There are lots of methods to seek for flights: airline web sites, on-line journey companies (OTAs), search aggregators like Kayak, and even visiting a human journey agent. Nonetheless, many of those instruments try to promote you one thing — a ticket on your subsequent enterprise journey or trip — and will not all the time present essentially the most helpful info.

It’s not that these corporations are out to get you. There’s simply an vital distinction between shopping for a ticket and trying to find a ticket. ITA Matrix, a search instrument bought by Google a number of years in the past, is designed completely for looking. You may’t purchase a ticket from them, though many web sites do use the identical expertise to function their very own reserving instruments. Google purchased the corporate partially to develop Google Flights, one other useful gizmo.

Within the first installment of this three-part evaluation, I’ll present you why ITA Matrix is so vital and the right way to carry out fundamental search queries. Within the second installment, I’ll cowl a few of the distinctive superior routing language that ITA Matrix makes use of to make trying to find airfare extra highly effective than anyplace else. Lastly, the third installment will focus on the right way to use ITA to carry out a number of methods like hidden metropolis ticketing in addition to different ideas for saving cash on airfare.

Why Use ITA Matrix?

ITA Matrix – usually known as “ITA” for brief — is beneficial as a result of it supplies unbelievable management over the parameters of your search. You may search for particular flight numbers, restrict connections, and evaluate a number of airways directly (or exclude them). These are issues you are able to do on different websites, however ITA does them higher and does all of them.

Lastly, ITA supplies extra detailed info on fares than you’ll get out of your common web site. Do you know that the variety of seats accessible on a flight and the worth you pay are literally two separate issues? Even the worth is damaged down into a number of parts. You may dive deep into these particulars — or ignore them — utilizing ITA Matrix.

Tips on how to Filter Search Outcomes

Superior routing language is vital to benefiting from ITA Matrix. Nonetheless, it’s a very advanced subject, which is why we dedicate a separate submit to explaining it. I’ll use a number of examples on this introduction to get you began.

First, it helps to be conversant in airline and airport codes. Each airline is represented by a two-character IATA code. For instance, United Airways is “UA” and American Airways is “AA.” These aren’t all the time abbreviations; JetBlue Airways is “B6.” Equally, each airport has a three-letter IATA code. San Francisco is “SFO” and Dallas-Fort Value is “DFW.” Typically a number of airports in a metropolitan space will be referenced directly utilizing a metropolis code, like “NYC.” In case you’re ever uncertain what the proper code is, a fast Google search can normally reveal the reply.

Second, keep in mind that all superior routing language is non-obligatory. In its absence ITA will simply search all attainable choices. While you do use superior routing language you add restrictions.

To seek for a selected airline, enter that airline’s code.

Instance 1: AA (one flight marketed by AA)

To seek for a number of flights on a selected airline, enter that airline’s code a number of occasions for every flight, or use the plus image to specify no precise quantity.

Instance 2: AA AA AA (three flights marketed by AA)
Instance 3: AA+ (a number of flights marketed by AA)

To seek for a selected connecting airport, enter that airport’s code. You should use this with or with out an airline code.

Instance 4: AA DFW AA (two flights marketed by AA, with a connection in DFW)
Instance 5: DFW (a connection in DFW sooner or later within the journey)

If fascinated with a couple of airline or airport, you may listing a number of choices separated by a comma.

Instance 6: AA,AS (one flight operated by AA or AS)
Instance 7: DFW,ORD (a connection in both DFW or ORD)

Step-by-Step Instance of Utilizing ITA Matrix

Outline the Question

You’ll all the time need to enter your origin and vacation spot airports. As well as, add some superior routing language for those who assume it is going to be helpful. Both click on on the hyperlink so as to add the superior routing language beneath the airport or add it after in the identical line separated with two colons. (Don’t fear if ITA Matrix fills within the full identify of an airport after you enter the three-letter code.)


Within the instance beneath, I’m trying to find a round-trip flight from Chicago-O’Hare to Maui. Each codecs for getting into superior routing language are proven, indicating a connection in Seattle or Portland on the outbound and a connection in San Francisco or Los Angeles on the return. No airline is specified.


After that you may select your dates, variety of passengers, and most well-liked cabin. In case you’re versatile, you may inform ITA Matrix to look on the precise date or as much as +/- Three days. On this instance I’ll select +/- 1 day in order that journey continues to be on the weekends.


Most of those different settings don’t have to be modified. It’s uncommon to search out discounted fares for youngsters or seniors, and superior routing language is a extra handy approach to restrict the variety of stops than utilizing the drop-down menu.

