More Texans taking holiday trips

Emma Rivera of Everman, like millions of Texans, is getting out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Rivera, who was taking a flight to Albuquerque to visit relatives, said she chose to travel on Monday because she got a better price on her airfare.

"I went by when it was cheaper, and it was cheaper to fly today," Rivera said as she checked in at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on Monday afternoon.

Close to 3.3 million Texans will travel for Thanksgiving, according to AAA Texas, an increase of 1.6 percent over last year. The automotive club forecasts that about 3 million will travel by car, while about 206,000 will catch an airplane. An additional 77,000 will travel by train, bus or cruise ship.

On average, Texas travelers will travel about 714 miles round-trip and expect to spend an average of $802.

"Our travel forecast shows the resiliency of Texans to economize their budgets so they can travel to be with one another for Thanksgiving," said Rhonda Wilson, AAA Texas vice president of operations.

Nationally, AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, up 0.7 percent. It is the fourth consecutive increase in holiday travelers since 2008.

The average price of gas will be $3.25 to $3.40 a gallon, a range that's similar to last year's average of $3.32. Texans should continue to get a break on the road, as the state has seen gas prices 25 cents a gallon lower than the national average.

DFW Airport said it expects 100,000 more travelers to pass through its terminals during its 11-day Thanksgiving travel period, an increase of 3.6 percent. The busiest travel days will be the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving, with about 184,000 travelers.

The airport recently opened a new passenger pickup waiting area in Terminal E to help with congestion as it starts renovating the terminal. It also plans to open 1,100 covered parking spaces in its Express North Parking lot on Thanksgiving day.

With airlines cutting capacity this past year, travelers are paying higher fares since there are fewer flights, Travelocity senior editor Courtney Scott said.

"People are getting out there and going to visit family and friends," Scott said. "But with the high demand and lower supply of seats flying this holiday, that really is a perfect storm for the higher prices that we're seeing."

Airfares are up about 9 percent nationally, with an average of $386, Scott said. At DFW, the average is about $360, up 6 percent. Travelers who can be flexible with their travel dates are likelier to get a cheaper fare, she said.

For 15-year-old Amber Bailey, who flew into DFW from Columbus, Ohio, to visit her dad for Thanksgiving, flying an off-peak day has an extra benefit.

"I'm missing the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of school," Bailey said. She also isn't leaving until Nov. 28, giving her more time to spend with her new baby sister, she said.

Andrea Ahles,


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