On the Facebook group“Travel with points & miles – milesopedia“, we regularly inform you of promotions related to air tickets which are, in some cases, price errors related to fuel dumping. In these cases, only certain sites can help you book these tickets, and you will often have to find the exact setup via ITA Matrix.
Book a flight with a price error with ITA Matrix
Although acquired by Google a few years ago, ITA Matrix still operates independently today. Google used the know-how of the engineers behind ITA Matrix to create its consumer solution“Google Flights“.
But ITA Matrix is still a must-have free tool to find all the fare rules that apply to a plane ticket… rules that are often only accessible by airlines or travel agencies.
Here are a few steps to “tame” ITA Matrix… and help you find THE prize via one of the booking sites.
1- Find the plane ticket on Google Flights
In most cases, Google Flights will suggest a site to book the airfare you found. The site is usually that of an airline. It is through this affiliate link that Google gets paid for this service.
Here is an example for Montreal-Hong Kong from October 19 to 24, 2016 that we had told you about. Here you can book directly with United, so no problem.
But in other cases… the itinerary is too complex to be booked with one of Google’s partners…. and you will be encouraged to book with a “travel agent”.
Here is an example for Montreal-Hong Kong from May 18 to 24, 2016, which we told you about in this alert.
Booking with United would cost you twice as much as booking with a travel agent. The difference between the two tickets? The first segment: although the aircraft is the same, it is the company selling the ticket that is different (AC 761 vs UA 8339).
Except that if you ask travel agents, they will often be unable to find the same price! This is whereITA Matrix comes in!
2- Find the route in ITA Matrix
Google Flights made our job easier by showing us flight numbers or codeshare numbers (flight operated by one company on behalf of another).
Sold by AC 761, UA 869, KA 5332, UA 808, UA 6151
We will have to enter these numbers in the advanced search ofITA Matrix by clicking on“Advanced routing codes“, for both outbound and return flights.
Here is the full screen once we entered our search parameters for our Montreal-Hong Kong flight from May 18-24, 2016:
Once the search is done, you should be able to retrieve the same rate as Google Flights…. except that in the traditional ITA Matrix interface, it is not possible to make reservations. However, you have access to much more comprehensive information.
Now let’s see the trick to booking this ticket at this price.
3- Using a script to find this price
Here, you will have to be cunning. Normally, a travel agent should be able to find this fare if you give him the “Fare Construction” (the small gray lines in the previous image).
But often, you won’t have time to contact one because you have to act quickly!
That’s why members of the travel community have set up a script to find the price from one of the many online booking sites!
To put it simply, this script allows you to modify the web page of the results found by ITA Matrix by adding about fifteen links to airplane ticket reservation sites. All parameters related to the construction of the tariff / fare construction are already entered in these links!
All the information is available here in English, but here are some simple steps to help you use this script.
A- Install the script manager
The script is available on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
To use it, you will need to install a“script manager” which is an extension of your browser. I advise you to do it on your secondary browser (dedicated to this in a way!).
The script manager is called Tampermonkey which you can download at this address. Here is an example of installation in Chrome.
Once the script manager is installed, a new icon should be added to the top right of your browser.
B- Install the script
You will have to go to this page, which will automatically offer you to install the script in Tampermonkey.
After clicking the install button, the script should be entered into Tampermonkey.
To check if this is correct, just go to ITA Matrix and you should see this line displayed at the top of the screen saying“Passengers (1a) Settings (script version)”
4- Find the price on one of the booking sites
Then, it’s very simple! On the final search screen, you will see many links on the right. Just click on each one to find out which travel site will allow you to book the ticket at this price!
Generally, if the fare is complicated and could not be booked via Google Flights with an airline, you will have better chances on sites like CheapOair, Cheaptickets, Ebookers, Orbitz….
Tip: Open all these links in tabs with a right click to launch the searches simultaneously!
There you go! The ticket is found on the American site of Orbitz (the price is displayed in US $).
All you have to do is make a reservation!
ITA Matrix: Conclusion
Now that your script is installed and you understand how to useITA Matrix, you should be more responsive to finding the price of a flight error and booking your ticket!
The cards to book this type of tickets
Since you won’t be using miles to book a ticket this way, the best cards to have are the ones where you can apply points to that travel expense!
Few cards offer you this ability to use any online booking site to apply points. In the example above with a $530 ticket, you would have needed 53,000 points from one of these cards to completely erase the expense and travel for free!