Google Flights is one of the go-to tools for most folks looking to book the revenue flights. The various ease-to-use features help easily find the fares to the destination (or near by destination for creative souls). Since the ITA Matrix is at heart of the Google Flights, the same flight results can result from ITA including more details such as "fare class" as well as "Fare Rules" which are usually not shown by Google Flights. Using the "Fare Rules" details can help find out the details of the fare including the change/cancellation fees which vary by carrier.
The interesting aspect is when the flight is operated as "Code Share" flight. For e.g. a United flight is code-shared with its star alliance partners Lufthansa. Similarly carriers can have code-share agreement with another carrier in the market or route where they do not operate and this can represent the same flight being sold with different "Fare Rules" based on where you purchase your ticket from. There are certain routes which are code-shared by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Since Alaska Airlines has a very generous cancellation policy where you can change or cancel the flights up to 60 days before the date of departure the same could potentially apply to code-share flights on American Airlines. This can be easily found by looking at the "Fare Rules" from ITA Search.
For e.g. below is the one way flight search in Google flights from San Jose, Ca (SJC) to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) for Dec 15, 2017. As you can see the American Airlines flight AA 1231 is marketed by Alaska Airlines as AS 6719. To top it the price is significantly cheaper on Alaska Airlines (Of-course the tickets would be booked in different booking class based on which carrier is selling the tickets) but still if you just care about going from Point A to Point B that's a good price difference. Also American Airlines charges whooping $200 as cancellation/change fee on non-refundable paid fares where as Alaska Airlines cancellation/changes are free up to 60 days before the date of departure or just $125 (assuming you do not have status with Alaska Airlines) till the date of departure.
So if you book the flight using Alaska Airlines you can get:
Of course there are few downside to this:
The next time you book the flight on any airlines and want to make sure you do not have to pay hefty fees do check the "Fare Rules" to determine Cancellation/Change fees. Also if the above Alaska Airlines booking downside seems minor to you for a code share flight between American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, select Alaska Airlines for booking to get great cancellation/change policy.
Google acquired ITA a while ago. Most of the brain used by Google Flights comes from ITA and thus no doubt its pretty good at what it does. You can use the "google flight functionality" to easily narrow down to your desired flights by using few of the techniques below:
The search itself is very easy to use if you understand how to use it. Below are some sample example search to get you going.
San Jose City to New York City Round trip for 4 days length of stay:
As you can see from below snapshots, entering the source/destination and initial set of dates and by clicking in the "date field" will show prices for various dates in the given month. You can then use the "right arrows" to look up the prices for various months as well as you can change the date range on the bottom with "+/- 0 days" to add flexibility to 4 days of stay.
San Jose City to XXX destination for 4 days of stay:
You can enter the "Source" and the length of stay and Click on the Map to see what are the possible "destinations" which could fit your price range. In fact you do not have to restrict yourself to the U.S.A but you could select any region where you might want to visit.
Los Angeles to Tel Aviv (TLV) or Rome (FCO) with default 4 days and +/- 2 days of stay:
You could also search for multiple destinations by specifying the airport names separated by comma and thus browse through "days range" where the fare would be cheaper. As you can see from below the fare could vary from range of $1600 to almost half at $821.
Search for Specific "Alliance" such as One-World or any airlines:
You could even narrow down the search based on the alliance or airlines you would like to fly from the available ones. Sure this might be more costlier then the cheapest option available, but a preferred one for you.
As you can see from above the Google Flights could be quite useful in your search for that flight. It could also help you narrow down to the specific destination, dates or airlines and thus make your travel fit your budget or time constraints.
ITA matrix is a great tool with variety of advance search features available. This features are useful when you are trying to search for flights with specific criteria and want to quickly look what is available. They also help determine the fare for upgrade-able tickets using upgrade instruments provided to their loyalty program member elites by United Airlines, Delta Airlines or Alaska Airlines. The few of them are listed below:
Let's look at an example below for a flight from San Jose (SJC) to Philadelphia (PHL) in Virgin America through some snapshots below on ITA matrix. You could look up the 2 letter IATA code for airlines here.
As you can see from above that the Virgin America flights are available for $248 on few dates. Now let's see how can we replicate the same using Hipmunk from snapshots below. Hipmunk does not allow wide range of dates, so having a search done on ITA matrix helps us narrow down on potential dates which we feed to Hipmunk. You can see the results in below snapshots.
