Find flights from different cities to common meetup destinations

Identifying the best combination of flights from different airports to a common destination can be challenging.

When organizing such a get-together you may consider several destinations, and would like all parties to arrive at a similar time. And as always, you don’t want it to cost more than necessary.

If you’ve ever tried searching for such flights you’ll know it’s a time consuming task. For this job a dedicated tool comes handy. At PanFlights users have for many years been able to find suitable flights for meeting up. Recently we released an overhaul to our tool for joining trips from different parts of the country, continent and even the whole world.

Search from different cities in parallel to find common destinations

In the screenshot below you will see an example search for three persons from New York City, one from Las Vegas and two from Chicago looking to meet somewhere in the United States where flights can take them cheaply and conveniently.

Search for flights from multiple cities like New York, Las Vegas and Chicago in parallel
Preparing for a parallel search from multiple departure airports to various destinations in the United States.

As the biggest group of people travels from New York one can assume that the total travel cost and duration will be minimized if this group travels a relatively short distance. To Atlanta for instance. But with the complex flight network and the advanced pricing optimization strategies airlines use, the best common destination will be difficult to predict.

Map with traffic-light colored markers with price and travel duration

At PanFlights we find explore maps for flights very handy, and we have therefore included a number of features we think you will like.

For instance, our explore maps are based on the selected results sorting order. When sorting by price, the cheapest cities you can fly to are highlighted in green.

The above search gave the following price-sorted explore map of possible destinations. Miami came out as the cheapest option, with an average round-trip cost of $100. But the average travel time was high at roughly three and a half hours in each direction for the six travelers.

Price map for six people traveling from three different cities to meet somewhere. The average travel duration in each direction is provided.

Sorting using a combination of quality factors gave a “best”-version of the explore map, as shown below. Charlotte is highlighted there as among the best. More expensive than to Miami, but the travel duration is one hour less. Among the quality factors used in the “best” sorting mode are

  • arrival time differences
  • price
  • travel duration
  • the number and duration of layovers
  • the time of day for departing and landing
Explore map where good flight destinations are shown in green.

While San Fransisco is in green, many other cities are also. The zoom level of the map offered space to show most markers as dots only. Zooming in will be beneficial here.

Arrival times at destinations are grouped together

Below the map the search results are shown in selected sorting order. Combinations of flights from the different departure cities are shown. The top result was to Cincinnati. For simplicity only the inbound flights are shown in this example.

There are no red-eye departures or arrivals, and the arrival times are relatively close. The moderate price and travel duration were other factors that together make this result win the top spot.

Click a result to open up the details view that includes booking links. The cheapest found for another search was to Phoenix, here is what this looked like:

The price from Chicago is for two persons, the one from New York is for three.

Improve results by narrowing down the search

Even though the results from the first search look good, the large amount of flights across the States means that several options were never seen in the initial broad search. If you make another search to a specific city identified as having good potential in that first search, results can improve.

To demonstrate, here is a search result from when the searched destination was Atlanta, and not United States. In this example I replaced Las Vegas with Los Angeles.

All flights are here scheduled to arrive within just 33 minutes of each other. The travelers can then easily meet up at the airport and travel to the city together, thereby increasing the time spent together.

Find good travel dates by searching flexibly

You can search very broadly, with an extreme case being a search from anywhere to anywhere, on any dates. Since you will know different limits before the search it’s better to specify those before searching.

Perhaps you’re looking for a week long meetup in Florida in March. Then use a flexible departure date, a stay length of 7 days and possibly also the Time-filters before searching. Use filters also after the search to further narrow down the result set to meet your preferences.

Search screen

Example explore map for week-long non-stop meetup trips found from New York and Los Angeles in March 2024.

A similar scenario is if you’re looking for long weekend trips from say Thursday to Sunday over a date range. In that case it is preferable to set the Days-filter before searching.

If you find few or no good results, search for one-way flights instead of round-trips. That may bring up good cities or dates to narrow down on.

Include luggage cost and enjoy a more interactive filtering of the search results

PanFlights is also a general flight search engine that comes with a number of powerful features.

We show trips with good stopover options automatically. That can increase the travel experience while also reducing the price. The user interface is very responsive. Try to filter results by moving one of the sliding filters and notice how fast results are updated.

Our multi-city search capabilities are unusually feature rich. We offer great functionality for finding trips with reduced emission levels, through unique routes that combine flights with other transport modes.

If search engines begin to rank sites based on their emission cutting effectiveness, and journalists start writing about the trip planning technology many will be able to cut their travel emissions.

I’m glad that PanFlights has become the favorite flight search tool for many. Happy trip planning.

Map tiles from screenshots are © Openstreetmap contributors.

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