43.6M Expected to Travel Over Thanksgiving Week

More people are traveling but are staying closer to home during tight economy, AAA says

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Travelers wait in line to have their boarding passes checked at the American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Orbitz named LAX as the nation's busiest airport for 2011 Thanksgiving travel. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

    This weekend's rain will turn to blue skies and highs in the 70s for some Bay Area ciities this week as more travelers than last year are expected to hit the roads and the skies to be with family for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

    Some 43.6 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, an increase of .7 percent over the 43.3 million people who traveled last year, according to the Automobile Club of America.

    Extra: Thanksgiving Week Travel Info

    Yet, while more are traveling, AAA said people are staying closer to home than previous years.

    “Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled,” said Robert Darbelnet, AAA’s president and chief executive officer. “Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday.

    “Americans continue to find ways to economize their budgets so they can gather around the holiday table to carve the turkey.”

    The average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 588 miles, a drop of nearly 17 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 706 miles, AAA said.

    Most travelers -- or 39.1 million -- will go by car, an increase of .6 percent over last year, AAA said. Those traveling by air is expected to drop from 3.2 million in 2011 to 3.14 this year.

    The increase in overall travel marks the fourth straight year of growing holiday travelers since 2008 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.

    At San Francisco International Airport, a record passenger load is expected. The airport expects to see 3 percent more passengers going through the airport compared to Thanksgiving 2011. Friday was expected to be the busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving holiday period with about 140,000 flyers arriving and departing at SFO. In total, more than 1.2 million travelers will pass through SFO between Friday and Nov. 25, airport officials estimated.

    Travelers should expect busy terminals and full flights.