People are often amazed how quickly I can determine specific flight routes on airlines and even map out trips around the world without back-tracking or having to fly indirectly between points. But it’s not rocket science—it’s just a matter of knowing the power of two websites: Google Flights and Wikipedia. Here’s how to navigate your way through these sites and get on your way to becoming a flight route genius.
Google Flight’s ITA Matrix Software is king for novices pricing out flights
Matrix by ITA software powers Google Flights, where a simplified, user-friendly version of the software makes it easy for consumers to find the best fares. On Google Flights, you can type in your origin and destination and find the cheapest one-way, round-trip, and multi-city fares typically six months into the future. An Interactive Calendar allows you to explore date ranges and lowest fares by airport code, city or nearby airport.
Beyond searching specific flight routes, you can also pick, say, a long weekend, and search for a destination by price. An interactive map will show you how much flights would cost on those days to go almost every major airport in the world.
Let’s say you are based in New York City and want to go somewhere tropical in early April, the weekend of April 6-8, but that somewhere is going to be largely determined by price. Your first choice is St. Lucia. You search New York City (all airports) to St. Lucia and the cheapest fare is $936 per person. But then on the right-hand-side, you click on the Google Maps where it says “Explore Destinations,” to find all possibilities from New York City for that weekend. At quick glance, a $395 flight to Cancun catches your eye and you’re on your way to a weekend in Tulum or the Mayan Riviera.
Those who are more travel-savvy and want to create more complicated multi-city itineraries and open-jaw flights should search directly on Matrix by ITA software. The searches can even be broken down by a cost per mile filter.
While these flight tools may seem perfect, it should be noted that Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Airlines are not incorporated into the Matrix or Google Flights and that tickets cannot be purchased directly from ITA software.
Wikipedia’s information on airports is priceless
It’s not every day you hear somebody use Wikipedia as a formal source of information (well, publicly, at least). However, the web’s free encyclopedia has incredibly detailed information on every major airport (and most minor) in the world. In particular, under the sub-heading “Airlines and Destinations,” you’ll discover which airlines fly where.
This may sound like elementary information, but it’s a powerful resource. For example, I want to plan a trip non-stop flight from Miami to California but I’m not sure yet where in California I want to go. I can type in Miami International Airport on Wikipedia’s home page and under “Airlines and Destinations” search the cities that have non-stop flights. In this case, by doing a Control F Search for “San Francisco” I find that United and American Airlines fly non-stop between Miami and San Francisco. But then I can browse the information further to find American Airlines also flies non-stop to San Diego as well as Los Angeles. Delta Airlines seasonally flies to Los Angeles.
As another example, a friend of mine is moving this summer to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to work for the State Department. She’s already trying to plan vacations but doesn’t know where she can get quickly and easily from this small capital city. A quick search for Tegucigalpa airport redirects to the page for Toncontín International Airport, and we see that she’s limited to a half-dozen airlines that fly in/out of the airport. Her choices for travel are limited to other cities in Central America and three cities in the U.S.—Miami with American Airlines, Atlanta with Delta Airlines, Houston with United Airlines.
Wikipedia has up-to-date information on upcoming flight routes
Another reason I love to use Wikipedia for flight information is that the “Airlines and Destinations” section lists new routes as soon as they are announced, and exactly when they are set to commence. For example, a quick search today, March 12, 2018, of Miami International Airport shows that Air Italy will start flying to Milan-Malpensa on June 8, 2018, American Airlines to Bonaire on June 9, 2018; American Eagle to Savannah June 7, 2018; Eurowings to Düsseldorf on May 4, 2018; Frontier Airlines to San Juan on April 8, 2018; and Gol Airlines to Brasília beginning November 4, 2018 and Fortaleza, beginning November 4, 2018.
Similarly, the section details which flight routes will terminate and when. Today’s search of Miami International Airport tells us that WOW air will stop flying to Reykjavík–Keflavík, Iceland on April 7, 2018, Lufthansa will stop flying to Düsseldorf March 24, 2018 and a number of other routes set to terminate by the year’s end.