I use ITA Matrix all of the time to find flights, and find it to be one of the best free tools in the travel-sphere.
Here’s what ITA Matrix allows you to do, in a nutshell:
- Search an entire calendar month worth of flights, to find the cheapest fare.
- Search a preference of how many nights you wish to be away, and see the lowest fares across a broad spectrum of dates.
- Find specific routings, meeting specific parameters.
When you first look at ITA, it looks a bit “daunting,” however the syntax used to get you the information you need is fairly easy. In using ITA’s glossary and syntax guide, I’ve compiled this chart to help you, along with the chart they publish, as well. This isn’t a full guide to using ITA, but rather what are probably the most commonly used codes. I’ve used airline and airport codes as examples in the chart, since this is the easiest way of reading things.
You’ll enter the data here:
It’s important to note that a “direct” flight can be a flight with connections, but doesn’t have to be. A non-stop flight, is, of course, a flight from one destination to another without any stops, such as JFK-LAX.
|Syntax||Example||What it Means|
|C||AA||You want a direct flight on American Airlines.|
|C||AA+||You want any number of flights on American Airlines|
|AA,DL,UA||You want a non-stop flight on either American, Delta or United.|
|N||You only want a non-stop flight, but don't care about the choice of carrier.|
|N:AA||You only want a non-stop flight on American Airlines.|
|X||You only want a single-connecting flight, regardless of carrier|
|X:JFK||You want a single-connecting flight, that must connect in JFK.|
|DCA,MIA||You want to connect in either DCA or Miami|
|AA127||You want a specific flight, operated by a specific carrier, with a specific flight number.|
|~||~DFW||You want a connecting flight through any city except Dallas/Fort Worth.|
|?||MSP?||You either want a direct flight, or a connecting flight that must connect through Minneapolis/St. Paul.|
|ORD DFW LAX||You want a connecting flight that must connect in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.|
|~UA||You want a direct flight on any carrier except United.|
|~UA,DL,AA||You want a direct flight on any carrier except United, Delta or American.|
|DL+ UA+||You want one flight on Delta, followed by one flight on United.|
|DL UA,LH||You want one flight on Delta, followed by one flight on either United or Lufthansa.|
|UA AA?||You want one flight on United, and then an optional flight on American|
|DL N?||You want one flight on Delta, and then an optional, non-stop flight on any carrier.|
|AA127 DL679||You want to fly on AA127, and then fly on DL679 (Keep in mind that tickets may require these flights be within the ticketing rules)|
|AA127 DL+||You want to fly on AA127, followed by any number of flights on Delta (so, connecting or non-stop).|
|AA127 F+||You want to fly on AA127, followed by any number of flights, connecting or non-stop, on any other carrier.|
|AA ORD AA||You want to fly an American flight, connect in Chicago, and then continue on another American flight.|
|O:AA||You want one-flight, operated by American Airlines and not any partners or codeshares.|
|~AA127||You want one flight, with the exception of AA127|
In general, you’ll see several short-codes to use, too:
- C: – When you use this, you’re referring to flights operated by or code-shared by.
- O: – When you use this, you’re referring to flights only operated by the airline specified.
- X referes to a connection city
Hopefully you find this guide helpful, and it serves as a go-to reference when you don’t know which advanced routing code to input. Comment with any questions below, and I’ll do my best to help answer them!
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