Flight Booking

How to Find the Cheapest Flights to Anywhere in the World

By
Scott's Cheap Flights
|
SCF Team
May 6, 2021
|
7 min read

You live in Medford, Oregon, and you want to go to Santorini, Greece. What do you do? If you're like most travelers, you fire up Google Flights or your search engine of choice and you look for flights from Medford to Santorini.

It sounds like the most logical strategy, right? And you may get lucky and find a great fare.

But searching from A to B isn't always the best way to find the cheapest flight. 

No, we're not saying if you want a cheap flight you'll need to make several connections and fly for 50 hours. We call it the Greek Islands Trick and it'll get you there in the roughly same amount of time. You’ll just pay a lot less. 

The trick is simple. Rather than booking from your origin to destination, you book departing from a major hub near your origin or you book to a major hub near where you want to go. And then you fill in the shorter hops with a separate round trip flight.

So, if you're the person in Medford dreaming of the Greek Islands, instead of booking from Medford to Santorini for $1,200 roundtrip, you might book Medford to Paris for $530 and then book a European budget airline flight from Paris to Santorini for under $200 saving yourself $400+ on the total. 

Or you might score a deal from San Francisco to Santorini via Paris for $650 roundtrip and then book a separate roundtrip from Medford to San Francisco for $75. Again, you’re saving hundreds—and that buys a lot of gyros and ouzo. 

This trick doesn’t just work for trips to the Greek Islands, though. It can get you anywhere in the world, and one of the main questions we get from members is about the routing to use for specific destinations. If you want to visit Brazil from Chicago, or get to Tokyo from Kansas City, how would you piece together your itinerary for the best savings?

Well, we've got you covered. Read on to learn how to find the cheapest flight to anywhere in the world.

How to find the cheapest flight to Europe

Rothenburg ob de Tober, Germany.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Europe: 

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • DC (DCA, IAD, BWI)
  • Fort Lauderdale/Miami (FLL, MIA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • NYC (JFK, EWR, LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Europe: 

  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Barcelona (BCN)
  • Copenhagen (CPH)
  • Dublin (DUB)
  • London (LHR, LGW)
  • Madrid (MAD)
  • Milan (MXP)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Rome (FCO)
  • Zürich (ZRH)

The best prices and most frequent deals to Europe from the US tend to originate from major hubs on both coasts of the US. That's not to say we never see deals to Europe from other cities, but your odds increase exponentially if you watch flights from these major airports.

It also varies a bit by where you want to go in Europe. For Eastern Europe—countries like Romania, Slovakia, and the Republic of Georgia—JFK is the big winner. NYC and Houston (IAH) also often have great deals to Russia and Ukraine. If you're among the many planning a trip to Iceland, look for deals from cities where Icelandair flies direct: Chicago, Orlando, Minneapolis, Boston, NYC, Seattle, Portland, or Denver.

You can also use this trick on the originating part of your trip. Look for deals from your airport to major Europe hubs. From there, you can connect to a cheap intra-European flight for your final leg. 

For example, if you're dreaming of Poland, the Baltics, or Hungary, and you live near ORD, LAX, MIA, EWR, JFK, or SFO, fly to Warsaw. From there, LOT Polish Airlines offers frequent and cheap connections across Central Europe.

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Europe: 

>> Read our guide to finding the cheapest flights to Europe.

How to find the cheapest flight to Asia

women wearing kimonos in Japan.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Asia: 

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • NYC (JFK, EWR, LGA)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Asia: 

  • Bangkok (BKK)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Seoul (ICN)
  • Singapore (SIN)
  • Tokyo (NRT, HND)

It's not always the case that airports closer to where you want to go will offer more deals, but it is true that many of the deals we find to Asia are from airports on the West Coast. While deals are most frequent from Los Angeles and San Francisco, we also find quite a few from other US hubs like NYC and Chicago.

On the arrival end, we’ve found deals to just about every corner of Asia, but deals to Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and Singapore are among the most frequent. If you can’t find a great deal to your final destination, it’s worth looking at flights to one of these. For example, flights from Hong Kong to Hanoi are often under $150 roundtrip.

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Asia: 

How to find the cheapest flight to Central or South America

flamingoes around a lake in Bolivia.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Central or South America: 

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • DC (IAD)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • NYC (JFK, LGA, EWR)
  • Orlando (MCO)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Central or South America: 

  • Buenos Aires (EZE)
  • Cartagena (CTG)
  • Panama City (PTY)
  • Santiago (SCL)

Again, when it comes to departure airports, the big East Coast hubs see a lot of deals, but so do spots in Florida and Texas, which often have the lowest prices on nonstop flights. If you can snag a cheap flight to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Houston, or Dallas you can often fly direct from there to Central or South America for just a few hundred bucks. 

Flights within Central and South America aren’t as cheap as flights within Asia and Europe. There’s not a lot of competition from budget airlines to drive prices down, so you’ll typically want to fly at least to the country you want to visit, if not to the specific city. But once you’re in the country you can typically fill in the last leg with a reasonably priced flight. 

For example, if you’re dreaming of a wine-fueled getaway in Mendoza, Argentina, you might be able to save by booking your long-haul to Buenos Aires and then separately booking your one-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, which you can usually find for under $100 roundtrip. 

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Central and South America: 

How to find the cheapest flight to the Caribbean

sandy beach in Haiti.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to the Caribbean: 

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • DC (IAD)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • NYC (JFK, LGA, EWR)
  • Orlando (MCO)

Best arrival islands for frequent deals to the Caribbean: 

  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (STT)
  • Christiansted, St. Croix (STX)
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)

For flights to the Caribbean islands, the East Coast and Florida win again, with the most frequent deals and often the lowest prices, particularly on nonstop flights. 

