Travel uptick seen for holiday

NEW YORK — Slightly more Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. That includes people who are choosing to drive instead of fly as household budgets remain tight.

In its annual Thanksgiving travel forecast released Tuesday, AAA predicts 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday, up just 0.7 percent from last year.

But while more people are traveling, it appears that the pent-up demand seen following the recession has largely dissipated. Demand grew a healthy 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in the two previous Thanksgiving holiday periods even though economic growth was moderate. Now, AAA says it will take a stronger economy to spur a significant jump in travel demand going forward.

“Despite mild improvements in unemployment, the housing market and greater consumer optimism, the economy is still struggling to keep its head above water,” AAA said in its forecast.

The number of travelers forecast to drive, fly or hop on a train or bus this holiday is still 26 percent below the peak in 2005 and 14 percent below 2007.

Air travel is expected to decline, one sign that many households continue to feel financially pinched. AAA expects 3.14 million people to fly, down from 3.2 million a year earlier. Even with gas at a current national average of $3.44 per gallon, driving the family from New England to the Midwest to see the relatives is still cheaper than flying.

And filling up the tank will take less money than people expected when the survey was conducted in early October. That’s because of a dramatic drop in gas prices. The national average has declined 35 cents per gallon in the last month. AAA expects further declines through the holiday. Still, the price of gas on Thanksgiving Day should be around last year’s record of $3.32 per gallon.

More in Herald Business Journal

Exec director of Future of Flight in Mukilteo stepping down

A former board president will temporarily lead Snohomish County’s most popular tourism attraction.

Seafood producer Keyport moves corporate HQ to Edmonds

The family business sees the city as business friendly — and able to accommodate expansion.

Ex-Boeing executive Ray Conner joins Alaska Air board

Alaska Air Group said his appointment affirms the company’s commitment to its Northwest roots.

Peoples, HomeStreet banks bump lowest salaries after tax cut

The banks with Snohomish County branches will raise minimum salaries for employees to $15 an hour.

Amazon opens store with no cashiers, lines or registers

The Seattle store allows shoppers to use a smartphone app to pay for items they want.

Trump hits solar panels, washing machines with tariffs

The administration cast the decisions as part of his pledge to put American companies and jobs first.

Electroimpact cuts Mukilteo staff by 9 percent

“What we’re missing now is a monster anchor project,” the company’s VP said.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

Tax bill will help fund 5,000 layoffs, Kimberly-Clark says

Executives declined to say which factories the company would be closing.

Most Read