Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Where should I fly?

Find flights by cost, not destination
  [vote for,

I'm planning a trip this winter, but I don't know where I want to go. My process has been to list everywhere I can think of that fits my needs (warm, not boring, kid-friendly), and then searching for each one, individually, on a standard flight search engine to compare costs. Flight costs are often surprising, and seem to generally vary based on how many planes fly in to an airport, whether the flight is direct, distance, and some mystery factor that makes no sense. It's also tough to know which airport to choose - for instance if I want to go to India from Seattle, I should probably at least search for Delhi and Mumbai, but are there other airports that might be cheaper? This process is painful, and could certainly be automated.

Here's how I'd design this site:

Inputs: Leaving From, Dates

Output: List of destination airports ordered by cost.

Worldgineer, Oct 06 2011

SkyScanner http://www.skyscanner.com
Closest I've found. Choose from your city to "Everywhere". [Worldgineer, Nov 20 2012]

Bangkok's full name http://www.into-asi...uction/fullname.php
I've been there twice and never knew! Thanks [bellau]. [Worldgineer, Nov 22 2012]

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swimswim, Oct 06 2011

       I hear hiking in Iran is inadvisable.
rcarty, Oct 07 2011

       I predict you will go far... [+]
Grogster, Oct 07 2011

       No doubt useful, but who cares about that? It would be *interesting* [+]
mouseposture, Oct 07 2011

       Try hash. By far the cheapest way to fly to anywhere you like, even outer space, all from the comfort of your own couch.
Ah Supp, Oct 07 2011

       Quite smart actually. And a hearty Hi there Worldgineer.
blissmiss, Oct 07 2011

       what blissy said...
po, Oct 07 2011

       I was planning a trip for next year and thought of this: Pick a major tourist destination (where I DON'T want to go IE: Las Vagas) cheap fares, then rent a car and drive to somewhere more obscure...btw- good idea. [+]
xandram, Oct 07 2011

       The problem with flying now are the add ons..... my recently booked flight to London cost zero pounds - yep that's right £0.00 but ended up being £45 when the charges were applied ie tax, bags, seat selection, and of course the final insult, an extra separate charge for paying by credit card.   

       That's why I think the idea cannot ever really work, as there is no way of actually working out the "real" costs of flights until you go through the booking process, and even the results from that change from day to day.
xenzag, Oct 07 2011

       Did you know the airlines' websites keep track of your searches by reading your cookies and push up the price slightly each time you qeery the same search? It's supposed to look like TICKETS RUNNING OUT! But in actual fact, they're just c*nts.   

       That really effing bugs me.
theleopard, Oct 07 2011

       £45 is still dirt cheap compared to what we typically pay in America to go anywhere interesting, (which 75% of the time is defined as anywhere outside the Lower 48).
RayfordSteele, Oct 07 2011

       This would actually be fairly easy to implement, save for [xenzag]'s concerns. It would be easy to set up a webapp that searches and scrapes from multiple filght booking websites to get the "initial" price. But it would never give you the actual cheapest price. In the US (maybe elsewhere), we have Priceline and sites like it, and their business model (if I understand it) involves getting you as close to committing to a flight as possible before showing you their cheap, negotiated price. For that reason, the cheapest prices won't be available from a basic websearch and wouldn't work in this type of where-should-i-fly system. But it would work for getting the "relative" costs of flights, for rank ordering, and then you could do the dirty work of chiseling away at the best of those to get down to the lowest price.
swimswim, Oct 07 2011

       It's a nice idea, but it can never work for the reasons I have given. There is no way of pinning of down the costs to make meaningful comparisons. Stable costings are needed to make it work, and these don't exist.
xenzag, Oct 07 2011

       In terms of business it could generate a race to the bottom and potentially destroy the airline and tourist / destination industries as we know it. But hey, I would definitely use it anyway.
RayfordSteele, Oct 07 2011

       This is how I pick vacations, so +
DIYMatt, Oct 07 2011

       Could we extend this to make virtually any criteria the search priority? For example, let's say Jim wants to go to Japan, money isn't an issue, but an incident in his childhood left him with a fear of jet engines, meaning he can only fly in turboprops (or helicopters, blimps, rockets, trebuchets, etc.). Jim needs a website that will plan his itinerary around his unusual phobia.   

       Please ask me for other examples to further illustrate my point. I've got a whole bunch of them, and nothing much to do today.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011

       As one moves towards cheaper by virtue of more personal effort (e.g. flying to Vegas renting a car and driving) one also moves away from kid friendly (i.e. minimum travel time maximum fun stuff time).   

       That said there is certainly a place for what you describe and current search engines also come close. You can choose that day and preferred times and will receive a list of flights from diverse (but not all inclusive!) airlines which come close to what you ask. "Come close" could also include reasonably close airports - an example which comes to mind is flying into Oakland instead of San Francisco. Oakland is markedly cheaper and for most points of interest comparably close.
bungston, Oct 07 2011

       In 2009, T.G.F.J. and I visited the UK, loved it, couldn't get enough, decided to come back as often as possible for the rest of our lives, etc. Anyhoo, I managed to wrangle a great price by accepting a couple of long layovers. The cheapest fare was to Heathrow (#u€%ing London...).   

