Finding flights to obscure places

By Kit Stewart
This item appears on page 14 of the March 2013 issue.

A reader asked about getting to Anadyr, Russia, by means other than a very expensive charter flight from Nome, Alaska (Nov. ’12, pg. 70). I’ve seen several requests in ITN’s “Person to Person” section for this kind of information and thought it would be an entertaining exercise to see what I could find.

There are five pieces of information you need in order to do this kind of search: the code of the airport nearest to your destination; the names of the airlines that fly there; the names of the places those airlines fly from; those airlines’ flight schedules, and how to get to the “from” location.

To find flights to any destination that has a commercial airport, here are steps to take:

• Look up the town on a map to see what the nearest cities are.

• Do an Internet search, typing into the search box the name of the town followed by the word “airport.” If the destination has an airport, this should lead you to its website. Other helpful sources are,, and

• If you find that the destination has an airport, write down its 3-digit code, and if the airport has a website, check which airlines fly there.

• If the airport has no website, see if any of the other sites I gave list which airlines fly there.

• Try the website of the airport of the nearest large city to see if it has a tab for current arrivals and departures. This will tell you which airlines fly to and from there. Look for small local airlines and check their websites for your destination (flying there from a smaller airport, perhaps).

• If nothing else works, look in the transportation sections of travel guidebooks, look for tourism topics on websites local to the area and check US and British state department and foreign embassy websites.

• Once you have the name of an airline that flies into the area, search its website to see if it goes near your destination and where it flies there from. Odds are it will not fly direct from your hometown but from a place you know how to get to (Tokyo, Istanbul or Johannesburg, for instance).

• Sometimes you can locate an airline but no flight schedule to your destination. Try a larger destination to be sure the program is working. If it does show the other city’s schedule, try your destination again but with different dates. (Some schedules only work for winter or summer or midweek.)

• Some small airlines rarely, if ever, update their websites. If you find an airline that is supposed to go to your destination but seemingly doesn’t, look for regional air traffic news about schedules and routings. You can Google “air traffic” or similar words for news or search international airport websites for the same.

I used the steps, above, to look up flights to Anadyr, the destination in the reader’s original query. I found several airlines that supposedly go there: Yakutia Airlines, Chukotavia Airlines and S7 Airlines.

Yakutia Air’s website showed two flights from Khabarovsk (KHV) to Anadyr (DYR) starting on a certain date in winter, one a direct flight and one through Yakutsk.

Chukotavia Air is based in Anadyr, but I couldn’t find either a schedule or website. Looking at a map of Asia, I guessed that Tokyo would be the biggest international city to start from. One of the Tokyo area airports’ websites had a tab for “Far East Service” that gave traffic news, and it mentioned that Yakutia Air would be starting summer service between Anchorage and Petropavlovsk and that S7 Air had winter service from Tokyo to Khabarovsk, as did Vladivostok Air.

So it all depends on when the reader wants to go. (I sent him the screen shots of what I found.)

One caution for anybody who wants to go someplace out of the ordinary — not all local airlines will take international credit cards or issue tickets directly. You may have to go through a third-party booking agent.

Also, schedules are not always adhered to. I suggest you take food, toilet paper, several photocopies of everything and lots of money and patience.

By the way, Russia can be difficult to access if you are not on a group tour. Russia recently has been attempting to make it easier for visitors, however, by requiring the use of Invisa Logistics Services (, and electronic visa applications.

Also, on Dec. 25, 2012, the application form changed; the new form is available at Pay very close attention to all instructions, including those for certain Russian travel agents’ actions. Note that nobody in Russia is going to put out any effort unless you are buying your tour, lodging, etc., from them and make it worth their while.

I should mention that Russian rules and requirements are subject to change, and what works today may not work tomorrow, so always verify current rules and allow plenty of time.

Sequim, WA