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A Complete Guide to Using the ITA Matrix for Cheap Flight

cheap flights

MIT scientists invented the ITA Software Matrix in the 1990s as a tool to solve the issues of cheap flight tickets. There had never been a search engine that consistently returned the lowest prices. QPX was the name of the initial software. Orbitz was the first company to use the system. Google then bought the program in around 2011 and merged into its current search engine to generate Google Flight Search. Although, there is a thorough history available, most travel organizations, including airline companies, meta-search websites (like Orbitz and Kayak), and others, currently employ the software. The management is actively using version 3.0 of the system, which includes Google integration. On the website, you'll find information about upgrades and software. The OnTheFly software system has been retired, which is disappointing for loyal users. To access ITA on a mobile device, you'll need a mobile browser. Google Flights also does not have a mobile app.

What is ITA Matrix?

According to The Point Guy, both businesses and individuals use ITA Matrix, which is part of the broader ITA Software company, to discover low-cost flights. Airlines such as Delta, American, United, and Delta, among others, use ITA Matrix to convey valuable flight services to users and keep them motivated all through the booking process. However, ITA Matrix is not only a useful tool for airlines but also something that travelers utilize to do complex flight searches all around the globe. Even though Google Flights makes better use of this program, utilizing it in its initial form gives you much more search capability and customization, allowing you to discover precisely the flight you want in a brief period.

How to use ITA Matrix to find cheap flights

It's simple to find affordable flights using ITA Matrix. You will begin by selecting your departure and destinations, accompanied by your trip dates, just as you would with any other airline search tool. According to the Finance Buzz, you can use ITA Matrix to look for multi-city, one-way, and return flights. You can further refine your search by selecting additional requirements such as your seat class (under "cabin") as well as the number of routes. You may refine your search even further to see airline fares in different currencies. You will be able to customize between specific or estimated dates when inputting your flight search function, enabling you to even further limit options if you already have some versatility in your travel plans. This can be done for either or both your departure and return date. The search results are presented in the order that you may anticipate, with the cheapest flights appearing first (if that is the search criteria you selected). The opportunity to view what other airlines are charging for the same flights is a pretty useful feature of these search results. This makes deciding whether to pay cash for a cheaper travel or use the airline loyalty program points to pay for a somewhat more costly flight much easier. This tool also allows you to adjust your query results even though they've finished loading. You can limit your findings using the drop-down choices on the results page (beginning with "price" and "airline") specific criteria such as precise departure and travel patterns, or simply see only flights provided by your chosen airlines. While the search terms will lead you to a "full trips" summary (located right just above from/to drop-down), you can also choose "specific flights" to personalize each leg of your journey. Although this option isn't necessary for basic itineraries such as a direct ticket from Boston to San Francisco, it is extremely useful when booking more complex excursions that include layovers or connecting flights.

How do I book a flight using the ITA Metrix?

When you've chosen a flight you like, click the pricing button to learn additional information about it. Even though you can book directly through ITA Matrix, the cost information on this website is quite useful. Make a mental note of this so you can buy your ticket somewhere else later. This pricing tab may not only reveal the specific detailed cost of just what goes through into overall cost of your flight, but also displays the number of miles you will get out of the flight (check the gray box called "Mileage") and data on the airports included in your journey. One of ITA Matrix's main drawbacks is that you can't book directly on their website. It won't even lead you to a separate site for booking; you'll have to do it yourself by going to the airline's website and booking using the flight information from ITA Matrix. To ensure that you discover the precise trip on the airline's website, make a note of the airlines, flight numbers, and dates and times of travel. Thankfully, this opens up the door towards other options for booking your flights. Options that could save you cash or earn you extra points towards future flights.

When booking travel, earn the most points possible

According to the Upgrade Points, when making reservations on this site, you'll want to be sure you're collecting significant loyalty points. Other travel credit cards, can give you lots a bonus when you are using them to make travel purchases. The cards accumulate flexible points, which may be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel partners, making them extremely profitable and valuable. If you want additional information, we've produced articles about Chase's and Amex's transfer partners.

Using the ITA Matrix to change currencies

If you modify the denomination and region, you may be able to get cheaper tickets. It doesn't appear to be enough rhyme or purpose for this, but then you can experiment with it to see what transpires. According to Scotts Cheap Flights, the lowest airfare right now is $812.43 using those search parameters and a dynamic booking window of +/- 2 days. If you switch the sales location to New York City, your flight costs the same as before, however when we adjust the denomination to Thai Baht (THB), your flight costs $822. Although the difference isn't considerable, it does demonstrate how changing your search settings might generate different results.

What are the advanced ITA Matrix codes?

