Learn the basics

  1. Overview: How to use Matrix

    1. Visit matrix.itasoftware.com and enter in the details about your flight.
    2. The Round trip tab is open by default. Click the One-way tab if you’re looking for one-way flights.
    3. If your trip will include multiple destinations, use the Multi-city tab. You can click the Add another flight link if you need to plan more than two flights.

      multi-city tab screenshot

    4. To specify where you'd like to fly from and fly to, just start typing the name of a city or airport and you'll see a list of matching airports. You can enter multiple airports separated by commas if you're flexible.
    5. Click Search when you're done.
    6. To modify your search, use the back arrow within your browser or click the Modify search link within the display.
    Select See calendar of lowest fares in the Dates field on the Round trip or One-way tab, if you’d like to view a calendar to look for the lowest fares.

    modify search screenshot

  2. Various results views

    Once you see the results for your trip search, you can choose how you'd like to review them. Click one of these views using the links above the table headers about halfway down the page and on the right:

    Complete trips: For round trip itineraries, see both departure and arrival flights grouped together. For multi-city itineraries, see all flights together. This view is useful when you want to find a good combination quickly.

    Individual flights: See each part of your journey listed separately so you can choose each flight on its own. This view is useful when you want to pick and choose each flight in your journey. As you select flights, the options available for the other flights may change due to airline pricing rules. To select flights in a different order than the default, click a different part of your journey from the itinerary at the top of the page.

    Time bars: See a timeline chart for each part of your journey with available flights organized by day, time, and duration. The colored bars represent time spent on the flight and are labeled with the airline's abbreviation. The grey bars represent layover times and are labeled with the airport abbreviation. The dates correspond to the time zone of the departure airport.

    To see mileage and price per mile when hovering over the price in the search results begin your search on this page: http://matrix.itasoftware.com/?showPricePerMile=true. To turn off the hover-over view feature, enter the following web address in the browser bar: http://matrix.itasoftware.com/?showPricePerMile=false

  3. Sorting and filtering your results

    At the top of your results, you’ll see a summary of the airlines that market flights on your route and their prices, broken out by the number of stops in the itinerary. Click the prices to filter your results to flights operated by that carrier with that number of stops, or click an airline or number of stops to limit by those criteria.

    Above your results, click one of the column headers and then the link that's shown to sort flights by Price, Airline, Depart, Arrive, Duration, From/To, Stops, or Advisory. To sort in the other direction, click the column header again and click Reverse sort order. When you click a column header, you can also choose specific preferences to narrow down your results. For example, click the Depart column to select only flights leaving in the morning.

    Try the Advisory column to filter out trip plans with sometimes undesirable features like airport changes, terminal changes, preferred cabin class unavailable, overnight flights, risky connections, short connections (less than 30 minutes for a domestic flight and less than 60 minutes for an international flight), and long layovers (longer than 120 minutes domestic or 240 minutes international).

    Here are the icons found in the advisory column:

    short connection icon = Short connection
    risky connection icon = Risky connection
    long layover icon = Long layover
    over night flight icon = Red-eye flight
    other warning icon = Other warning, such as preferred cabin class unavailable

  4. How to book a flight

    ITA Software does not offer the ability to make reservations directly. However, you can use the information that we provide on the itinerary details page to book your tickets with the airline or a travel agent.

    Please see for our list of airlines and travel companies who use ITA Software's airfare pricing and shopping technology, and who may be able to assist you.

    You can also email your itinerary information to a friend or travel agent by clicking email this itinerary at the bottom of your search results.

    If you're unable to book a particular flight at the price you saw on our website, please see our FAQ.

Beyond the Basics

  1. Advanced searching tips

    Advanced searching tips

    Here are some additional options on the search page to help you control aspects of your search results:

    Flight dates

    Use the Arrival and Departure drop-down menus to indicate whether you want to leave or arrive on a specific date. This is particularly useful for long flights – especially those that cross the international date line.

    Use the On this day only drop-down menu to indicate how closely the search should stick to your entered date. For example, search for your date plus a day or two after or before.

    preferred flight dates screenshot

    Flight times

    Click Preferred times to choose specific time ranges for a flight such as any time before 8am or after 9pm. By default, all time ranges will be selected to give you the most options.

    preferred flight times screenshot

    Cabin class

    Use the Cabin drop-down menu to choose which cabin of service you want included in your search.

    If there aren’t enough results for flights in the cabin that you requested, your results might include flights with other cabin options to make sure you have a good number of flights to choose from. These added flights will be marked with a triangle icon in the Advisory column. You can filter out results that are in other cabins by clicking the heading for Advisory and unchecking Preferred class unavailable.

