- Kara Driscoll Staff Writer
More than 107 million Americans are expected to travel from Saturday through Monday, Jan. 1 — a 3.1 percent increase from last year and the highest year-end travel volume on record, according to AAA projections.
The estimate, if accurate, would continue a year-over-year trend that has occurred for major holiday weekends in 2017 — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, said Cindy Antrican, AAA public affairs manager.
”We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long,” she said.
This year marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent. The majority of travelers - 97.4 million - will hit the road, a 3 percent year-over-year increase.
“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”
This December’s national average gasoline price is $2.47 per gallon (Dec. 1 to Dec. 13), which is 28 cents more than last December. AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.
The Ohio Department of Transportation encouraged travelers to prepare for crowded highways during Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends.
“We work hard to make our roads safe, but we need everyone riding in a vehicle to do their part too. Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself if you are involved in a crash,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray.
Approximately 6.4 million will travel by air, a 4 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases. The increase comes as the Atlanta airport — one of the busiest airports in the world — recovers from a power outage that grounded all flights on Sunday.
Canceled flights at the Dayton International Airport included Delta Air Lines Flight 2337, supposed to leave at 6:33 p.m. and Delta Flight 1161, scheduled to depart at 2:18 p.m. for Atlanta, as well as Delta Flight 2337 from Atlanta to Dayton, scheduled to arrive at 5:53 p.m. according to the airport’s Flight Tracker.
Delta canceled approximately 300 flights Monday due to Sunday’s power outage at the Atlanta airport, the company said in a statement. The cancellations impacted travelers in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, but the airport is expected to resume normal operations by Christmas.
Jay Ratliff, local aviation expert, said during the holidays airports are filled with travelers who only fly once or twice a year. That can cause delays through the security and boarding processes. He also advised that travelers make sure they have a seat assignment confirmation before arriving to the airport to ensure they won’t be put on standby. Airlines typically overbook flights.
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