Find All the Flight Options to Your Destination
Sometimes, it can be invaluable to see all the different ways you can fly to your destination. When you are trying to book award tickets, it can help you uncover all the possible airlines that you can check for award availability. And if you are putting together a segment-by-segment itinerary, it can help uncover flight options to investigate.
Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, there are a variety of tools for finding your available flight options.
- 1 Using a flight search tool to find the “normal” routes
- 2 Finding all the nonstop routes
- 3 Finding all the flight options TO a destination
- 4 Finding all the options for connecting between two cities
- 5 Finding all the cities that are served by an airline
Using a flight search tool to find the “normal” routes
If you just want to determine the most likely airlines and routes to your destination, the easiest approach is to use a traditional flight booking tool like Google Flights, Kayak, or Expedia. Just enter the information for your trip and you’ll see a listing of (most of) your flight options. As normal, it is easiest to search for one direction at a time.
- A regular flight search lets you easily see your different airline options and which intermediate connecting points are the most likely candidates.
- If you are looking for award options, try to ignore the cash prices. Your best award options may or may not be one of the lowest priced tickets.
- To quickly uncover the most convenient options, you can sort the results by “duration” rather than by price. The sort option on Google Flights is located on the right side, just above the flight listings.
- Just choose arbitrary travel dates near when you want to fly. If you have some flexibility in your dates, you should ideally search a couple of different days, so that you uncover any flight options that don’t operate every day of the week. And try to search for dates near your expected travel dates, or at least a few weeks in the future, to avoid missing flights that are already sold out or that are only available seasonally.
Finding all the nonstop routes
When you are building a segment-by-segment itinerary, you'll often want to determine all the nonstop flights into or out of a city. For example, you might want to find all the possible airports that connect directly to your destination or all the airports within a region that you can fly to directly from your home airport.
On a map
Our favorite tool for exploring routing options is FightConnections.com. Once you use it, you'll fall in love too. To see all the flights to a destination, just enter the airport into the To box. For example, here are all the nonstop flights to Tahiti. You can hover over the little markers to see the names of the airports.
If you want to fly from the US to Tahiti, you can see from the map that you might want to check for availability from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Honolulu, or Easter Island, and then see if you can get to one of those gateway cities.
If you click on one of the routes on the map, FlightConnections will display the various options for flying that route. In our example, we see that we can fly either Air France or Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles.
For each flight, you can easily see which days of the week it operates. And if you click on a flight, you can see a full schedule that includes the exact timing of over the day, you’ll see the exact timing of the flight.
Another way to get a comprehensive list of all the nonstop flight options for a given airport is with Wikipedia.
Every airport has Wikipedia article that contains a listing of all the airlines that operate out of that airport and where they fly to.
For example, this is the section from the “Fa’a’a International Airport” article (for the Tahiti airport).
Some people prefer using this type of table, rather than using a map like the one displayed by FlightConnections.com. It is also a bit easier to work your way through each step of a routing. For example, if you wanted to further investigate the Santiago option, you could click on “Santiago” in the table above. That would take you to the Santiago airport article that lists all the options for getting there.
In this case, you can see that LATAM Chile’s North American gateways are Los Angeles, Miami, and JFK. So, you could look for flights from those cities to Santiago and then onwards to Tahiti. Because LATAM is partners with Delta, you could also connect to Santiago on Delta from Atlanta. But you couldn’t book a single award that combined the LATAM flight between Santiago and Tahiti with American's flight from Dallas to Santiago or United’s flight from Houston to Santiago.
Kayak has a very useful feature that shows all of the "direct" flights from a city. This includes non-stop flights, as well as flights that make a stop but don't require you to switch planes. Some people will prefer the listing-based view to the map view provided by FlightConnections and the alternative list-based view in Wikipedia.
The feature is not available in the Kayak app, but is available through the website at www.kayak.com/direct.
If you click on the little plus-sign for each city, you can see the details for each of the flight options.
Finding all the flight options TO a destination
While FlightConnections can show you all the flights into or out of a city, many other useful tools (Wikipedia, Google Flights, Kayak Explore) only show the flights FROM a destination.
If you use one of these tools, you may miss a route that flies into but not out of a city, which sometimes happens with "circular" airplane routes. In addition, you can also see flight timings and pricing for departing flights.
The only other tool we've found that allows you to find all the flights specifically TO a destination is SkyScanner.
With Skyscanner, all you need to do is to enter your desired departure country into the "From" box and your destination into the "To" box. You'll then see the lowest fares from the different possible departure cities, and which ones offer non-stop flights.
Finding all the options for connecting between two cities
While sometimes it is easier to focus on the nonstop flights into or out of a city, other times it may be convenient to see all the different connections you can use fly between two cities, even if they include a stop or two.
If you enter two airports into FightConnections, it will list all the connections between those two cities.
For example, if you want to fly between Seattle and Tahiti, you can see that your 1-stop options are to fly through San Francisco, Vancouver, Los Angeles, or Honolulu and that the San Francisco route is the shortest.
For each connecting city, Flight Connections will show the options for each leg of the trip.
Finding all the cities that are served by an airline
Sometimes you want to investigate your options with a specific airline. Perhaps you are trying to take advantage of an award redemption sweet spot or sale, or maybe you know that the airline has good deals on cash tickets.
On a map
If you want to find all the cities that are served by that airline, you can enter the name of the airline into FightConnections.
For example, here are all the US cities served by Aer Lingus:
If you prefer a list, rather than a map, Wikipedia is a good alternative.
Every airline has an article on Wikipedia that lists all its destinations. For example, “Norwegian Airline destinations” shows all the cities that Norwegian Airlines serves. To more easily see the options for the US (or any other country), click on the top of the “Country” column to sort the list. Be careful of any city or row that has a grey background—that usually signals a destination that is no longer available. Wikipedia will also show you information about announced, but not yet operating, routes.
In this out-of-date example, you can easily see the 12 US cities that were served by Aer Lingus in 2018 and the additional city that was coming in 2019.
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