    Airport changes

    The Allow airport changes option is selected by default to help you find the lowest fares from all possible airports. If you would like to return to the same airport you departed from, uncheck this box.

    Available seats

    The Only show flights and prices with available seats option is selected by default to help you find only flights that are available for purchase. If you would like to see all fares and flights, including those that are unavailable for booking, uncheck this box.

    Currency

    The Currency field allows you to specify a particular currency for your flight results. If left blank, the currency used will be the currency of the Sales city.

    Sales city

    Due to airline business rules, the currency, fares, taxes, fees, and flights available for sale can vary by city. Before searching, make sure that the sales city is accurate so that you get the right information for your location. If left blank, the sales city is set to the departure city of your flight search. Click the Learn more link for additional detail before choosing an alternative sales city.

    Search results will be displayed in the local currency of the specified sales city, unless another value is provided in the Currency field.

  2. Search with multiple airport options

    If you're flexible about where you'd like to fly from and fly to, you can enter multiple airports separated by commas. You can also enter one airport (like LAX), city (like Hollywood, CA), or even common attraction (like Disneyland, CA) and then click Nearby to choose other local options. Click OK to add your selected airports to your search entry.

    Use the map to see if alternate airports are a good match for you. You can also specify a radius around the airport, city, or common attraction that you entered.

    near by feature screenshot

  3. Repeat a previous search

    If you've searched before, you'll see your three most recent journeys as links above the first fields in the form. Click one of the links if you want to use it as the basis for a new search.

  4. Search with flexible travel dates

    Next to Dates, you can select the See calendar of lowest fares radio button to find the lowest fares available within a 30 day period.

    • Enter a value of zero within the Length of stay field for same-day travel. Enter a range with a dash if your plans are flexible, such as 7-9 for a trip of about a week.
    • For weekend trips, enter 2-3 nights away.
    • You can modify the month and nights away fields directly within this page to quickly evaluate alternative travel options.

    After you search, you'll see a calendar showing the lowest price for trips beginning on the day you specified. Choose a departure day from the calendar to get a list of itinerary options. If you had specified a range of durations, you’ll see all of the combinations when you hover over a date.

    flexible travel dates calender screenshot
  5. Using ITA route language

    ITA's routing language is an advanced feature that lets you include specific code in your search to quickly add restrictions to your search. Here are some examples of restrictions you can add using routing language:

    • Include only flights operated by specific airlines or alliances
    • Specify the number of connections you are willing to make
    • Search for flights with a layover in a specific airport, or avoiding a specific airport
    • Limit the duration of an itinerary
    • Exclude redeye flights or flights with overnight stops

    Click the Advanced routing codes link to see the routing code fields, and then enter your codes in the fields stated Enter outbound/return routing codes. The rules defined by the routing codes only apply to one departure-destination pair at a time. For round-trip flights, this means you must enter the codes after the departure field (for your outbound trip) as well as after the destination (for your return trip), and for multi-city flights, you must repeat the codes for each departure-destination pair for which they should apply.

    advanced routing codes link screenshot

    The Basics

    • Airlines are represented by their two letter codes, while airports are represented by their three letter codes.
    • A direct flight is a flight with only one flight number, though it may have one or more take-off and landing. A non-stop flight is a flight with only one take-off and landing.
    • C indicates marketing carrier, and O indicates operating carrier (i.e., the carrier whose logo will be on the plane). Airline codes entered without a prefix are assumed to mean marketing carriers (i.e., the carrier whose flight number is displayed, including codeshares.)
    • F can be used to identify a specific flight number or as a placeholder, indicating a flight segment. For example, if you want to make your trip in three segments, you would enter [F F F].
    • Prefixes C (for marketing carrier), X (for connection point), and F (for flight segment) can be used in your query to make it visually clearer what you are trying to accomplish, but they are optional. If you use them as a prefix, be sure to follow them with a colon. If they are not provided, the system will automatically interpret two letter codes as marketing carriers, three letter codes as airports for connection points, and airline codes followed immediately by numbers as flights.
    • Countries are represented by their two letter ISO codes. See Wikipedia's page on ISO codes New window icon for information on country ISO codes.)
    • ~ indicates negation and can be applied to airport codes, airline codes, and attributes, such as redeye flights or risky connections.
    • + indicates one or more flights or airports meeting the specified criteria
    • * indicates zero or more flights or airports meeting the specified criteria
    • ? indicates zero or one flight or airport meeting the specified criteria

    Codes apply to flight segments in the order they are specified, and restrict your results to the number of segments specified. If you want the code to apply to more than one segment, add + or ? to the code. If you want to specify something for a particular flight segment, and allow any additional flight segments before or after the specified segment, you should add F? before and after the codes you have specified. For example, if you’d like to make sure you fly at least one leg of the trip on a particular airline, let's say American, typing [AA] will restrict your search to itineraries with exactly one direct flight by American Airlines, while [F* AA F*] will restrict your search to itineraries with at least one American Airlines flight, and some itineraries may also include additional flights from any carrier.

