Free First Class Next Month: Using ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights and Fuel Surcharge Info

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This is the twenty-ninth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using the FlyerTalk Mileage Run Deals Forum to Find Cheap Flights and Mistake Fares.

I use the ITA Software Matrix for two reasons: to find cheap flights and to find the fuel surcharges on award tickets. To get to the ITA Matrix, go to

Type in your home airport and destination airport. You can use airport codes like JFK (New York-JFK) or even city codes like NYC (which includes JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.)

For this example, let’s look at JFK to Honolulu. ITA Matrix is awesome, so you can type in all kinds of commands like which airline you want to fly. Scottrick has a great post with examples of the commands you can use. In the example below, I wrote HA into the boxes, which means only return Hawaiian Airlines results. I did that because Hawaiian has a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu. If you leave that blank, all airlines will be returned.

I also prefer to search certain length trips one month at a time for the lowest fares, so use that section of the form by selecting “See calendar of lowest fares.” I’ve asked it to search for 3-8 night itineraries leaving in the month of January.

After you click Search, you will be taken to a calendar displaying the lowest fare departing each day. You can ignore fares in light blue (though $447 is still a great price). You are targeting the $435 days in bold orange.

Clicking on a particular date will bring up the lowest prices departing on that date and returning 3-8 days later. Once you have found a comfortable length of time, click to display the flight.

Unfortunately ITA Matrix is only for finding airfares. You don’t have the ability to book directly through this site. Write down the dates and flight numbers that work for you, and book directly through or a portal that will earn you miles.

The other use of ITA Matrix–besides finding cheap flights–is to figure out the fuel surcharges on a routing. ITA Matrix gives a breakdown of every dollar of the price of a ticket including fuel surcharges.

For the airlines that charge fuel surcharges for booking awards, the fuel surcharges you see in the price of a cash ticket will match the fuel surcharges you have to pay. I’ll give the same example I gave in my post on fuel surcharges when redeeming Delta SkyMiles for partners.

If I wanted to book an economy class award from JFK to Moscow on Aeroflot with Delta miles, I would be on the hook for surcharges. To double check what the Delta agent tells me–or to know what the amount will be before calling–I can search for the same flights on the ITA Matrix. If I select them, I will see a breakdown of their ticket price.

Anything on the breakdown labeled as YQ or YR is a fuel surcharge.

In this case, the fuel surcharges would be about $240 roundtrip, so I would know the cost would be 60k miles plus taxes plus $240.

ITA Matrix is a great tool to find cheap airfare and to price out the fuel surcharges on awards. It’s an advanced tool that can take you from beginner to expert quickly.

Continue to Status.

7 Responses to Free First Class Next Month: Using ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights and Fuel Surcharge Info

  1. Any tips on how to avoid fuel surcharges on certain flights?

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