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Verify an airport’s location before booking

Avoiding a major airport in favor of a smaller secondary airport—say Long Beach instead of LAX or Islip instead of JFK or LaGuardia—can be a great way to find cheaper airfares. Yet, alternate airports aren’t always as close or easily accessible as you might think. Before you book, figure out how far an alternate airport is from your ultimate destination and know your ground transportation options.

While using a secondary airport is practical for some, you may find getting there to be surprisingly time- and effort-consuming. Misleading marketing can make some alternate airports seem more convenient than they actually are.

For example, not long ago, the former Manchester International Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, renamed itself Manchester-Boston Regional Airport to market itself as an alternative to Boston’s Logan Airport. The Manchester airport is easily accessible for those living in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, but it’s an hour’s drive (in light traffic) from Boston, and the free airport shuttle to Boston only runs every two hours.

If you’re not familiar with a secondary airport, you should map out the distance and commute time from the airport to your final destination on a site like MapQuest. Don’t rely on the airport website’s overly optimistic estimates. However, you should use the airport’s site to learn about shuttle service and other ground transportation options. Be sure to note prices and schedules.

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