beer across North America’s 50 airports analyzed is $8.02. But you’ll be forking out a crazy $14.92 at Cancún International, $12.41 in New York City at LaGuardia airport, and finally - $11.30 at Guadalajara International in Mexico. Cheers to that, or maybe not with those prices.

If the airport watering hole is on your travel agenda, we advise you to head over to Portland International, charging just $4.41 per beer. Followed closely by Salt Lake City International, at $5.10. Finally, North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International, where you’ll be paying $5.60 per beer.

The Most and Least Expensive Airports for a hotel: 

When it comes to nearby hotels, the average cost for one night across all 50 airports is $264.25. San Diego International takes the top spot with an average of $529 per night, followed by Denver International at $477.33, and Nashville International at $403.33. For budget-friendly stays, San Jose International offers a steal at $79.33 per night, followed by William P. Hobby Airport at $116.67, and Mexico’s Guadalajara International at $111.33.

The Most and Least Expensive Airports for parking:

Jetting off with your car parked conveniently nearby is a traveler's dream, but when it comes to pricing, it’s not always a smooth ride. The average across all 50 airports is $24.51. Denver and Nashville International top the list at $40 for overnight parking, followed closely by Miami International at $39, and San Francisco and San Diego International at $38 each. On the flip side, William P. Hobby Airport offers the cheapest parking at just $12. Cancún is second at $13.14, followed by Tampa International and Raleigh-Durham at $14 each. 


There’s nothing more exciting than exploring a new vacation destination, but the costs incurred at the airport are enough to dampen your excitement. So, wherever you are traveling this year, don't forget to factor in those sneaky wallet-denting extras.  


We used Wikipedia’s list of the 50 busiest North America airports and manually gathered price data for beer pricing, parking and hotels to establish the ranking.

  • Prices for beer were gathered from three different drink menus offered by each airport, these were then averaged together. A 20oz Budweiser was used as standard. 
  • For airport hotels, we used Booking.com. Hotels were filtered by their ‘distance from the airport’ and we averaged the prices of the three closest in proximity. 
  • Airport parking pricing was gathered from each airport website, where available - economy parking was selected. 

Airports were ranked from most to least expensive based on the average cost of a visit to each airport (1 night parking, 1 night hotel and 1 pint of beer).

The data gathered for both hotels and parking were based on the same date to ensure continuity (July 26th – 27th 2024).

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