Booking flights can be tricky. It’s hard to know what the best time to book airfare is – sometimes booking too early can actually result in higher rates. Hopper, a new company based in Massachusetts and Montreal, can help you determine when to book flights. It’s free and easy to use. We had the opportunity to ask their chief data scientist, Patrick Surry, a few questions.

MG2: Tell us about Hopper.

Patrick Surry: Buying a plane ticket is a time-consuming and frustrating process that often leaves you, the consumer, unhappy. Flight prices are less transparent and fluctuate more than almost anything else a typical family buys, and it’s one of their most expensive purchases.

Our goal at Hopper is to help you save money on air travel with advice about where and when to fly — and when to buy — by bringing more transparency to prices.  We believe this helps you find the right flight more quickly, with less work, and be happier about your decision.

MG2: How can families best use Hopper to get a great deal? Any specific tips?

Patrick Surry: Our top tips for saving money on airfare are:

– Be flexible with your dates and destinations to save the most money. Our Flight Explorer can help you discover your next destination by using open-ended searches (e.g. Boston to anywhere, LA to Europe, depart in Fall 2014, stay 6-8 days, etc.) and filtering for the best deals, least stops, and/or lowest price. You can also find great deals and sign up to receive email notifications for flight deals from your origin airport on our Deals page.

– Do your homework and find out what a good deal for your trip is. The reports on our website will make sure you don’t overpay, since tickets on the same flight often vary in price by more than 300%!

– Use our new app to do 24/7 comparison shopping get an instant alert when there’s a good deal available

MG2: What information does Hopper provide?

Patrick Surry: We provide data on how flight prices vary, and advice about how much to pay, when to buy, and when to fly.  Our app also tracks prices 24/7 and gives real-time notifications and recommendations about whether you should buy or wait for a better deal.

MG2: Can you book straight through Hopper?

Patrick Surry: No, currently we link out to either an airline or an online travel agency where you can buy the flight you select.

MG2: What about people who don’t have an iPhone or iPad?

Patrick Surry: Much of the functionality of our app is already available on our website, but we’re also planning to add additional features there, and working on an Android version.  You can sign up to be notified as soon as it’s available.

Learn more about Hopper on their website.

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