I'm a KAYAK girl. I've spent more time KAYAK-ing online than I have on water; in other words, my go-to search engine for flights (and sometimes hotels) is kayak.com. BUT, I recently found out that the software powering the travel search giant is available for public use AND Google just acquired them, much to Expedia's dismay.
Behind the Scenes ITA Software powers some of the biggest names in Travel: Bing, Air Canada, Hotwire, Virgin Atlantic, Orbitz, etc... and the software behind these online search giants is also available to you, me and your grandma, through their Flight Matrix (pictured above). The matrix, not to be confused with the movie, provides a snazzy, simple and robust way to search for flights using the same tools you'd have access to if you were snooping around the back room at Bing Travel!
The Research Master Although using the site makes you feel travel agent-esque, it should be noted that the flight search capabilities ITA offers the public are research-driven versus transaction-driven. With ITA, you can only research the flight you want, after that, you must book it directly with the airline that best suits your needs (ie - price, airline alliance, times, direct vs multi-stop, etc...). When you find the flight you like, there's no direct link to the fare, so you need to make a note of the info, navigate to your airline of choice and go through the booking process until you find the flight ITA found for you. Even though this sounds cumbersome, some DIY travel aficionados never veer from searching with ITA first before booking their flight. You be the judge.
Trip Styler Tips Here are some best practices for using ITA combined with other travel tricks to book the best fare with the most points:
- I like and will use this site for research purposes
- When I've narrowed down my results: I'll opt for a carrier within the airline alliance where I collect miles
- Once I know the flight I want: I'll book the flight on my Travel Credit Card's site to get extra travel points over and above the miles I'll get with my preferred airline alliance