Have you ever used a well-known travel search to look for a regional small airport? Maybe you wanted to fly to a destination that’s not mainstream? Or to fly to a large city, but a suburban airport like Midway vs Chicago O’Hare or Beauvais vs Paris de Gaulle or Toronto Island vs Pearson International. It can be difficult to find these flights when using tools like Kayak, Expedia or Priceline. That’s why we decided to figure out the best tactics for finding flights to lesser-known small airports.
First, Why use Smaller Airports?
Many people, including myself, prefer to fly in and out of regional airports. Low-cost airlines such as Allegiant, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest, etc. use smaller hubs because the taxes and fees are lower so they can pass the competitive pricing along to their passengers.
Passengers not only win by paying lower fares, but typically these airports are less busy, the staff friendlier, and the airport is easier to maneuver through.
Finding Flights to Regional Hubs
So how DO you find flights to these airports? We’ve found these tactics provide the best results when searching for obscure airports.
Somewhat like reverse engineering, start at the end:
- From your browser, navigate to the airport you want to fly to. If you don’t know whether an airport exists for this location, search that too.
- Once you find the airport, go to their Arrivals page.
- Make note of which cities their Arrivals are coming from.
- Then check the Arrivals for every day of that week.
- Keep in mind, flight schedules may change on a seasonal basis.
This article by Smarter Travel also offers fringe airport alternatives to U.S. airports. As well, the article suggests two additional methods for finding alternate small airports:
- “Check the flight maps of the “alternate airlines.” The airlines most likely to fly to these no-hassle airports are sometimes the most-hassle airlines (the fee-crazy Spirit Airlines comes to mind), but not always, with Southwest and JetBlue the most notable exceptions. From there, check the route maps of Allegiant, Frontier, Porter, Spirit and the various “Connection” and “Express” adjuncts of the majors.”
- “Use the “nearby airport” search function available on most major flight booking sites. You can often find great options there.” For example, when searching “airports near Orlando” I found Sanford/ SFB, and “airports near Sedona AZ” presented Flagstaff / FLG
Find Alternative Airports using Opptee Travel Search
Many of the best-known travel search engines like Expedia and Priceline don’t include discount airlines and therefore don’t include small airports in search results. However, Opptee does!
Using Opptee, just key in the regional small airport and then search on discount airlines like Southwest, Allegiant, or JetBlue.
A whole new travel world will open up once you start flying into small airports. These airports may even re-invigorate your love of flying.
Read more about the pros and cons of fringe airports.