I live less than 30 minutes away from a perfectly good airport. However, when I travel I often drive to airports in neighboring states. Why? Because departing from an airport just two to three hours away from home can save me as much as $600 on an international flight and $300 on a domestic flight.
When researching flights online, I always mark the box that gives the option of checking multiple airports. Many major cities have more than one. For example, if you fly into or out of Chicago, you can choose between Midway and O’Hare.
As lovely and convenient as our Indianapolis airport is, I rarely fly out of it. I usually find better rates out of Cincinnati but research is key. Sometimes the Cincinnati rates are only about $50 cheaper than Indy, so I’ll pass on those. It’s not worth the cost of gas to drive two hours for that slight difference.
Airfare shouldn’t be the only consideration. Ground transportation can be a principal factor. If someone can drop you off at your home airport and you don’t have to pay for long-term parking, it might be better to do that than drive two hours and then pay for parking.
Convenience can be important, too. When flying to D.C. for a conference a few years ago, I had the choice of landing at Dulles or Reagan. The Dulles flights were cheaper but Reagan was closer to the conference. I could take the subway straight from Reagan to my hotel. That saved me both time and money after landing, so I was willing to pay a slightly higher airfare in that instance.
When you’re booking your flights, a little flexibility can save you a lot of money. Just be sure to weigh all the factors (length of drive, cost of gas, cost of parking and convenience) to make sure that the money you save on airfare is more than any additional costs you might incur on the ground.