Securing the cheapest airfare possible could be considered an art form—far too many factors must perfectly align in order to score the best possible deal. But as Hopper's newest airfare analysis points out, a few common travel mistakes could be standing between you and the lowest possible fare. After analyzing its real-time feed of 15 billion daily flight searches, Hopper's data science team determined that booking too late and booking too early are two of the most costly travel booking mistakes. Specifically, booking too early can cost you an average of $38 on domestic trips and $474 on international trips, while booking too late can cost you $139 on domestic or $529 on international.
"While many travelers think the earlier the better when it comes to bagging bargains in the air, the statistics actually speak to the contrary," reads their report. "Booking more than six months ahead can cost you since airlines set their initial prices conservatively." Conversely, "the modern commercial airline industry does not reward spontaneity," the team writes in regard to booking too late. "The computers are doing a much better job of making sure that each plane is sold out (or oversold)," meaning you won't be able to snag a last-minute deal.
The key is to find the sweet spot, which can vary by trip. "Booking at the right moment can offer up potential savings to the tune of hundreds of dollars on some routes," the analysis concludes. As a general rule, remember that "flights go on sale 11 months before departure, but don't expect to catch deals more than 150 days prior to takeoff."