As you can see from above ITA matrix helps to narrow down the dates for cheaper fares and dates for San Jose (SJC) to Philadelphia (PHL) flight which in turn could be fed to Hipmunk for quick reservation. Of course not all features supported by ITA matrix could be directly used by Hipmunk, as well as there is limitation on how many segments could be fed in Hipmunk, but you could do lot of stuff by plugging in similar "coding language" from ITA matrix to Hipmunk.
Who does not like to vacation or travel? I believe very few if not none. But once you decide you want to vacation or travel, the primary questions is What's the cost involved and where to go? If your primary goal is to travel on cheap and you are flexible on dates and destination then read on..
As the world of internet as evolved there are great deals for travel available online all the time. Knowing where to look will help you getting started on that exciting journey. This post is primarily to list all the resources available for searching those cheap flights. If your goal is flexibility of dates but not on the destination then you might want to check my post on "How to find best flight deals", otherwise read on.
Flyertalk Mileage Run Forum - Although primarily used by folks who are chasing the Elite status, this is a great forum as the primary intent is to "travel anywhere" for cheap or at minimum cost as possible. Primarily targeted for US based flyers you will find great deal of information for "cheap tickets" to sort of places around the world. All you need to do is browse through it and see what works for you and you are on your way to your destination.
TheFlightDeal - This is a gem of a site which routinely publishes good deals for travel to various destinations around the world. Again it is targeted primarily with deals from the U.S. but for within the U.S. as well as around the world. Most of the fare published are 6.0 cents/mile or lower and a great deal if you are looking for a quick getaway.
AirFareWatchDog - This is a site where you can enter just the "Departure City" and it will do a search for all sort of destination where you could travel (with no particular priority or mention of how good the deal is). The best part is you can create alerts for the city pair you want to travel and it will alert you as per your selected criteria.
HolidayPirates - This is another website which regularly publishes good fares starting from Europe. Look often enough and you might end up on one of the error fares that happens once in a while.
Exbir - This is one of the other European websites which routinely publishes good deals to be had from Europe. Hop on to it and you will end up with great fare to your beloved destination from Europe and around.
Take help from above sites and visit that exciting destination you never knew about. Keep travelling. Enjoy!
ITA MATRIX is one of the best "free" tool available to search for the flights with variety of options. This is really useful if you are looking to fly a specific airline carrier, or you want to know which near-by airport has the cheapest available fare to your destination, or you are looking for the specific fare class which would still earn full 100% miles. Below is a sample list of things you could do using ITA MATRIX but by no means is exhaustive:
Although you can search different combination's as mentioned above the "ITA MATRIX" does not allow you to make a final purchase nor directs you to one. But most of the time knowing the fare exists would enable you to book your ticket either through OTA (Online Travel Agent) website such Expedia, Priceline or Orbitz or book through other meta search engine sites such as Skyscanner or Hipmunk. You can also book the tickets through various airlines own websites as well if you so desire. Also note that the search does not include any OTA or airline specific coupons or discounts which you could use if available.
Q: How to do a basic search with price per mile enabled?
A: To do the search with price per mile enabled you need to add "?showPricePerMile=true" at the end of webpage link of ITA MATRIX or use this link. Let's do a search for a 2 to 3 day roundtrip from SFO to MIA on any day in the month of September 2013 for Economy Cabin Class.
The result of the above search can be seen below in Fig 2. As you can see the rates are different for different dates as well as it shows if it is for 2 or 3 days turn as well. You can modify the highlighted box in "red" for search for different month or days of trip.
As you can see from Fig. 3, selecting the cheapest trip shown in Fig. 2 loads up variety of flights at different times as well as showing "price per mile" for those trips.
As mentioned this was a simple search with single source and destination. If you want to depart from either of SJC or SFO and your destination could be either of FLL or MIA, you could put that in the search box as shown in Fig. 4
For searching flights operated by only "American Airlines", you can enable "advance routing codes" field and add "AA+" or change the "Departing from" field to look like "SFO, SJC::AA+"
As you can see there are "tons" of possibility of advance code combinations you can use to make your search more specific, but remember if you put "too many generic" options the ITA MATRIX tool will simply time-out or exit with only "partial" results. So, it is prudent to make your search as specific as possible as well as having broad characteristics of details important to you. Below are some examples of advance routing codes which would be useful. We have assumed the "Departing from" to be SFO, but you have any other airport code for your search. The "two letter" code of each airline can be found here.
There are many more such codes which are useful to trim down to the flights you are looking for. more information about these can be found on the flyerguide post here. Hope this would be useful for planning your next trip with cash and knowing what were your options before making the purchase.
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