More Students to Drive home for Thanksgiving
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
November 19, 2009
Nov. 19—More Americans will take to the roads but fewer to the skies this Thanksgiving, as travelers control spending amid tough economic times, automotive and travel group AAA predicted Wednesday.
AAA forecast that 38.4 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home for the holiday, up 1.4 percent from last year. About 86 percent will drive, up slightly, thanks to lower gas prices this year. But only 6 percent will fly, down sharply because of concerns over airfares, reduced airline capacity and added fees, the group said.
Last year, Thanksgiving travel plunged 25.2 percent during the depth of the housing and financial crisis. This year’s small gain reflects improved consumer confidence from a year ago, better stock market performance and a growing sense for many Americans that the worst of the global economic crisis is behind us, AAA said.
“Although far too many Americans remain unemployed or under other financial stress, AAA’s projected increase in Thanksgiving travel.. is another hopeful sign that economic conditions are stabilizing and improving in some areas,” AAA’s director of Travel Services, Glen MacDonell, said in a statement.
Air travel will be hit hardest, continuing a decade-long trend, AAA said. Since 2000, the number of Americans traveling by air during Thanksgiving has plummeted 62 percent. Recession plays a role, but Americans also are put off by stricter airport security, more frequent flight delays, reduced capacity, added surcharges and higher fees, the group said.
AAA figures the average household will spend $718 on its Thanksgiving trip this year, including 32 percent for transport, 21 percent for food and beverage and just 16 percent for accommodation. Thanksgiving is not a peak time for hotels, compared to Christmas or Easter holidays.