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AAA: Nearly 51 million Americans to travel this Thanksgiving - highest volume in a dozen years


Mon, Nov 20th 2017 03:15 pm
Travel times could be more than 3 times longer over holiday week
By AAA of Western and Central New York
AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005, with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation's roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip.
"Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year," said Carol DiOrio, AAA Western and Central New York vice president of travel. "A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season."
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22, to Sunday, Nov. 26.
By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast
Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers - 45.5 million - are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at 5 percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70 per day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.
New York State Data
3,177,916 million New York state residents are expected to travel this Thanksgiving weekend. Road trips in New York are up 3 percent this year - 2,822,115 million plan to drive to their Thanksgiving destination. Travelers should plan for extra time on the Thruway - especially on Wednesday and Sunday, as the most travelers head out and return home.
Air travel in New York is expected to jump 5 percent this Thanksgiving, with 278,304 flying to their destination. AAA advises travelers to arrive at the airport early and give time to get through security checkpoints. TSA is now checking cosmetic and toiletry items in carry-on bags, so have those items handy. Liquids must be in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces and all the containers must fit in a quart size bag.
Travelers going to New York City can expect Tuesday between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. to be the worst time for travel - taking up to two times the normal amount of time. That includes getting to JFK airport from downtown to via Long Island Expressway East.
Travelers still Hitting Road Despite Higher Gas Prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. This November's national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November (1-14).
Highs and Lows: Car Rentals, Airfare & Hotel Rates
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that is a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.
Travelers can expect to spend any "Flight savings" on car rentals. At $70 per day, the daily car rental average is 34 percent more than last year and the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013. The increase in rates may be attributed to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles in the fleets with added features and benefits.
Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has decreased 5 percent with an average nightly cost of $117.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando and Anaheim (California) top this year's top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday spots.
According to Hertz, the busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, with an average rental length of nearly five full days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Lockouts, Flat Tires to Strand 330,000 Motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
As upstate New York's largest member services organization, AAA provides nearly 860,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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