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This is the busiest day to fly during Christmas week

AAA predicts record travel for 2019 holiday season

DTW ranked as the 11th least-stressful airport nationwide this year.
DTW ranked as the 11th least-stressful airport nationwide this year. (PIXLR)

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 6.1 million Floridians will help set a new travel record for the last holidays of the year, according to a AAA forecast.

AAA says 115.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from Saturday, December 21, and Wednesday, January 1. If accurate, it would be the largest travel volume since AAA began tracking the numbers in 2000.

“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA. “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”

Busiest Travel Days

On the road – For the 104.8 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts only marginal delays throughout the holiday week. Nationally, drivers could experience double the travel times on Thursday and Friday afternoon.

At the airport – AAA’s flight booking data revealed that most travelers depart two to four days prior to the Christmas holiday, Dec. 21-23, with the 22nd being the single busiest air travel day of the holiday week. Christmas Eve is the best day to travel, with the lowest average price per ticket ($527) and the fewest crowds of the holiday week.

Gas prices could drop

Gas prices have been somewhat erratic this month. Since jumping 11 cents last week, the state average has steadily declined a penny per day the past five consecutive days.

Florida gas prices are currently averaging around $2.50 per gallon. The state average is 2 cents more than a week ago, 10 cents more than last month, and 21 cents more than this time last year. The year-over-year increase is largely due to higher crude oil prices – which are $7 per barrel more than this time last year.

During last year’s holiday period, Florida gas prices averaged $2.20 per gallon. In that time, the state average declined from $2.25 on December 21, to $2.16 on January 1.

“The state average may not return to last year’s levels in time for the holidays, but lower gas prices are coming,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Gasoline supplies have risen sharply during the past week, while demand has slumped. This should help send the state average below $2.40 per gallon before Christmas.”

Theme parks, NYC top holiday getaways

Theme parks in Orlando and southern California, other warm-weather locales, and the iconic holiday destination New York City top the list of 10 most popular destinations in the U.S. for the year-end holidays, based on bookings:

  • Orlando, FL
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Kahului, Maui, HI
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Miami, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • Phoenix, AZ

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