AAA expects busiest Thanksgiving travel season since 2005

November 20, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — AAA estimates that more than 54 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving — an increase of nearly five percent over 2017.

It’s also expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel period, Wednesday through Sunday, since 2005.

“Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth,” according to Bill Sutherland, AAA Travel’s senior vice president.

Most people will drive to and from their destinations over the long holiday weekend, with about 48.5 million people travelling by automobile. That’s 2.5 million more people on the road compared to 2017.

The average price for regular grade gasoline in Arizona on Sunday was about $2.87 a gallon, 45 cents higher than the average on that date last year when the per-gallon price was $2.41.

AAA doesn’t include Bullhead City or Mohave Valley in its online statewide roundup of gas prices.

On Sunday, four gas stations in Bullhead City were selling regular grade for about $2.40 a gallon with one charging $2.80 a gallon. Six of the 10 stations listed were charging at least a few cents below the $2.50 per gallon price, according to GasBuddy.com.

Two Mohave Valley stations’ gallon prices are listed: A Mobil station is charging $3.55 and an Arco asking only $2.64.

In Laughlin, the website lists the per gallon prices for three locations: $3.55 at the Shell and 76 stations on Casino Drive and $3.35 at the South Pointe Market on Needles Highway. This Laughlin list also includes many Bullhead stations, including a Chevron charging $3.07 a gallon.

Many stations in Needles are asking $4.69 a gallon. The lowest price there on Sunday was $4.29 at J Street Oil and Gas, GasBuddy.com reported.

Only about 1.5 million people are expected to ride trains, buses or sail on cruise ships, 1.5 percent more people than last year.

But it’s anticipated that a whopping 4.3 million people will opt to fly — an increase of 5.4 percent.

AAA lists McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas among the Top 10 busiest airports over the holiday.

According to an airport spokeswoman, McCarran is relied upon more by people leaving the region than coming in at the beginning of this week’s long holiday period and the airport is not as crowded as one might expect at this time of year.

Nonetheless, said Christine Crews, representing McCarran, “plan to arrive at least two hours ahead of your flight and for international flights three hours ahead.”

She highlighted airport parking as being a challenge for many travelers departing McCarran over the long holiday and suggested allowing additional time to find a place to park and, perhaps, even ride a shuttle.

The Terminal 1 Long Term Garage and Terminal 3 Economy Lot both will fill up and periodically close.

If travelers end up parking in the Terminal 1 Economy Lot, they should expect to need a minimum of 30 minutes to reach the terminal after reaching the lot, parking their vehicle and riding a shuttle to the terminal, Crews said.

For up-to-date information about parking availability, call 702-261-5122 a few hours before leaving for the airport.

People who haven’t been to McCarran airport recently are urged to go to McCarran.com to find out where their carrier is situated. Some airlines have moved and might be in a different terminal than before, Crews said. The website also provides information about airlines at the airport and includes not only where airlines are situated in the airport but offers travel tips and explains airline policies on everything from bringing and operating personal electronics to obtaining assistance for special needs travelers.

Crews also said that for the Thanksgiving holiday there will be some procedural changes. The Transportation Security Administration will be allowing solid foods such as dry stuffing, fresh cranberries, turkey, bread, baked potatoes, baked goods, pies, fruits and vegetables through the security checkpoint and in carry-on luggage.

However, “creamy and spreadable foods” are subject to the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule that requires putting them and other gels, liquids and aerosols in travel-sized containers that can carry no more than 3.4 ounces per item. Next, place those items in a single quart-sized, zip-top bag. Each traveler is allowed to bring one of these quart-sized bags with such items.

Check TSA.gov for details about packing and how to ease the experience of going through security.

Drivers coming to drop-off friends and family at the airport should know which terminal their travelers are supposed to depart from, which airline they will use and the flight number as well as the departure time. Those picking up loved ones also should designate a meeting place. Look for short-term parking to go into the airport to pick up friends and relatives. People parking for no more than 15 minutes don’t have to pay to use short-term parking.

“The McCarran.com website is a great resource and allows travelers to become familiar with airport and airline policies,” Crews said. “It’s also helpful to ask for online alerts that can inform you of delays when you book your flight.”

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