Just like the rest of the civilized world, occasionally we need to fly. And when we do, we’re typically faced with a daunting selection of websites, all offering the cheapest flights in the industry. Problem is, when inputting the flight data to the various flight websites (think Travelocity, Orbitz, and Cheapair) one usually ends up getting the same results. After reviewing a little further, however, you may be missing out of the very best website flight software in the industry. Cue ITA Matrix.
Who Is ITA Matrix?
Developed by MIT geeks (that’s a compliment) in the 90’s, ITA cutting edge, now almost two decades ago. And still, the ITA Matrix software hasn’t been dethroned by most popular websites (listed above) in terms of bringing all of the data to a potential traveler’s fingertips.
In 2010, Google announced that it was purchasing the IRA Matrix company for $700 Million. The Justice Department authorized the purchase about a year later, and now Google owns the rights to the very best flight software available. The ITA Matrix website is still available, and useful for flight search, but the intelligence (along with Google’s more eye-pleasing interface) is also now available at Google Flights.
What Makes Google Flights Better Than The Rest?
Several things actually. First and foremost, the meta-data search functions. Currency manipulation, multi-city search, layover and number of stops input, and a variety of other switches and toggles make Google the most informative, and often the cheapest as well.
But the one, single function that we love is the Schedule Tips offered by Google Flights. After putting in the relevant information, a page opens that offers you your results. They are generally listed in order of price, with the cheapest flights listed first. That’s as far as many flight web engines will take you. But Google Flights offers a “Schedule Tip” header which gives you a possibility that you may have not considered. Generally, the software looks back or ahead a few days and searches for even a cheaper price than the results listed in the body of the page.
This so-called “Schedule Tip” area is a real boon for those who would prefer to nail down the cheapest price first on their itenerary, and are not necessarily confined to a particular day, or even a particular airport.
As you can see on the picture to the right, Google Flight’s Schedule Tip recommended a cheaper price than we knew about, simply as a result of offering flexible dates for potential travelers. And the difference between the ‘best flight” section vs. the “schedule tip” section is substantial. For a vacationing family of four, the amount of savings results in $688 (($398-226) x 4 family members) for the four tickets combined. I don’t know about you, that much money matters to most families, and it does to us as well.
Summary On Google Flights
Google Flights, powered by ITA Matrix is a wonderful option for flight travel – especially useful for those would like a lot of options on pricing, layovers, and the like. When a vacationing family is particularly cost-conscious (and who isn’t these days?), nailing down the flight first is a great idea. You can always fill in later with car rental, hotel, and things to do on your vacation later.