Ever since the airline industry returned from its pandemic-enforced slumber, carriers have struggled to maintain consistent schedules. In 2022, when travelers buy a ticket for a long journey, they're submitting themselves to the whims of an uncertain system.
Because of unexpected cancellations and reroutings, the flight you buy may not wind up being the flight you actually take. One of the smartest ways to hedge your bets against an itinerary's collapse is to make it as simple as possible by choosing direct flights that are less prone to a domino effect of last-minute changes.
But how can you find those direct flights to start with? Standard airfare search engines aren't always much help because they mix the multi-flight choices with the direct ones. Worse, many direct flights are only scheduled a few times a week, so if you don't happen to search on the right dates, you may not necessarily realize direct flights even exist as options.
Better to begin your flight search by knowing which airlines operate direct flights, so you'll know which carriers and dates to target.
Banish the stopover! Here are a few websites where you can discover with a few easy clicks whether direct flights exist.
One of the better search engines for finding direct flights, FlightConnections will tell you which days of the week direct flights go—and this is especially handy for knowing the dates you should fly on for the cleanest travel plan. Results are presented with a route map for easy visualization, too. Use your cursor to hover over a flight path, and the site will also tell you if the route is seasonal and when it ends.
Although there are fields for entering origin airport and destination, only fill in the origin if you want to see the list of available direct flights—if you fill in the destination, too, the results will get cluttered with multistop options, which defeats the purpose of finding nonstop flights.
Downside: If you want details for more than two months out, to see prices on the results map, or to access the relevant info using a smartphone app, you need to pay a little extra (€3/US $3.39 per month) for the premium version.
(Image source: FlightConnections.com)
If you're wary of the hard sell, this stripped-down directory just delivers the facts and doesn't seem interested in gathering commissions if you decide to book.
It's super basic: Clicking an airport renders a new window with a text list of destination cities. Clicking a destination city opens yet another window that lists the available direct flights, their carriers, their effective dates, and days of the week. Armed with that information, you can go buy tickets somewhere else.
A little map of the route also comes up, but it's not interactive. The unencumbered service is all you truly need.
Based in western Sweden, this site crunches daily flight results from its sister travel companies, so results are fairly well updated (and supposedly valid for up to nine months in advance). When the route map for your chosen airport comes up, be sure to click the "Destinations" tab for the current list of cities you can reach nonstop.
Pro: You'll get options from many low-cost carriers that may not turn up on some of the biggest flight search engines. But that comes with a con: Sometimes you'll be shown flights that are out of season and therefore not currently bookable. But you will get an overview of carriers that do operate direct flights from your airport of choice, even if not on the day you need to go.
If you want to make a booking, FlightsFrom dumps you into Kayak.com.
(Image source: FlightsFrom.com)
This wayfinding website, which tells you how to get across the globe between any point A and point B, is something we often recommend for canvassing the travel options no matter how you want to go—it includes transportation modes like trains and buses, too.
If you're only using the site to find direct flights, you'll probably find Rome2rio takes too many steps, because once it informs you that you can fly from your origin, then you have to drill down into the nitty-gritty of those flight options to find out whether they require stops.
Still, if you need to brainstorm quicker ways to get from one airport to another, the site is good at thinking of methods you might not have considered before, so it has value.
Did you know airports have Wikipedia pages, and those pages list the airlines that fly in and out of those airports along with their destinations?
They do. When you're stuck for info, head to the Wikipedia page of your target airport and scroll to the bottom. You'll get a list of carriers and you'll even find out which routes are seasonal and which ones are permanent (or as "permanent" as anything our confused airlines can currently manage). Considering that some low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines don't share their flight info with the major search engines, just knowing a route exists could be the talisman you need to make magic.
But you won't find out what dates or days of the week the flights are in operation. Those omissions make Wikipedia's information half-baked, and good only for knowing which airlines might offer a direct flight for you. You'll need to surf to some other corner of the internet, such as the airline's website, to search for a route's specific dates and times.
(Image source: Wikipedia.com)