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I need to go from YYZ to SIN, but this is a more general question about how to work the various search engines most people use. There are no direct flights. There are plenty of 20 hour flights through Hong Kong, but it has been suffering some that have, in the past, involved the airport, so I would rather not connect through there. There are a few through Manila, but it's having a volcano and I don't know how long that will last. And other possible transit points are problematic, I don't want to list them all.

I can restrict my searches to one-stops; I can sort by duration; but I don't seem to be able to say "I can't transfer through that specific airport." I could set up a multi-city trip through the one airport I am willing to transit through, but there are probably a dozen airports I'm willing to transit through. This search capability might also be useful to people who have transit visa issues and might not want to go through a specific country for that reason.

So, is this a service some search engines offer? How can I do it?

  • What about going via Europe (possibly staying overnight in an airport hotel)? – SpacePhoenix Jan 16 at 10:09
  • I believe Kayak has this capability. You need to run a regular search but then among the options are selectors for layover airports. – Michael Lugo Jan 16 at 14:42
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You can do this with ITA Matrix search. Enter your search parameters, and then click "Advanced Controls" under "Extension codes" (or Outbound and Return Extension codes if you are searching for a return flight), enter -CITIES HKG. There are lots of other interesting parameters you can use in the routing and extension codes sections which you can find by clicking on the question mark.

Advanced Controls

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to exclude a whole country from being a connection point, but since most countries have few possible connecting airports, it's not too hard to add them all. You can also do the opposite and search for flights connecting at a list of possible cities by putting, for example, HKG,SIN in the "Routing codes" box, to require a connection at either Hong Kong or Singapore.

Google Flights, which is based on Matrix search also allows you to do this with a somewhat simpler interface, but without offering such advanced options. Enter your search parameters, and perform the search. Afterwards, click the "Connecting airports" dropdown. You can then uncheck any airports you don't want to connect at, or require a specific connection by clicking the "only" link next to the airport.

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  • Works like a charm! – Kate Gregory Jan 15 at 22:54
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    but since most countries have few possible connecting airports... - except the USA, which with its transit and visa rules often makes it difficult. We try to find flights for Mexicans to other countries, but most of the time it wants to force flights that stop in the US. Great answer none the less – Midavalo Jan 16 at 2:43
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    @Midavalo while the US has a lot of airports, almost all international routing use hub airports and stay within one of the major alliances. In this can you can break it down into three searches: one for Star Alliance, one for OneWorld and one for SkyTeam (which ITA allows you to do ) and exclude the hubs from United, American and Delta respectively. So for example search star alliance and exclude SFO,LAX, DEN,IHD, ORD, IAD & EWR – Hilmar Jan 16 at 6:28
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    travel.stackexchange.com/a/80025/9009 - how about using this to exclude a whole country? – JonathanReez Jan 16 at 6:35

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