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Are you ready to learn more advanced techniques to find cheap plane tickets with ITA Matrix?
We’ve talked about how to do basic airfare searches, and how to search by calendar, individual flights, and time bars.
But if you need more than a simple Point A to Point B itinerary, you’ll want to learn how to use Multi-City Search.
Let’s look at ways to make your ITA Matrix searches even better!
Search for Cheap Airfare Like a Pro Index
- Part 1 – ITA Matrix Basics
- Part 2 – More ITA Matrix Tricks
- Part 3 – ITA Matrix Multi-City Search
- Part 4 – ITA Matrix Advanced Routing Codes
1. ITA Matrix Multi-City Searches
Link: ITA Matrix
Suppose you want to fly from Point A to Point B to Point C, with a stopover at Point B. Sure, you could search for flights from A to B, then search separate flights from B to C, but you might not get the best deal.
That’s because some fares (but NOT all) from Point A to Point C allow a stopover at an intermediate point for the same price.
By using ITA Matrix Multi-City search, you can build an itinerary with a stopover that suits you, and possibly save money! And you can include more than 1 stopover.
To do a multi-city search, click the “Multi-City” tab at the top of the main airfare search screen.
This will open a new search screen with options for 2 flights (A to B, then B to C). If you want to add additional flights, click “Add Another Flight,” and you’ll be able to add more.
Most of the other functions of the search screen work the same was as detailed in the basic ITA Matrix post.
Note: Some folks on FlyerTalk report that ITA Matrix has been acting glitchy recently, especially when searching for complicated itineraries. If the site doesn’t work the 1st time you search, just try again.
Example: New York to Frankfurt to New Delhi
If I wanted to fly from New York (any airport) to Frankfurt, stay in Frankfurt for 3 days, then fly onward to New Delhi, I’d fill in the search screen as follows. Note that you can’t do a calendar search using the multi-city tool, but you can build in some flexibility by using the pull-down menus labeled “On This Day Only.”
Click “Search” once you’ve entered your cities and preferences.
You can display results as a complete trip, individual flights, or time bars. Here’s the 1st page of 17 showing complete trip options.
The cheapest fare for the full route is $967 on Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
If you prefer, you can display the list as individual flights, and select your preferences for both the New York to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to Delhi legs. Choose a flight by clicking on the price.
In this case, I chose Virgin Atlantic and British Airways for the leg from New York to Frankfurt (via London), but my options for the next leg from Frankfurt to Delhi were much reduced! This is because you can’t always combine fare rules from 1 airline with another.
And for those who are more visual, you can use the time bar feature to display flights in a graphical format.
Once you’ve chosen your flights, you’ll be brought to the final screen with itinerary details and pricing.
Note: Searching for open-jaws is allowed! So if you flew from New York to Frankfurt, took a train to Munich, then wanted to fly from Munich to Delhi, you’d just enter Munich as the departure city on flight #2.
Example: Los Angeles to Honolulu to Manila to Sydney
Let’s look at a more complicated routing. On the main multi-city search screen, click “Add Another Flight” to expand the search to 3 flights, instead of the default two.
I searched for a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, a week later from Honolulu to Manila, and 5 days later from Manila to Sydney.
Longer and more complex itineraries take more time to search, so don’t be surprised if ITA Matrix takes a while to return results.
I searched for individual flights. Here are some of the results from Los Angeles to Honolulu. The price differences between airlines are astounding sometimes!
I chose the 1st option on Alaska Airlines. The cheapest choice is on China Southern Airlines and Delta, but look at the routing!
You’d have to fly all the way back to Los Angeles, then to Guangzhou, then Manila (over 32 hours travel time in total). I like Big Travel, not Exhausting Travel!
The cheapest non-stop flight is on Philippine Airlines, but that bumps the fare up to $2,762. So I picked the cheapest, most direct connecting flight on United Airlines via Guam. Now the fare is $1,951 total.
Finally, the Manila to Sydney leg has lots of choices. There’s a direct flight on Philippine Airlines that keeps the fare at $1,951, so I chose that.
Here’s the final screen, showing the full itinerary, flight details, and fare breakdown. The total cost is ~$1,951.
It can be challenging to book a complicated itinerary like this yourself, so remember, you can email the itinerary or bring a printout to a travel agent for help.
Note: I always check individual 1-way flights to see if it’s cheaper to book that way. In this case, separate 1-way trips were cheaper. So you won’t always save money by booking a multi-city trip.
ITA Matrix multi-city search is a great way to find airfares for more complicated itineraries. And you can still use all the filters and tools available on basic 1-way or round-trip searches.
It can be challenging to book complicated fares on your own, so you might want the help of a travel agent once you’ve found an itinerary you want.
And always check individual 1-way flights in an itinerary to see if you can get a cheaper price by booking each leg of the trip separately.
Do you use ITA Matrix Multi-City Search? Have you gotten good results?