Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
The Cost of Parking at Major U.S. Airports [2023 Data Study]
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Once hotel reservations are made and flights are booked, there’s still one major logistics puzzle to solve — airport transportation. The choice often boils down to driving yourself or opting for an Uber to avoid daily parking fees.
To put an end to the ongoing debate on which is more cost-effective, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis comparing the expenses of leaving your car at the airport versus relying on Uber for transportation. Our study covers 50 of the busiest U.S. airports, considering both long weekend trips and full-week stays. Keep reading to uncover the definitive answer to this travel quandary.
- The airport with the most expensive parking fees is San Diego International Airport (SAN), with an average full-day rate of $38 for economy parking options.
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI) offers the cheapest airport parking with an average full-day rate of $7.50 for economy parking options.
- It is cheaper to Uber to/from the airport than to park for a long weekend at 14 of the 50 largest U.S. airports.
To Park or To Uber, That Is the Question
A quick weekend getaway is often the perfect remedy for wanderlust, allowing you to explore new destinations without missing a beat at work. However, with airline ticket prices soaring by 25% since 2022, savvy travelers are keen to save wherever they can.
Our investigation delved into the parking costs of the ”economy” or equivalent options at the 50 busiest U.S. airports, specifically focusing on the expenses for a long weekend trip (Friday to Monday). We then compared these figures to the round-trip Uber costs to and from the center of the nearest city.
Here are the top 5 airports showcasing the highest price differences:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) — price difference: $88.94
- San Diego International Airport (SAN) — price difference of $82.12
- Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) — price difference of $71.88
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) — price difference of $69.12
- Logan International Airport (BOS) — price difference of $60.82
When it comes to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), opting for a long weekend parking spot is the more economical choice compared to taking an Uber. Parking for an extended weekend will set you back $105, whereas a round-trip Uber ride to and from the airport comes to $193.94 — resulting in a price difference of $88.94 (in favor of parking).
When flying out of San Diego International Airport (SAN), choosing a round-trip Uber ride is the more cost-effective option than parking your car for a long weekend. Parking at SAN for an extended weekend will set you back $114, while opting for Uber comes to only $31.88 — leading to a substantial price difference of $82.12 (in favor of ride-sharing).
When leaving Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), parking your car for an extended weekend is more budget-friendly than using Uber for the round trip. Parking at IAD over a long weekend totals $42. A round-trip Uber ride is considerably more expensive at $113.88 — resulting in a price difference of $71.88 (in favor of parking your car).
When departing from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) or Logan International Airport (BOS), opting for a round-trip Uber is the more economical choice. Parking your car for a long weekend at EWR amounts to $105, while the Uber option costs just $35.88. Similarly, long weekend parking for BOS is roughly $96, but Ubering will only set you back $35.18. This presents a substantial price difference of over $60 for each of these airports.
Next time you’re taking an extended trip, plan ahead and find the best deals on airport parking and overnight accommodations wherever you’re departing from.
Airports With the Highest and Lowest Daily Parking Fees
Before you book an Uber, you might be wondering, “How much does it cost to park at the airport?” To provide answers, we’ve identified the airports with the highest and lowest daily parking rates, averaging them over a week-long period.
The top 5 airports with the most expensive daily parking rates are:
- San Diego International Airport (SAN) — $38
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) — $35
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) — $35
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA) — $35
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) — $35
The top 5 airports with the least expensive daily parking rates are:
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI) — $7.50
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) — $8.33
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) — $9
- Indianapolis International Airport (IND) — $9
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) — $9
If you’re aiming to cut costs, avoid parking your vehicle at San Diego International Airport (SAN). The average daily rate there is approximately $38, which is roughly 128.3% higher than the national average daily parking rate of $16.64.
On the flip side, airports like Kansas City International Airport (MCI) offer the cheapest airport parking options with an average daily rate of $7.50. This rate is 54.9% lower than the national average daily parking rate of $16.64. MCI also offers a convenient parking fee estimator, which helps travelers to calculate parking costs for their upcoming trips.
The Cost of Week-Long Parking at America’s Largest Airports
Whether you’re jetting off to Florida for a weeklong getaway or planning to explore the glitz of Hollywood Boulevard, the price of parking your vehicle at the airport for 7 days can significantly impact your travel budget.
We analyzed airport parking costs over 7 days to determine which airports can put a dent in your savings and which offer the cheapest airport parking:
- If you’re considering parking your vehicle at San Diego International Airport (SAN) for a full week, be prepared to budget around $266 on average. This airport has earned an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. SAN also has exciting plans for a new parking plaza set to debut in the fall of 2024. This development includes the addition of 19 new gates, which may potentially influence parking costs in the near future.
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) all share the second spot for the highest parking rates — each charging $245 for 7 days of parking.
- Oakland International Airport (OAK) is among the top 10 most expensive airports for a 7-day parking stay — charging $144 for the week. Despite this cost, OAK boasts an impressive rating of 4.4 out of 5.
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) offers cheap parking at a rate of $133 for a week — placing 11th on our list.
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) ranks 14th with a weekly parking cost of $121.31.
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI) offers the cheapest airport parking for a 7-day parking stay at only $52.50. Despite its economical parking rates, MCI received a respectable average airport rating of 3.97 out of 5.
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) and Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) secure their positions at the bottom of the list with the most affordable parking rates for 7 days, costing just $58.31 and $60, respectively. Remarkably, both airports have achieved an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. RSW takes its customer appreciation a step further by offering a program called RSW Rewards, which benefits loyal on-airport parking customers. On the other hand, CMH caters to travelers by providing a car care service, allowing you to get an oil change or tire rotation done while your car is parked at the airport.
Daily, Weekend, and Week-Long Parking Costs at America’s Largest Airports
We aimed to investigate if there was any connection between airport parking ratings and the expenses associated with parking your car at your local airport.
Surprisingly, it seems that having higher-quality parking options doesn’t necessarily translate to more expensive long-term costs. Notably, none of the top 10 airports with the highest-rated parking facilities made it into the top 10 most expensive list.
Conversely, 3 of these top-rated airports appeared in the top 10 cheapest parking:
- Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) — 4.8 out of 5
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) — 4.8 out of 5
- San Antonio International Airport (SAT) — 4.6 out of 5
The lowest-rated airport did appear in the top 10 most expensive airports:
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) — 3.82 out of 5
Conversely, 2 of the lowest-rated airports did appear in the top 10 cheapest:
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) — 3.8 out of 5
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI) — 3.97 out of 5.
To delve deeper into this relationship between parking costs and airport ratings, explore the comprehensive data in the table to see how these factors align at the airport you most frequently fly out of.
To determine the cost of parking in major U.S. airports, we analyzed the “economy” or equivalent parking option cost data from the websites of the 50 busiest airports in the U.S.
The cost averages were pulled based on parking for a long weekend (Friday to Monday) and a full week (Saturday to Saturday). We compared these figures to the 2-way cost of an Uber to/from the nearest city center to determine whether it is more cost-effective to park at the airport or use a ridesharing service.
We also collected data on the average rating of parking options in/near these airports from airportparking.com to see if higher-quality parking options result in more expensive costs over time.
Planning a trip soon? If you’re flying out of an airport with cheap parking, you can squeeze a little more fun out of your travel budget. On the flip side, if you’re flying in and out of airports like JFK or LAX, you might consider leaving your car behind and opting for an Uber ride instead. With this information, you can make the most of your upcoming journey (and potentially save a few extra dollars along the way).
Featured Image Credit: Upgraded Points
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