Guide to flying to and within the USA
There are many access points to reach the USA, including more than 5,100 public airports. Not all airports serve international flights, but connections are readily available.
Top 10 U.S. airports by international arrivals
- John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City, New York
- Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida
- Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California
- Newark Liberty International Airport New Jersey, serving the Greater New York City area
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia
- San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas
- Dulles International Airport, Virginia, serving the greater Washington, D.C. area
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, Texas
Air Travel within the USA
Once in the U.S., international travelers can fly between states on U.S. domestic airlines. Airplanes offer a convenient means to get from one city to another. Most major cities have at least one airport with direct and connecting flights available. Traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast takes less than six hours by air, compared with several days of driving or train travel.
If you plan ahead, you can save a significant amount of money on airfare. Waiting until the last minute can be expensive. Summer is peak travel season in the USA making flights more expensive during this time frame. Traveling on or around public holidays and during spring break (usually in March) can also be more costly.
Most major airlines use electronic-ticket systems for ticketing passengers. Tickets usually carry a confirmation number, which includes information for the entire booking. You can check in online and print the boarding pass, or you can check in at the airport at a kiosk or the ticket counter. Allow extra time because there’s usually a line. Check with the airline in advance for delays, cancellations or flight changes.
The primary domestic carriers in the U.S., in alphabetical order:
- Alaska Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- SkyWest Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
- Virgin America
When traveling by air in the U.S., please note the following:
- Identification: You must have valid government-issued identification like a passport.
- Carry-on baggage: Most airlines limit you to one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a purse or camera bag. Typically, a carry-on bag should not exceed 56-by-35-by-23 cm. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will allow you to carry on board liquids, gels and pastes that are 100 milliliters or less. The containers must be sealed in a clear plastic bag for special screening at the security checkpoint. You are prohibited from carrying sharp objects, sporting goods, guns, tools and explosive materials. Click here for a more comprehensive list of prohibited items.
- Checked baggage: Most domestic carriers charge fees for checked baggage. Fees for checked bags vary by airline, so check with your airline prior to departure.
A number of programs allow international travelers to purchase a specific number of domestic flights in the U.S. These passes are only available to the travelers who are not residents of North America and are purchased as part of their international flight. The following airline networks offer air passes: