Price of Procrastination

This post is originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog by Kelly Soderlund and Meg Ellis, on March 8, 2017.

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Price of Procrastination

Let’s face it: procrastination is almost as American as pie. More than one-fourth of us identify as procrastinators, while 20 percent identify themselves as chronic procrastinators, meaning it affects every area and spans every spectrum of their life.

But people usually plan travel in advance. At least, that’s what conventional wisdom tells us. “When is the best time to buy tickets?” consistently is one of the most-asked questions of Hipmunk’s bot. On the flip-side, travelers consistently are told to book at least six weeks in advance.

Basically, it’s assumed that Americans desire for price savings would trump any maladaptive character traits—like procrastination.

And so we were stunned when we analyzed Hipmunk’s 2016 US flight booking data and found that 60 percent of domestic bookings occurred within three weeks of departure. That finding naturally made us wonder how much last-minute bookings were costing US travelers.

Hint: booking early is always better, but travelers won’t really see prices jump until inside the three-week mark. From week eight to week three, prices only increase by 24 percent. But from week three to week one, the booking price jumps 42 percent.

Price of Procrastination Infographic

More Travel Procrastination Findings:

Price Change on Popular Routes
Route 1 Week Prior 3 Weeks Prior Savings
SFO-EWR $522 $312 $209
LAX-SFO $305 $130 $174
JFK-SFO $482 $337 $146
LAX-JFK $488 $351 $137
SFO-LAX $268 $142 $126
SFO-JFK $473 $350 $123
JFK-LAX $465 $348 $117
BOS-SFO $498 $381 $117
JFK-LAS $419 $305 $114
SFO-BOS $519 $408 $111
LAX-HNL $498 $398 $100
BOS-LAX $388 $319 $70
ATL-LAS $216 $163 $53
SFO-LAS $178 $154 $24
LAX-LAS $140 $128 $13

NY (Last) Minute

  • Most Popular Last-Minute Getaway Destination: New York City
  • 52 percent of Hipmunk travelers flying to NY book within 3 weeks of departure date
  • Other popular last-min destinations
    • Chicago (52 percent book within 3 weeks of departure date)
    • San Diego (51 percent book within 3 weeks of departure date)
    • Los Angeles (50 percent book within 3 weeks of departure date)

Travel Planning Tips:

  • Set fare alerts so that you’re always the first to know when prices drop.
  • Apps like Tripit will automatically scan your inbox for booking confirmation emails and compile your itinerary.
  • Sign up for TSA Pre-check and Clear for quick flight clearance.
  • Use Hipmunk and take the agony out of flight search.

Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed average flight booking prices by weeks in advance of departure from the top 30 DMA destinations, made from Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2016, as well as average flight bookings on Hipmunk most-searched routes made from Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2016.

This post is originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog by Kelly Soderlund and Meg Ellis, on March 8, 2017.

How about you? Are you a procrastinator when it comes to planning trips?



  1. lisalisa
    May 24, 2017

    Yesss, I am among the % of procrastinators! I agree booking earlier is always the best way to go when traveling. I made the mistake in booking late for a trip that cost me and the family wayyyy more then I had expected. If I would have booked when I was told to I would have been OK with the cost! I now use your tip above when it comes to traveling, I set fare alerts so I will know what’s going on with prices. Great informative post!

  2. Lynzy & Co
    May 24, 2017

    Eeeeeeekkkk I am totally in that group of procrastinators. I need to get better with it. I 100% agree to book early for travel because it totally saves money on a lot

  3. Melanie
    May 24, 2017

    I am in the group, but it depends on the task. If it is something that I dread doing, then I definitely procrastinate. If it is something that I enjoy and am looking forward to, then I am usually on top it. It just all depends.

  4. Melissa Dixon
    May 25, 2017

    I never realized how much you could save by planning better. I love to save money and I hate to spend on things like travel so this is perfect for me. I need to be sure to let my mom know how she can save too because she never plans and always travels so this would be perfect for her.

  5. Sher
    May 26, 2017

    oh this info is SO handy. i love to plan trips and am usually booking too early i think. thanks for showing how much we can save!

  6. Mary
    May 26, 2017

    I haven’t had a vacation in over 10 yrs. When I did get one, there was no procrastination on my part. There was on his. Now, he just says we won’t go, can’t afford it. So no procrastination on his part now either. Just got my credit card bill today and saw someone isn’t procrastinating and figured out how to pay for it too. On our charge card. Guess that’s one way to do it. I can joke about it now, since we called and got the money back and a new card.

  7. Deborah Nicholas
    May 27, 2017

    Wow i really need to do this! Thanks for the tips as i really need to cut back and think i will be implementing a lot of these ideas soon!

  8. Melissa Porter
    May 29, 2017

    I’m a down the middle type

  9. Lanie
    May 29, 2017

    I really do not travel too often but when I do I definitely price check and buy as far in advance as I can.

  10. Charlotte
    May 30, 2017

    I’m also a procrastinator. Even though I’ve been told to book earlier I just don’t think I need to do it because I don’t travel that often.

  11. Calvin F.
    August 1, 2017

    I am a chronic procrastinator. Not just when travelling but other stuff in life too 🙁


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