Figures from London Luton Airport show it issued penalties of £8,700 to operators for breach of noise limits.
Just 20 people were behind 72% of complaints while almost half of all complaints (6,700) came from the same five residents in Harpenden, an airport spokesman said.
The airport said it wanted to "find new ways to reduce noise".
Complaints rose from 441 in 2015, to 1,024 in 2016 and 1,485 in 2017 and campaigners said they had "not seen any changes" in noise reduction.
James Dontas, flight operations manager at the airport, said: "Noise is an unavoidable part of an airport's operations.
"But as we continue to grow and more passengers choose to travel with us, we are committed to collaborating with the local community and using ongoing innovation to find new ways to reduce the impact of aircraft noise.
"We will keep working hard to be the best neighbour that we can."
The complaints came from areas including Flamstead, Harpenden, Markyate, Sandridge, St Albans, Stevenage and Wheathampstead.
Andrew Lambourne, from Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, said: "People now hear all the flights even if they are no longer technically directly overhead; aircraft noise spreads out sideways. So no wonder people are complaining.
"We have not seen any changes which would reduce the hugely-increased noise burden."
The airport said in 2016 it started a "Noise Insulation Scheme", which could offer double glazing, secondary glazing, and insulation to residents.
Last year, 38 properties were insulated with more planned for this year.
A public event to discuss the issue was held in Baldock in November for residents in the Baldock and Letchworth areas, but the airport said only one person attended.
In December the airport owner announced its growth plan aimed to reach a 38-million passenger target by 2050 with 240,000 flights a year.