Study of flight tickets shows the best time to book an overseas vacation

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Flying to Europe on the wrong day can cost you as much as $250 more in airfare in the summer — and booking flights too early or too late can also be disastrous for your wallet. The data confirming this comes from a study of 921 million worldwide flight tickets conducted by CheapAir.com, an online platform designed for scoping out the best ticket prices.

The study looked at millions of international airfares as a whole, but paid particular attention to Europe, since around 12.6 million U.S. passport holders travel there every year. CheapAir says that the average flight’s lowest listed fare changed an average of every 4.5 days, changing around 71 times after the tickets first become available. Buying early, the study showed, can cost almost as much as picking up last-minute tickets.

The best time slot to pick up a flight to Europe is around 99 days before the trip, the study suggests, though this varies by destination. Central America, Mexico and Canada tended to hit the low points around 60 days, with flights to the Caribbean, South America, South Pacific, and Asia are best booked between 76 and 90 days before travel, and Africa and the Middle East four months ahead of time.

While the study shows that the time of the booking can make a significant impact on the price, ticket cost could be a few hundred dollars cheaper by just flying on the right day of the week. For flights to Europe, a Monday flight costs an average of $139 less than a Saturday flight, a difference that increases to $250 during the summer travel season.

CheapAir also says the summer months are the busiest travel season — which means airfare is also highest in the warmer months. Travelers who still want to take advantage of warmer weather could travel in August for an average savings of $152 over July flights, CheapAir says.

CheapAir compiled the data for Europe-bound travelers into an online infographic depicting the cheapest and most expensive dates to fly this summer.