Do ensure that the field is checked to solely search flights and costs with accessible seats (ITA Matrix is able to trying to find hypothetical fares even when the flight is bought out). It’s also possible to change the forex or gross sales metropolis for those who’re buying a world ticket. Typically a ticket can have a distinct worth when bought in different nations.


Viewing and Choosing Outcomes

The search outcomes are displayed in three codecs: Full Itinerary, Particular person Flights, and Time Bars. The primary two are most likely codecs with which you might be acquainted. They require you to type via lists of fares and discover the occasions and dates that be just right for you.

Time Bars is a much less widespread format however might be extra useful. It represents every airline as a distinct colour and makes use of a visible illustration to point out the time, period, and connections for every itinerary. You type the listing by arrival or departure time, restrict connections, and even hover over every bar to be taught extra about that flight.


Choose every leg of the journey separately. The costs listed are all the time the bottom attainable worth together with that possibility, which suggests different alternatives made later may increase the worth — however at the least one possibility will nonetheless be accessible on the worth you noticed beforehand. Orange textual content signifies the most cost effective possibility on the web page.

If you want, you may work backwards by deciding on the return journey from the highest of the web page to view these outcomes first.


Among the best choices right here appears to be a Saturday morning itinerary with flights on Alaska Airways and Hawaiian Airways. It’s not the most cost effective possibility, however it’s simply $111 extra, has a brief connection, and doesn’t require taking break day work on Friday. After deciding on this selection I get an inventory of return flights.

On the primary web page I used to be promised a fare of $1,113 — and there are a number of return choices which can be nonetheless accessible at that worth. Others could also be dearer. The bets possibility might be to return on Friday. It’s not solely cheaper but in addition signifies that I’ll be capable to return residence that weekend. Most of the dearer flights are Sunday evening redeyes. I’ll choose the primary possibility from the listing, which minimizes the connection time in San Francisco.

Studying the Itinerary

After deciding on the flights there might be a abstract of the itinerary. This consists of detailed info on the airline, flight numbers, plane sort, and the reserving class.

ITA search results 4

Beneath the itinerary is a blue field with a breakdown of the fare, together with the bottom fare and any related taxes and charges. This may be useful to estimate the charges for a similar itinerary when booked as an award ticket, or to calculate the variety of frequent flyer miles you’ll earn on the bottom fare. There are additionally some methods, like gas dumping, that depend on this info.


Discover that this itinerary is definitely a mixture of 4 completely different fares. You may nonetheless purchase them collectively on a single ticket. Typically mixing fares is cheaper, and typically one fare that covers all the journey is cheaper. It’s troublesome to foretell.

The larger problem is that there are three airways on this itinerary, and airline web sites like to advertise their very own fares. Journey brokers (on-line and in particular person) typically do a greater job serving to you ebook tickets which have flights operated by a number of completely different carriers.

Use Versatile Dates for Decrease Fares

It’s attainable that I might ebook a decrease fare if I eliminated a few of the superior routing language. Forcing my connections in sure cities eradicated some choices. One other good approach to discover low cost fares is to be very versatile with dates. How versatile? You may inform ITA Matrix to look a whole month directly. Simply select the earliest attainable departure and the way lengthy you need to be away. Enter a variety of dates for those who’re unsure. For a week-long journey you may search 5-6 nights. For a weekend you may search 2-Three nights.

I’ll strive a brand new search, this time being extra versatile with my itinerary and dates.

Search outcomes for versatile dates start with a calendar view. The least expensive fares are in orange. Hover over the departure date to see how costs change with the size of keep. After making a alternative, you’ll see extra detailed details about every flight as within the first instance.

ITA flexible dates 2

ITA Matrix can’t ebook tickets, however it is extremely good at discovering the very best choices. Simply know that you must be capable to ebook the identical itinerary for a similar worth on one other web site. You may attempt to reconstruct the outcomes by going to the airline’s web site immediately, use a web based journey company, or by taking a screenshot to share with a human journey agent. Hipmunk is a very useful on-line journey company since it may possibly perceive some (not all) of ITA’s superior routing language, enabling you to enter precise flight numbers if different choices aren’t working.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed listed here are writer’s alone, not these of any financial institution, bank card issuer, lodge, airline, or different entity. This content material has not been reviewed, authorised or in any other case endorsed by any of the entities included inside the submit.

UGC Disclosure: The responses beneath should not offered or commissioned by the financial institution advertiser. Responses haven’t been reviewed, authorised, or in any other case endorsed by the financial institution advertiser. It isn’t the financial institution advertiser’s duty to make sure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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