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The best airports for cheap flights abroad, according to new data

Skipping your home airport could score you a better deal, a study from Scott’s Cheap Flights shows

Washington Dulles International Airport. (Skyhobo/Getty Images)

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport saw the most discounts on international flights out of the United States over the past year, according to an analysis by Scott’s Cheap Flights.

The company, known for sending its members insider tips on flight deals, analyzed 182 U.S. airports to determine where it shared the most and least discounts on economy-class fares, compiling them into a report released late last month. From August 2021 to August 2022, some airports averaged more than one deal per day, making them ideal for travelers who do not have a particular destination in mind. Others saw only a few discounted fares each month.

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Even if your home airport is among the worst for cheap flights abroad, you’re probably not more than a short flight away from one of the top 10, the report notes. Consider driving or booking the domestic leg separately to take advantage of a deal.

With countries such as Japan and Canada dropping coronavirus restrictions and a busy holiday season ahead, here’s where the experts say you should look for the cheapest international flights.

Best airports for cheap international flights

The analysis from Scott’s found that JFK sees far and away the most international flight deals, with 475 in the past year, nearly 10 percent higher than Scott’s shared from the No. 2 airport on its list.

An American and Delta hub, JFK is the United States’ busiest international airport, with more than 70 airlines serving about 110 foreign cities, Scott’s said. That plethora of flights drives down prices, with the average round trip over the past year coming in at $413, according to Scott’s.

Taking second was Dulles, the D.C. area’s primary international gateway, ahead of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. The report found 433 deals at Dulles in the past year, with an average round trip costing $449. The United hub offers flights to 53 international destinations, Scott’s said, and will soon be linked by train to downtown D.C. by the Silver Line extension.

O’Hare came in third place with 423 deals in the past year and an average round-trip cost of $429. Rounding out the top 10 are: Newark Liberty International at 415 deals, Los Angeles International at 409 deals, Boston Logan International at 389 deals, San Francisco International at 380 deals, Miami International at 375 deals, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International at 299 deals and Philadelphia International at 289 deals.

With the exception of Chicago and Atlanta, the top 10 airports are on the coasts. But all are hubs for major U.S. airlines, the report notes, making them easy to access from almost anywhere.

Worst airports for international flight deals

The report also analyzed which airports are least likely to have a deal on an international flight. Passengers who fly out of these airports might consider traveling to a hub or booking early, because some of these see as few as one flight deal a week on average.

The worst airport in the report for international travel deals was Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, serving Panama City, Fla. It lacks any direct international connections, and only saw 62 deals in the past year, according to the report. As an alternative, airports in Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa are about five or six hours away by car and see many more deals.

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The report examined airports in metro areas with more than 700,000 people, meaning many of the worst airports for international deals were small regional airports, such as Columbia, S.C., and Fresno, Calif. Still, several major airports made the list, such as Honolulu and Salt Lake City.

Honolulu, the report notes, tends to see deals to Asia and Oceania, but many of those destinations have been closed to Americans because of coronavirus restrictions over the past year, leaving HNL with only 65 deals over that period. Salt Lake City is a Delta hub but primarily caters to domestic traffic, so it only saw 98 international deals in the past year.

Other medium-size airports where passengers might want to avoid for international flights are Oakland, Sacramento and Oklahoma City, according to Scott’s.

Best flight deals for fall

Looking for a last-minute foreign getaway this fall? Your best options for a deal in October are Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Toronto and Montreal; and Lisbon, according to Hayley Berg, an economist at the travel-booking app Hopper.

Prices for October flights to Ho Chi Minh City from Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are down more than 50 percent from 2021, with average fares around $700, Berg said.

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For travelers departing in October from New York City, Boston and Miami, flights to Montreal and Toronto are more than 30 percent cheaper than last year, costing just over $200. Lisbon flights are cheapest from San Francisco and Chicago, costing as low as $391 round trip.

Other destinations seeing steep drops in fares compared with last year are Ponce, Puerto Rico; Monterrey, Mexico; and Tahiti, according to Berg.

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