Rookie Wednesday: A Basic ITA Matrix 101 class for a Delta Mileage Run

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

101 class

Today’s post is a very basic way to start using ITA Matrix to search for a Delta Mileage run. Please know this is just the basics. There are so many other custom searches you can do but I have had many requests to explain how this works in a rookie way. Even so, this is over a dozen steps. Let this just be a way for you to grasp the concept and then have fun and play. Let’s get started.

ft1

So let’s start with something basic you find on FlyerTalk with not a lot of info (some are very detailed others are not). This one does not look too bad and if a few back to back days can be found we are talking 11,000+ MQMs for under $450! But what flights, what days, what gives?

ft2

We jump on to ITA Matrix and start to search. We have already used the link HERE that gives us the CPM when the search is done. There are a few things to click as you can see by the arrows.

ft3

Now the page will change to what you see above, ready to add more.

ft4

You can see by the bunch of red arrows the next info to put in. The start city, the end city and “DL+” gives you one or more Delta & Delta code-share segments.

itamatrix routing codes

You then put in what month you want to search, how many nights you want to overnight or NONE=0. Notice if you want to expand your search to other airports you can pick “Nearby” to add more within a distance you like.

ft5

You see the days that come up with the cheapest prices. Are all these the lowest price? Maybe, maybe not

ft6

I pick the 12th. But ITA will maybe not show the best price. I have to click where the arrows show.

ft7

And I must make sure the display is sorting by the price per mile.

ft8

As you can see the price has changed but notice the CPM or cost per mile is higher than the “OP” or original poster from FT. So I click those arrows to expand.

ft9

Yep the numbers on the 12th, even though they showed low, are not the same. So I click to go back and look again.

ft10

After looking again I pick the 13th. Follow the same steps, and look what I find. The same CPM the OP found. So I have to be picky on days or if I want back to back days my CPM may be low on one day and a little more on another but that can work maybe. Also note some of the flights are Alaska. That is fine for earning but you are on a partner. Maybe you would rather be all Delta as upgrades are different on Alaska than Delta etc.

f20

So then with all this info I jump over to Delta.com and start to search. I put in the start, end, and dates (same day) and search.

f21

Oh boy is the first page full of data I DO NOT want to see. I want to see all the flights, I want to ONLY look at 1 stops not nonstops as I want more MQMs and I want the lowest price and at long last I want only Atlanta. Why? Let’s peek at our CWSI.net tool to see why!

f31

We see the Atlanta connection has the yield of MQMs we want

f32

Compared to Detroit that is less as well as other airports like MSP or SLC etc.

f25

Now notice on the results, when we clean them up, give us many less choices. Some are with Alaska partners and some are all Delta. But if we pick all Delta we may not be able to connect back to ATL on the way back home for MAX MQMs so for now we pick one with Alaska partner.

f26

And when we do, and via Atlanta on the redeye back home, we do find the same results the OP has posted about and a price of 3.8CPM at under $220 round trip. Not all bad.

A27

But let’s say we DO NOT want to fly Alaska and want all Delta jets. We may choose other flights that are Atlanta out and Detroit back for less MQMs but all Delta jets. Is it worth giving up a few MQMs? Your call. Even 4.1CPM is not all bad. Also, you are seeing the Skymiles rewarded to me as a Diamond Medallion, and the 12,000+ I would get makes the real cost of the ticket, if a Skymile is valued at just 1 cent each, just $98 for the trip on all Delta jets vs. $91 on part Alaska. To me, for that little price, I would choose to fly all Delta, but that is me.

mci-sea2

Lastly it is always good to check the 1st class price. In this case, this deal, if you are willing to spend more and get up to the 6CPM range, you can can just book the trip in 1st class; a mileage run in first class is much easier than one in coach! Plus, at the higher fare class you are earning MORE MQMs and MORE Skymiles that do bring the all-in cost of the 1st class ticket down a little.

So there you are. This is a very very basic search using ITA Matrix. There are so many other things you can do with this tool but this is Rookie Wednesday and this is to get you started when you see a deal or want to start looking for a Delta deal on your own! – René

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27 comments

  1. Thanks a bunch for posting this! I’m a novice who needs all the help he can find. On a related note, did you see the USA OpEd declaring that the addition of MQD requirements will doom the era of mileage runs? http://usat.ly/1b6XTOC

  2. Great post Rene. One thing I do slightly differently is that instead of DL+ I use “alliance skyteam.” It won’t make a difference on domestic flights but on international routes it will expand the search to find additional (non code-share) flights on KLM and AF that earn full credit.

  3. Rene, how did I not know about CWSI.net? I always calculate these items in a spread sheet, very cool.

    On another thought I get the email blasts in the morning but no other updates throughout the day. I guess I can find them over in twitter maybe but I stay off twitter unless i am contacting delta assist. Can you add them to email?

  4. Awesome I gave you an idea for a rookie post on a mileage run 35k miles up over Flagstaff. I normally am pretty tech savey but this one has got me, thanks.

  5. Wow I gave you an idea for a rookie post while I was 35000 up over Flagsaff on a MR. Sorry I am normally much more tech savey.

  6. DL 1555 to LAX sitting in your seat 26B. Did you get upgraded you dog if you are on this flight I will see you in the LAX lounge.

  7. Thanks much. This kind of demonstration would be perfect at the Chicago Seminars. It was briefly touched upon, but it’d be great for everyone in the audience to get out their devices and follow along to get the same results. Then, repeat with a different exercise. 🙂

  8. Thanks Rene – this is great, looking forward to a 200,300 or 400 level class on ITA soon! 🙂

  9. I’m playing with a mileage run to SEA – SAN originating from BGR (or LGA or BOS) sometime before Nov 21st. I’m trying to follow your instructions in this great tutorial. However, I don’t see the “CPM or cost per mile” below the PRICE nor after clicking on the PRICE column as pictured in the yellow box, it only shows the sliding scale of min/max price. I’m using a Mac, does that make a difference? or did I not click a preference somewhere to have CPM show on the on the price column? Thank you for the reply.

  10. I used Matrix to plan a trip and went to Delta to book it. a couple of the flight times were not available and others showed a much higher price. I thought Matrix had up-to-date prices and available flights.

  11. Example: SEA-LAX 11/30/13 turn around flight 10:30 dep SEA/3:50 dep LAX. Matrix: 508.80, Delta: 702.80. 🙁

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