Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Travel Tip - ITA Matrix Airfare Search

Booking a trip is sometimes the most difficult part of the journey.  Luckily, Google has the solution, not Google Flight Search. The best Google travel  product is ITA Software's matrix airfare search tool:  This tool has more options than anything else on the web.  I love the feature that allows you to search and airport within 2,000 miles of your selected airport (a great way to find cheap flights to Europe with only one search).  You can also hand enter any number of airport codes in the search box.  It can even sort fares by price per mile.  The month long search lets you check fares of a 30 day period with several different trip duration.  The one downside is you need to book somewhere else, sometimes a challenge to reproduce the routing online, but most United agents can do it (to avoid the $25 fee, use a paper voucher or a gift certificate) and works 80% of the time.

Some advanced routing codes:  (these will work with any airline code)
UA,UA+   2 or more flights on United
AA  Single flight on American
AS,UA  First on Alaska, second on United
ITA Matrix Airfare Month Long Search Example
UPDATE 6/23/13
I usually use Expedia to buy flights found on ITA Matrix.  The trick is to just be specific with departure time and airline preference in the advanced search function.  If that fails, I use Hipmunk to book a fare rather Expedia or Travelocity.  Hipmunk doesn't 100% of the time either.  Sometimes the airlines just won't sell it to you.

When doing a mileage run (trip just for miles) search like the one pictured, be sure to uncheck the Allow Airport Changes field.  Also set the Length of Stay field to 0 so you don't need a hotel; a 0 length of stay will include overnight flights in the results.


  1. Need your help. Found an acceptable flight on ITA but can not book the exact flight using Expedia.
    Here's my ita link:


    1. Hal,

      Sorry your link didn't work. takes the advanced routing codes like ITA Matrix and is worth a try. Some fares on ITA can't be booked online at all. Persistence and some flexibility are key.

  2. Hello,

    could you give more comments on:
    "(to avoid the $25 fee, use a paper voucher or a gift certificate)."

    Thank you very much

    1. Most airlines don't charge a fee for reservations that can't be made online. For example US Airways sells gift cards that are only good over the phone, so no reservation fee is applied. United (and others) also issue paper vouchers / certificates in case of bumps (voluntarily displaced boarding), these can also be used over the phone without a fee. Top level fliers also get telephone booking fees waived.