AAA says more people are driving

Nov. 19, 2010 at 1:57 PM
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CHICAGO, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Public anger over U.S. airport security measures and extra airline fees will contribute to a record number of people driving Thanksgiving weekend, AAA said.

Less than 4 percent of Thanksgiving travelers plan to fly, with 94 percent choosing to drive even though the average cost of gasoline is more than $3 per gallon, AAA said.

The number of Thanksgiving travelers will be up more than 11 percent over 2009 but the percentage of fliers will be the smallest in a decade. Last year, 13 percent of Thanksgiving travelers flew to their destinations.

AAA said more than 42 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home.

Last year, 37.9 million Americans traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The 2010 Thanksgiving travel period is defined as Nov. 24 through Nov. 28.

"While Americans remain cautious with household budgets and discretionary spending amidst high levels of unemployment, many are in a better financial position this Thanksgiving than a year ago," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. "This improvement, along with a strong desire to spend time with friends and family, is expected to propel a significant increase in Thanksgiving travel."

AAA said air travelers should carry only essential items to help move through airport security faster. The organization also suggested taking direct flights that depart early in the day.

AAA officials said their numbers were prepared before the Transportation Security Administration announced it was switching to more intensive security measures, including full-body scans.

"Those folks who said, 'I've had it with the airport hassle and I'm traveling by auto,' did so before the ... new rules were put in place,'' said Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago. "We've seen a lot of people grousing. It's hard to say if people will eventually get used to the changes. We'll know more once we see Christmas travel numbers."

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