(NEW YORK) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That is, unless you have to fly somewhere.
Airfare booking data from online travel agent Travelocity shows domestic airfare this holiday season is 9 percent more expensive than last year. The average cost of a round-trip domestic ticket is $414, including taxes. An international ticket costs $990, 6 percent more than last year.
And prices are only expected to go up in the coming days. Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare, estimates travelers will pay an extra $5 for every day they wait to purchase holiday airfare through the second week in December and $10 per day the following week.
But not all days are created equal when it comes to finding a cheap flight home for the holidays. Travelocity conducted a day-by-day analysis of prices over the Christmas travel season to find the cheapest days to fly. Not surprisingly, Dec. 24 and 25 come in at some of the least expensive days.
But it may be worth it: Travelers who choose to depart on Dec. 23, 24 or 25 and return later in the week can save up to $379 on their airfare as opposed to those who leave the weekend before Christmas.
Here are some date combinations to avoid: Dec. 21/Dec. 29; Dec. 21/Dec. 30; Dec. 22/Dec. 30; Dec. 22/Dec. 31; and Dec. 22/Jan. 1. Travelers departing and returning on these dates will pay more than $500 on average for their airfare.
The cheapest date combinations are: Dec. 25/Dec. 26: $187; Dec. 25/Dec. 27: $283; Dec. 25/Dec. 28: $329; and Dec. 24/Dec 27: $330.
And to bring down the cost of your ticket, incorporate any of the following dates into your travel plans: Dec. 24, Dec. 25 or Dec. 26.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Rob McLean and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Matt Egan, CNN