       When we were planning our return trip for this summer that ended up getting canceled (thank you teleporting deer), I used the same discount airfare site and the same search criteria (and almost exactly the same dates) and I found some cheaper seats going into Exeter, which is closer to where we wanted to start anyway. Hurrah.   

       Because I am still entertaining the fantasy of a 2012 voyage, and inspired by this post, I just went to the same site, used the same search settings and exactly the same dates, and the best prices are now for flights heading to Gatwick (which, at least for our purposes, is even worse than Heathrow).   

       Which brings to mind the question: do we really have control over where, when, and for how much money we can fly, or are we simply pawns in a vast Freemason conspiracy to constantly re-route international flight patterns according to the teachings of the Sacred Geometry?
Alterother, Oct 07 2011

       My basic point was that my goal is 'get to England cheap,' and in pursuing that goal I can't help but notice that there is already a great deal of variability in these searches, perhaps too much for us, the consumers, to have any control over. The extranious details were just, well, extranious.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011

       [xen] Yes, add ons suck. But this tool was more for a general price guide for cities. The website could link you to a standard price comparison tool from there. I have no easy solution for problems past that, except getting to know the good airlines.   

       [Ray] The race-to-the-bottom is already occuring. I'm quite sure Seoul, for instance, subsidises their air fare to make sure flights to Asia from the US stop there, and flights are set up such that a 12 - 24 hour layover are convenient (so you see how nice Korea is, and perhaps spread the word - did I mention how nice Korea is?). That said, I'm not sure people will stop going to the more expensive places - they'll just be more exclusive.   

       [Alte] Sure, you could have more options (especially less obscure ones). I was thinking of having the option of sorting by travel time. How far can I fly if I don't want to spend more than a few hours travelling?   

       [sleep] I felt I could more easily tell what cities are warm, interesting, and kid-friendly than a web tool can. I'd just scroll down the list until I found cities I liked. That said, a column in the output for average high and low temperature and rainfall for the period you've searched for would really be useful.   

       (those mentioning the current evil variable pricing by airlines) Evil variable pricing exists. There's even some guy out there that wrote software to predict when prices would go up and down. His software was bought by Microsoft, and turned into a fairly useless tool in Bing. Anyway, you're still stuck with the current ugly system. This tool will just give you a general sense of the cheap flights vs. the expensive ones.   

       A few examples from my recent search (all from Seattle): New Zealand $2,423, S. Africa $2,200, Ecuador $1,510, Brazil $2,202, Guatemala $858, Spain $753, Italy $910, Indonesia $1,115.   

       Logic alone wouldn't tell me that it costs double the price to fly to Ecuador compared to Spain, or double the cost to fly to New Zealand compared to Indonesia.   

       (hi [bliss], [po], et.al.)
Worldgineer, Oct 07 2011

       // sorting by travel time. //   

       A couple of the sites already offer that option. I'm pretty sure Orbitz does.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011

       Oh, and I was really hoping that someone would tell me this is already baked. But I guess that's generally my hope when I post an idea here.   

       [Alter] There is no way Orbitz lets you sort multiple cities by time. Sorting different flights to the same city isn't at all the point of this idea.
Worldgineer, Oct 07 2011

       I misunderstood. Mea Gulpa.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011

       Jet stream efficiencies in travel time and fuel economy could account for those price differences, Worldgineer. So too with seasonal price differences.
reensure, Oct 07 2011

       [ree] Lots of factors could affect prices, anything from some local holiday I've never heard of, to having to connect in an out-of-the-way airport. My point is, these are really tough factors to guess at.   

       (though I'm not sure I'd buy the gulf stream theory - these are round-trip prices)
Worldgineer, Oct 07 2011

       "Mystery Flights" were popular in Australia a few years back where you paid a low $ amount and didn't find out where you were headed until you landed.   

       I heard about one couple who lived in Parramatta which is a regional city about 30kms from Sydney. They had taken a couple mystery flights but both times ended up in Sydney. They got clever and booked a mystery flight FROM Sydney reasoning that least then they had a chance of ending up in Melbourne or the Gold Coast or wherever. You guessed it. They landed in Parramatta.
AusCan531, Nov 20 2012

       Tokyo - we went there in 2011, travelling around (Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, etc). Very kid-friendly (if they're prepared to eat interesting food) and a fascinating place. I'm not sure what the weather's like at this time of year though.
hippo, Nov 20 2012

       How about cost of the flight + time you will be there * the consumer price index of the location. For example a week in Geneva is going to be more expensive than a week in Lisbon, so you could factor that in. Also, safety... you could factor in how much you're willing to pay to be a bit safer... you may be happy for a £10 premium to stay out of tin-pot dictatorships.
bs0u0155, Nov 20 2012

       [hippo] We ended up choosing Indonesia. We spent a week taking trains through Java, and spent another week on Bali. We actually had two long layovers in Tokyo, one overnight. I did enjoy it and want to go back.   

       Now, for this year. We've done too much Asia recently - looking for either Europe or South America. Somewhere where we can set up a base camp and run day trips to interesting places (this will be paternity leave, and we'd want a place to leave most of the stuff that's required to care for an infant).
Worldgineer, Nov 21 2012

       Rent an apartment in Siena and do day trips by train to other bits of Italy?
hippo, Nov 21 2012

       //Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit//   

       Hey [bellauk65], I think your elbow is leaning on your keyboard.
AusCan531, Nov 22 2012


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