Gone: no more ability to (quickly) find cheap BA Club World tickets via ITA Matrix

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If you wanted to save money – a lot of money – on British Airways Club World (or any other airline) tickets by starting outside the UK then there was one piece of free software which was essential.

What is ITA Matrix?

The key to finding cheap ex-Europe long-haul flights was a nifty bit of software called ITA Matrix, now owned by Google.

ITA Matrix was hugely powerful because you could search from multiple departure points at once.

Let’s imagine you wanted to fly to New York.  You could type in:

AMS;ARN;ATH;BRU;BUD;CAI;CPH;DUB;FCO;FRA;HEL;IST;LCA;LIN;LIS;MAD;MLA;OSL;OTP;PAR;PRG;PSA;SOF;VIE;WAW :: BA+

…. as your Departure City, and then New York as your Destination City.

ITA Matrix would search for flights on BA from ALL of these starting points, covering most of Europe.  In one click you could track down countries where British Airways was quietly knocking out tickets on the cheap.

How to use ITA Matrix

ITA Matrix is now a lot less useful

A recent IT change – which is not an error, it is strategic – has made ITA Matrix virtually useless for our purposes.

You cannot now search for fares from different departure countries in one search.

You CAN still search for prices from multiple airports in the same country.  Using

ABZ,BFS,BHX,BRS,EDI,GLA,INV,LCY,LGW,LHR,LTN,MAN,NCL,NQY

…. as your departure point would search for flights leaving from major UK airports.  This is nowhere near as useful, however, especially for BA flights when the best deals will usually be in mainland Europe.

(If you have never used ITA Matrix and the coding above looks like nonsense, take a look at this HFP article which explains how it works.  Or, more accurately, how it used to work.)

Before you ask …..

There is no other website or piece of software which has the same functionality.  Google Flights has a five city limit.

You could never book flights via ITA Matrix.  All it did was scour the airline systems for the prices.  You had to plug the exact times and dates into Expedia or an airline website in order to book.  With no revenue stream, there was little incentive to keep it going as it was.  The reason Google bought it was to get hold of the team, which was set to work beefing up Google Flights.

This is very annoying …..

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Comments

  1. Matrix/ITA has slowly degraded under Google ownership. A couple of months ago there was a chance a search would not return all the available flights, which you might not realize. That behavior seemed to happen if the Advanced fields were empty, and adding a simple “+” (without the quotes) seemed to fix it.

  2. “Not an error but strategic” – can someone explain this. What possible strategic advantage do you get from making your product significantly less useful to users.

    • It is a product no-one pays for and which Google only bought to get the team, which has so far failed to make Google Flights as good. They need to therefore force users over.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Effectively forcing people to use Google Flights instead (ads revenue)

  3. Hi Rob – GF no longer has a 5 city limit, so while still not as useful as Matrix, at least they improved that

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