Whereas traditional search engines simply differ on price, ITA Matrix features various effective options to search for a particular ticket. As per The Points Guy, you can enter an unlimited number of commands in the advanced routing boxes to select your ideal flight. There are three sections which will allow you to determine the proper code to enter into ITA Matrix (you may access the legend by clicking the first "question mark"). You can search that manner if you are looking for a certain flight on a specific carrier. We will use American Airlines as an example in this case. Consider the following scenario: I'm searching for a trip from Houston (IAH) to Miami (MIA), however I just want to fly using American Airlines. Then I'd type C: AA that would rule out other airlines. This strategy can be useful when you are loyal to one airline although flying into a competitor airline's hub, such as United's hub in Houston. Many visitors find landing in London (LHR) to be a frustrating experience. You would not want to change trains on the journey back? Simply be using the code LHR and avoid a stopover at Heathrow. Maybe you wanted to visit Delta towards the West Coast in two parts and connect in Minneapolis (MSP). DL MSP DL is the route code to utilize in this scenario. Route codes gives us the freedom to specify more particular parameters for our travels such that we wouldn't have to worry over screening out anything else whenever we run our searches. A few of the choices are similar to the filters on the findings screen, while many are unique to this screen. You can use it for a variety of purposes and apply various filters at the same time:

  • • Look for or exclude certain airlines/alliances.
  • • Look up the number of connections to identify direct flights, one-stop flights, two-stop flights, and so on.
  • • Simply include or exclude specific airports (whether multi-city, connections or direct flights)
  • • Specify whether or not particular trip durations or advisories should be included (short connections, overnights, etc.)

Airlines are referred to by official two-digit code for example, "AA" is for American Airlines, and airports are referred to by respective three-digit code for instance "ORD" is O'Hare in this syntax.

Advanced Routing Codes Matrix ITA Software

If you have used Kayak, Google Flights, or any other travel search engine, you're aware that they have some limits if you're looking for a very special subset of flight. Every one of those barriers are shattered by ITA Matrix! You could well have observed that when looking for a flight, you have always had the freedom to pick "Advanced routing codes." You can been immediately overloaded and bewildered after clicking on the option with the question mark to understand more since opening those. Don't be alarmed! This is a lot to absorb in, and you shouldn't have to know everything. This is an effective instrument, and they are the important aspects for turning the Matrix ITA application into your own personal travel agent.

How to get the most out of your ITA Matrix booking by using a credit card

Use ITA Matrix to research flights and thereafter book your flight immediately through your credit card rewards points portal to get the most out of this extensive search engine. Because most credit card travel websites are notoriously clumsy, it doesn't hurt to look for your travel details as well before purchasing using your card to earn miles. Utilizing ITA Matrix to search for flights and thereafter purchasing them through your credit rewards portal can give you the perfect blend: you'll be able to find the cheapest flights that meet your timeline while also earning credit card rewards points. You might well be capable of transferring your points straight to an airline and then use the points to purchase tickets from a booking page if you've had a qualifying credit card from providers like American Express or Chase. If you may not have enough miles on your card to reclaim points, just book the journey on the booking site using your traveling credit card, and you'll start accumulating points towards future flights. If you don't already also have some of the top travel credit cards, you should get one before applying your newly acquired ITA Matrix knowledge to the test.

The benefits and drawbacks of the ITA Matrix

The most appealing aspect of adopting ITA Matrix is the high amount of customization offered. The ability to run a search with this degree of precision, however, it comes at a cost, and time is the price in this case. ITA Matrix does have a significantly lengthier waiting longer to charge search terms, despite the fact that most users undertake several flight inquiries on multiple platforms to find the best travel schedule. By today's standards, the time taken to display the answers of your search is excruciatingly slow. They admit this by advising clients to visit "Google Flight Search for rapid performance" while the page is loading. The user interface is also not particularly appealing, including using ITA Matrix seems like a strange flashback to a time before websites were well-designed. Although most airline companies are also included in the search engine results, some are not in their data base, which implies that there may be flights that meet your standards but never appear in the result obtained. The fact that customers can't purchase flights straight via ITA Matrix is the final and most significant disadvantage of using their search engine. That implies that once you've found the perfect trip, you'll need to take note of the flight details and book tickets only with airline or somewhere else.

In conclusion

ITA Matrix is a very fantastic tool when you take some time to understand how to use it, even if it isn't flawless. It won't receive any awards for customer experience or aesthetics, but it will save both time and pain when booking flights - especially considering precisely everything you want and are having trouble finding it on popular search engines such as Google Flights. While this degree of information may be excessive for some tourists, it does serve as a stepping stone, allowing you to schedule the precise flights you desire with yet more clarity on ticket prices and how they relate to the competition. Generally, we'd call it a success.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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