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How to Use ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights: Everything You Need to Know

Sometimes, when searching for flights online, most people are usually not satisfied with the airfares that are offered by an airline’s website and/or an online travel website. A major reason why many individuals take to online travel websites and search engines is to find the best and cheapest flight prices.

If you are unable to find the cheapest airfare on any of these websites, there is another way though. If you haven’t heard of a search engine tool called ITA Matrix, you will be surprised to know about this airfare search engine tool here.

In this travel guide, we will provide you tips on how to use Google’s ITA Matrix Airfare Search tool to find cheap flight prices and also, discover hidden options which you won’t find elsewhere.

A Brief Overview of ITA’s Matrix Airfare Search Tool

ITA’s Matrix Airfare Search is basically a search engine software tool that is now owned by tech giant Google. The tool is also popularly referred to as an “airfare shopping tool”. The ITA Software is a division of Google which mainly deals in the travel industry software operations and management.

ITA Matrix, as is often called, offers many functions that allow individuals to search not only best flight prices, it also allows users to find hidden options, which other search engines and travel websites are unable to accomplish, or they just miss out on such options. Bear in mind that the tool cannot be used for purchasing flight tickets – it’s main purpose is to help you find flight prices only. However, in case you have found the best airfare, you are allowed to provide the information from this site to your airline carrier or travel website at the time of booking. It’s like using this site as a reference when booking your flight via another website.

Google provides a separate website to access the software tool. The publicly available website for the Matrix Airfare Search tool can be accessed via

As of this writing, the latest version of the software tool is Matrix 3.0. A few features of this airfare search engine (or airfare shopping engine) tool include the following:

  • Cost per mile filter.
  • Cost per mile filter.
  • Cost per mile filter.
  • Cost per mile filter.
  • Cost per mile filter.

You don’t need to sign up in order to use the tool and its features. The website lets you search flights based on round-trip, one-way and multi-city. All options and input fields are provided, just as those which you see on websites of airline carriers and online travel agencies (OTAs). For instance, you can find flights by their cheapest airfares through a selection of options that are provided on the form-like page.

Tips for Finding Cheap Flights Using ITA Matrix Tool

The following tips will show you how to use the ITA Matrix Airfare Search tool effectively to find cheap flights for your travel.

As already mentioned above, you can search flights based on one-way, round-trip, and multi-city itineraries, as you would on any other website. However, you will need to book your flight at the best price on an airline’s website or via an online travel agency, since there is no booking feature available on this tool.

In a gist, Google’s ITA Matrix flight search tool will present you with the following options in order to search flights:

  • Book one-way, round-trip, or multi-city itineraries
  • Choose/input the destination city (and nearby airports in the same country)
  • Select the best time of day for arrival or departure
  • Choose your cabin class
  • Select exact dates or flexible dates within a month
  • Choose the desired number of stopsSelect your currency and city of sale (the city from which you are purchasing the ticket)
  • Include number of travellers
  • Allow airport changes
  • Only show flights and prices with available seats (you would uncheck this if you want to compare all fares across all airlines)

Using the ITA Matrix Tool to Search Flights

To begin searching for flights, make sure that you have thought about your preferred travel dates. With the help of this airfare search tool, you can select nearby airports and also make use of the in-built calendar to find the lowest airfares based on your travel dates.

Also, select your preferred cabin class and any stops that you would like to include in your itinerary. The in-built calendar will show you the availability of cheapest flights based on your selections.


1. On your web browser go to the Matrix website and input the details about your flight that you wish to search.

2. The Roundtrip tab is open by default. Click the One-way tab if you want to search for one-way flights.

3. If you want to include multiple destinations in your trip, you will need to go to the Multi-city tab. You can click the Add another flight link if you need to plan more than two flights.

4. To specify where you would like to fly from and fly to, just start typing the name of a city or airport and you will see a list of matching airports. You can enter multiple airports separated by commas if you are flexible.

5. Click the Search button when you are done.

6. To modify your search, you can use the back arrow within your browser or click the Modify search link within the display.

Filtering Results

Depending on your preferred selections, the ITA Matrix tool will display the relevant results on your screen. The results include airfares, major and low-cost airline carriers, departure and arrival times, duration of flights, routes, stops, and advisory (add or remove overnight flights or connecting flights which may be risky).

In the results, you can also see the airfares that are offered by other airline carriers for the same route. You can further narrow down the results by using filters to increase or decrease the price range for flights.

Clicking on the price of each flight on the results page will bring up a detailed itinerary. You can use this information when booking your flight on an airline carrier and/or travel websites.

There is other information that can be important for a travel website or an airline carrier for booking your flight. Such information includes things like “Airport Information” and “How to buy this ticket”.

Advanced Controls

On the flight route’s tab, right underneath the Destination option, you will see a link provided called “Advanced controls”. Clicking on this link brings up a pop-up containing several codes and their meanings. There is also a separate Examples tab that can help you understand the routing codes better.

  • Choosing or avoiding specific airlines or alliances
  • Forcing connections (or avoiding connections) in certain cities
  • Creating a stopover
  • Searching only direct flights on specific carriers
  • Adding more filters (like cabin class)

A benefit of the advanced controls feature is that you can refer to the codes to find specific flights without the need to navigate to all filters in the search results.

Cost Per Mile Filter

You can see mileage and cost per mile when you hover (device’s pointer) over your preferred airfare in the search results. On the search results page, you will need to click the “Price” heading, then click “Show price per mile”.

This is a neat feature to use if you are booking a mileage run where you would need a certain amount of qualifying miles to get or keep elite status. ITA Matrix lets you compare prices by how much you pay per mile.

The cost per mile feature included in the Matrix tool can be an easy way to help you decide the best time to redeem miles for award flights and when to pay cash.

Routing Codes

In order to get the most out of the ITA Matrix tool, you will probably need to use routing codes. Using the routing codes, you can:

  • Include only flights operated by specific airlines or alliances.
  • Specify the number of connections you are willing to make (e.g., non-stop flights only, or one connection only).
  • Search for flights with a layover in a specific airport, or avoiding a particular airport (e.g., avoiding a connection through Los Angeles (LAX) on a Delta flight from Las Vegas to Tokyo).
  • Limit the duration of an itinerary.
  • Exclude red-eye flights or flights with overnight stops.

You can learn more about routing codes on Google’s FAQ sheet.


ITA’s Matrix Airfare Search tool is used not just by Google Flights, it also powers travel search websites, including the popular ones like Kayak and Orbitz, etc.

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