How to use ITA to find mileage run fares

Farecompare.com used to have a really handy web page at farecompare.com/flyertalk, which would display the cheapest fares out of any city of your choosing.

It used to look something like this:

Now going to the page just gives you this:

I’m not sure whether this is just a temporary thing or they got rid of the page forever, but it was the first and last webpage I checked every day, since it was the easiest way to see if there were any fare sales out of my home airport.

Obviously I’m not the only person that loved Fare Compare’s city search tool, since over the past couple of days I’ve constantly been asked where to go to find low fares, especially in light of American’s double elite qualifying miles promotion.

While it’s by no means a replacement, I think the next best option is using ITA Matrix. It requires a bit more work, though it kind of sort of does the trick… kind of.

Step 1

Go to matrix.itasoftware.com.

Step 2

Enter your home airport in the “Departing From” field, and then in the “Destination” field enter every possible city that could have a cheap fare, separated by semicolons or commas. Typically you’ll want to look for transcon fares, so out of Tampa I might type in something like:

SFO;LAX;SEA;SAN;SNA;PDX;MRY;PSP;LAS;PHX;BUR;ONT

Step 3

In the section immediately below the origin and destination field, select “see calendar of lowest fares.” Then select the first date you’re willing to travel, as it will show you a month-long calendar for dates after that. Lastly, select how long you’d like to stay at your destination for.

Step 4

After selecting the dates, be sure to uncheck the box which says “allow airport changes.” If you don’t uncheck it, the search may return results where you’re flying into Las Vegas and out of Los Angeles, for example, which isn’t very helpful for mileage running. Once you’ve done that, at the bottom of the page, click “Search.”

You’ll now get a page with prices listed by date on a calendar. The dates with the cheapest fares will show up in orange.

You can then click on any date of your choosing and see the comparison of fares across various airlines.

But of course as you saw, the prices on the calendars were based on the cheapest fare of any airline. Lets say you wanted to fly a specific airline. To specify that you would go back to the home page and modify the code.

To specify you want to fly a certain number of segments on a certain airline, you type the airline’s two digit once for each segment you want. If I wanted to know the cheapest mileage run with two segments in each direction on American out of Tampa, I would type the following:

TPA:: aa aa
SFO, LAX, SEA, SAN, SNA, PDX, MRY, PSP, LAS, PHX, BUR, ONT:: aa aa

As you’ll see, this creates a new field where the airline codes display.

As displayed above, this is saying I want to fly from Tampa to any of those airports on American Airlines in two segments in each direction.

Once you click “Search” you’ll get a new calendar which will have narrowed down the options per your specifications.

Like I said, it’s not a perfect fix. ITA used to supplement Fare Compare very nicely. Though without Fare Compare, it’s the next best option, as far as I know.

Anyone else know of any tools for planning mileage runs?

Comments

  1. Problem is that the ITA software times out after a specified period of time (60s) and only returns what it’s found so far.

    So once you put in more than a handful of cities, you’re actually not getting the full universe of flights back – you’re only getting a subset of what was found before the timeout occurred.

  2. A few suggestions:
    * If you click on “advanced routing codes”, the second line opens and you don’t have to enter the double colons. Open advanced routing codes are my default setting.
    * On the advanced routing line, you can enter a connection city. For instance, if you wanted to go through O’Hare enter ORD. If you want two AA flights, forcing through ORD, enter this: AA ORD AA

    *A same day turn is 0 (zero) nights. I search for mileage runs with 0-1.

    *The 60 second timeout is an issue for me if I use more than 7 or 8 destinations. For the West Coast, I usually use the following three separate sets:
    1. SEA, PDX, SFO, SJC, OAK, SMF, MRY
    2. PHX, LAS, PSP, SAN, CLD
    3. LAX, BUR, ONT, SNA, LGB (It’s possible to transfer between these, so I can consider airport changes if it saves money.)

  3. Within the course of a week, I feel like we regressed 10 years…..

    I don’t really mind the loss of FareCompare — but the new ITA is horribly slow.

  4. I use ITA quite a bit, but it’s really frustrating if you want to search more than one airline in an alliance.

    Maybe if we’re all very good, Santa will bring FareCompare back!

  5. Ben, I think you should look at that Farecompare page more closely — specifically, the 4th item:

    “FlyerTalk Mileage Run Search

    Like the airfare display tool, but more powerful searching like zone to zone. New version coming soon…”

  6. What if you are heading to a specific city, say for business, and you want to get the most miles? Is it easier just to call the airline and have them book the ticket with the most miles allowed?

  7. Does any one kno why Farecompare is not showing the Flyertalk fares, especially the YUP fares? Why are they fixing what is not broken? Maybe someone can contact FC and request the option to use the previous features which worked properly.

  8. Tiffany,

    Isn’t using more than one airline in an alliance fairly easy, or am I missing something?

    For example, to see options for Star Alliance (at least US carriers) for any number of segments, it’d be:
    US,UA,CO+

    Now if you’re looking for international mileage runs, I agree it gets difficult as you have to put in all the airlines for the alliance.

  9. Too funny… I wrote a similar post that’s going live in a few minutes, but used the farecompare.com/maps as the example. Great minds.

  10. To search all airlines in a particular alliance, you can use the following codes (note the space after the slash):

    / alliance star-alliance
    / alliance oneworld
    / alliance skyteam

  11. @FareCompare, please explain how we can see a listing of the YUP fares and all fare listings via a particular city. The old website was great, and we do not want to loose these features! There is no way to search YUP fares or see a list of fares from one departure city( e.g ORD to Europe with YUP). Please bring back the old site as well. It is a real asset and cherished by your users!

  12. @Mike – I am generally looking internationally, so that must make the difference.

    @Drew – You are my new favorite person! Thanks!

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