ITA Matrix Software is a great option to search for flights and to narrow down different route options via your preferences. Here is a simple "how to guide" and introduction of using the program to make award booking and travel more efficient for you.
Part One: How to Use the ITA Matrix Software
Part Two: Mastering the ITA Matrix Advanced Options
What is ITA Matrix Software
Frankly, the ITA Matrix Software is one of the best places to start any trip search. On the surface it's similar to any other airfare search engine, like Kayak or Travelocity. Input your travel dates and destination information and you get back a list of airfares correlated to a list of airlines. Except it’s not just that. The features that the ITA Matrix Software has is unique compared to other programs that only offer options that will give you broad results, not providing you with certain options that could help you personalize your trip itinerary. Plus it's free unlike other programs such as KVS Tool and ExpertFlyer.
Lets you know the amount of carbon emissions released on flights
Total mileage calculator
Flexible Travel Date Airfare Search
Fare Construction - which breaks down the itinerary with codes that can be provided to travel agents.
Search by individual flight
Advanced search options such as:
Search for trips based on user specific connections and routing
Search for trips based on user's selected airlines
Breaks down the cost factors of itinerary
Ability to search by specific currency and country of sale
What the ITA Matrix is Not
You can’t actually book flights through the ITA Matrix. It serves as a tool or resource to find the type of routing you’re looking for. Whether it’s the cheapest, shortest travel time, longest distance per award level or a particular airline. With the information that’s made available to you can make award reservations directly with the airline website or purchase tickets using a travel agent.
Breakdown of Each Step
I don’t use the ITA Matrix for every flight I book, but if I’m looking to book a difficult itinerary and want to maximize my miles, I will use the software to make sure that I’m getting the best deal possible. Anytime I book award travel I always find it important to compare options. For basic searches and even more complex ones it's extremely easy to use. Though when you’re getting into the more complex searches you need a bit more patience and need to have airline flight info and airport codes handy. I will cover more complex search options and routings in the next post.
If you selected to see the Calender of Lowest Fares, you can select a date range from when you would like to go based on price.
Once you have your flight information entered and select the dates on the 'Fare Calendar' page, you are given a list of schedules that includes the cost per mile, the cost, the times, airline and connections. This step is self-explanatory as it is the same with any other trip search engine, but there are three features on this page to take note of: Complete Fare, Individual Flight and Time bars.
When you run the first search, you will land results for 'Complete Fare'--this will have results in all directions you've requested, with the dates, cost and airlines. 'Individual Flight' lets you browse different departures before selecting the return flight so that you can customize your flight to keep cost as low as possible. This option will also show the details of each flight including the number of miles that will be flown, the cost per mile and the lowest cost for the entire airfare including the return.
The 'Time bar' page is a great visual table to see your flight options. Airlines are color coded and are shown on the bar table from departure to arrival. If there is a connection, the time slot is coded grey. You can also customize this time table by narrowing down the duration of the flight, preferred airlines as arrival/departure times.
When you're happy with a flight on the 'Time bar', you can select it and then you'll be transferred to a page that breaks down the fare.
From here I write down the flight details and fare construction so that I can find the exact same itinerary when I go to book the award of purchase the ticket online. A drawback of ITA Matrix is that you cannot purchase your ticket on the ITA Matrix. Unfortunately, this may add an additional step and a little more work to your booking process, but it will pay off if you find a better itinerary or end up saving some miles. It would be a good idea to find a few flights that you're happy with incase the one that you had your eye on suddenly becomes unavailable.
If you want to create a more complex and advanced trip with specific connections, airlines, mile runs, etc., then please stay tuned for the next post!
ITA Software is powered by Google. Have you ever specific "Googled" flight information?
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