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Is there any website that allows searching for (cheap) flight to any destination in a narrow time frame? Ideally I look for the cheapest flights while specifying only:

  • Departure airport (bonus if including nearby airports)
  • Time of departure and return within a few hours

Longer version: I like traveling around over the weekend. Often I fly out Friday evening after work and fly back on Sunday afternoon/evening/night to be back at work on Monday morning. Sometimes I even take an early flight on Monday morning and head straight to work. It doesn't really matter where I go and in fact I like to get as much variation as possible in my destinations. I just pick wherever flight happen to be cheap for a certain weekend. I am aware of website that allow to search for flights to "Anywhere", but for those that I am aware of you can only specify the days. Then, you get a list with destinations whereto flights are cheap, you pick one destination and get options for that destination. At this point you often can specify a time frame using some slider. This is then the point where you find out that the flights are leaving at impossible times (e.g. leaving on Friday morning while I'm still at the office). So, instead of having to specify the time range for each destination separately, I look for a website that allows me to specify this restriction for all destinations in one go.

Popular related questions, but not the same: How can I do a “broad” search for flights? and Cheapest flight to anywhere at any given time Those are both about flexible dates.

If no global solution exists, I will also accept an answer that works for the departure town that I care about (Brussels).

  • Be careful - buying tickets at the last moment is perceived as a threat in movies en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_Man_%28film%29 – sharptooth Jan 30 '15 at 14:45
  • Last moment is not the issue here. I usually by them multiple months beforehand, because at the last moment the choice of cheap tickets will be way smaller. – Some wandering yeti Jan 30 '15 at 14:47
  • I was looking for the same thing and had the same problems. Flexible destination but fixed flight times or dates – EdmundYeung99 Jan 30 '15 at 16:50
7

I often do the exact same thing, the best solution I've found is Google Flights

You can search destination by continent such as Europe or North America. Put in your dates, Friday departure and Sunday Return. Then under the Times drop-down filter, change the sliders for an appropriate time, like 6pm outbound and whatever time for inbound.

This will then give you a map of the continent that you can browse through and select a destination you haven't been to before!

Not perfect, its missing a list view grouped by country, and I would need to change the dates to compare each weekend's prices. But there is a "lowest fares" option which opens a calendar control which can help to select the next travel dates.

Update: Seems like locale (which Google.com/flights site you get directed to) makes a big difference due to Google caching the results. I couldn't find the local flights page for Belgium, so the best alternative may be the French site, https://www.google.fr/flights or the dot com site www.google.com/flights.

2nd Update to show how the "anywhere" search within a specific time works

enter image description here

Further clicking on Expand map allows you to select a place of interest. After selecting a destination, a bar chart allows you to compare the prices for that weekend compared with other weekends.

enter image description here

  • PS you can use the I'm feeling lucky button (in the map view) to select a random destination too! – EdmundYeung99 Jan 30 '15 at 17:12
  • Upvoting because it offers all the functionality that I'm looking for. Not accepting as an answer because it doesn't find a lot of lights. If Google manages to populate the db better, it has potential. – Some wandering yeti Jan 31 '15 at 17:26
  • Example: searching now for flights to Geneva (one of my usual suspects) going out 3 April after 5pm and returning 5 April also after 5pm. Google finds a cheapest flight at $294 with Brussels Airlines. It also shows Easyjet flight with no known price. Skyscanner on the other hand gives me for that connection a cheapest flight with Easyjet at $128 and the cheapest of Brussels Airlines at $174. Google doesn't even show that flight as an option. – Some wandering yeti Jan 31 '15 at 17:32
  • 2
    I believe Google caches the results heavily, based on user usage. So if its a popular route you will get more accurate results. This caching allows search results to show almost instantaneously, compared to Skyscanner that take several seconds. Importantly I noticed searching on google.com/flights yeilded different results to searching on google.co.uk/flights – EdmundYeung99 Feb 2 '15 at 11:52
  • Accepting after a long time because in my experience the db has gotten (more) reliable. Basically, all my usual suspects show up now in searches. – Some wandering yeti Aug 25 '15 at 7:59
16

Skypicker can do the "anywhere" part, although not the hours:

Skypicker web site

When you select a departure airport, select To: Anywhere, and departure and return dates, the map on the right will then show the lowest prices to nearby destinations, and the left column will show destinations sorted by price, with the lowest priced destinations listed first.

