Thanksgiving Travel and Gas Prices by the Numbers
More Kansans taking to the roads and skies. Motorists facing highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014
TOPEKA, – As Kansans and travelers all across America set out for one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, AAA Kansas provides this snapshot – by the numbers – of some of AAA’s key travel forecast projections and the latest gas prices for Thanksgiving 2017:
• 50.9 million – Number of Americans nationwide who will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
• 1.6 million – Number of additional people nationwide taking to the roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
• 4.1 million – Number of people in the West North Central Region (in which Kansas is included, along with Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota) who will take Thanksgiving weekend trips of 50 miles or longer, a 3 percent increase over 2016 and the largest number of travelers since 2007
• 2005 – The last year that had a higher Thanksgiving weekend travel volume than 2017.
• 89 – Percent of all travelers nationally – 45.5 million – who are planning a Thanksgiving driving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
• 3.95 million – Number of travelers nationwide who will fly to their Thanksgiving destination. With a 5 percent increase over last year, air travel is the mode of travel that will see the largest growth this year.
• 330,000 – Number of motorists nationwide that AAA expects to rescue with roadside assistance this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues.
• 1,500 – Number of motorists that AAA Kansas Roadside Assistance expects to rescue during the Thanksgiving 2017 travel weekend.
• $157 – Average price for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index -- the lowest average in five years and a 23 percent fare drop from Thanksgiving 2016.
• Five – Top 5 destinations for Thanksgiving 2017, according to AAA.com bookings: Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; New York City, New York; Honolulu, Hawaii; Las Vegas, Nevada
• 34 – Percent increase in daily car rental price from this time in 2016. Travelers can expect to spend $70/day, the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013.
• 2014 – Last year that drivers faced Thanksgiving gas prices as high as this year.
• $2.54 – National gas price average as of 11/20/17, two cents less than one week ago and 40 cents more than a year ago.
• $2.39 – Average Kansas price for a gallon of gas as of 11/20/17.
• Eight – Kansas’ rank of states with the largest yearly increase in gas prices as of 11/20/17. Kansas’ average per-gallon price has risen 49 cents in the past year. (See attached infographic.)
• $1.90 – Thanksgiving 2016 gas price in Kansas.
• $3.21 – Thanksgiving price for a gallon of gas in Kansas in 2012.
• 13 – Kansas’ rank of states with the lowest gas prices in America as of 11/20/17.
• $2.64 – Average gas price in St. Francis, Kan. (Cheyenne County), the highest in the state as of 11/20/17.
• 66871 – ZIP code of Waverly, Kan. (Coffey County), which boasts Kansas’ lowest average gas price this week at $2.21/gallon.
• 55 – percent of gas stations across America where motorists can find gas for $2.50/gallon or less.
• Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers nationally – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
• Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
• Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at 5 percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
• Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
• Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.
TOPEKA – AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
The West North Central Region (in which Kansas is included, along with Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota) will see more than 4.1 million people taking Thanksgiving weekend trips of 50 miles or longer, a 3 percent increase over 2016 and the largest number of travelers since 2007, according to AAA Kansas. Nearly 3.8 million of those travelers, or 90 percent, will be traveling by car. Travel by air and other forms of transport (cruises, bus and trains) is also projected to increase for the 2017 Thanksgiving travel period.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more Kansans and Americans overall will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Jennifer Haugh, AAA Kansas spokeswoman. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.
Travelers still hitting the
road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. This November’s national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November (first-14th).
“Kansans, too, are paying more at the pump this year, with the statewide average hovering at $2.42/gallon [on Nov. 15], compared with $1.91 for Thanksgiving 2016,” AAA Kansas’ Haugh said. “Motorists can counteract some of the higher gas costs by gaining better gas mileage, however. Make sure your car is tuned up, air filters replaced, tires properly inflated, and during your trip, lower your speed.”
(See attached graphic: Kansas Thanksgiving Gas Price History 2004-2017)
Lockouts, flat tires to strand
330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists nationwide this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. According to AAA Kansas’ Haugh, during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period in 2016, AAA Kansas Roadside Assistance responded to nearly 1,500 calls to help stranded motorists.
AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday spots.
1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Anaheim, Calif.
3. New York City, N.Y.
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Las Vegas, Nev.
6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
7. Cancun, Mexico
8. San Francisco, Calif.
9. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
10. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Thanksgiving are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Las Vegas (LAS) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, with an average rental length of nearly five full days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Highs and Lows: Car rentals, airfare and hotel rates
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that is a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.
Travelers can expect to spend any ‘flight savings’ on car rentals. At $70/day, the daily car rental average is 34 percent more than last year and the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013. The increase in rates may be attributed to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles in the fleets with added features and benefits.
Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176/night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has decreased five percent with an average nightly cost of $117.
Travelers Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best/Worst Times to Hit the Road
Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week - as commuters mix with holiday travelers. At its peak, drivers on Chicago’s interstates, for example, could see a delay of nearly 300 percent over the optimal trip.
“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”