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Several airline and trip planning sites will allow you to check "I am flexible with my dates" or a similar option. Is there any way to also search more broadly for location?

For example, if you wanted to leave from YYZ or YKF and arrive at any airport in California, can a search for such flights be done somehow?

I ask because when I plan plane trips, I want the lowest price. I'm OK with leaving a day or two later if I save $200 (same with the return trip). There are 3 airports within 80 km of me, I'll leave from the one with the cheapest flight. And I'm also OK with changing the trip to spend time exploring San Francisco instead of lying on the beach near San Diego, and that sort of thing.

Normally this would take dozens of searches, but I'd like to see it all at once.

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Are you only interested in US domestic flights or in international sites? You should mention this in your question title. –  hippietrail Jul 3 '11 at 10:59
    
I have found that many such sites are not as "broad" as they would have their users believe. (I was investigating international fares from Australia) I tried the big sites for my current trip and they all gave higher best prices than I had found on my own with Korean Air and did not offer this airline at all! I did a more thorough check later and found two sites that did offer this airline and even beat the price I already paid! So it's best to shop around even for "shopping around" sites! –  hippietrail Jul 3 '11 at 13:04
    
@hippietrail Any good site will be intermational, and my example involved Canada to the US. I had problems with Amadeus below not checking all sites/airlines (even the ones it said it would) but Kayak worked properly, fortunately. –  Matthew Read Jul 3 '11 at 14:52
    
Hmm in Australia there are sites which are Australian such as WebJet so I assumed the same was true for other countries. –  hippietrail Jul 3 '11 at 17:42
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11 Answers

up vote 24 down vote accepted

As a developer of some search engine for the Amadeus (one of the major companies who provides the air-tickets search), I can say:
Yes, you can, but you should find the site working with Amadeus and provides such option to the search. This option is not as popular as flexible-dates-feature, but you still can try to search such sites. I'll do my best to find them:

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Hmm, Kayak seems to work much better, oddly enough! It's also very fast, and while it doesn't show +/- 3 days lumped into one search the dropdown is neat. (The remembered prices from previous searches in the drop down are incorrect though ... hmm.) So not perfect, but very good! +1, I'll hold on acceptance to see if there are any other answers. –  Matthew Read Jun 30 '11 at 21:06
    
Amadeus sells the search engine, but their search itself is not very usable, unfortunately. It is much easier to sell engine than upgrade usability :) –  VMAtm Jun 30 '11 at 21:30
    
Hmm, just discovered the option to lump +/- 3 days and other dates into one search. Awesome. This and ITA seem to be equally good. For my next trip I'll attempt to plan with both and see what's more helpful. –  Matthew Read Jul 3 '11 at 19:42
    
@Matthew Read Good luck with that :) –  VMAtm Jul 3 '11 at 20:11
    
oh it was you that worked with Amadeus, I knew I'd seen it somewhere last year. –  Mark Mayo Jul 28 '12 at 7:22
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Yes, you can use http://matrix.itasoftware.com - just enter a destination, say LAX, click "Nearby" and pick airports (up to 300mi away I think). However, that's not super interesting as most of those airports are small regional/county airports that don't get mainline carrier service, so you can just enter destination airports (there aren't that many in CA). You can also do this with your departure airport, too.

You can limit by carrier, # of segments, etc.

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Bing Travel licenses the search technology from ITA, if I remember correctly. –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 1 '11 at 16:05
    
ITA Matrix is the most flexible search I found: • Search nearby airports within a given radius & pick specific ones. • View prices for all departures within a 1-month period in a calendar format. • Flexible duration of the trip (within 7 days). • Advanced routing (e.g. connect through or avoid a specific airport). Useful since some airlines allow a free long (say, 1-2 day) stopover on the way back. Matrix user interface is far better than Kayout/Expedia/Orbitz and similar, especially when exploring flexible options (almost like Google Maps vs. Mapquest). –  dbkk Jul 3 '11 at 8:39
    
Not bad. Seems to have multi-airline combinations for cheaper than Kayak, but you can't purchase directly so I'm assuming that it's not counting some fees. This and Kayak seem to be equally good. For my next trip I'll attempt to plan with both and see what's more helpful. –  Matthew Read Jul 3 '11 at 19:40
    
Yeah, unfortunately you cannot book using ITA. You have to go to the airline website or, for multi-airline bookings, something like Expedia, etc. –  Matt Rogish Jul 5 '11 at 0:24
    
Also ITA Matrix is quite incomplete. There are many flights missing in Europe. –  feklee Apr 4 '13 at 12:21
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I suggest using SkyScanner. On the home page, you will find a link titled 'Calendar' that gives prices between the destinations you want over the time range you choose, giving you a better picture than +/-x days that most other flight search websites have. To broaden area searches, choose a city name and opt for 'any' in the suggestions presented; e.g., in your case enter Toronto (Any).

For booking flights from or within the US, Bing Travel has a 'price prediction' feature that that uses current and historical data to give suggestions on pricing trends. While this is not a 'broad' search per se, it does accomplish the same goal, i.e., help you find cheaper flights.

