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Ranking: New York LaGuardia Takes the Crown for Priciest Airport Beer

LaGuardia has the highest beer prices among the 50 busiest airports in the country, with prices averaging almost three times those at Portland International

by Fergus Cole

October 10, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Amie Johnson / Unsplash

The 50 busiest airports in the US have been ranked based on the average cost of beer, revealing an $8 difference between the cheapest and most expensive.

The study, conducted by financial platform FinanceBuzz, examined the prices of drinks on menus in the 50 busiest airports in the United States. The data used in the study was gathered manually from at least three bars and restaurants in each airport, using information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Prices for regular-sized draft ‘domestic macro brews’—which were classified as Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors, or Miller, depending on availability—were then averaged to reveal the airports with the most and least expensive beer. Bottle and can prices were also used when draft beer wasn’t available.

LaGuardia Tops the List

The report shows that LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York has the most expensive beer, with prices almost three times higher than the cheapest airport in the study, Portland International Airport (PDX).

The new terminal at LaGuardia International Airport. Photo: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines / Chris Rank, Rank Studios.

The average beer cost at LaGuardia Airport was $12.33, almost $3 more than Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), the second most expensive airport, averaging $9.36 per beer.

LaGuardia’s average beer price was also 66 percent higher than the nationwide average, which stood at $7.42.

Other major airports with notably higher-than-average costs included Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) at $9.31, Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) at $8.86, New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) at $8.80 per beer.

Enjoy Cheap Beer in Portland

At the opposite end of the scale, Portland International Airport boasted the lowest average beer prices of just $4.33, around 42 percent below the average. This was even more affordable than the second cheapest airport, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), where the average price of a beer was $5.

Photo: Courtesy of Portland Airport

Other major airports with below-average costs include New Orleans International Airport (MSY) at $6.08, Tampa International Airport (TPA) at $6.33, and Atlanta International Airport (ATL) at $6.57 per beer.

John Breyault, consumer advocate at the National Consumer League, said the data was unsurprising, especially regarding the more expensive beer, saying that airport bars and restaurants operate in a “captive market” due to the lack of choice and competition.

He also suggested that the rise in flight disruptions in the last few years since the pandemic contributes to high costs, as more delays and cancellations means that airlines are handing out greater numbers of meal and drink vouchers to passengers.

Breyault claims that customers see these vouchers as “free money in their pocket” and thus take a more relaxed approach to spending, encouraging beer vendors to raise their prices further.

Here are the 10 U.S. airports with the most expensive beer:

Rank Airport Average Cost of Beer
1 New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) $12.33
2 Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) $9.36
3 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) $9.31
4 Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) $8.86
5 New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) $8.80
6 Honolulu International Airport (HNL) $8.69
7 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) $8.63
8 San Francisco International Airport (SFO) $8.49
9 Dallas Love Field (DAL) $8.32
10 Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) $8.30


Here are the 10 U.S airports with the cheapest beer:

Rank Airport Average Cost of Beer
1 Portland International Airport (PDX) $4.33
2 Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) $5.00
3 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) $5.32
4 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) $5.50
5 San Antonio International Airport (SAT) $5.83
6 Nashville International Airport (BNA) $5.83
7 Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) $6.08
8 Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) $6.17
9 Tampa International Airport (TPA) $6.33
10 Hartford Bradley International Airport (BDL) $6.33