Using OpenFlights to find airline routes

One of the best pieces of advice about finding award space that I could offer is – find the most difficult leg of the itinerary, and work from there. There are a lot of tools available online that can help in finding award space, but not all of them are robust enough to think of weird permutations – like flying to Tokyo via Frankfurt from the US (a perfectly enjoyable route, just a little longer). One of the tools I use for this, I actually picked up from a Million Mile Secrets post I saw more than two years ago. That tool is Essentially, the tool identifies airline routes that connect the particular airport you’re looking for.

About the Tool

I primarily use when I’m looking for airline linkages to a particular place I’d like to visit. The starting display gives you a world map, and some sorting functionality on the side (more on that in a bit).

Starting display for

Starting display for

To use a short example, lets say I want to go to the Seychelles – here’s what I get when I put in SEZ – the airport code for Mahe, The Seychelles. data for airports connected to the Seychelles. data for airports connected to the Seychelles.

You can also export the routes to Great Circle Mapper (gcmap):

Routes operated to the Seychelles (courtesy of

Routes operated to the Seychelles (courtesy of

Now, if I wanted to, I could start using the filter for the carriers, however, it doesn’t really give you the option to narrow it down by airline alliances. Instead, what I like to do is get the next level of data, which you can get by selecting the airport, then selecting “List Routes” – This is what you get at the bottom of your screen: detail of flights to The Seychelles. detail of flights to The Seychelles.

In this case, its pretty easy to tell that some of the flights are codeshares, you can export the info to excel, but for these purposes, its kind’ve overkill. For example, of the first three between SEZ and Abu Dhabi (AUH), you can tell the first two (Alitalia and Etihad Airways) are the same aircraft ([A]320), whereas the third, Air Seychelles has two – [A]320 and [A]332. So if you wanted to fly from AUH, you’d have to do a bit of research – not to go too far on a tangent, but you can attempt to correlate this information with Wikipedia:

Airlines that serve Mahe, The Seychelles (SEZ) and destinations they link, via Wikipedia.

Airlines that serve Mahe, The Seychelles (SEZ) and destinations they link, via Wikipedia.

There are some inconsistencies between the data, and candidly, I trust more. From some further research, I know that Qatar Airways suspended their flight in June 2013.

Back to getting the Seychelles

Ok, so hopefully we agree, you won’t be flying Alitalia to the Seychelles (for now at least). Boiling it down to the “commonly available” award redemptions, I’d limit it to: Etihad Airways (via American Airlines miles), Sri Lankan (via Oneworld), Emirates (via Alaska Airlines miles), South African Airways (via Star Alliance), Kenya Airways (via Sky Team).

Wrapping up

For popular destinations, its probably not necessary to use, unless you’re looking for Fifth Freedom flights or if you’re looking to fly a particular airline (in which case you’d search for your origin). That said, the tool is really helpful for some of the more remote or exotic destinations that are not served by as many airports.

Have you used Or are there destinations on your bucket list where this would be helpful?

6 thoughts on “Using OpenFlights to find airline routes

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  2. Great post, I’m gonna fool around with OpenFlights when I get time, I usually just use Wikipedia.

    I always wanted to take Jess to Seychelles but lost the ability to do it via Skyteam right around when we were going to have enough miles to go (went Bora Bora instead). Looks like Qatar could be a good option thru doha too!

    • @Joe – so, Qatar cancelled their flight to the Seychelles in 2013… I don’t know if they’re re-starting it. There are still a good number of options of ways to get there… like if you’re going to use AA miles, you could fly Etihad (90k for First Class, but be aware, I think they only operate business from AUH-SEZ).

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