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Uncovered: the absolute best time to buy the cheapest plane ticket

If you've ever spent an entire week checking ticket sites in a sad (read: failed) attempt to outsmart the airlines, take heed; a recent study pinpoints the absolute best time to score the cheapest fares. And it's not Tuesday at 3pm.

No, according to search engine CheapAir -- which analyzed price data from upwards of four million flights over 10 months last year -- your best chance to land the least expensive ticket to Omaha (or any domestic flight, for that matter) is exactly 54 days before takeoff. Not a day more, not a day less. Although rest assured, as long as you buy somewhere between 104 and 29 days in advance (seriously, CheapAir. Kind of broad, no?), your tickets should weigh in about $10 cheaper on average then they'll be at any other time.

Flickr user Jackie Curry
So what about passengers who plan in advance or wait until the last minute? Well, if you know where you're headed 225 days from now you should probably inject more spontaneity into your life, but short of that -- by all means, resist the urge to book it! That's the date when fares start to decline ahead of a flight, falling slowly until day 54 before beginning to climb again.

As for those who lollygag and then complain to friends about how expensive it was to book a flight to Coachella, like, three days before Coachella, no real shockers here. True to form, tickets are at their most expensive the day before a flight; and second-most costly two days prior.

Of course, the magic booking number varies depending on when and where you’re traveling, and foreign destinations are a whole 'nother ball game. Here's a quick rundown of how many days in advance you should be buying your tickets abroad: Europe (151 days), Asia (129 days), The Caribbean (101) days, and Latin America (80 days).

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. In 54 days' time, she would like to be significantly warmer. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.

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