Captive audience: Which US airports charge the most for a beer?

The holiday season is upon us. But instead of visions of sweets and elves in our heads, it’s the certainty of upcoming flight delays and cancellations.

Americans are heading home for Thanksgiving this week, kicking off what will be one of the busiest holiday seasons in years. By January, airports will be full of travelers looking to kill time before boarding, during delays and during long layovers.

Many of us will find ourselves spending hours in airport bars and liquor-stocked restaurants over a beer. You can even have a beer and bet on which airline and airport will cancel the most flights. But how much will that cold beer cost you?

Researchers at personal finance advice center FinanceBuzz pulled data from the 50 busiest US airports to find out which airports have the most affordable beers, and the cheapest. They found that the average price of a beer at the 50 busiest airports in the United States was $7.42. Price data is for a full-size “home brew,” a draft, can, or bottle of Budweiser, Coors, or Miller, not a fancy IPA. The diligent researchers checked the prices of at least three bars or restaurants per airport.

Unfortunately, we can’t book flights based on the price of beer at the airport yet, but it’s good to know what you’re up against.

New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) has the most expensive beer prices of any airport, with a regular domestic beer costing $12.33. (Someone has to pay for all those renovations.) A beer at LaGuardia costs 30% more than the second most expensive location on the list, Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). A beer at Motor City Airport will set you back $9.36.

The three airports serving New York (LGA, JFK, EWR) are among the five most expensive to drown your sorrows in. A beer in Newark costs an average of $9.31, while a beer in JFK costs “only” $8.80.

“Beer can make huge money for airport bars and restaurants, so it’s no surprise to find high prices at most airports. In most cases, cities with a reputation for being expensive like New York have seen high prices for beer at the airport,” says Chris Lewis, director of digital PR for FinanceBuzz. “Most people visiting cities like New York understand that it’s not going to be a cheap trip, so they also need to realize that those high prices don’t stop when they get to the airport.”

This is also true if you are waiting for a flight departing from Harry Reid International Airport (LAS). Even if you’ve suffered a losing weekend at the tables or slots, Las Vegas will still take a bite out of you. At $8.86, Las Vegas is the fourth most expensive US airport to buy a beer.

Texas, where thousands of Californians are moving due to greater affordability (the median California home price was $893,000 in June 2022) is not immune to high costs. At Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW), beer prices are $8.32 and $8.30, respectively.

On the bright side, you can take a break on your beer in small American towns. Portland International (PDX) has the cheapest beer of major US airports ($4.33). Despite its dry reputation, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) doesn’t just sell beer, but won’t break your bank at $5.00 for a beer. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in North Carolina are close behind, at $5.32 and $5.50 respectively.

You can also start the party for less – or end it – at two party town airports. The Music City, Nashville, Tennessee, (BNA) would be a destination for bachelorette parties. Anyway, BNA only charges $5.83 for an airport beer, sixth lowest on the list. Rightly, the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans (MSY), boasts the seventh most affordable airport beer price ($6.08).

So how can you beat the high cost of drinking at the airport? You could wait until you get on the plane; airlines are starting to serve alcohol again. Customers of the Southwest Rapid Reward program, for example, are very keen on tearing off their free drink coupons.

Or if you travel more, it might be time to get a travel-focused credit card. “Many travel credit cards also offer helpful perks like airport lounge access,” says FinanceBuzz travel and credit card expert Ben Walker. “You can easily avoid high beer prices if you can access a lounge serving free alcohol.”

#Captive #audience #airports #charge #beer

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