If you've yet to book your holiday travels or you're already planning your big getaway for the New Year, a simple flight-booking hack is about to save you tons of headache. Travel + Leisure recently spilled on the best time to fly to avoid flight delays, and the answer is quite simple: Book a flight for the early morning.
"Studies have shown that early morning flights are less likely to be delayed than those in the afternoon and evening," T+L writes. More specifically, to avoid flight delays, it's best to leave before 8 a.m., according to data compiled by FiveThirtyEight. While a departure time before 8 a.m. will require an unfavorable morning, waking up before dawn does beat getting stuck at the airport for hours (or days). After 8 a.m., the data finds that "delay times just build until they reach their peak at about 6 p.m."
There are a couple reasons flying first thing in the morning is your best bet for avoiding delays. For one, air traffic is lighter in the early hours, as all previous flights have landed for the night. "As planes build up and wait for takeoff, air traffic controllers begin to delay departures and landings." Early morning flights are also less prone to turbulence, as thunderstorms typically occur in the afternoon. The airport itself will also be more manageable in morning hours, as major airports don't reach their peak occupancy until around noon. To top it all off, you'll likely save some money by booking an early-morning flight because, despite all the advantages, most people don't want to wake up that early to fly.
Planning your next vacation? These will be the top travel destinations of 2018.