ITA Matrix: Reality or Illusion?

What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. ~Morpheus (The Matrix)

A lot of very frequent flyers rely on ITA Matrix to research air fares and plan out less obvious routes that can save hundreds of dollars. Not-so-frequent flyers though, and those who might be less savvy about using complex online tools, tend to shy away from the free service. If you fall into one of the latter categories, Hack My Trip offers a terrific ITA Matrix 1o1 introduction.

But even if you think you know how to use the tool, you might still find yourself questioning the results.  Even more troubling, ask the airline about a fare you discovered on ITA and the airline rep might deny the existence of the fare, and ITA, entirely – as Arandora found in this thread on TripAdvisor.

I’ve been waiting for return fares for April 2nd, 3rd or 4th 2015 to be released from Phuket to Manchester with Qatar…ITA Matrix best prices for those dates with best connection times are Qatar 528…However, price on Qatar website and confirmed by Qatar Reservations by phone is 624 + 25 if I book by phone. When I informed them about the ITA price they claimed never to have heard of ITA and that no such fare is available.

Fortunately, Arandora doesn’t accept the Qatar rep’s advice to ignore his own lying eyes and reaches out to other TripAdvisor members for suggestions and advice.

In the end, not only does he receive some great advice – which makes this thread a useful compliment to Hack My Trip’s post above – he is also able to book the flights he wanted at the price he wanted. Though not without a fair bit of work.

Image by deerstop. (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Wow… Because you left the story almost completely opened I went to read all of the comments and now I know why you did.

    What a delightfully boring story.

    What an unsurprisingly boring post.

    Welcome to BA

  2. ITA Matrix is also known for displaying phantom availability. Sometimes the fare exists, but there isn’t availability in the appropriate bucket on the desired flight. It happened to me quite a few times. Having a travel agent/friend with GDS access that can check fares and inventory can really help figuring out why you can’t get ITA’s price directly with the airline.

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