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The one mistake you're making when booking flights

It's all about timing for the best deals.
The best time to book flights
Image: iStock

Metro reported last year that the best time to travel during the summer (i.e. the cheapest) is the weekend before Labor Day weekend, the best seats to avoid crying babies are far from airplane bulkheads — and now, we’ve brought you the best time to book flights.

According to airfare forecasting mobile-only app Hopper, one of the biggest mistakes people can make when booking flights is booking them either too late or too early. There's a science behind finding that perfect time to guarantee the best deals. 

The best time to book flights

Why you should care about finding the best time to book flights

Booking too late, reports Travel + Leisure, can cost a consumer an average of $139 on domestic trips and $529 on international trips, according to Hopper data. Booking too early can cost an average of $38 on domestic trips and $474 on international trips.

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Chief Data Scientist for Hopper Patrick Surry wrote in a report, "be prepared and plan your trips with ample time, and you should find your ticket prices are taking a turn for the more affordable."

But don’t book too early.

"While many travelers think the earlier the better when it comes to bagging bargains in the air, the statistics actually speak to the contrary," Scurry wrote. "Flights go on sale 11 months before departure, but don't expect to catch deals more than 150 days prior to takeoff."

Surry explained that booking a flight "more than six months ahead can cost you since airlines set their initial prices conservatively. Booking at the right moment can offer up potential savings to the tune of hundreds of dollars on some routes."

Examples of the best time to book flights

"More consumer-oriented markets like Boston to Honolulu are booked much farther in advance, and have a much smaller last-minute premium," Scurry wrote. "The optimal time to book this trip is about a month in advance of departure."

Scurry also wrote that business routes such as Boston to San Diego "tend to have low, slightly declining prices at long advances, with prices and demand then rising very rapidly prior to departure. The optimal time to buy this trip is three months before departure."

In a different airfare study published late last month by CheapAir.com — also reported on by Travel + Leisure — the best time to book flights is generally around 70 days before departure.

How can you track the best time to book flights?

To find the best time to book flights for airfare deals, you can use Hopper's services, which Travel + Leisure points out had a 4.8 rating in the app store.

"Flight pricing has historically been highly complex and opaque, and travelers often don't have the information they need to get the best deals on flights," a Hopper spokesperson told Metro in an email statement.

"Hopper makes it possible to save money and travel more," they continued, "predicting future prices for flights and accommodations with 95% recommendation accuracy up to a year in advance, offering personalized tips, and notifying users about price drops and exclusive deals."

You can also check out tools such as KAYAK and Google Flights.

Ready, set, book!