ITA Matrix: How to Search for Cheap Airfare with Flexibility

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I always use the ITA Software Matrix. It’s one of the most useful tools to search for available flights and low fares. First, go to matrix.itasoftware.com.

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. 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.

Remember that the 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 Hawaiianairlines.com.

I use ITA Matrix because a quick one-minute search can show me a month at a time on a specific airline or all airlines. Then I can go the airline’s site, select seats, and purchase easily.

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16 Responses to ITA Matrix: How to Search for Cheap Airfare with Flexibility

  1. Hey Scott, love your work on this site!

    Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something with ITA. Doesn’t google flights have the same flexibility and results along with superior interface/usability? By selecting the calendar, you can easily choose the number of days of your trip and graphically see prices across the entire month (and also scroll to other dates with ease using the arrows). I also find it significantly faster.

    Is there anything the ITA software can do that google flights doesn’t?

    Thanks!

  2. IMHO, Google Flights is cleaner for the average user. However, with ITA you can get a lot more specificity in your searches using its advanced syntax. HackMyTrip has a nice write-up on using the advanced routing features here:

    http://hackmytrip.com/2012/01/advanced-routing-language-in-ita/

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  4. Thanks for the compliment!

  5. Obviously, It doesn’t always work.
    I checked the flights I need on ITA, and I was surprised with the price as it was incredibly cheap. However, when I went to the website of the airlines, the actual price was way more than that. Disappointed.

    • @Handan, try using Orbitz or one of those online travel agencies, you will find that the ITA matrix fares are often the same on Orbitz and other websites. You don’t need to book directly with the airline.

  6. need to from ANC to DC June 14 June 18 or june 19 need ticket to MKE, return to ANC june 23 or 24

  7. I love the ITA Matrix website. What I don’t love is that for the life of me I cannot find the fares it posted. I’m trying to buy LAN round trips Santiago-Punta Arenas and Santiago-Calama. ITA lists fares of around $147 pp. All the websites list fares around $447. I’ve tried all the major search engines but the fare is in the $400′s. I’ve emailed the ITA link, to 2 travel agents and tried to book the fare directly with LAN. No dice. Any ideas?

    here is the link below but it’ll probably expire by the time you try.
    http://matrix.itasoftware.com/view/details?session=77757e2b-3dc8-4ffc-8216-8588076968e0

    Fare construction on that page is

    SCL LA PUQ Q12500 20000OEESP963 LA SCL Q12500 20000OEESP963 CLP 65000 END XT 25.00CL

  8. Same problem for me, specific to flights with LAN in Chile. A $347 fare I keep finding is only bookable at $1000+ online or at a travel agent, even when they use the fare construction!

  9. I found a cheap business flight from Bkk – NYC, however, when I clicked to see the shown price – it was adjusted and would appear to be not the same price. Like for instance, it showed $2000 and after the click to see more details it’d appear to be $3000 with number of airlines.

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