If you selected One way, you will see one way prices, and if you selected Return you will see return (round trip) prices.

On the map, you can right click a city to select it as your origin, and left click a city to select it as your destination.

One quirk of this web site is that the form doesn't actually have a submit button. It tries to search as soon as you set dates. Because of this I noticed that it often got confused and would display expensive flights, or flights from the wrong city, or flights to my origin. You might want to go to the home page and start over if it seems to be giving you bad data.

  • Re. delete, what, exactly, do you want me to add to this? Skypicker is a flight search engine that allows you to enter "anywhere". The end. – chx Feb 22 '15 at 15:13
  • the answer is "too short" you can add this as a comment to the question, or expand the answer with a "how-to" – EdmundYeung99 Jul 21 '15 at 23:17
  • 3
    See? You improved the answer and magically surpassed all the other ones. Quality does pay. :) – JoErNanO Jul 24 '15 at 7:04
  • 3
    Not sure why you got upvoted that much because: 1/ not an answer to the question. That site even doesn't allow to filter on time after picking a city some thing that e.g. skyscanner can do. 2/ the anywhere search gives unreliable results. If you click through the price suddenly increases for about every option that I tested and I even managed to get the message "We didn't find any flights for your request. Try searching with different parameters." after clicking on one of the proposed (and very cheap) destinations. – Some wandering yeti Jul 26 '15 at 19:24
  • FYI, Skypicker does support filtering by outbound/inbound departure/arrival hours now: i.imgur.com/BzYiJMt.png – Underyx May 11 '16 at 15:35
5

Yes, kayak can do this, to some extent. It works well if you have say, a top few destinations you can select from, but not 'anywhere'.

It's slightly limited in that you can only do 4 source or destination airports at once, but it's pretty decent.

I quite often look for trans-Tasman flights this way. So for example, say I want a one-way flight from NZ to Australia at the end of February:

https://www.kayak.com.au/flights/chc,akl,wlg-SYD,mel,bne/2015-02-28-flexible-1day-after

This searches all flights from Christchurch, Auckland, or Wellington to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, over a couple of days.

Then once the flights have all loaded, the left side of the screen has a slider with times. It affects all flights, so if I say no flights earlier than 10am, it cuts out all of those.

You can do this for one-way or return flights, and adjust sliders for take-off times or landing times.

For another example, I may want to do a weekend trip from Sydney to one of the other major centers in Australia, in mid-February. You can tick 'nearby' airports, but that's not so useful in Australia (aside from Melbourne where you have MEL and AVV).

Anyway:

https://www.kayak.com.au/flights/SYD-mel,bne,cns,cbr/2015-02-13/2015-02-15 does this, showing all flights from Sydney return to Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns or Canberra for the weekend.

I then adjust the sliders so I leave after work, and return to land before 10pm on Sunday so that I can still get home and get a decent sleep before work the next day.

  • 1
    Upvoting because useful, but not accepting because 4 airports is really limited in crowded Europe. For me basically all of Europe is a possible destination time wise. – Some wandering yeti Jan 30 '15 at 14:54
  • @ptityeti yeah, I figured it isn't a perfect answer, but remember that all this complex searching involves a LOT of processing on the server side, and many sites will just limit the search (eg kayak's 4 city limit) – Mark Mayo Jan 30 '15 at 14:56
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    I think all sites offering "Anywhere" use cached data from previous searches. The server load should be limited, but the time restriction is probably not cached (speculation on my side) – Some wandering yeti Jan 30 '15 at 15:01
  • I prefered Skyscanner over Kayak for an open ended destination search, until I started using google.com/flights – EdmundYeung99 Jan 30 '15 at 17:01
2

@chx has already mentioned Skypicker (now Kiwi.com) but a bit more powerful I find azair which has very powerful search options (see the advanced options), including choice of return and departure day, length of stay, period within which the trip should happen and a range of departure and arrival airports, up to the option "Take me anywhere" which is what you are looking for.

enter image description here

See also my answers in related posts here, here and here,

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