ADDITIONAL INFO

As of now SkyScanner offers ability to search for fares as broad as country -> destination. For example you can search for tickets from Germany to US based on your dates and other preferences.

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Was coming in to say the same. You can also just choose 'from London' and dates, and it'll show you the cheapest flights to anywhere, great for planning a long weekend :) –  Mark Mayo Jul 2 '11 at 14:32
    
Being able to search only airports in a particular city isn't quite broad enough for me. Especially since in the case of Toronto there are very few flights, and even fewer cheap flights, out of the smaller airport. –  Matthew Read Jul 3 '11 at 19:17
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@Matthew: SkyScanner does provide an option similar to that. Choose 'Select from list', select a country, and then leave airport to all. An even better option IMO, that others don't have is, set origin airport to one you want and then destination to 'Anywhere' - great for when you have no fixed plans of travel. –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 3 '11 at 22:26
    
Too broad :P I'm sure it would be useful for smaller countries though. –  Matthew Read Jul 3 '11 at 23:38
    
When you say "Toronto" does it just check YYZ and the island? Or does it include Hamilton? Or even Buffalo, many folks who live west of the GTA say it's way cheaper through Buffalo. My guess is only the two with Toronto in the name, which won't help much. –  Kate Gregory Apr 6 '12 at 13:46
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The Swedish company Svenska Resenätverket AB has a very handy website that searches for flights offered by its partner travel agencies:

http://flygresor.se/

flygresor.se

More often than not, prices are cheaper than what you'd be able to find using other search tools like the ITA matrix, or what the airlines offer for the same fare at their websites.

The results are sorted by price, and you can see available flight times between destinations to adjust to your needs. As per EU consumer protection rules, the fare that you see is the fare that you pay (unless the airline charges extra for optional services like checked baggage, for example).

You can be quickly redirected to the travel agency that sells the particular ticket, and for most sites, the travel reservation will be prepared for you with your search data, waiting for you to fill in the remaining details before payment.

I travel mainly in Europe, and the results are consistently very good. I can't comment how well it works when both destinations are outside Europe, though.

Sadly, currently it's not possible to search for +/- days within the specified date.

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+/- days or at least nearby locations is the whole point of my question, so I have to downvote this. The prices do seem very slightly better, though with currency conversion not so much. –  Matthew Read Apr 4 '12 at 22:12
    
@mindcorrosive The UK link doesnt seem to be active anymore –  Simon Apr 3 '13 at 16:38
    
how can you switch that site to English, and to another currency? –  Kate Gregory Apr 3 '13 at 17:04
    
@KateGregory: Sadly, that's no longer possible. It's mostly suitable for travellers from or currently living in Scandinavian countries. –  mindcorrosive Apr 3 '13 at 17:55
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http://matrix.itasoftware.com/

Select the "See calendar of lowest fares" option, and select the start of your range.

You'll have to do a month at a time, but it's easy to change the date once you've look at each month.

It's possible to specify options like which airline(s), how many stops, etc, but it's a little complex. If you click on the ? next to the "Enter Routing Codes" box you'll find the details on how to you need to specify what you're after.

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There's already an answer to this question which mentions the matrix airfare search, but yours have some extra info. Care to edit that answer and include that, and remove your answer? –  mindcorrosive Apr 3 '13 at 15:26
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Google started the ticket selling for air-travel, and you can search the nearby airports (works currently only for US):enter image description here

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Is there something in Internet that Google didn't tried to implement by themselves? –  RoflcoptrException Sep 14 '11 at 18:17
    
@Roflcoptr Video player site. –  VMAtm Sep 14 '11 at 18:24
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@Roflcoptr They bought it, didn't implement it. –  VMAtm Sep 14 '11 at 18:30
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Google didn't do this flight search either, they just straight out bought ITA Software. –  Ankur Banerjee Sep 14 '11 at 19:45
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What about Google Video, wasn't that their own creation? Anyways, I'll be sure to check this out :P –  Matthew Read Sep 15 '11 at 15:06
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Adioso allows you to search for flights with natural language queries like "Australia to Europe in early June" .

This is the only service that I know that can do this. Their prices are from a combination of their own data + Priceline + Cheapoair.

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Hipmunk now allows for multiple origin/destination searching for airports located in the same country and timezone.

Simply input: SFO, LAX, SAN for San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

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Another option with +/- 3 days is Cheap-O Air. I'm not sure if it uses one of the other engines underneath but the results seem to be a bit different from others I've tried and the prices are pretty good.

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http://www.kayak.com/explore/

The link above should provide the search function you need. Simply input a starting airport like LHR and you can limit the results by month, price, activity, etc.

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This is very similar to the top answer. If you have additional information, an edit might be best. –  Matthew Read Jan 3 at 16:00
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I would advise you to search on kayak website (one of the best for non professionals). Some professional Self Booking Tool (such as Egencia) can also provide this information quite easily and can be useful if you have access to it through your work (just to have a good search engine).

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protected by Ankur Banerjee Jan 27 '13 at 1:59

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