31

Many flight search engines allow you to pick a departure airport and search for flights to anywhere. E.g. Google flights gives you a nice map with prices next to destinations for a set of dates and an origin you selected. We covered this question widely in "How can I do a "broad" search for flights?" here on our site.

I want to have the reverse, i.e. I know my dates and my destination (for a one-way flight) and I want to know from where it is cheapest to fly there. Is there any flight search engine out there to achieve this?

Google flights does not do this, they pre-compile the "from"-field if I try to leave it empty. I know I could use Matrix with a wide range of departure airports but that does not give me low-cost carriers and I do not trust the matrix results for such a wide range of parameters anymore.

Edit: It has been asked in comments why I would want such a feature. Well currently I'm planning my summer vacation and I would like to spend one week traveling around basically anywhere in that area before I have to go to a specific location at a specific time. One of the main price and convenience factors for me is that final flight so I would like to optimize it first. I'm sure I'm not the only one with that kind of constraints.

  • I did find an answer while writing this question but would greatly appreciate further input. – mts Jul 17 '16 at 16:48
  • FYI, Matrix is from Google, and it is the machine behind Google flights. Google Flights is just a pre-run and buffered results set of it. In other words, if you don't trust Matrix, you shouldn't trust Google Flight either. – Aganju Jul 17 '16 at 23:55
  • @Superbest So that he can save £££££s getting to his destination, simply by going there from the cheapest origin! – Oscar Bravo Jul 18 '16 at 12:20
  • @OwenBoyle He would then have to search for cheap flights from his current location to that cheapest origin... Which is the same as simply searching for flights from current location to destination. I can imagine how he can buy say, a train ticket for several destinations at the same price, and wants to pick the one that will be cheapest to later fly from, but this seems like a very arduous way of accomplishing that. – Superbest Jul 18 '16 at 18:33
28

Of all the search engines known to me, it can be done with Kiwi.

Say I want to fly to Madrid from anywhere in Central + Eastern Europe, I can choose Madrid as my destination and a circle encompassing approximately my suitable departure airports as shown below.

enter image description here

Only look to the list on the left as I could not make out any sense in the prices shown on the map.

Kiwi has plenty of options, you can

  • move and expand the departure circle freely
  • choose a specific date, date range or anytime
  • make your destination a set of nearby destinations via another circle

I suggest you to search for direct flights only, as they have a weird option of connecting two separate tickets on low-cost carriers with a "Kiwi-guarantee", read more in their FAQ if tempted.
Further warning: I have no idea what flights/airlines are covered by kiwi, in this example it shows both low-cost and full-service airlines but I would not bet on it at all times.

Further reading:
I touched upon Kiwi in this answer of mine.

I have no affiliations.

7

This is one of the reasons I liked the Airline Route Mapper data.

Say I want to find out all the routes with a destination of IOM:

$ awk '$3=="IOM"' routes.dat
BA  LCY IOM *   0   S20
BE  BHX IOM     0   DH4
BE  LPL IOM     0   DH4
BE  MAN IOM     0   DH4 E75
EI  DUB IOM *   0   AT4
U2  LGW IOM     0   319
U2  LPL IOM     0   319
V9  BHD IOM     0   L4T
V9  BLK IOM     0   L4T
V9  GLO IOM     0   L4T
V9  NCL IOM     0   J31

Only problem is that this data is now out of date. However it's a good pointer to what is likely to be available. The other data sets will allow you to import data into something like SQLITE and then filter based on country, distance, proximity to somewhere else, etc.

Edit: As mentioned in comments this only allows routes to be found and potential origins would have to be fed into another flight search engine for pricing.

Alternatively, skyscanner allows origins at a country level, e.g. UK to IOM or France to MAD.

enter image description here

  • +1 but that does not give you any hint of prices, right? Are LCCs included? – mts Jul 17 '16 at 17:17
  • 1
    @mts You're right. No prices. I overlooked that part of your question :( This is only useful so that you can then plug the possible origins into something else like matrix – Berwyn Jul 17 '16 at 17:20
  • $ echo grep '^U2' routes.dat|wc -l grep '^FR' routes.dat|wc -l 1130 2484 – Berwyn Jul 17 '16 at 17:24
  • It's interesting that GLO-IOM is in that result data but not found on kiwi. Skyscanner found it though – Berwyn Jul 17 '16 at 17:34
3

It's not exactly what you want, but in google flights you can enter multiple airports for both departure and arrival airport, separating the airport codes with commas. You can use it to restrict your search to a reasonable list of airports you may be interested in. The results can be filtered and sorted in the usual way. Example: find all flights from all airports in New York, plus Boston and Houston to a few locations in Europe. Image

0

Most airlines fly to a destination and back again. Pretend you are flying the other way to get a feel for the airlines and their fares. This way you will narrow it down to few routings. Then do a few specific searches for your actual direction of travel.

The other way is to not be so obsessed with cost. For example, consider if it is worthwhile spending an extra €10 on the bus, plus an extra night's accommodation, and getting to the airport at 5am, just to save €30 on the airfare.

protected by Community Sep 16 '18 at 8:56

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