AAA: Today Single Busiest Day For Thanksgiving Travel

By: AAA; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: AAA; Lanetra Bennett Email

By: Lanetra Bennett
November 27, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - AAA says the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest single day of travel, with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips on November 27th.

Dave Cozzocrea and his fiance landed at the Tallahassee Regional Airport Wednesday. After flying more than 25 hours from Brazil, they're estatic to have made it just in time for Thanksgiving.

Cozzocrea says, "I planned it that way. My birthday was just last week. I just turned 47 and wanted to spend it with her and spend Thanksgiving and the holiday together. So, this is wonderful."

AAA projected 43.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That's a 1.5 percent decrease from the 44 million people who traveled last year.

The agency says holiday air travel will drop 3.7 percent.

AAA says 90 percent of Thanksgiving holiday travelers are hitting the road. That's a decline of 1.6 percent.

Donald Borden and his wife were on the road Wednesday driving from Virginia to Biloxi, Mississippi. Mr. Borden says, "I don't like flying. I keep away from flying as much as I can; and it's cheaper. Mrs. Borden says, I've been doing most of the driving actually. But, it hasn't been bad."

AAA estimates most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010.

But, no matter how you get there, travelers say one of the best parts about going away for Thanksgiving is: "I don't have to cook." Says, Mr. Borden.

There have been some flight delays at Tallahassee Regional Airport, but administrators say overall everything is fine.

Whether at the airport, the train station, a cruise dock, or on the road, experts say the key is patience. The Florida Highway Patrol also wants to remind drivers that it has began a two-week campaign that aims to prevent aggressive driving.

News Release: AAA

TAMPA, Fla., (Nov. 20, 2013) – AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year.

This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Monday, Dec. 2.

Highlights from this year’s 2013 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million who traveled last year

  • 90 percent of travelers or 38.9 million to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6 percent

  • Median spending expected to drop nearly 7 percent to $465, compared to $498 last year.

  • The Thanksgiving holiday is a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year Labor Day spending was expected to be $804, Independence Day $749 and Memorial Day $659.

  • Holiday air travel to decline 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers from 3.26 million in 2012

  • Average distance traveled to increase to 601 miles from 588 miles.

  • The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27. The majority plan to return home on Sunday, Dec. 1 (33 percent) with another 24 percent expecting to return on Monday, Dec 2 or later.

“AAA projects a slight decrease in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year as a result of weakened consumer sentiment tied to economic uncertainty and the government shutdown,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. “On a positive note, travel volumes are expected to remain well-above the 2008 and 2009 levels when the recession caused a 25 percent drop in travel numbers.
“However, last year there was a larger increase in overall travel than initially forecast for the Thanksgiving holiday. We could see more travelers this year than expected as a result of falling gas prices and last minute travel plans,” said Brady.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. The national average is below last year's holiday weekend average of $3.42. Pump prices are not forecast to impact holiday travel plans. Drivers can find stations selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon in the vast majority of states.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 38.9 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 1.6 percent decrease from the 39.5 million people who traveled by auto last year. Air travel is expected to decrease 3.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares comparable to last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index. For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $187 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $188 last year. Approximately 1.4 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase six percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $142 per night compared to $143 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $105 per night, compared to $104 in 2012. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $50, compared to $47 last year.

Average travel distance decreases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 601 miles, which is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

Median spending down almost seven percent; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $465, a 6.6 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($498) in 2012.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Labor Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

The Auto Club Group, the second largest affiliation of AAA clubs, offers travel, insurance and financial services to more than 8.8 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories. This includes Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and Tennessee; and a portion of Indiana. The Auto Club Group belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 54 million members in the United States and Canada, whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

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