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Buying flights too far in advance can cost you

Online flights
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I came up behind a colleague this week using travel site, Kayak to search for flights for her friend's bachelorette party in New Orleans in April. I told her the fares are too high and she should wait to book until, what I thought was, six to eight weeks before the trip.

Nervous that she would be cutting it too close, she dismissed me and kept browsing.

A few hours later, I found another colleague looking up flights to Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park for him, his wife and three kids in July.

Again, I told him he's looking way too far in advance.

Neither one wanted to believe me, though. The very idea of putting off a purchase that could potentially go up in prices clearly created anxiety for both of them.

So, I emailed one of our "Power Lunch" airline experts to get final word.

"There's no reason to look more than two months in advance," Seth Kaplan, Managing Partner of Airline Weekly said in the group email. "If you're thinking, 'I just want to lock it in so at least it doesn't go higher,' that's what they want you to think! Less than two months out, they will drop the fares to fill the flight with more price-sensitive and patient people, before then raising them again for last-minute bookers."

That's not to say my colleagues were completely wrong to at least be looking. "If you see something impossibly cheap farther in advance, it's fine to buy it," Kaplan admitted.

For domestic trips, CheapAir.com a fare-search website notes based on its research, the perfect time, on average, to book a trip is 47 days in advance.

While most experts admit there are many variables behind flight bookings, pretty much all of them agree that it shouldn't be approached the same way as buying concert tickets.

As some of us deal with frigid winter temperatures and eye warmer spring and summer trips, it may just pay to chill out.

"Think about people who book way in advance," Kaplan said. "They really want to travel to a certain place on certain dates like a honeymoon, so they are actually less price sensitive than the most discretionary travelers, who book a month or two out."

"The trick is, even if you are one of those people, don't act like one! Just put it on your calendar to start looking two months out and forget about it until then!"