Senior Specialist, Public & Government Affairs
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We will be available for interviews now through the Thanksgiving weekend: cell numbers below.
Thanksgiving Travel at Highest Volume in a Dozen Years
Oklahomans taking to the roads despite higher gas prices; more flying as airlines cut fares
Nov. 17, 2017 – 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.
The West South Central Region (in which Oklahoma is included, along with Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina) will see more than 5.2 million people taking Thanksgiving weekend trips of 50 miles or longer, a 2.7 percent increase over 2016 and the largest number of travelers since 2007, according to AAA Oklahoma. Nearly 4.7 million of those travelers, or 91 percent, will be traveling by car. Travel by air and other forms of transport (cruises, bus and trains) is also projected to increase for the 2017 Thanksgiving travel period.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more Oklahomans and Americans overall will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma Public and Government Affairs manager. “Nationally, 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
Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
“Oklahomans, too, are paying more at the pump this year, with the Oklahoma City average hovering at $2.25/gallon [on Nov. 16], compared to $1.78 for this same time last year,” AAA Oklahoma’s Gamble said. Tulsa’s average is $2.27/gallon up from $1.73 last year. Gamble noted that motorists can counteract some of the higher gas costs by gaining better gas mileage, however. “Make sure your car is tuned up, air filters replaced, tires properly inflated, and during your trip, lower your speed.”
Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
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.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations
According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Thanksgiving are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Las Vegas (LAS) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, with an average rental length of nearly five full days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Highs and Lows: Car rentals, airfare and 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/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/night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has decreased five percent with an average nightly cost of $117.
Travelers Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best/Worst Times to Hit the Road
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week - as commuters mix with holiday travelers. At its peak, drivers on Chicago’s interstates, for example, could see a delay of nearly 300 percent over the optimal trip.
“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
Across the country, travelers that take to the sky must account for long security lines, but also increased drive times to the airport. AAA and INRIX expect delays getting to the nation’s busiest airports could be as long as an hour.
Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58million members nationwide and more than 400,000 members in Oklahoma.AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.For more information, visitwww.AAA.com.
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es. Study participants were required to use voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation, all while driving down the road.