How can I do a "broad" search for flights?
Several airline and trip planning sites will allow you to check "I am flexible with my dates" or a similar option. Is there any way to also search more broadly for location?
For example, if you wanted to leave from YYZ or YKF and arrive at any airport in California, can a search for such flights be done somehow?
I ask because when I plan plane trips, I want the lowest price. I'm OK with leaving a day or two later if I save $200 (same with the return trip). There are 3 airports within 80 km of me, I'll leave from the one with the cheapest flight. And I'm also OK with changing the trip to spend time exploring San Francisco instead of lying on the beach near San Diego, and that sort of thing.
Normally this would take dozens of searches, but I'd like to see it all at once.
Are you only interested in US domestic flights or in international sites? You should mention this in your question title.
I have found that many such sites are not as "broad" as they would have their users believe. (I was investigating international fares from Australia) I tried the big sites for my current trip and they all gave higher best prices than I had found on my own with Korean Air and did not offer this airline at all! I did a more thorough check later and found two sites that did offer this airline and even beat the price I already paid! So it's best to shop around even for "shopping around" sites!
@hippietrail Any good site will be intermational, and my example involved Canada to the US. I had problems with Amadeus below not checking all sites/airlines (even the ones it said it would) but Kayak worked properly, fortunately.
Hmm in Australia there are sites which are Australian such as WebJet so I assumed the same was true for other countries.
Rome2Rio is a **great** way to get options. Unfortunately, when it tells you can get from Chicago to Istanbul for $310, it won't tell it you the date. You have to choose a specific date to get a new price.
**Expedia** and **Lastminute** flight searches will show you flights with stops. It also shows the Cheapest flights with 0, 1 or 2+ stops for you to compare. also here are some tricks too: https://travel.stackexchange.com/a/192/55465
As a developer of some search engine for the Amadeus (one of the major companies who provides the air-tickets search), I can say:
Yes, you can, but you should find the site working with Amadeus and provides such option to the search. This option is not as popular as flexible-dates-feature, but you still can try to search such sites. I'll do my best to find them:
Hmm, Kayak seems to work much better, oddly enough! It's also very fast, and while it doesn't show +/- 3 days lumped into one search the dropdown is neat. (The remembered prices from previous searches in the drop down are incorrect though ... hmm.) So not perfect, but very good! +1, I'll hold on acceptance to see if there are any other answers.
Amadeus sells the search engine, but their search itself is not very usable, unfortunately. It is much easier to sell engine than upgrade usability :)
Hmm, just discovered the option to lump +/- 3 days and other dates into one search. Awesome. This and ITA seem to be equally good. For my next trip I'll attempt to plan with both and see what's more helpful.