As I went over last week, ITA Matrix is a great tool to familiarize yourself with so you can utilize it to find the best flights and create your ideal itineraries. This can all be done be using the tool to search for flights based on your preferences (as much as possible at least.)
Part One: How to Use the ITA Matrix Software
The first post covered the basics of how to use the ITA Matrix, and it mostly covered the general and basic uses of the ITA Matrix and it’s unique features. This post will dig into the features that make the ITA Matrix a truly powerful tool for researching for award flights and how it sets it apart from other search engines, such as Kayak. This is also where your airline search becomes tedious at times and it will definately help to be meticulous. I simplified the search options so that it’s not any more confusing than it needs to be.
So lets start.
First, if you would like to broaden your search to include specific preferences, you have the option to customize the search with the Advance Search option. With one search, you can arrange the coding to find a specific number of flights, specific airports and airlines.
Advanced Key Features:
Search by airport code
Search by airline code
Search by alliance
Search by class
Low fare calendar
Codes You Need to Know
If you plan on using ITA Matrix fairly regularly it will pay dividends to know the coding for certain flight specifications. Most of them are self explanatory and use the first letters of the airline.
How to Fill Out the Routing Codes Fields
The “formula” for writing routing codes
Airport Code :: Airline Code
Airport Codes are three letters ( LAX, DEN, SFO, etc) and airline codes are written with two ( UA, DL, AS, AA, etc)
BUR :: UA Outbound from the Burbank Airport on a direct United Airline flight
BUR :: UA UA Outbound from the Burbank Airport with a United Airline connection
Say for example, if I just want to travel somewhere for the weekend and I’m okay with flying into either Portland, Seattle or San Francisco with United, I would use the routing codes field to enter the following:
PDX SEA SFO :: UA
If I am particular about what airport I wish to fly into and want to narrow the search results to two or three airlines, then I would specify it like this:
PDX :: AA UA AS
If you wanted to build a trip with several stops you would add a plus sign (+) after the airline you would like to add connections on:
PDX :: UA+ or PDX :: UA+ AS+
If I decided that I wanted to fly with United on one leg to Portland, but I didn’t have a preference for the connections:
PDX :: UA F
Alliance based search results to use your miles on is also an option that’s available on the ITA Matrix.
PDX :: /alliance star-alliance
If you wanted to have search results from several carriers, but wanted to exclude a particular one for any reason, then that option is available by using the tilde (~)
BUR :: ~AA or BUR :: ~AA AS UA
In my opinion one of the most important options is to specify length of connections. You can’t be too specific, but if you’re concerned about not having enough time between flights you can set your search to have at least a minimum of 45 minutes to spare.
PDX :: AS; /minconnect 45; AS
Handling the Complexity
As your commands become longer and more elaborate based on specifications, the coding is called a “string.” The more commands that you have and the longer the string becomes, it easy for there to be mistakes that cause you to not get the results you were searching for. Some rules in creating your string of commands:
When you create a code “string” that includes a “backslash,” be sure to only have one backslash even if other commands would usually require it if it was an isolated command.
For several commands, be sure to have a semicolon in between each one.
NOTE: Correct punctuation and spacing is vital to ensure that you get the right results.