Lower gas and air fare prices expected
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Lower gasoline prices and cheaper air fares are expected to persuade 93.3 million U.S. residents to travel 50 miles or more from home during the Christmas/New Year’s holidays, an 1.6 percent increase compared with a year ago, said AAA, the leisure travel organization.
Of the total number of travelers, 84.4 million will drive to their destination, 5.6 million will fly and 3.27 million will journey by bus, train, cruise ship or multimodal travel, AAA said.
The auto club projects 852,300 Oklahomans will travel by all modes of transportation over the holidays, up 1.9 percent compared with last year, AAA said.
AAA defines the Christmas/New Year’s holidays as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma, said median spending by holiday travelers will be up 6 percent, to $759, from a year ago.
“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Oklahomans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the new year with a vacation,” Mai said. “Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”
AAA projects that 90 percent of travelers nationwide — 84.4 million — are expected to travel by passenger car, pickup or recreational vehicle and that 94 percent of Oklahomans will drive to their holiday destinations.
Holiday air travel is projected to increase 4.5 percent among U.S. residents and will be up 5.9 percent among Oklahomans, AAA said.
Average distance traveled during the holidays is expected to increase to 760 miles from 726 miles last year, the organization said.
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20 and $3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year, officials said.
Travelers journeying by air will find lower air fares, says AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. For the holiday period, the average lowest roundtrip air fare is $203 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, down 3 percent from a year ago.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index found year-end holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to be 2 percent higher than a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $129 a night compared with $126 a year ago.
Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay 3 percent more than a year ago, at an average cost of $95 per night.
Daily car rental rates will average $56 versus $40 last year, AAA said.
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451