    Flight segments are separated by spaces. When multiple options are acceptable for a particular flight segment, separate them with a comma, and be careful to omit any spaces.

    Again, the order of the codes is important. For example, if you want a stop over in Denver followed by a stopover in Atlanta, you would enter [DEN ATL] in the routing code field, and the system would interpret this as a stop in the first city code followed by the other. To include stop in Atlanta followed by Denver, you need to repeat your search with the cities in the opposite order, or you can do both searches at once by including both options for each stop [DEN,ATL DEN,ATL]

    Each code applies only to one segment of the trip, so they must usually be entered in each box.

     

     

    Note that examples in the text below include brackets [ ] to indicate the text you should enter - you should omit the brackets when entering the code and enter only the text between the brackets.

     

    Examples of queries:

    Description Format
    Restricting to specific airlines  
    Direct flight marketed by American Airlines [AA] or [C:AA]
    Any number of flights marketed by American Airlines [AA+] or [C:AA+]
    Direct flight marked by American Airlines, United, or Delta [AA,CO,DL] or [C:AA,C:UA,C:DL]
    Direct flight operated by American Airlines (as opposed to a code-share or subsidiary carrier) [O:AA]
    Direct flight operated by American Airlines, United, or Delta (as opposed to a code-share) [O:AA,O:UA,O:DL]
    Up to 3 flights, including at least one marketed by US Airways [F? US F?]
    Any number of flights, including at least one marketed by American Airlines [F+ AA F+]
    Exclude United and only show direct flights [~UA]
    Exclude United and show options with zero or more connections. [~UA+]
    Search for results with exactly two flights, and excluding United from the 2nd flight [F ~UA]
    Search for results with a direct flight excluding flights marketed [~AA,CO,DL]
    Search for results with a direct flight excluding flights marketed by American Airlines, United, or Delta [~AA,UA,DL]
    A flight on US Airways followed by a flight on United [US UA]
    Restricting by alliance  
    oneworld [/ alliance oneworld]
    SkyTeam [/ alliance skyteam]
    Star Alliance [/ alliance star-alliance]
    Restricting the number of stops  
    Non-stop flight [N]
    Non-stop flight on United Airlines [N:UA]
    Direct flight (may have a stop, but same flight number continues to destination) [F]
    Specifying connections  
    Any number of connections, each with a minimum connection time of 45 min [/ minconnect 45]
    Any number of connections, each with a minimum connection time of 1 hour, maximum connection time of 2 hours [/ minconnect 60; maxconnect 120]
    Require at least 20 minutes more than airline recommended minimum connection time [/ padconnect 20]
    One or more connection points [X+]
    One connection point with at least 45 min [X / minconnect 45]
    Exactly 2 connections [X X]
    Two connections or less [X? X?]
    Two connections or more [X X+]
    Connect in Dallas-Fort-Worth with no other connection points [DFW] or [X:DFW]
    Connect in Dallas-Fort-Worth with any additional connections before or after [F? DFW F?]
    Connect in either Dallas-Fort-Worth or Denver with no other connection points [DFW,DEN]
    Connect only in Dallas-Fort-Worth or Denver [N DFW,DEN N]
    Connect in Dallas-Fort-Worth followed by Denver followed by 0 or more stops [DFW DEN X?]
    Find itineraries with exactly one connection and exclude connections in Dallas-Fort-Worth [~DFW]
    Exclude connections in the United States (Note: this does not exclude stops on direct flights.) [~l:nUS+]
    Specifying itinerary duration  
    Maximum itinerary duration of 4 hours (specify in minutes) [/ maxdur 240]
    Specifying flight attributes  
    Exclude overnight stops [/ -overnight]
    Exclude both red-eye flights and overnight stops [/ -overnight;-redeye]
    Exclude propeller planes [/ -prop]
    Specifying specific flight numbers  
    A particular flight - UA882 UA882
    Any flights except UA882 ~UA882+
    A particular flight - UA882 - followed by any number of flights UA882 F+
    One or more flights on UA with flight numbers in the range 1000-2000 UA1000-2000+

