Thanksgiving travel expected to increase this year
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
11/14/12 at 2:12 AM
AAA, the leisure travel organization, forecasts 43.6 million U.S. residents will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a 0.7 percent increase compared with the 43.3 million people who traveled nationwide last year.
In Oklahoma, 578,500 state residents are expected to travel over the Thanksgiving holidays, up 1 percent, AAA said.
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined by AAA as Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25.
The projected increase in travelers is the fourth consecutive year of rising numbers since 2008, when Thanksgiving travel dropped by 25 percent, AAA officials said.
"Thanksgiving travel hit a decade-low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled," said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA-Oklahoma. "Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of Thanksgiving travelers. Americans continue to find ways to stretch family budgets so they can still gather around the holiday table.
"While we do not yet know the full impact that Hurricane Sandy will have on travel from the Mid-Atlantic region, we do know the impact for many in that region is substantial."
AAA estimates 90 percent of all travel will be accomplished by car or pickup truck, an increase of 0.6 percent.
Holiday air travel nationwide will decline to 3.14 million travelers from 3.2 million last year. Air travel also is expected to decline 1.2 percent in Oklahoma, to 48,750 passengers, AAA said.
Median spending over the Thanksgiving holidays is expected to fall 10 percent, to $498, compared with $554 a year ago.
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will drop to between $3.25 and $3.40 a gallon by Thanksgiving Day, about the same as the $3.32 average price of a year ago, which was the highest average price ever on Thanksgiving.
Despite the historically high prices paid by motorists this year, the national average price has declined by nearly 40 cents per gallon since early October and it is expected to drop through the end of the year, AAA said.
The national average price of gas at Thanksgiving from 2007 to 2011 was $2.75 a gallon.
AAA estimates the average lowest round-trip airfare will be $188 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, down 11 percent from a year ago.
Hotel rates will be relatively flat compared with Thanksgiving 2011, AAA's Leisure Travel Index shows.
Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to decrease 1 percent from last year, to $143 per night. Travelers who stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $104 per night, up 1 percent from a year ago.
Weekend daily rental car rates will average $47, a 27 percent rise, AAA says.
A AAA survey of travelers finds the average distance traveled by U.S. residents during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 588 miles, down 16.7 percent from the 706 miles traveled a year ago.
This year’s travel forecast, compared with Thanksgiving 2011
- Travel numbers, U.S.: 43.6 million, up
- Travel numbers, Oklahoma: 578,500, 1
- Average gas price: $3.325 per gallon,
- Average lowest round-trip airfare:
$188, down 11 percent
- AAA Three Diamond hotel rates: $143
per night, down 1 percent
- AAA Two Diamond hotel rates: $104
per night, up 1 percent
- Weekend rental car rates: $47 a day,
up 27 percent
- Average distance traveled: 588 miles,
16.7 percent decline
- Median spending: $498, down 10
Source: AAA Oklahoma
Original Print Headline: Thanksgiving travel expected to increase
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451