A new study has found that the Goldilocks principle applies when it comes to saving money on airline tickets. To get the cheapest fare, it pays to book not too early but not too late, according to findings by CheapAir.com.
The research reviewed more than 350 million airfares between the U.S. and over 3,000 markets, according to CNBC.
It turns out that the best time to book domestic flights in the U.S. can range from three weeks to three-and-a-half months in advance. International flights are less expensive at least two months before your travel date. But booking super-early could cost you just as much as procrastinating.
"In most markets, someone buying a ticket two months before a flight will pay less than someone buying a ticket 10 months before a flight," Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly, told CNBC. Passengers who book way in advance or at the last minute are willing to spend more money, airlines reason.
On average, when purchasing airline tickets to and from the U.S., the best times to book are: 59 days ahead for travel to Canada, 61 days for Mexico and Central America, 76 days for the Caribbean, 81 days for South America, 90 days for Asia, 99 days for Europe, and 119 days for Africa and the Middle East.
Don't look at these numbers as set in stone, though. Prices can vary, especially when it comes to peak times like the winter holidays.
"These are averages, not hard-and-fast rules," Kaplan said. "If you see what looks like a too-good-to-be-true cheap fare many months before you plan to travel, grab it — that particular fare won't necessarily drop further."