How to Score the Best Airfare

National Geographic Traveler editor at large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Over the past 15 years he has helped countless readers fix their trips.

Here’s his latest advice:

Reader Question: I’m shopping for airfare to South Florida. I heard that if I wait until after midnight on a Tuesday, I can score a deal. Is that true?

My Answer: Not so much.

“That’s an urban myth built on some half-truths,” says Rick Seaney, the chief executive of FareCompare.com.

Chris Lopinto, who runs the site ExpertFlyer.com, agrees. “There is no one perfect time. Fares can be loaded and changed multiple times a day,” he says.

So how to find the deals? Fly in the off-season or over a weekend. Book at least a month early and monitor the price to see if it goes down, using a site like Yapta.com, says Lopinto. If it does, you can use the site to adjust your fare, if the rules allow it.

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Bargain hounds who stay up late to find specials may or may not save a few bucks, but that kind of sleep deprivation is almost never worth your time.

Christopher Elliott is Traveler magazine’s consumer advocate and pens the “Problem Solved” column for the magazine (this exchange appeared in the December 2014 issue). Follow Christopher’s story on Twitter @elliottdotorg.

Do you have a burning travel question? Share it with us in the comments section below for a chance to appear in Traveler magazine.

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