How to find incredible flight deals: experts recommend a miracle service
You're probably familiar with booking tickets on an airline's website. You may even have experience searching for an itinerary through an online travel agency like Expedia or a metasearch engine like Google Flights or Kayak.
However, there is a tool you can use to find flights that is even more reliable and powerful, allowing you to find specific and complex routes. It's called ITA Matrix, and it's the very resource that Google Flights supports, as reported by Travel + Leisure.
What is ITA Matrix?
ITA Matrix is a powerful airline ticket search engine that has been around since 1996. It was originally developed by computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in 2011, it was acquired by Google and became the basis for Google Flights. ITA software is used by many other popular search engines, including Kayak and Orbitz.
How to use ITA Matrix to search for flights
Start your flight search on ITA Matrix by entering basic information such as your departure and destination cities, travel dates, and whether you're booking a round-trip or one-way flight.
If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, there are several options to try. First, you can search for flights that are within one or two days of your chosen date. Or you can select "View lowest fare calendar" to search by price.
You can also specify the flight time, number of stops, and cabin class. Be sure to check the box "Show only flights and prices with available seats" to limit your search to tickets that are actually bookable.
When you find the flights you want, you can click on them to get more information. Unfortunately, you cannot book flights through the ITA software, so you will need to transfer this flight information to another website to complete the booking.
Tips and tricks for using ITA Matrix
A website such as Google Flights is suitable for most airfare searches, but there are many scenarios where using ITA Matrix will be useful for savvy travelers. Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of ITA Matrix.
Advanced airport search
In a regular flight search, you enter the specific airports you want to depart from and arrive at. But this is not necessarily the best option.
According to Alex Miller, founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, you can often get better deals by expanding your search. "Use ITA Matrix's Nearby Airports feature to find opportunities to save money," he says. "Expanding your airport search by as little as 50 miles can reveal cheaper flight options you may have missed."
The multi-city search feature is a great way to create an itinerary that's more complex than just a round trip to and from the same airports. For example, you can search for flights from Chicago to Paris to Miami. Or you can book flights from New York to Los Angeles, then from San Francisco to Tokyo, and then from Tokyo back to New York, all in one itinerary.