Please Tell Google We Need ITA Matrix Working

Are you addicted to ITA Matrix for your flight searches? I am.

Their recent nonstop “Sorry, the server was unable to process your request. If this continues to happen, please try again later” errors are maddening.

ITA Server Error

There have been periods like this over the past year, however this seems the worst, affecting nearly all my searches this week. ITA’s response:

Our Matrix site is not down, but has recently experienced an increase in traffic, especially automated traffic that frequently causes all our QPX servers to be busy (at peak times about 3 out of 4 search queries may fail). We are trying to address this issue by blocking excessive use. We are also planning to switch Matrix over to Google App Engine soon, which will provide additional controls preventing abuse of the site. I apologize for the inconvenience caused in the meantime.

To increase the odds of your search succeeding, select specific date search rather than calendar search whenever possible. Also switch to “complete trips” (rather than “individual flights” or “time bars”), if you can.

Telling me to give up time bars is like telling me to search for trips on Orbitz (gack!).

If you care about ITA Matrix, please let them know on this support thread.

The nearest proxy is Hipmunk, which works for simple requests, and there are ways, courtesy of Wandering Aramean, to hack in most of ITA functionality, however I have not found ways to do +-2 day searches along with ITA codes. Hack My Trip has a great primer on Advanced Routing Language in ITA.

Google has a history of killing off consumer products, and while the business-facing side of ITA I am sure is safe, and at public events in the past Google has said ITA Matrix is safe, it is important to let them know how important this is to savvy travelers.

Please let them know here.

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  • Joey

    “blocking excessive use” – aie! I hope you won’t be blocked for excessive use, RTC! 😉

  • DWT

    And I thought it was just me! I generally don’t need flexible date searches so for now I’ve been getting by using Google flights, but it’s not the same.

  • Muerl

    I was debating printing off signs and posting them in front of their office. Its only about a block from mine.

  • Wolfgang

    And I thought it was a browser issue!

    Thanks for raising this problem with Google, I utilize ITA Matrix search daily, so this issue is really frickin’ annoying.
    Seems the last 2-3 weeks it has gotten much worse.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @wWolfgang – I drove myself nuts for a while, clearing cookies, changing browsers, etc. In some ways good it is not my computer, don’t IT people always blame the user?, but worse that it is systemic and no solid reassurance this is going to improve anytime soon.

  • Joey

    I believe someone from ITA Matrix will be at Chicago Seminars in 2 weeks. Let’s bring it to his/her attention as well but hopefully it will be resolved by then.

  • Thanks for the mention. I’ll actually be speaking on the topic of ITA Matrix at the Chicago Seminars a week from now.

    I have noticed the same issues, and Google’s response is pathetic. I don’t use ITA to search specific dates. I use it because of its flexibility to search multiple dates at once; even if I pick specific dates it still times out. And I’m hardly one of the frequent users who is overwhelming the system — maybe a half dozen searches a day at most.

    It’s somewhat embarrassing that Google can let products drift like this into oblivion even when they’re incredibly beneficial to their users. What did Google+ accomplish? And yet we have to deal with a sputtering ITA Matrix and shutting down Google Reader.

  • It is crazy. I use it often and it has been a royal pain. It almost seems like Google has hired Delta’s IT team.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joey – yes, they have presented at Chicago the past few years. They have been particularly candid and open so I expect to have a discussion on this.

  • Archon1995

    Automated scrapers are apparently behind the slowdowns/errors/timeouts. That’s the “excessive demand” they reference. They say solutions to block scrapers should be implemented “in the next few weeks.” So it looks like Matrix will be lousy for a while, but not going away.


  • JFT

    I find I get the problem a lot on my laptop but then if I try the same search on my ipad, very rarely see the server busy message. Don’t know why but at least allows me to use the site.

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