AAA predicts close to pre-pandemic levels; SB Airport expects busy week
Thanksgiving travel is expected to significantly increase this year in comparison to the last two years, as society moves closer to a post-pandemic world.
As restrictions begin to lift, the world is beginning to find its way back to some kind of normalcy.
“This Thanksgiving’s travel is expected to be the second busiest Thanksgiving on record, almost reaching pre-pandemic levels,” Doug Shupe of the American Automobile Association told the News-Press.
The AAA spokesman said there is expected to be 4.4 million people travelling in Southern California this Thanksgiving, up 16% from 2020 and down only 3% from 2019.
Of those 4.4 million, 3.8 million will be traveling by automobile, which is up 9% from 2020 and down only 1% from 2019.
For those hitting the roads this week, Mr. Shupe recommends you leave as early as you can, but still drive when you are normally awake.
And avoid being on the road Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, as traffic will be dense due to those travelling in or out of town, combined with afternoon rush hour, he said.
Mr. Shupe noted Santa Barbara and the Central Coast is the fifth most popular destination for Southern California this Thanksgiving, coming in just under San Diego, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.
For those traveling by plane, remember to pack your masks. They’re still required on all public transportation.
The Santa Barbara Airport is anticipating a busy week.
“The terminal long-term parking lot is already full, and it’s only Monday,” Deanna Zachrisson, the airport business development manager, told the News-Press. “So clearly, it’s going to be a busy week, and seemingly a lot of people are taking/getting the week off from work and school.”
AAA recommends you get to airports (such as Los Angeles International) two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
“There are still labor shortages, so remember to have patience and be kind,” Mr. Shupe said. “Everyone is working extremely hard to meet travel demands. Restaurants are not fully staffed and so are often closed or have longer lines in airports.
“Hospitality workers are doing the best they can, to meet the increase in demand. Due to labor shortages in the travel industry, go into it expecting delays. Help others have a nice holiday as well,” Mr. Shupe said.
Currently the average price of gas in Southern California is about $4.65 a gallon, according to AAA. This price is up 3 cents from a week ago, 17 cents from a month ago,and $1.45 from a year ago, Mr. Shupe said.
He explained California gas prices tend to be the highest in the nation, typically because of higher taxes and environmental fees.
For the driver with a mid-size sedan and an average 14-gallon tank, travelers are going to be paying about $20 more than they were a year ago to fill up, Mr. Shupe said.
Despite high gas prices, automobiles remain the No. 1 form of travel, as well as the most economical and convenient form of travel, he said.
“People tend to be more comfortable when they are in their own car with their own family,” Mr. Shupe told the News-Press.
“AAA does not expect high gas prices to deter holiday travel. Historically, we don’t see high gas prices as a deterrent to holiday travel, this tends to be because people tend to make their plans to travel long before they are aware of gas prices,” he said. “However, that being said, people may adjust their plans such as not driving as far, packing food rather than eating in restaurants, or staying with friends or family rather than in a hotel.”
Mr. Shupe advises travelers to check their vehicle before embarking on holiday travel: Check all your battery, fluids, belts and hoses; inspect the tires for tread and inflation.
He said tire pressure should be checked once a week, but no less than once a month and always before a long trip. When you fill up is a good time to check the pressure.
“Here at the auto club we always remind people of traffic safety,” said Mr. Shupe.
“Get at least seven hours of sleep,” he said. “Make sure everyone is buckled before leaving the driveway. Obey speed limits. We like to say ‘Don’t drive intoxicated, don’t drive intexticated.’ We want everyone to have a very safe holiday.
“AAA predicts approximately 52,000 calls for help in the Southern California region this Thanksgiving,” Mr. Shupe said. “The most common reasons for calls include: dead batteries, flat tires and (being) locked out of vehicles. Make sure you always know where your keys are.”
To view AAA’s map for COVID-19 restrictions, go to www.aaa.com/triptik. For more about the Santa Barbara Airport (including arrival and departure times), go to www.flysba.com.