Since you’ll want to fly directly to your island of choice, your best bet for snagging a cheaper flight is often to grab an amazing deal to the Caribbean from one of the above US airports and then book a separate roundtrip to position yourself from your home airport to your international departure spot. 

But if you’re not picky and are just looking to escape to any Caribbean island for some sun and sand, check out fares to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and the US Virgin Islands. 

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to the Caribbean: 

How to find the cheapest flight to Africa

balloon over Zebras in Africa.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Africa: 

  • DC (IAD)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • NYC (JFK, LGA, EWR)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Africa: 

  • Cairo (CAI)
  • Cape Town (CPT)
  • Casablanca (CMN)
  • Dar es Salaam (DAR)
  • Johannesburg (JNB)
  • Nairobi (NBO)

Deals to Africa don’t come around with as much frequency as deals to Europe, and prices tend to be higher. DC and NYC reliably have the most frequent deals to most of the continent, which Houston can be a great option to West African spots like Côte d'Ivoire and Togo. 

As with Central and South America, there also aren’t a ton of low-cost carriers serving Africa, so you’ll want to fly to the country you want to visit, or at least pretty close. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Namibia, you could look at flights from the US to Cape Town and then book a separate roundtrip for the two-hour flight from Cape Town to Windhoek. 

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Africa: 

How to find the cheapest flight to Australia, New Zealand, or the Pacific Islands

Sydney Harbour.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands: 

  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands: 

  • Auckland (AKL)
  • Melbourne (MEL)
  • Sydney (SYD)
  • Tahiti (PPT)

The best prices and most frequent deals to Oceania are found from California (with honorable mention to Hawaii), so if you can snag a great deal from LA or SF and then book a separate roundtrip from your home airport to one of those cities, you stand to save big. 

You have about equal chances of snagging a great deal to any of the major cities in Australia or New Zealand. But if you want to visit a spot like Perth or Cairns in Australia or Queenstown in New Zealand, look at flying into one of the above hubs and then booking a separate roundtrip to get you the rest of the way. And if the islands of French Polynesia are on your list, focus on getting a great deal to Tahiti first; you can book a separate roundtrip from Tahiti to your final island.  

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands: 

How to find the cheapest flight to Hawaii

aerial view of Hawaii coastline.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands: 

  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Seattle (SEA)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Hawaii: 

  • Kahului, Maui (OGG)
  • Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)
  • Kona, Hawaii (KOA)
  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH)

It’s pretty easy to see the common thread between the best cities for deals to Hawaii: they’re all on the West Coast, with a heavy concentration in California. If you live in a smaller city in California, Oregon, or Washington, or a bigger hub anywhere in the western half of the US and you can’t find a great deal from your airport to Hawaii, it’s definitely worth checking out fares from one of these cities. 

As with the Caribbean it makes sense to fly directly to the Hawaiian island you want to visit (though inter-island flights can be as low as $50 roundtrip if you do want to island hop) but if you’re not picky about which paradise you visit, you’re in luck. We’ve found plenty of great deals to all of the major islands. 

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Hawaii: 

>> Read our guide to finding the cheapest flights to Hawaii.

How to find the cheapest flight to Alaska

road with mountain in the distance in Alaska.

Best departing airports for frequent deals to Alaska: 

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Minneapolis (MSP) 
  • Seattle (SEA) 
  • Portland (PDX)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Alaska: 

  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Fairbanks (FAI)

Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle typically have the most frequent deals and best prices—particularly for nonstop flights—to Alaska, so if you can get to one of those cities cheaply you can often make your way to “The Last Frontier” for a pretty great price. 

Flights within Alaska can be expensive, so you’ll want to fly directly to where you’re going. If you’re not tied to one destination, Anchorage, the biggest city in Alaska, is your best bet for a great deal. However, we’ve also found some pretty sweet fares to Fairbanks, as well as smaller spots like Juneau and Ketchikan. 

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Alaska: 

How to find the cheapest flights to Canada or Mexico 

Mexico City.

Best departure hubs for frequent deals to Canada and Mexico: 

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • NYC (JFK, LGA, EWR)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)

Best arrival hubs for frequent deals to Canada and Mexico: 

  • Cancún (CUN)
  • Cozumel (CZM)
  • Mexico City (MEX)
  • Montréal (YUL)
  • Oaxaca (OAX)
  • Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  • San José del Cabo (SJD)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)

Canada and Mexico are a bit harder to pin down when it comes to foolproof routing. For trips to Mexico, you’ll have a slight edge on deals departing from San Francisco, LA, Dallas, and Houston. For Canada, proximity matters. The most frequent deals to west coast spots like Vancouver depart from Seattle, Portland, LA, and SF, while the most frequent deals to cities on the east coast like Toronto and Montréal will be found departing from NYC and Boston. 

But, we’ve found tons of great deals from just about every major (and lots of minor) US airports to spots all over Canada and Mexico, so no matter where you live chances are you can snag an awesome price to either country. 

Mexico has a few options for low-cost flights within the country but in Canada, domestic flights can be absurdly expensive, so you’ll want to fly directly to where you want to go. If you’re open to visiting anywhere in our neighbors to the north and south, cities on the coasts (along with Mexico City) tend to have the most frequent deals. 

Amazing deals we’ve previously found to Canada and Mexico: 


Join Scott's Cheap Flights and get alerted when we find amazing deals like these. Members save an average of $550 on international economy flights. And for more tips, check out our ultimate guide to finding cheap flights.

Last Updated 
May 6, 2021
How to Find the Cheapest Flights to Anywhere in the World
Scott's Cheap Flights
SCF Team

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