AAA says 1 in 3 will travel during holidays
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Terry Potts and her husband paid more to fly home for the holidays this year, but never considered scrapping the 3,890-mile trip from the Netherlands to visit family in the North Hills.
“Prices are up slightly, but this is where our families are, so we come,” said Potts, 52, an Allison Park native who has lived in Europe for seven years. On Tuesday, days before most holiday travelers will embark, she shopped at Ross Park Mall.
The trade group AAA predicts 93.3 million Americans — almost one in three — will travel at least 50 miles from home in the 11-day period from Saturday through Jan. 1. That's up almost 2 percent from last year.
AAA's East Central Region, which includes Pittsburgh, expects 10.5 million people in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey to travel at least 50 miles from home, up 300,000 from last year. About 9.3 million will drive, 708,000 will fly and the rest will use other modes such as buses, trains and ships, AAA said.
Americans will travel farther, going an average of 760 miles round-trip compared with 726 miles a year ago, AAA said. And they'll spend 2 percent more on hotels ($129 a night, on average) and 40 percent more on rental cars ($56 a day).
There's more for those who drive for the holiday: The National Weather Service in Moon said there is a chance of snow showers Thursday night through Saturday, with up to a half-inch expected Thursday night, up to two inches on Friday and up to one inch expected on Saturday.
Gas prices hit record highs for this time of year, though they fell in recent weeks and should continue doing so through Christmas, said Bevi Powell, spokeswoman for AAA's East Central Region, based in East Liberty.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline hovered around $3.24 a gallon on Tuesday, but the average price at Western Pennsylvania pumps was $3.44 a gallon. The local price dropped 21 cents a gallon in the past month but remains 11 cents higher than a year ago.
“Typically, prices trend down after the summer driving season, but refinery and distribution issues and then Hurricane Sandy delayed that (downward trend),” Powell said, adding that she thinks prices could “drop another dime” by Christmas.
Brian Ek, spokesman for the online travel company Priceline.com, said holiday airfares for domestic round-trips are up 4 percent compared with last year, based on two weeks of booking through early December.
Despite the increased costs, Ruth Nagy, the East Central Region's managing director of travel operations, said: “Americans don't like to give up their vacations. They might be willing to skimp in other areas of their life, but they don't want to give up on spending time with their families.”
Sewickley's Bonnie Casper traveled to Brooklyn a couple of weekends ago to visit one of her grown children and will go to San Francisco over the Christmas holiday to visit the other. Casper booked flights on low-cost airlines months in advance, but she was determined to go regardless of the cost.
“I want to see my grandchildren,” Casper said.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Sandusky lawyer investigated in divorce case
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Context key to 2nd trial of Pittsburgh police officers in Homewood man’s arrest
- Allegheny County Democrats endorse several incumbents in primary
- Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library
- Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to hold annual public meeting March 26
- Postal Service pays $180K for unopened site
- FirstEnergy last to get smart meter OK
- Western Pennsylvania organizations team to find housing for vets
- Tax delinquents make impact in Western Pennsylvania
- Ailing Downtown August Wilson Center awaits rescue; no real estate offers yet