     

FAQs

  1. Where can I book a flight at the price you showed?

    ITA Software does not offer the ability to make reservations on our website or mobile app directly. However, you can use the information we provide to book your tickets with the airline or a travel agent. Find this information on our website by clicking "View itinerary and fare details" on the itinerary details page, or on our mobile app by clicking "How to book" on the itinerary details page). Please see this list of airlines and travel companies who use ITA Software's airfare pricing and shopping technology, and who may be able to assist you.

    Please also know that the data we show can unfortunately change at any time in any direction. We generally have a very high accuracy rate, and we update our data as fast as anyone in the industry and faster than most. That said, these changes are determined by the airlines, and we do not know when or how the data will change. We're always working with the airlines to improve the quality of our search results, but it may be possible that a specific fare you see is no longer available.

    If you're unable to book a particular flight at the price you saw on our website, please let us know.

  2. What does the total price include?

    Our prices include standard taxes and fees. The airline may charge additional fees, such as baggage fees.

  3. Supported browsers

    Matrix can be accessed using a PC, Linux, or Macintosh computer. The following is a list of fully supported browsers:

    • Internet Explorer 7/8 (Windows)
    • Firefox 3+ (Windows, Macintosh, or Linux)
    • Safari 5+ (Macintosh)
    • Chrome 5+ (Windows or Macintosh)
    • Opera 10 (Windows or Linux)

    • You'll need to have cookies enabled to use Matrix.
    • If you're using Internet Explorer 7, please make sure that Flash is enabled.
    • Other browsers may also be able to access our site, though they may have some limitations. In particular, we do not fully support tablet devices at this time with our website or mobile apps.
  4. I have a suggestion to improve your product

    We'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Use this form to let us know how we can improve our products. Use this form to let us know how we can improve our products.

  5. I’m having trouble running a search on Matrix

    We’re sorry that you’re having trouble!

    Here are some common solutions that we encourage you to try if you haven't already:

    1. Update to the latest version of Adobe Flash
    2. Try another browser, such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer

    If using another browser works for you, you may be able to resolve the issues in your primary browser by:

    1. Disabling any extensions or add ons that you may have recently added or updated
    2. Clearing your temporary internet files and cookies
    3. Updating to the latest version of your browser

    If you still have the same problem after trying these steps, please contact us. If you're having trouble booking a flight at the price we quoted, please use this form.

  6. I want to use your product in a commercial application

    We're thrilled that you're interested in ITA Software by Google products. Hosted by ITA, QPX is delivered via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. At this time, we do not offer a free or small business version of our software for integration in other websites.

    For more information about QPX, please check out our product information page, and contact our Business Development team to learn more.

  7. What are airlines’ policies for specific services?

    Policies for services such as infants in lap, pets, maximum luggage weight, seat recline design, and seat selection fees are determined by the airlines and vary from carrier to carrier. Please contact the airline directly to find out their policy.

  8. Why aren’t some flights are included in the results?

    Our Business Development team works with airlines to determine the best way for them to use our products and services, and each airline decides the extent to which they wish to participate. We're always looking for ways to expand our coverage; if you're an airline who would like to work with us, please contact our Business Development team.

  9. Why can’t I see the results that I’ve seen before?

    Sometimes a flight search for a one way flight from A to B shows tons of results, and B to C shows tons of results too, but if you do a multi-city search from A to B and B to C, you might not see any results. The doesn’t sound intuitive, but there's an explanation for the behavior -- speed. Broad searches that require the comparison of many itineraries are inherently slower, while more narrow searches can be deeper in the same amount of time and therefore return better searches. We are always striving to improve this behavior, but there is always a tradeoff between search depth and search time.

    Our tools use slightly different algorithms to search for flights, so you may get slightly different results comparing Matrix to OnTheFly. Also, flight availability is constantly changing, so you may see slight variations in the results you get when repeating your search.

  10. Versions and Upgrades

    The original Matrix was introduced by ITA Software in 1999. A major upgrade was introduced in late 2009 in response to the user feedback received over the years. As of December 2011, virtually all functionality has been replicated with the new interface, and the older version is no longer available. Please ensure your browser bookmark points to matrix.itasoftware.com. The ITA team looks forward to your thoughts and feedback as we continue to add more innovative features.

    Go to Matrix to search for flights now!