Have you always wondered if your favorite cheap airfare website is actually getting you the cheapest flights?  We’ve uncovered a 2 step approach that will show you exactly how to quickly finding the cheapest airfares.  You start by easily finding the best airfare using a travel agent grade search tool.  Once you know your best flight, just hop over to an airfare website to buy the ticket.

matrix airfare search showing the roundtrip tab


Your Definitive 1st Stop – Travel Agent Grade Airfare Search

If you’re not starting out with Matrix Airfare Search then you’re wasting your precious time. This little-known airfare search tool’s power puts it in a league of it’s own.  Its simple-to-use yet advanced search capabilities allow you to see many more airfare combinations (in the billions actually) with a single search than the next best option (which is Kayak, in case you were wondering). Even though you can’t actually buy tickets through the tool directly, you’ll save so much time in your airfare search that it’d be crazy not to start with the Matrix Airfare Search.

3 Features to Take Advantage Of

There are 3 unique features offered by Matrix Airfare Search that make it the place to start your cheap airfare search.

1. Unrivaled Date Flexibility:
It’s ridiculously easy to search different departure/return dates and trip lengths.  Matrix will even automatically highlight the cheapest ticket price for you in a 30 day period.  Many cheap airfare search engines limit your search to +/- 2 days of a selected selected date.  Matrix quickly returns whole month worth of fares in a visually pleasing way.

Here, Matrix quickly finds us the cheapest day to fly from New York to Manchester, England during January (based on the date of the search).  It could have easily taken you 8 to 10 searches to uncover this airfare with the more common airfare search tools.

calendar of new york to manchester flight


2. Search Airports in Bulk:
Extending your search to nearby airports you can save $100s of dollars.  You might be thinking “Orbitz offers this feature too” and you’d be right.  The difference is that ITA’s software lets you individually include airports in a 2,000 mile radius through a perfectly designed menu (that even has a map!).  Orbitz limits your search to a generic 80-mile radius where you can’t pick and choose specific airports – forcing you to sift through flights you’d never want.

Even better, you can enter as many of the 3 letter airport codes as you’d like into the ‘Departing From’ and ‘Destination’ fields.  This is especially useful when you want to go on a trip, but are considering a few destination options.  You can search them all at once with this tool!  Here we choose to search for flights that leave from any of three different nearby airports by entering: “MDW, ORD, MKE” into the “Departing From” field.

searching round trip flights from multiple destinations
Searching for Multiple Destinations

Expanding your search to add in airports within 300 or more miles can sometimes return great results. You might be pleasantly surprised to find some of the super cheap airfares that can be had at small airports around the country. Budget carriers, like Spirit Airlines and Ryan Air in Europe, often make use of small airports in rural areas, where their costs can be much lower.  If you can get yourself out to one of these far-flung airports, you might be able to save hundreds on your next get-away.

3. Filter Search Results:
Once you move past the ‘Calendar’ step, you’ll see the ‘Flights’ page, which offers great ways to sort and filter the search results.

flights search tab after finishing calendar page


You have more than 8 filter options to make sure the flights fit your schedule, budget, and patience level!. The most useful filters are Departure Time, Arrival Time, Flight Duration, and Advisories.  For starters, you filter the results to show convenient flight departure and arrival times and flights that don’t leave you stuck with really long layovers.

With the advisory filter you can eliminate really inconvenient flights with super tight connections and over night flights – an especially important consideration when travelling with kids.  For example, we’ve found some cheap tickets that require you to haul yourself across New York City to get from JFK to LaGuardia airports – yuck! This is huge pain even when you don’t consider the $75 taxi ride.)

In the example below, when shopping for cheap airfare to Evansville, Indiana, we can see that the cheapest flights all include long layovers (for $428 Round Trip). When we filter out flights with lengthy layovers we are left with more convenient schedules that are just a little more expensive (about $25 extra).

check box of long layovers
Filtering Annoying Connections

Keep in mind that the Matrix Airfare Search is so useful, partly because it shows you a huge number of airfares. Sometimes even really awkward schedules are offered at an extra discount.  If you make use of the filtering features, be aware that you might be filtering out some great cheap airfare deals.

Buy Your Cheap Airfare Ticket

Once you’ve found the cheapest fare that fits your needs, it’s time to locate that same fare on a website that DOES sell plane tickets. Orbitz.com  is our top choice for buying  cheap airfares that we found using Matrix Airfare Search. Take note of dates, origin/destination information, and flight numbers from the Matrix Airfare Search and head on over to Orbitz.com and see if they offer the same fare. Usually they do, but from time to time they don’t. In that case you may need to try your search on a few smaller Online Travel Agent websites. (See below)

breakdown of total airfare that you need to payHere are our top choices for buying cheap flights that we’ve found using Matrix Airfare Search:

1.   Orbitz.com – Our top pick for purchasing tickets. They almost always offer the same low fares that you find on the Matrix Airfare Search. (Sadly they just don’t have the great search flexibility offered by Matrix Airfare Search.)

2.   Kayak.com  – Another good choice. They offer some additional flexibility when it comes to multi-city trips.

Get in Touch

Got questions about our cheap flight tool(s)? I’d love to know how you have been using Matrix Airfare Search to find an awesome deal by using these travel hacks!